So I've been asked a few times recently about why I keep releasing a few of the same songs from Muse Tree, The Muse Tree Demos, and Here. And that's a good question.
To start, a lot of my early music career was held back by the lifestyle I chose to live; which was essentially that of a nomadic musician. And while I wouldn't take any bit of that back, it certainly did result in a lot of my recordings being self funded, opportunistic, rushed, and usually plagued by some form of financial problem or another. That means that while my song catalog stacked up, the recordings weren't happening to match them. And when I did get to record, it was usually leaning on a favor (as in, not normal, paid studio time), and that limited a lot of what I could do. And with my energy often focused on survival, a lot of things went unfinished.
The Muse Tree Demos (2003) is easy: I did everything on my own, and I had originally intended for it to be a release, but later just felt none of the songs were ready, mixed well, or really good to go in any way. So it left me with an "unfinished" feeling for all the songs on there. But it gave me good ideas for where they needed to go.
Muse Tree, Here, Alexandria, and Disconnect (later called The New York State Demos) were all recorded at the same time, in the same sessions between February and March of 2007. They were also intended to be a regular release. And in many ways, they are.
For the most part, I liked a lot of the performances, especially on "Here." and "Alexandria", which were pretty much played straight through in single takes. And in my opinion, much of it is good as is, performance and recording wise.
But it was plagued by the same issues I had with The Muse Tree Demos: it was rushed, as I had little time to do it, it wasn't in an environment I had much control over, and everything about it was last minute. Also, doing everything myself, and still being a little green in the recording, mixing, and mastering arena, I still made some basic mistakes (like not keeping source recordings). And due to time constraints, I also had to leave before some of those were really finished, meaning that I never had a chance to add items to some of those tracks (particularly in "Here.") that needed them.
And then a few months after those recording sessions, as Europe loomed, I had these unmixed, unmastered recordings lying around I hadn't finished yet, and needing something to sell as I traveled; particularly while busking and doing last minute shows. So, without having a chance to go back and fix things, and without real equipment, I quickly mixed all three, pressed them into shoddy demo jewel cases with the printed covers, and off I went.
At some point, however, when I was overseas, those recordings found their way into the Torrent filesharing networks, and were then disseminated all over the place. And when I got back home to the States, they had beat me here.
The recordings for Disconnect were never actually released. They included "Kristin", "Behind the Wall", "Delilah", and of course "Disconnect" itself.
Time has passed, but as I couldn't fix anything I wanted to before, and since the mixing process was rushed, the intention was always to do three things: one, fix the mix and get a real master on all three albums, so that they're enjoyable without having to adjust your stereo to make it work ... for everybody. Two, mix and release the recordings for Disconnect, which have generally been hiding in a vault for 10 years. And three, give a few of those songs a full band treatment (as the vast majority of the arrangements on all three albums were intentionally sparse). So "The Exchange", "Leaving Goes", "Darlene", and "First Light", I felt needed to be updated, given the full band treatment, and on a release aiming at the mainstream. Hence, they found their way onto "The War of the Sons of Light" album.
As for those three (or four, with Disconnect), I'm working now to finish cleaning up and remix them for a final release (in some recordings, you can literally hear a toilet flushing through the thin walls of the artist studio I was able to use to record). Any of the missing instrument tracks that weren't added to the earlier mixes, or intended to be there in the first place, will be restored or finished, as well. And in the end, they'll just be better sounding versions of themselves, properly mixed and given a proper master. I feel that all three releases could stand on their own given the full treatment they should have gotten in 2007. And I've been making great pains not to "add" anything that wasn't there already; especially things that require retracking. The exception being restoring the missing kick, cymbals, and true bass instrument sound in some recordings (the earlier takes in the mixes were all tracked just using my guitar as a bass).
It's taken me so long mainly because it's a daunting task: going back and editing, cleaning up, lining up, and mixing roughly 40 songs. But I've been chipping away at it for the past year, finishing what I can, when I can.
The original mixes will still be out there; they're called the "European demo" versions. I won't be paying for their release through the normal distribution channels, but I also won't be pulling them down from anywhere, either. Mostly, they'll just be a reminder of earlier demo versions of the work.
And while there are two tracks set to appear on next year's "Sons of Darkness" album, "Sin" and "Alexandria, Falling" (for the reasons, above), for the most part, at that point, those songs and those albums are all done.
There are still about 6 albums worth of unrecorded material to focus on, and that's what we'll be doing next.
I hope that clears everything up, and be sure to snag the "Sons of Light" album coming out in THREE DAYS on all your favorite music shops, including Spotify, iTunes, Play, Groove, and heck; maybe even Pandora. We'll see.
Meanwhile, while you're here, check out the tracklist for the upcoming "The War of the Sons of Darkness against the Sons of Light" album!