by Cassie Lipp
110 days ago
at 11:25 AM | Permalink
Guitarist Coleman Williams can barely see through his
overgrown hair as he leans over a 12-string guitar while he strums out “You
Knew This Was Coming” for local electronic act Dark Colour’s upcoming Animal EP. The song is the last to be
complete after two days of recording in Over-the-Rhine’s Sabbath Recording.
Williams lays down the finishing touches.
Although he can’t seem to play the chords right on his first try while the
sound engineer, Isaac Karns of the Pomegranates, records him, the chords
suddenly come flawlessly from Williams’ fingertips as he practices before the
“Cole is like an endangered species,” Karns says. “He plays this amazing stuff
when you’re not recording and then you’re like, ‘No! Do it again!’ ”For Sabbath Recording, late-night music means polishing tunes with intricate
details that dramatically transform songs, such as the 12-string guitar that
helped turn the aggressive, almost chaotic “You Knew This Was Coming” into a more
Poppy dance track reminiscent of Depeche Mode.
Jacob Merritt, also of the Pomegranates, came up with the idea for Sabbath when
he discovered a love for recording while in college about 10 years ago. Though
his interest in recording was put on hold while the band took off, Merritt
began investing in instruments and gear for a studio and started hunting for
the perfect space when things began to wind down.
Merritt and Karns hope that any artist who walks through their doors leaves
with a more defined or reinvigorated purpose for their music. The idea is for
the artists to feel refreshed and energized about who they are and what they
“If you work from that place, I think the other things are likely to fall into
place sonically or musically,” Karns says.
Merritt says he tries to make artists very comfortable and eliminate any
awkwardness from working with someone new. At Sabbath, the day always begins
with time to ask questions, read from a thought-provoking book and have
meaningful conversation meant to open the artists up.
“Bands consistently comment on how much more connected they feel with their
bandmates,” Merritt says. “If you aren't communicating as best you can, you
might be missing out on your best creative work. I really love seeing musicians
grow as songwriters and thinkers during their time at the studio.”
The goals of Sabbath Recording are just like the name suggests — it is a place
where artists can take time to rest, disconnecting from the stresses of
everyday life in order to focus on something they enjoy. To symbolize this,
artists leave their shoes at the door as they walk into the studio designed to
be a place of healing.
“Before starting, I always ask the artist if they love the songs, or their
voice, or instrument or whatever we will be working on that day and have them
respond,” Karns says. “It's small, but sometimes just saying aloud, ‘Yes, I
love my voice,’ can be a great way to internally prepare for the day.”
The intimate, uplifting recording sessions are what make Sabbath unique among
other studios and opportunities for musicians in Cincinnati. The team’s
dedication to giving every artist the best experience possible is evident in
even the small things they do, from strategically structuring sessions to
keeping the studio stocked with drinks and a snack pile so artists don’t have
to leave in search of nourishment.
“Jacob and Isaac put their hand in the creative direction of the music because
they feel so involved with the projects they bring in there,” says Dark Colour
vocalist Randall Rigdon. “Their connection with the artists set them apart from
other studios, where engineers can tend to act more exclusively as
In the two years that the studio has been open, artists from all over the
country have checked in. Merritt says they are open to working with anyone — and
taking the time before and during sessions to really understand who they are
While Karns is currently putting the finishing touches on Dark Colour’s Animal, which will be released with the
Montreal-based label Kitabu Records this spring, he is also excited to finish
up the quirky, trippy lounge-Punk debut album from S.R Woodward. Karns is also
developing a narrative-driven, collaborative experimental podcast project.
The team’s former bandmate from the Pomegranates Joey Cook will also check into
Sabbath to work on his fever-dream-Psych-Disco record, which Merritt says “will
be an odyssey.”
by Mike Breen
In Electronic music, the punkish encouragement to “just jump in and see what happens,” regardless of proficiency, resulted in the creation of Krautrock, Hip Hop, Synthpop, New Wave and many other styles. Some of the top innovators of those genres were driven by a “naïvite” that added a more “human” element (going against the common critique that all Electronic music is cold and robotic). Today, with the hugely increased access to affordable tools to create Electronic music, that more exploratory approach is back and thriving, resulting in innumerable subgenres and an unending stream of adventurous bedroom artists. Cincinnati’s Randall Rigdon, Jr., is one of those bedroom maestros. Using the name Dark Colour (fleshed out with other musicians in a live setting), Rigdon doesn’t let all of those subgenres distract him, instead embracing a variety of Electro styles and putting them together in his own personalized way. The results are delectable. Dark Colour’s recent full-length debut, Prisoner, is reminiscent of hearing things like New Order, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT or Neon Indian for the first time. Rigdon has solid writing and lyrical skills, but it’s the multi-hued textures, kaleidoscopic array of synth sounds, endearing beats and a shifting ambiance (showcasing his deft ability to create distinct moods) that set Dark Colour apart from the EDM pack. Prisoner (which follows 2011's debut EP, Memories, a release that was pulled from shelves after a dispute over an uncleared sample) ranges from Ambient dreamscapes and artsy Indie Electronica to funky Chillwave and bubbling Electro Pop, with many tracks containing multiple elements of each. Frequently slathered with a trippy glaze of effects, Rigdon’s melodies are most often delivered in either a hushed, spectral murmur or a whirling falsetto, while the eclectic, always-danceable beats have a surprisingly live feel, even when resembling something conjured from an ancient drum machine. There’s also a refreshing lack of current dancefloor trends; not that it would kill the album, but dropping in a grinding Dubstep groove, for example, would totally break its often hypnotic spell.On Prisoner, Dark Colour makes digital music with an analog heart, instantly catchy Electro Art Pop that never panders and frequently surprises. Learn more about Dark Colour here and give a listen to Prisoner below.Prisoner by Dark Colour
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Cincinnati Metalcore band I Am The Messenger signed a record deal with Iowa-based indie label Bombworks Records and this weekend the band celebrates the first results of the new partnership with a Saturday show at Covington’s Mad Hatter.