Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie contains several rock compositions that can be categorized as modern and progressive rock and several instrumental guitar compositions that are contemporary and “spell-binding.” For this project, I wanted to release something very special – something I would like to listen to if it was released by one of my guitar heroes. I love how electric and acoustic guitars sound when played together and how diverse they can be when played separate. It’s like a conflict between the two yet they are in harmony. It is real alchemie. I approached each track as if I was an alchemist in a musical laboratory and magick was my music.
Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie consists of a variety of electric and acoustic instrumental and vocal tracks, each with their own magickal characteristic. Instrumental tracks such as Element Earth, The Alchemist, Jimmy Page, and The Philosopher’s Stone were written and arranged to highlight my craft in terms of electric and acoustic guitar playing. Vocal tracks such as Never Enough, The Only 1, Angel with a Broken Wing, Call Out Your Name, and Land of Youth were included as they fit nicely with the instrumental compositions and, I believe, demonstrate an ability to write, record, engineer, and produce diverse music of varying textures. The alchemie of instrumental and vocal compositions complemented one another well.
I am most happy with the way the mixing of tones, effects, and instruments came together. It is very close to what I was hearing in my head. I think anyone who listens to this project will hear something unfamiliar with each new pass and that is what I want. I also believe this is true regardless of any track on this project. For example, a track like Land of Youth, with its thematic lyrical content, with layer upon layer of thick, heavy electric guitars and clean, acoustic harp guitar will stir the senses upon each new listen. Aside from the Celtic story within the lyrics, there is quite a bit going on with the music in that song in terms of the drums, 4/4, 7/4, and 6/4 measures, and guitar tones. Yet, a song such as Angel with a Broken Wing, with its minimal use of a single guitar track and single vocal track, is equally stirring. Angel with a Broken Wing was recorded live with just myself and singer Eric Martinez performing a single take with Eric’s lone, lead vocal and my stereo mic’d fender combo. I believe the lyrical content, vocal delivery, and simplistic guitar playing and tone, add to the strength of the track. My hope is that Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie is a magickal experience for each listener from beginning to end.
Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie is an eclectic body of work that incorporates many of the textured stylings I have executed in the past and introduced as new with this effort. Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie includes 5 vocal tracks and 8 instrumental tracks structured around a sophisticated, harmonic composition of electric and acoustic guitar.
From the sonic opening of Shaman’s Tree to the final words sung in Angel with a Broken Wing, this project contains a deep stylistic and complex alchemie of sound and words. Tracks such as Element Earth, The Alchemist, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice epitomize contemporary guitar instrumentation, while tracks such as Never Enough, The Only 1, and Land of Youth, embody myriad lyrical topics and approaches. The alchemie between acoustic and electric, resonance and silence, darkness and light – was truly nothing short of magickal to write and record.
Interestingly enough, aside from the music, during the recording of this project, I was introduced to an artist named Tammara Markegard. Tammara and I discussed the concept behind the album and her use of fantasy in her artwork. I asked Tammara if she would consider one of her paintings for the cover of the Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie. Tammara and I discussed the theme of the project and several song titles for the instrumentals as well as the lyrics to the songs Call Out Your Name and Land of Youth. I was truly honored when Tammara agreed to allow several pieces of work to be included, not only for the cover, but for the project itself. The album cover, with the two angels embracing, one with a broken wing and the other free to fly, was fantastic and captured so much of what I was trying to state musically, and through words, but in this case, visually. I felt the artwork captured the magick of the music, the celebration of light and dark, and helped tie the project together.
The music on this project is in many ways aural alchemie – the magick between acoustic and electric, which is chiaroscuro. I didn’t hold back on what I recorded. If I thought a tune would sound better by adding a dulcimer or harp guitar underneath a massive riff, I recorded it. In most cases it worked – and it worked well. I love that texture in music; simplistic and complex. Perfect imperfection. I love when you can go back and have a second or third listen and hear something you never did before. Although I placed a great deal of care and thoughtfulness into my performance, there are imperfections that make the project sound honest and natural. I believe it is possible to marry “real” guitar playing with the endless possibilities of digitally recording, and Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie blends this dichotomy well.
I assembled 13 very strong tracks that incorporate all the elements I love in music – dark and light. That was the theme throughout all the sessions for Electric Magick and Acoustic Alchemie and something I think comes across in the final product. I love the whole tug-of-war between acoustic and electric, vocal and instrumental, dark and light. There is an alchemie and art to that type of sound and that’s what I was going for when I set out to capture this project. Something magick.
Produced by Chris Dignam at Red Cell Studios Chicago, Illinois for Gram Theft Audio Sound and Production
Engineered by Chris Dignam and Dan Monahan
Published by CANE Dubh Music (ASCAP)
Equinox Management / 606N Entertainment Group
All songs written, arranged, and mixed by Chris Dignam
Photography by Damir Ara
Art direction, design, and layout by Chris Dignam
Chris Dignam – Electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, harp guitar, synth guitar, Appalachian dulcimer, acoustic and electric bass, keyboards, percussion, and vocals
Jeff Moehle – Drums and percussion on Shaman’s Tree, The Alchemist, Never Enough, Element Earth, Land of Youth, Jimmy Page, The Only 1, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Call Out Your Name, and The Philosopher’s Stone
Eric Martinez – Lead vocals on Never Enough, Land of Youth, The Only 1, Call Out Your Name, and Angel with a Broken Wing
Domingo Castillo, Jr. – Bass on Never Enough