September 15, 2017: "Oceanarium" will be released on November 15, 2017.
The music on "Oceanarium" is entirely instrumental, densely orchestrated, and has a wide variety of instruments, including cello, trumpet, bass clarinet, flute, saxophone, hammered dulcimer, banjo, mandolin, violin, oboe, and trombone, in addition to the usual keyboards, guitars, bass, and drums. Although many musical styles are included, the end result probably fits nicely under the label "symphonic prog."
"Oceanarium" is the second album in a planned three-level seven-album series. The first album "Heliotians" was released in 2014, and the third album "Lunarians" will hopefully be released in 2018. Those two albums had/will have hand-painted artwork and hand-written lyrics and/or notes for each of the roughly 300 copies (each containing a vinyl LP and CD). "Oceanarium," on the other hand, will be released as a regular 80-minute CD and double vinyl album. "Oceanarium" is on the middle tier of the three-tiered seven-album series and contains ideas found in the two albums beneath it (the previously mentioned "Heliotians" and "Lunarians"), but unlike those two albums, it is densely and carefully orchestrated and is entirely instrumental.
Here are the 8 tracks that will be on "Oceanarium":
1. "A Numbered Rat, a High Ledge, and a Maze of Horizons" [11:32]
2. "Drifting Inner Skyline Space" [8:28]
3. "The Blunt Sun and the Hardened Moon" [15:25]
4. "Finding a Valley in a Gray Area on a Map" [3:24]
5. "Finding a Shipwreck in a Valley in an Ocean" [6:20]
6. "Tropical Detective Squadron" [14:10]
7. "Marooned and Torn Asunder" [8:06]
8. "Water to Glass / The Ultimate Solution" [12:31]
Musicians: Dave Berggren- electric guitar (6), compositional contributions (6)
Dan Britton: keyboards, guitars, other instruments (1-8)
Neil Brown-trumpet (8)
Steve Churchill-oboe (1, 7)
Brett d'Anon- bass, guitars (1-8)
Brian Falkowski- saxophone (3), flute (4, 5), clarinet (8)
Patrick Gaffney- compositional contributions (1, 6)
Denis Malloy- bass clarinet (1, 2, 3, 8)
Corey Sansolo- trombone (1)
Natalie Spehar- cello (2, 4, 5, 8)
Zack Stachowski- violin (4, 5)
Christopher West- compositional contributions (6, 7)
Cover art: Alex Bennett
Here are samples from all 8 tracks:
"A Numbered Rat, a High Ledge, and a Maze of Horizons"
"Drifting Inner Skyline Space"
"The Blunt Sun and the Hardened Moon"
"Finding a Valley in a Gray Area on a Map"
"Finding a Shipwreck in a Valley in an Ocean"
"Tropical Detective Squadron"
"Marooned and Torn Asunder"
"Water to Glass / The Ultimate Solution"
November 2014: More copies of "Heliotians"
160 more numbered copies of this album have been made, in addition to the first 205 (365 total). Like the first 205 copies, these 160 copies each have a vinyl LP, a CD, hand-painted artwork, and some handwritten notes. But unlike the first 205, they aren't autographed, and they don't have handwritten lyrics. Since the first 205 sold well enough, the plan for a three-tiered heptalogy (seven albums) will probably happen. To celebrate the ostensible viability the three-tiered heptalogy (3 levels of 7 albums), each of these 160 copies will be sold for $37, a jaw-dropping reduction in price from the first 205, which were sold (on CDBaby at least) for $38.
Many of the musical ideas on "Heliotians" should appear under different titles and in different arrangements on the next Deluge Grander album "Oceanarium," which should be released on regular CD and vinyl LP formats (no expensive handmade artwork), hopefully by the end of 2015. There's a good chance that "Heliotians," "Oceanarium," and the five other yet-to-be-released albums in the heptalogy (the old plan for which can be found below on this very page) will eventually also be released in a budget-priced set of 7CDs or 10LPs, but that would probably be at least 5 years from now.
160 More copies of Heliotians
1. Ulterior (14:00)
2. Saruned (5:00)
3. Reverse Solarity (21:30)
The release date for Deluge Grander's third album "Heliotians" is February 5, 2014.
205 numbered copies of this album have been made. Each copy has a 180-gram vinyl LP, a CD, hand-painted artwork, hand-written lyrics, and is signed by all the musicians who played or sang on it. It was recorded and mastered mostly on analog tape, using mostly analog instruments. There are no plans for releasing this album in any other physical format, though some of the musical ideas might appear in different arrangements on future Deluge Grander albums.
On this recording, Deluge Grander is:
Christopher West: Bass, Flute, Vocals, Ressikan Flute
Cliff Phelps: Guitar, Vocals
Dan Britton: Fender Rhodes, Multivox, Univox, Vox, Mellotron (Thanks, Jim Rezek!), Hammered Dulcimer, Acoustic Guitars
Megan Wheatley: Vocals
Natalie Spehar: Cello
Patrick Gaffney: Drums
Although the music on the album is hopefully interesting and enjoyable, if people talk about this album at all, they'll probably talk most about the packaging. People might be surprised, confused, or even angry about it, so here are answers to some Questions You Might Have (QYMHs):
Why not also release it on a regular CD in a jewel case and sell them for $12-15?
A perfectly reasonable question. A release like this does indeed fail to satisfy someone who just wants a regular CD. I myself actually prefer regular CDs to expensive collectible vinyl LPs and electronic files. But as music is heard on the Internet more often, I think if you're going to release music in a physical format, maybe you should try to make that physical format as artistic and interesting as you can. This is one way to do that. Many people also like to have music on vinyl records, the containers of which are big enough to allow sizable, tangible artwork. Since roughly 2,000 people thought previous Deluge Grander albums were worth paying about $5-15 for in CD or electronic form, I'm hoping that maybe 100-200 will be willing to pay $38 for this handmade version, and that the rest will be content with the downloadable versions (Itunes, Bandcamp, etc.) and freely distributed video that contains all the music. Additionally, this release is the first of a planned seven-album series, the upper tiers of which will likely be released in less expensive CD formats, containing new pieces with some of the music on this release. I'm not sure if the whole series will actually be finished as planned; that depends mostly on how well things go with "Heliotians."
Did you really write all the lyrics out 205 times? And do 205 different paintings on the covers? Are you insane?
Yes, yes, and maybe.
Why sell vinyl LPs and CDs in the same package?
Each vinyl LP costs roughly $2 and each CD about $1 to manufacture. If a copy of "Heliotians" were sold with only one format, it would probably be sold for about $36 rather than $38. (The main reason the album is expensive is the cover.) There probably are some people who only want the vinyl LP and some who only want the CD, but they can rest assured that they wouldn't have saved much money if their unwanted disc weren't included.
How was the music recorded?
We recorded about 88 percent of the album ("Ulterior" and "Reverse Solarity") onto analog tape, using mostly analog instruments. Mixing it onto tape proved difficult, so we ashamedly reverted back to the digital realm (in 24-bit, 96-kHz files) for mixing, but the temptation to do additional recording once we had the digital files was resisted. We actually had the resulting mixes mastered by a professional (Andrew Mitchell of Audio Bay Mastering) especially for the vinyl release, and another mastered version for CD.
How did you get the CDs in the LP jackets?
I made 205 special cardboard inserts with slots that hold the CDs. They're not beautiful, but they get the job done: (the yellow thing is the CD (hand-numbered); the cardboard square is inserted into the left side of the gatefold)
How should the sleeves be handled and stored? Might the paint fall off?
Many things were done to improve the durability of the artwork. Although the covers were handled by many people during the lyric transcriptions, group signing sessions, and while being moved around, as of January 2014 (more than a year after the sleeve creation process began), about 70 percent of them show no sign of deterioration. Another 15 percent show some minor chipping along the spines, and another 15 percent (mostly the ones that were painted first) have some noticeable problems, again mostly along the spines. These partially damaged albums will be the last ones to go on sale. Paintings are not meant to be bent, so some spine damage is almost inevitable, and hopefully it won't be regarded as a major flaw. Each album will come with a high-quality 6-millimeter polyethylene sleeve which should protect it.
Do you have anything to say about the actual music?
Why, yes! The first track "Ulterior" was initially intended to be very atmospheric and almost ambient, but the band being what it is, we added a few more intense parts in the middle. There is a three-ascending-chords motif throughout the piece, and of course a big slow coda at the end. This one features cello, flute (including a Ressikan flute), and hammered dulcimer prominently. "Saruned" was based on an improvisation from almost 10 years ago. "Reverse Solarity" is notable for maintaining a steady beat through most of the 21 minutes (drummer Patrick Gaffney gets credit for recording the whole thing in one go on the second attempt), and there are some good chord sequences, guitar solos, real mellotron (Thanks, Jim Rezek!), and yet another big slow coda at the end with some great vocals.
And what about the lyrics?
The lyrics are about the Earth being a hollow spherical shell, with a small sun floating in the middle of the core, and lands and oceans on the other side of the approximately 20-mile deep crust. This interior side of the Earth can be reached by digging through the crust ("Ulterior") or flying through the small holes at the North and South Poles ("Reverse Solarity"). The sleeves are paintings of a view of this inner sun viewed from the surface of the inner crust.
Dan Britton, Deluge Grander, January 2014
First 205 copies of Heliotians