Mono Is King!

by Chris Preston

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about

Rawly recorded (in mono.) guitar pop saturated by 70s AOR and American musical theatre; an ambitious debut by a well-meaning analog recordist who had no idea what playing every instrument yourself can do to your mind.

They say that you have your whole life to write your first album. Though I wrote the songs on Mono Is King! mostly in 1996, I definitely tried to cram a lifetime of experience into the songs and the grooves.

Mono Is King! was a nod to AM radio in the 70s, which I loved so well. The album is in mono (meaning not in stereo) just like the music that came out of my transistor when I was a kid. I recorded the record on 8 track and mastered it on quarter-inch reel-to-reel tape. I rejected all special effects and digital technologies, leaving only distance (how loud something was in the mix) to create the sonic image. In the theme of distance, most of the songs on Mono Is King! were about the self-imposed isolation of ambition and the longing for connection that always lay beneath the exterior. Many of the characters are loners that seek a single true companion.

I was religious about analog recording in the 90s, but I was broke and acquiring analog equipment was harder then than it is now. It’s a good thing I went with the monaural concept, because I picked up the half-track machine second-hand and the heads on it were totally shot. The right channel was especially weak. I had the heads replaced on that old tape machine after Mono Is King! was off to the manufacturer. For $600. Ouch!

Even though Mono Is King! is on CD, it has two "sides," like an LP. Each side was conceived as a complete thought and each one leads to the other. In fact, at the end of side two, I introduce the first song on side one. This was my first attempt at playing every instrument and singing every part myself on a recording. I only enlisted a drummer’s help, because I didn’t yet own a kit. (So broke…) Being alone in a studio for that long, rolling tape myself and performing each track one at a time, I started to go a little stir crazy, hearing weird things in the playback and getting punchy in the late night sessions. By side two, I had decided to document that experience, which accounts for all of the weirdness between the actual songs. I gave those little gems their own IDs on the disc, but to hear them, you’ll have to get Mono Is King!

Mono Is King! changed my life forever. I hope it demonstrates how much can be done with very little.

credits

released March 25, 1997

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Chris Preston Denville, New Jersey

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