The Invisible Rays are a company of musicians dedicated to communicating complex and antediluvian emotions from cinematic, rhapsodic, and rhythmic music without the crutch of a singer. No language – just the intervals, spaces and rhythms invented by:
Ned Armsby – drums and samples
Brendan Haley – keyboards
Eric Krauter – bass
Rafi Sofer – guitar
- from the liner notes to Salute the American Popular Song, written by Dr. Brian Stevens, Pro Tem Dean of Music, Northeastern Florida College of Art, Song, and Dance.
Originally formed in 2001 by Sofer and Armsby, the I-Rays crossed musical paths with first Krauter and then Haley through Sofer’s audio engineering work at Q Division Studios in Somerville, MA and convinced them to join forces to forge a new sonic landscape. Never ones to shy away from the science and technology of music, the four piece instrumental band creates new combinations and possibilities in sound. Manipulating and layering sonics using instruments and equipment that span decades of innovation in modern music technology, from Mellotrons to Roland Drum Machines and from Fender Deluxes to Symphonic Bass, no stone is left unturned in search of the perfect sound.
Since early 2006 the quartet has been producing an epic work titled ‘Salute the American Popular Song.’ The songs on STAPS (the follow-up to 2004’s Put Your Gun Away) are concise compositions made up of a rich palette of sounds in a wide range of tempos and time signatures. As on their freshman release, The Rays use samples from B movies, old radio shows, and news broadcasts in the place of a “vocalist”. By juxtaposing and manipulating sources ranging from the 50’s Science Fiction B-movie ‘Teenagers from Outer Space’ to President George W. Bush’s invasion eve ultimatum speech on Iraq, meaning is twisted and reassigned, bringing forth new stories and narratives out of the ashes of the old – stories that range from the light and comedic to the somber and serious. The entire album is accompanied in live performances by video collages that interweave the video complement of the audio samples with other snippets from B-movies, found film, damaged family super 8 reels, and oscilloscope traces. These moving pictures augment the stories and moods and add a whole other dimension to the music.
Over three years in the making, ‘Salute the American Popular Song’ was hand crafted with singular dedication and reflects many life-changing events; while the songs were being written, recorded, and mixed children were born, jobs were lost and found, marriage vows were exchanged, and parents passed away. Making an album as ambitious in scope as STAPS was truly a collaborative effort. It started with four passionate musicians playing songs live in a room together. Over time, arrangements and parts were constructed, destructed, reduced, and re-invented until the final mix was printed. Everyone in the band had more than just a hand in the process; some sounds and parts were written, recorded, and layered repeatedly and manipulated until they no longer sounded like the sources they came from. But beneath all this sonic manipulation, the basic building blocks remained just what they were: unbridled, raw rock and roll in its purest, wildest form.
Taking their cues from influences such as Pink Floyd, Snoop Dog, Sonic Youth, Dr. Dre, Outcast, PJ Harvey, Genesis, Television, Throbbing Gristle, and Psychic TV, the Invisible Rays take you on a journey that’s unlike any you’ve been on before.