Rosebud Bar, July 27th

We know, it’s a school night, and we’ve got three bands… But it’ll be a good time. This might even be Uranium Daughters debut, and at least one member of the iRays plays in that band, so it’s worth the headache in the morning…!

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Live @ Bob’s Welding Video Taping Singles Released!

We’re proud to unveil the first two video singles from our live taping at Bob’s Welding.

We set out to video tape a live show for a certain composer who had expressed interest in seeing what an Invisible Rays show looked and sounded like. We decided, since this was a time sensitive project, that we’d perform the show without an audience, not unlike Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii. We’d play four songs, four times, use four cameras, and put something together pretty quickly. The date was set: Labor Day.

We are very lucky to have some incredibly talented friends. Matt Koestner graciously allowed us to use his metal shop and provided invaluable assistance. Filmmaker and musician Doug Demay filmed and co-directed the shoot with us and pulled out his dolly, jib arm, and awesome lights. Before we knew it, we also had a great crew in the form of Mark Dyde, Mike Plante, Nell Ma’luf.

We ended up playing more than four takes of each song, and I think we used six cameras, and editing is still going on at full steam, but we believe that short of the shrieks of our audience we are presenting you with a faithful representation of what we’d like an Invisible Rays show to feel like.

Here’s the song Combinations:

Combinations – The Invisible Rays Live at Bob’s Welding from The Invisible Rays on Vimeo.

Watch Dynamation online at our Vimeo or Youtube pages.
Thanks for visiting us online!

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Don’t Run (PYGA, track 02,09)

From time to time we try to document how a song came to be. This is from an older blog, and was written by both Rafi and Ned about the writing and recording of Don’t Run. Click here to listen to Don’t Run and the reprise, Run.

This song ended up as track two on Put Your Gun Away, and I can’t remember why. It was originally a sketch that I recorded onto my 1/2″ eight track at the old Segue space using Ned’s drums, ron’s bass, and dan’s crappy casio keyboard. It even had a vocal section (“…Run…Don’t…”). It was derived from an open tuning song I had written in New Orleans about old friends changing to the point where they become different people (spiral into addiction plays a big part in the transformation). I think this track was possibly the most difficult to get just right for this project. It actually appears in another incarnation towards the end of the record as Run. More on that later.
Don’t Run was recorded initially in my bathroom on Bragdon St. (aka Blue Room Brain). Ned played the snare drum in there, and I both close mic’d it and distance mic’d it from the shower curtain. I recorded some dobro and numerous unplugged electric guitar tracks, all in the bathroom. Just assimilating those elements into coherent tracks was time consuming, because the song really had and still has no structure to speak of. I think this was early in my learning curve in terms of figuring out how to compose and edit my own performances using pro tools. It’s a fine display of the ABAB:|| phenomenon that we are so often guilty of…
Bass soon followed; but since Don’t Run was made at home from scratch using pro tools, it had a grid and thus the bass is heavily looped and sequenced. Oh, that’s also because I played it, and I’m a crappy bass player:)
For samples, I pulled some stuff from Roger and Me. Initially I used the rabbit lady, but we decided that sample was too cliche. We ended up with the deputy sheriff guy who evicts people; he has great cadence in his delivery. He’s very melancholy, and if you think of eviction in the context of the title of the song maybe you’d have some sort of narrative there. Also guesting towards the end of the song is Roger himself talking at a workers Xmass meeting or something (“In the hopes that nature will accommodate our longing for a Total Experience”). Now he’s a slimy fuck! I kept other samples around from that movie that have made appearances in unpublished Ray Loops, such as Wouldn’t It Be Nice.
Since the track kicked around for so long without us feeling as though it was properly completed, it endured many overdubs. A few things stuck; kick and floor tom were recorded using dan’s weird old cocktail kit, but we did that in our new practice space on Brookside. Those tracks are woefully out of phase… Also at the Brookside space (Sunshine Studio) we recorded some electric guitar through the Cordovox rotating speaker cabinet. A highlight of the recordings on this track was the invention of the Voice Changer Toy inside the Coffee Can effect, which is the feedback sound that dominates the intro of the song. While this sound continues to amuse my clients to no end, I have yet to have recorded it on anything else! Also added at Blue Room Brain is the little static guitar amp noise heard at the very beginning of the song, which corresponds to the dobro part. I spent quite a few minutes on that little nothing!
At some point I was so frustrated with the song that we tried recording the track again at another session at the barn, with JD and I both playing along with Ned. I played guitar while I think JD played bass. JD took those recordings home and messed with them using his digital recorder. Those recordings resulted in the track Run. They also provided us with a great synth line that we had JD perform onto the final version.

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PYGA Review From the CD Baby Staff (ca. 2005)

Three minute pop rock instrumentals. That’s right. With so many instrumental rockers concerned with the extended jam, The Invisible Rays ask the following: why make a song ten minutes long when you can make it in three and make it rock? The textured instrumental expanses (created by guitars, bass, drums, well-placed samples, and electronic elements) serve as musical building blocks while the actual songs swoon, hum, and buzz with some catchy pop prowess. While there are hints at Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, and Calexico, this record does stand alone; it is instantly appealing, and there’s plenty for you guitar geeks to dissect over the long term.

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PYGA review from CD Baby (ca. 2005)

Badassmospheric rock that your friends haven’t heard yet
Reviewer: Justin A.
Admittedly, even the website is badass – and the album deserves it. The opener track “Fete Fatale” gave me an idea of what it could sound like if Sonic Youth, Portishead or maybe even My Bloody Valentine ever tried to soundtrack a Philip K Dick novel or redo the music for Patrick McGoohan’s spy/mindf*** show “The Prisoner”. The rest of the album is similarly evocative, with a compelling signature sound.

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The Boston Noise Reviews Put Your Gun Away (2005)

From The Noise – by Joe Coughlin
There’s a special place in heaven for all-instrumental bands who can really pull it off, ’cause there’s about a dozen if we’re lucky. Except now it’s 13. This is trotted out as “an imaginary spy film soundtrack,” but it would work just as beautifully if they’d titled it “Steaming Pile Of Dung.” What sets these forward thinkers ahead is the sheer variety of moods they’re willing to take on. I mean, let’s face it, The Ventures and Los Straitjackets are all good fun, but they don’t exactly run ya through the emotional gamut. There’s playful, pensive, sinister, spacey, and much more here, and not a note of it feels forced. Plus, it says they largely wrote it as they recorded, which hints at some massive possibilities for their future. The overall organic wash of this is far greater than the sum of its considerable riffs and soundbites, resulting in a grand head-trip of the finest order. I seriously can’t wait to hear it in a moving car. Or for their next one. My only advice would be to bag the motifs next time, because some people are actually dumb enough to only hear what you tell them they’re hearing. Just do your thing, because it happens to be extremely damn cool and necessary right about now.

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The Boston Noise Reviews STAPS (ca. 2010)

Salute the American Popular Song

11-song CD

Way back in issue #247, I blew considerable sunshine up this all-instro band’s ass for one of the finest things I’d heard that whole year, from anywhere. Why it’s not in their website’s meager press section, I have no idea. They do correctly say there that they “use samples from B movies, old radio shows, and news broadcasts in the place of a ‘vocalist’.” And I’m pleased to report that they’ve done it again, and jacked it up some, even. But let’s get a few things straight: There are no American popular songs here (which is fine). The music is all over the place, while still entirely focused on the mood of a given piece. The whole thing flows like a wacked-out, beautiful dream, I flat-out love it, and it’s a serious keeper. WHY, then, do they have to treat their [potential] audience (through their notes, etc.) like retards? Yes, gents, it’s THAT fucking annoying. If I heard this in a store, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. If I merely read the fruity-assed drivel you use to sell it, I wouldn’t just put it back, I’d hide it so no one else would have to feel so belittled. This kinda self-sabotage is especially baffling when the material is so exceptional, and I offer the advice as kindly as possible. It really matters. Cut the shit. (Joe Coughlin)

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New England Performer Review

The Invisible Rays
Salute the American Popular Song
Boston, MA
Produced by The Invisible Rays // Engineered
and mixed by Rafi Sofer at Q Division Studios
in Cambridge, MA // Mastered by Jeff Lipton at
Peerless Mastering in Boston

Rarely does one come across an album that truly takes you on a emotional and imaginative journey through sea, space and time – much less an instrumental album. Yet STAPS is exactly that, able to find the perfect mix of heavy, fun and cool within its 11-track frame.

Album opener “Dynamation” and “DK Ray” will inspire the simultaneous urges to do the twist and conspire in dangerous espionage before jumping out of an airplane with an umbrella, while the three-part “Submarine” opus is a deep-sea journey of discovery that lets the band’s more progressive influences shine through. The I. Rays forgo the traditional rock singer that would take the focus off of the music and replace him with spoken words samples that may have come from a ‘50s B-movie, old-time radio or perhaps a speech by a recently retired president. Which are you hearing now? That’s part of the intrigue.

Named after a 1936 sci-fi film, the The I. Rays make music that plays out as a deep, yet kitchy speculation on the future, and could easily be used to score a modern sci-fi or spy film.
Indeed, the band’s self-released music videos are mostly composed of re-edited clips from the movies they sample. Using these past predictions, silly as they are, show us that our own expectations are likely to be looked on much the same way when the time comes. So don’t worry about it too much, just enjoy the ride.

Garrett Frierson

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Closer Listen reviews STAPS

Miskatonic’s second release, our producer, Rafi Sofer, played us what he called a “rough mix” of a song off his band’s upcoming album. He said they weren’t happy with it yet. We were blown away (and briefly considered abandoning our musical pursuits in favor of indoor gardening).

Rafi’s band, The Invisible Rays, were working on their sophomore release, Salute The American Popular Song (2009), an epic work that took three years to complete. If I had to choose one word to describe the Boston-based Rays it would be cinematic. Their songs are cinematic in scope: their vast soundscapes take advantage of decades of technology, from Mellotrons and Roland Drum Machines to Fender Deluxes and Symphonic Bass. Their influences are cinematic: the band uses spoken word samples (from sci-fi b-movies, old radio shows, news broadcasts, presidential speeches, etc.) in place of traditional vocals. And they are cinematic in performance: The Rays have created high quality, entertaining videos for nearly all of the songs on Salute, and their live shows are a visual extravaganza. (I was lucky enough to be at the CD release party for Salute. The band projected the videos behind them as they played in perfect time to them.)

Although The Invisible Rays are a traditional four-piece band: guitar (Rafi), bass (Eric Kreuter), keyboards (Brendan Haley), and drums and samples (Ned Armsby), they sound nothing like it. Constantly experimenting with technology, the band layers and manipulates parts and instruments until they no longer sound like their sources. Ambitious and innovative, their songs are painstakingly crafted in a variety of tempos and time signatures, layering and juxtaposing sounds to create something fresh and powerful. Yet for all the artful science behind it, the songs often maintain a punk rock sensibility. Influences can be heard — the B-52s, Throbbing Gristle, the Ventures, Sonic Youth — but the overall effect is unique. The Rays can be humorous, creepy, melancholy, or uplifting, but they are always engaging.

The band is currently working on finishing the final two videos for Salute. (I’m hoping they release a DVD.) They’re also experimenting with new sounds and sculpting them into new songs.

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Videos are almost done

Spent last night trouble shooting Ned’s octapad. Turns out it needs to get recycled.

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