based guitarist Phi Yaan-Zek set a new standard for instrumental
art-rock fusion music on his 2010 album Dance With The Anima. Combining
a film score style of 60s inspired soundtracks with
a poly-rhythmic jazz-rock style performance, Dance With The Anima
was a worldwide hit with progressive guitar fusion fans. Now in
2012 Phi has released a companion CD entitled Deeper With The
Anima. Once again recording with and featuring the
drumming of Marco Minnemann, Deeper features Lalle
Larson on keyboards and several other players including bass man
Bryan Beller. Sounding inspired by Phil Manzanera during the
Quiet Sun days and some of Carlos Santanas more recent progressive
instrumentals, Deeper With The Anima is intergalactic surf
music, played fast and furious with Phis thoroughly processed
guitar sounds driven deep into the stratosphere by Minnemanns
ultra precise electro static rhythms and Lalle's soaring keyboard
sounds. The overall studio sound is excellent and once again, the
cover art and packaging is first rate. Deeper With The Anima
a safe bet for fans of adventurous 21st century instrumental jazz-rock.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: Is Deeper With The Anima kind of a companion album to
your last album Dance With The Anima from 2011? How would you
compare the two albums and are the same players on both albums?
Yes, Deeper With The Anima is the companion album to Dance
With The Anima. The music on 'Dance
' follows Marco's
Normalizer 2 drum solo exactly, the result being that each
track is much shorter as each musical idea had to move and develop
as the drums changed and being a very complex drum solo, you can imagine
how many musical changes were involved. Whereas with 'Deeper
I didn't have that restriction as I allowed myself to edit and rearrange
Marco's drums to form the basis for new and extended pieces. Hence
the tracks on the new album are longer as I could stay with and develop
the same idea over a longer time. 'Dance
' is more of
an exciting roller-coaster ride of mini-instrumentals that morph into
each other, while the tracks on 'Deeper
' have a more
traditional verse/chorus/solo instrumental song structure. Both albums
do share a few of the same musical themes throughout, some subtle,
some more obvious, and pretty much involve the same players, apart
from on 'Deeper
' where I brought in bassist Bryan Beller
for a couple of tracks to deliver that sumptuous tone and feel that
he does so impeccably.
mwe3: What is the chemistry like between you and Lalle and Marco?
What did each player bring the musical table so to speak?
PY-Z: I've known Lalle for over twenty years
now so we've influenced each other back and forth over the years.
He comes from a similar place to me musically in that we both have
a strong and very personal musical vision that we strive to share.
Also there's certain musical cues we share, like creating weaves of
sound and using cascading augmented triads to create otherworldly
textures, so he was the perfect kind of hyper-spatial warp-speed soul
brother to have solo with me on The Shrine Of The Augmented
Weave. With Marco it was his original Normalizer 2 drum
solo that got the whole creative ball rolling in the first place for
these 2 albums and we also all share similar musical sensibilities
and sense of humor. Both Marco and Lalle bring such a rich level of
musicality to my music in that you can throw anything at them from
speed metal to odd-meter jazz to a tango and they'll deliver it with
authenticity, depth and feel.
mwe3: What guitars and gear do you play and use on the Deeper With
The Anima CD? Theres such a wild contrast of sounds but
the overall recording sounds great.
Guitar wise I mainly use various customized Ibanez RG550 guitars from
the late 80's and early 90's. For some clean tone stuff I switch to
my Fender American Ash Deluxe Strat. I also have a 31 fret Danelectro
guitar that I use when I require an extended higher range of notes.
The acoustic guitars I use are a Fylde Falstaff steel string and K
Yiari nylon string classical cutaway. The amps I use are a Mesa/Boogie
DC3 combo, a Mesa Boogie Nomad 100W Head and a Fender Princeton. For
guitar effects this time on 'Deeper
' I experimented more
with plugins such as the SoundToys native bundle for various echo,
modulation and tremolo sounds than with my usual collection of guitar
pedals. However the basis for many of the strange and wild guitar
sounds on the CD are actually done using a variety of different guitar
techniques, such as extreme whammy bar abuse, multi-finger sliding,
harmonics, muted percussive scrapes, tapping, string-skipping and
pulling the strings off the fret-board.
mwe3: The CD artwork by Rebekah Ann Steele is once again great. I
imagine that your blend of music would be greatly inspired by artwork,
painting and what I like to call sonic architecture.
I'm inspired by 'mystery' and the 'mysterious' whether that's invoked
in nature, art, books, film, mythology or actual life experiences.
But I suppose most of all it is in nature... I get a lot of inspiration
from being within the calm and stillness of an ancient forest. Its
places like that where I can get a 'clear signal' without the deadening
noise and distractions of the modern world. I've also had a number
of what you may call 'paranormal' experiences, for want of a better
word, throughout my life giving me a window into other ways of viewing
reality and this has definitely shaped my musical expression. Hence
I guess I like to touch upon feelings and emotions in my music that
convey a sense of wonder, imagination, and there being 'more than
meets the eye', or 'ear' in this case. Part of that also includes
the occasional excursion into dark and foreboding territories, which
balances out the more playful elements of my music.
mwe3: Do you practice guitar still and how do you balance the technical
requirements of the guitar with the imaginative, compositional side
of recording music? Do you spend more time composing compared to practicing
and how does live performance fit into the equation?
PY-Z: I still try to practice a couple of hours
a day, but some days it is hard to find the time. But I do love practicing
and enjoy constantly learning new things on the guitar. I mean there's
always so much more to learn... I wish there were more hours in the
day or that human bodies had a 700 year life span or something! I
feel I'm only scratching the surface of what's possible musically,
and it is frustrating to have such a small window time-wise in which
to explore it all. I'm always composing though... its like a
constant stream of music that's always there whenever I tune into
it. Composing is never a problem and is usually quite immediate. It
feels like I've
got music for more than 10 albums on the go at any one moment, however
it is the transcribing, learning, practicing, arranging, recording,
mixing and financing parts of the process that take all the time.
The challenge for me is always trying to shorten the length of time
it takes to get from compositional idea to recorded music, especially
when I still have compositions from the early 90's that I'm still
trying to finish recording! And yes I do still manage to fit in some
gigs every month too.
mwe3: You were talking about another album planned for later 2012
called Reality Is My Plaything. Is that album still coming
up and also what other plans, recording, writing, and performance
wise do you have for 2013 and beyond?
PY-Z: 'Reality Is My Plaything' is an
album taken from the recording sessions I've been making in California
since 2007 with Marco Minnemann on drums, Bryan Beller on bass, and
special guests Mike Keneally on guitar, keys and vocals and Lalle
Larsson on keys. There's at least 4 albums worth of material mainly
recorded in 2007 and 2009 and it's a mixture of vocal and instrumental
music that inhabits a strange musical
world kind of like a UFO landing somewhere between Abbey Road
and Joe's Garage!! The first release from these sessions 'Reality
Is My Plaything' I'm hoping to release in the first half of 2013,
and I'm really liking the idea of making it a double album more and
more. The first disc of this set 'Plaything' is mostly alternative/progressive
rock vocal songs and quite catchy and accessible at that, while the
second disc, what I call the twisted younger brother of the first
disc, is mostly instrumental and is just seriously out there, totally
strange but beautiful, and at times quite epic and challenging to
play! Its a real distinct musical statement that I want to get
right before I release it. Otherwise, I have a few download singles
that I'll be releasing very soon, which include another remix from
' as well as the guitar instrumental track Phobos
Eats Your Satellites which I recorded with ex-IQ/Frost/Robert
Plant drummer Andy Edwards who also played on my CD Anomalies.
I've also just finished producing an acoustic world fusion CD by the
band Alive on which I also play guitar on a number of tracks. I'm
really happy with my playing on that one, and it should also be out
in the first half of 2013. So lots more music coming soon!
Thanks to Phi Yaan-Zek @ www.PhiYaan-Zek.com