Tides End – The History 2013
Tides End is the second MINKS album, but you could say it’s a world away from the first. All of the songs were written after I had moved to the East End of Long Island to try and cure some kind of writer’s block and to just get out of the city. This is a place that has been a creative inspiration to artists and writers for over a century and for good reason. It’s surrounded by mystery, intrigue, history and by water on three sides. Artists like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Peter Beard, Paul Morrissey and Willem de Kooning and writers like John Steinbeck and Kurt Vonnegut have all called the East End home at some point in their lives, past and present.
One day while I was out driving I noticed a very old house pushed so close to the dunes that it looked as if it would fall over the dune and onto the beach. The name of this estate was Tides End. I parked my car on the side of the road and noticed some people outside so we went up to talk to them. As it turned out, the family who owned the house was a group of brothers and sisters, who after decades of financial decline, were going to be forced to sell Tides End. I was invited inside the house and soon realized that they weren’t living in our world. They were living in their world, a world from another place in time. They didn’t own any modern appliances and they didn’t own any furniture that was sold in stores during my lifetime. Beautiful art covered every inch of the walls, but the house was falling apart and nobody seemed to notice. They talked to each other in an obsolete way, like character’s in a Truman Capote novel, and I was instantly lost in a world that could only have been imagined. I was now in a world where the sun and the ocean were King and Queen and everyone stopped what they were doing at 4 o’clock for gin and tonics on the lawn. I was fortunate to able to leave the house with a portrait painting of a woman named Margot and vivid memories that couldn’t escape me. Six months later I went back to Tides End. It was boarded up and had “No Trespassing” signs posted all around the property. I trespassed, I took pictures, I imagined the glory, I imagined the decline, I wondered where they are now, and I knew I’d never again get that same feeling.
The recording process started slowly at first, making weekly trips to New York City to visit the producer and engineer, Mark Verbos. I had orginally met him a few years after he had moved to New York from Berlin after a prolific career in techno and electronic music. Now he’s pretty famous for making analog synths. Last week we were at Sterling Sound getting Tides End mastered and we were chatting with the head sound tech who was around sixty years old. When Mark introduced himself he immediately smiled and said, “you’re Mark Verbos? I’ve been wanting to meet you for years!”
We recorded the entire album at Mark’s studio, which is in a former electric room in the base of the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge. It was surprisingly a very uninspiring and uncreative space but it forced us to use our imagination and find new ways to work together and push each other to explore new ideas. When we encountered a creative impasse I would either look at his copy of The KLF’s “manual” or suggest Mark choose a card from Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” series, which he designed in the 1970’s. They were always conveniently placed to the right of his mixing console. His knowledge of analog synthesizers helped shape the sound we were able to achieve. Our two favorite synths during the making of Tides End were the Buchla 200 system, and the Roland Super Jupiter. Some of the modules in the Buchla 200 system, Mark actually made himself. The only music he would allow me to listen to during the entire recording of the album was 10cc, Seal, Simply Red, Enigma, and early Chicago house music. Yes, really. Production technique? Maybe. The philosophy was to build texture and depth in a recording that blended ambience and immediacy. I wrote about everything from seeing crowd violence at sporting events to sitting on the beach with my family in Cape Cod each summer, to finding beautiful isolation in love. If there’s an overall mood to the album it’s just trying to find the beauty in little moments of everyday life. There’s no bold statement here, and in that regard, maybe less is more. This is an album for everyone, and not just artists and musicians. Everyone has special moments in their lives even if they haven’t found artistic ways to express them. Tides End celebrates that. It’s an album that represents me in an honest way and I’m proud of that. I’m the guy who is equally happy surfing, eating ice cream on a dock in the summer, and writing music all the same.
Spiritual adviser to MINKS