By Wiley Rogers // PHotos by Zack Marker
**University avenue is a long thread of cars with a lot of nasty knots.
At sunset, driving west I can barely see out of the windshield.
###Diesel is leaking on our engine block and the carbon monoxide detector is beeping on the overpass. Zack is in the Gem Bubble seat and I'm not worried about any cops on the Gilman frontage road. We pass a drift wood cross sculpture and piles plastic sorted around tents that line the underpass.
Zack lines up a passing Winnebago in the star canon sights
))The security guard recognizes the bus is kicking us out and lets us get fresh looks of Splendor's recent transformations. The sun is hugging Mt. Tamalpais. Horse track hay trucks bounce light. She's looking different. Good.
Welcome the change and movement
^^^^^This is a stable landing strip. Bus shows typically co-exist peacefully with Horse Track security guards. I don't recognize him in the white pick up truck. He wants us to leave and I can tell he's serious; he's not lazy and indifferent, he really cares about securing the horse track.
People Here learn how to drive and make out and smoke weed and drag race and live in cars and walk dogs.
&&&&&& Zack and I get the looks we need. Decided not to open the stage can opener. Didn't want to deal with the bolts and bottle jacks. Splendor is looking good though.
Fresh Space Vibe
Mikayla Recording @ Santos Studio
by Wiley Rogers
West Oakland, California, Santo: a recording studio in an old auto mechanics side room, filled with reclaimed lumber walls, guitars hanging up the wall and old over carpeted floors; sedums grow out of urban ore refuse. Definitely an Oakland vibe; It feels comfortable here. A stable rouge block of sediment. Layers of East Bay stacked fortuitously over one another, a familiar mixture of influence and personal connection.
Mikayla is singing now. Light from the concrete wall outside is bouncing off reflective parts of her guitar, but otherwise she sways back and forth in the dark and I’m having trouble making out her figure. She plays James’ guitar. A somewhat infamous small Washburn from the 1940’s that I've always been extra careful handling and seem to prioritize above all other Splendor guitars – admittedly somewhat unfairly. I think this is mostly a reaction to his attachment to it – which is strong and vocal. David Nario, a name that’s woven through my Bay Area social world is playing with guitar tones from the engineer booth, a shingled outpost, perched like a tree house above the main recording room. Red clay earth tone carpets float everyones feet.
"Elle was so clear. James is Commander."
This is the second visit James Wallace has made to the Bay Area to produce Splendor music. “Is there a brightness knob on that one David?” “Play with that tone knob while I listen to it.” Elle was so clear. James is Commander. Someone who is able to contextualize and voice what he needs to see. This foresight is much needed in a studio where many of us seem more inclined, in a truly bay area fashion, to stumble upon the perfect world. Perfection is easily found in our sight lines here. Pushed off the coast a few miles, along a mountain ridge, it’s just easily found here. The plotting and strategies are lost on the found.
James has a plan. He speaks in unapologetic directives. “Derek move back from the speaker.” At first this was jolting and set off the social mixing board inclinations in me. I found myself pouring extra attention and eye contact into the negative spaces of James’ directives. Offsetting direction with a layer of support. Deeply concerned that everyone feels heard. I think it’s easy to forget that most of the world prefers taking directions. It’s so much easier and guaranteed to function/work. Protecting everyone’s power is one of the great balancing acts I find myself doing daily.
"Sometimes things stop when she sings. Whole rooms stop."
Mikayla is singing again. Sometimes things stop when she sings. Whole rooms stop. There is a lot of death all around. Stable warm newly dead death. And she sings about it’s presence in the room. How it’s around us. Inside and out. The beauty of her voice cuts through death's handholds. Lighting up it’s fingerprints like a museum exhibit. Mapping the heavy dark beauty of death’s following. Not everyone in the world is willing to go there. Fewer maybe are able to communicate from these difficult spaces. But there is a confidence in Mikayla’s voice and exploration that stops a room. Neck’s furl and hairs ripple. Eyes follow in disbelief. It’s part of her great strength – the power that she has put the time in. Looking at herself. Looking at her life. Examining our odd world with an unmatched curiosity and determination to feel what's right and true and good. Her songs walk us down the often painful road of individualization and meaning building. A guide for those willing to think as hard as the feel.
“5 SPIRITS” BY ELIOT EIDELMAN
Eliot Eidelman’s new album “5 Spirits” is a thought rock masterpiece. Daniel Day Lewis rides into town naked on a horse with this album in his fists before spreading eagle and ascending into the heavens. El Paso is the safest city in America. Laura is a holy, holy jam. The complex drumming and liquid lap steel guitar accentuate Eliot’s masterful chord progressions, confident vocals and vivid lyrics.
Eliot and Evan (the Dogman) have baked, cooked, marinated, distilled and spiced a serious sound de jour. Tyler Nuffer, slinky on the lap steel, adds a new dimension to the stream-crossing duo. Tyler’s sound engineering is authentic and professional, instantly classic, way bigger than a submarine. Noticeable sonic growth from the duo’s previous releases together – “The California Sun” and “The Shining EP”.
We’re eager to hear anything Eliot makes. Jams and Lullabies. This album is hot and classic. Give it a hero’s listen.