Posts in Music
Living Room Sessions: Gunwife Gone

For this month's Living Room Session, we put Baltimore Cabaret rockers, Gunwife Gone to the task of playing one of their songs with nothing but homemade and found instruments.  They had about a week to rehearse. By the end of it, drummer Ryan had managed to find 15 sounds you can make with a water cooler jug. So remember, the next time you are at the office and the water cooler is empty, pop that shit off and see what kind of music you can make. I'm sure your coworkers won't mind. 

Special thanks to audio technician Rex Anderson for mixing and mastering the audio for us. 

Listen to Gunwife Gone's new EP

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Living Room Sessions is a Human Being Productions original series. We take talented musical acts out of their element, and into our living room.

For more information, visit: www.humanbeingproductions.com/livingroomsessions

Ben Levin Group - Freak Machine

Boston musical explorers Ben Levin Group just released their album Freak Machine, possibly their strangest, most intricate musical epic yet recorded. To make a video that could match their audio journey we asked Ben Levin to script a music video as if there were no practical constraints. Check out the music video, and look for Freak Machine at the group's bandcamp page, available now.

Check out Ben Levin Group at benlevingroup.com

LIVE from Jena, Germany! Black Lung - Mind Is Lost

Black Lung's live show in Jena, Germany was pretty intense. It was the second night of a two day festival and the band would be playing to a crowd of several hundred people. The drive that day wasn't too bad; only about five hours. so we had plenty of time to get in a few games of kicker (or foosball as we would call it) and become quick friends with the other bands and people working at the venue. 

Before the trip had started we had given ourselves the goal of shooting a real solid single take music video. The video below is what we consider to be one of the more successful takes. This was was also the first time the audio technician for a show not only recorded the band's set but mixed and mastered it as well. So that was totally friggin' rad.

Check it out. 

Ms Sara and her Tiny Desk

NPR's Tiny desk Concert Series is a real gem of a show. So when Baltimore's very own Ms Sara and her accompanying band approached us to help with an audition video, we jumped at the opportunity. Shot in one of our living rooms with the assistance of audio engineer (and roommate) Kevin Considine and a bottle of Knob Creek we managed to make a little bit of magic happen. 

RARE CANDY ALBUM RELEASE, "FINALLY" AT MAGFEST-13

At long last, the anxiously awaited release of RARE CANDY's newest album "FINALLY"... finally. 

Full-throttle, action-packed video game music cover band. They exist, and RARE CANDY is one of the best. Last spring, we were lucky enough to catch their set at the Black cat in Washington DC. What you're about to watch is the promo video that came from it. 

Be sure to check them out this year at MAGFEST 13! What's that, you ask? Oh, I don't know. Just one of the biggest Music And Gaming (get it?) festivals in the region. We're talking about a four day long party dedicated to the appreciation of video game music, gaming of all types, and the gaming community. 

On a scale of one to stoked, we're pretty friggin stoked.

The Miss Lonelys, Snakefeast and Bent Knee at The Crown

Recently, HBP found its way to the half-renovated, odd-smelling building on Charles street that serves as home to The Crown, one of Baltimore's newer music venues. Camera in hand, we couldn't help but take note of some of the great bands that performed there that night. Here's a little gallery with some of the photos we took. 

Old Outfit 

Old Outfit 

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

The Miss Lonelys

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Snakefeast

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Hearing Pictures: Working with Ben Levin Group

Ben Levin and I have been collaborating on visual work since about 2008. The bulk of this has been with Ben Levin Group, a progressive-music enterprise that brings tight, rigorous ensemble work to wildly diverse compositions.

Ben's thing is to create these hour-plus musical epics. To get an idea, take a second to dig into Ben Levin Group's Bandcamp page. (Invisible Paradise is a personal favorite) Some are created solo with multiple tracks, many are scored to be performed live with Ben Levin Group. They span pretty much every genre they can, and go in wildly different directions, but there have been two constants:

- There will be a story, whether or not you can hear it

- It will be about death


Now nobody can lay a particular claim on the idea of mortality, and none of us really have any authority on the subject. Processing the idea of our own eventual death is something everyone has to deal with, in private moments and in the times we gather to compare notes. Ben's stories don't offer anything new about it, they only explore the idea of death in small pieces. He's just another person doing the same thing we're all doing, but it is a gift to be allowed into his version of the process. 

In these stories, he takes bits of memories, experiences, and stories and uses them to poke and prod at the idea of death in a roundabout way. Storylines often draw from comics and movies: a rocket will carry the last of humanity off a dying planet, a voice on the radio announces that all humans only have 24 hours to live, an immortal reflects on his life. These over-the-top scenarios are safe testing grounds to process real-life events - the loss of a loved one, the aging of another, a first kiss. It's much easier to look at big scary ideas once you turn them into storybook monsters.

An early draft of Pulse of a Nation

The power comes not from the stories themselves but from the characters and feelings that come to life through the music. These are real feelings from real life, but placed in a new context that allows us all to look at them more comfortably. Movement 1 of Invisible Paradise uses a page from a girl's journal to introduce the death of her world and the birth of a new one. The lyrics give time for Courtney Swain's voice to build from fearful hope to grieving rage against the inevitable. The beauty of this method of storytelling is that it gives so much attention to the emotional riches of a story and so little to the details. It is pretty much impossible to tell what's happening in one of these (the first few were entirely instrumental, and lyrics have since found their way in), but if you can get a glimpse of the story the music becomes a journey unique to you.

The final cover

The final cover

This is sort of where I come in. We share a fascination with the intersection of music and images. Music comes from the realm of emotions, while images deal with pieces of the real world. Our collaborations act like opera playbills, giving the listener clues about the story of the piece without upstaging the music.

Album art stays minimal, with a focus on typography. Supplemental materials go deeper into the story and can be more literal.

The title Pulse of a Nation initially made me think of silent films, but after listening to the music I wanted something simultaneously older and more immediate, and pulled fonts from Thomas Payne's Common Sense.


This year, Ben asked me to design a cover for the upcoming album Freak Machine. The album follows a caricature of a sexually frustrated young man who has fired a pistol into his brain. The entire album takes place from the time the bullet enters his skull to the time it exits. The work is by turns crude and elegant, stooping to the man's level and then following him back out as he explores the madonna/whore paradox and the suffocating pettiness of the life he has built and imposed on others. 

Ben Levin Group covers have always been a chance to experiment with materials. For Pulse of a Nation it was revolutionary-war-era embroidery and prints. For Invisible Paradise it was children's toys and craft supplies. Some of my favorite details from Freak Machine were moments of partial clarity the character had, witnessing his body being discovered and packed away through the filter of his evaporating brain. These offered the materials for this album: plastic sheeting, a coroner's report, a powder burn.

I liked the idea of things being seen or half-seen through plastic sheeting. For type, I laid out the cover in pencil and traced it with wire, trying to be as clean as I could with the letters and letting loose with the underlying structure. These letters were then tacked to a plastic sheet with super glue. I put together a simple frame with corner bead and pointed a work light at them, and the piece was ready to photograph.

After watching the super glue interact with the light, I kept playing with the plastic. Fire, wax, dirt, and solvents all created different points of tension and texture in the surface.

Other panels drew from the upcoming music video.

Freak Machine drops Feb 10, 2015. Check out the rest of BLG's music at benlevingroup.com