Boil That Dust Speck

keneally store buy cd buy dvd

Boil That Dust Speck Mike Keneally

Boil That Dust Speck
Mike Keneally

Released 1994, remastered/reissued 2007

Mike’s comments (2013):

The “difficult” second album.

To this day it’s still a lot of peoples’ favorite of my albums, I think because of the heavier material on it (ie. “Cause of Breakfast,” “Weekend,” “Scotch”), a particular flavor of writing I really haven’t done again since. Probably because I haven’t been that particular flavor of depressed since. (My depressive episodes since then have been a variety of other flavors. I think the “Dust Speck” depression flavor was pistachio. Hence the green cover.)

The first music recorded for it was “The Old Boat Guy,” a trilogy of percussion pieces that were intended as backdrop for more elaborate instrumentation later on. The day after recording it I learned that Frank Zappa had died that same day. (I opted to leave the percussion tracks un-decorated.) A few months later, with the making of the album still underway, my father died, one day shy of his 72nd birthday. My dad and Frank both died from the same disease. Between those two events my daughter Jesse was born, a ray of light. The emotional whiplash generated by all these life-altering events resulted in an album a good few parsecs removed from the generally more light-hearted tone of hat.

This album was a tough one to bring on home. It’s natural, after feeling like I’d done a pretty acceptable job with hat., that I would have felt some self-imposed pressure with Dust Speck. What I didn’t see coming was that, a couple of nights before the editing session (this was back in the days before I, and basically everyone really, had constant access to editing software), I would listen to all the mixes in order and feel so profoundly bummed out by it that I would stay up most of the night frantically re-ordering the tracks, cutting some material and reinstating other material, and crafting (on paper) a series of edit-collages from the material I had available, just to give a bit more lightness to the thing. I’ll always feel grateful for having done that last listen-through (during a late-night joyride – I guess the prefix “joy” is not well-considered here under the circumstances – with Bryan Beller and Tom Freeman) – it would have been kinder to my nervous system to have done it a few nights earlier though!

A lot of the songs were demo’d (demoed? Demoted?) at home prior to entering Double Time studio, using the same 8-track cassette Portastudio I’d recorded “Lightnin’ Roy” and other bits of hat. with. A signifying characteristic of several of the songs (I’m looking at YOU “Cause of Breakfast,” “Top Of Stove Melting,” “Aglow,” “Weekend”) is that when I did the demos at home, I didn’t have the structure entirely worked out; I had basic components of the rhythm guitar parts written, but I improvised song structures onto tape without necessarily knowing how long I would play each section, how I’d segue from section to section, or even precisely how I’d play the sections themselves (sometimes I would improvise within the section, adding new chords and whatnot; for instance the chordal backdrop which formed the long instrumental section in “Breakfast” was basically entirely improvised beyond the first few chords. I knew how I wanted it to feel though, and I think I probably got closer to that feeling by composing the harmonic underpinning spontaneously rather than trying to compose it all in advance, which can kill momentum sometimes if you’re having a very strong musical feeling about something.). Once I had the rhythm guitar section kind of strung together this way it would work on melodies, bass lines, lyrics etc. That’s why the structures of those songs are so odd and kind of freewheeling, with beats added or subtracted seemingly at random, and it was an exhilarating way for me to make songs come to life.

“Top of Stove,” I remember I wanted it to feel like “Electric Ladyland” somehow. I don’t know that it really does, but that was the starting point. It’s become probably one of the most-played songs in the live repertoire; for such a peculiarly-structured, mostly languid piece, it really has staying power for me, and the groove behind the guitar solo makes it really hard for me to resist playing again and again.

The musical feel I wanted for “Breakfast” came to me while I was driving one night. There was a danger of it impeding my driving so I had to pull into a parking lot and sing super loud in the car, over and over, until I’d heard myself sing it enough times that the feeling of it could stick with me until I could get to a guitar. It’s probably one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever written, it’s ended many a live gig. I must have really been feeling that opening figure, because the song “Weekend” starts with the same rhythmic approach, but quickly becomes a whole other kind of grind.

Putting “Sooth” first was a perverse move; it’s the weirdest thing on the album. It was also serendipitous in the extreme; I took a drum-and-tabla jam that Toss Panos and Satnam Ramgotra recorded while I was late getting to the studio, layered it with the already-recorded keyboard tracks for “Sooth” just to hear how they sounded together, and they turned out to be the exact same length. The drum groove was Toss’ invention and I should have given him writing credit but I was feeling too possessive about the song. He’s since accepted my apology.

“Good Morning, Sometime” arrived in its entirety in a dream, like “Apple Pie” did on the first album. In this dream, “Good Morning, Sometime” was playing on the clock radio sat on the headboard of the bed I was sleeping in. I could feel that I was about to wake up, but forced myself to stay asleep until the song was over. Even the ridiculous drum solo was part of the dream. The intentionally awkward fade-out was NOT part of the dream, but was meant to indicate that the song had been recorded in the ’60s on a mixing board with no faders, only knobs with indented demarcation points. Pretty esoteric stuff. The mono mix was also intended to help convey that “recorded in the ’60s” fantasy.

I dove deeper than usual into altered guitar tunings for this album. “Natty Trousers” is D G D G A E, a random tuning which elicited an incredibly rich series of chords when I messed around with it, resulting in what might be my favorite song on the album, one that’s really hard to nail live but we got a pretty nice version on the bakin’ @ the potato! DVD. Other unusual tunings on Dust Speck: “‘Cause of Breakfast” has the low E dropped down to C; “Weekend” is an open D 13 add 9 chord (D A C F# B E); “Scotch” is like a dropped D tuning, but down a half step so it’s really a dropped C# (C# G# C# F# A# D#) in concert pitch; and “The Desired Effect” is an open D 11 chord (D A D G C E). “Desired” was written about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, after his death; the idea being that they’re both traveling far apart from one another, the verses representing Courtney singing to Kurt, and the choruses Kurt singing to Courtney, even though they can’t hear one another.

The main melody for “Them Dolphins Is Smart” came to me during a shower. It really felt as though it was emerging from the showerhead along with the water; the melody poured onto me. I dried off and figured it out on keyboard immediately.

“Faithful Axe,” obviously, is a tribute to Yes, done with the utmost affection and respect, I swear. It’s also a tribute, unintentionally, to how deeply Yes’ music is sewn into my consciousness: I’d intended to bring my copy of the “YesYears” CD boxed set into the studio on the day I was scheduled to record my overdubs for this song, but halfway down the freeway from LA to San Diego I realized I’d forgotten it. In the studio I had to rely on memory to replicate the Steve Howe guitar parts and tones, probably ultimately more effective than if I’d had the original versions to compare to and, likely, get overly obsessive about replicating. The lyrics and melody had come to me – it felt like they were delivered to me cosmically – after lying on the couch one afternoon listening to Jon Anderson’s solo album Olias Of Sunhillow. I know it sounds like a pisstake, and it’s certainly not very reverent, but I do have great respect for the way Anderson used words as sound paintings – I think the vocal parts of Close To The Edge, for example, are a stunning artistic achievement. For the drumming I simply asked Tom Freeman to play his favorite Bruford riffs; if I remember correctly, it was his idea to start it off with the “South Side Of The Sky” drum intro. I chose for the bass part to simply play the first four harmonics from “The Fish” repeatedly, and for the keyboards to continually play the same Wakeman-esque doodle over and over again – anything more elaborate and the arrangement would have been too cluttered. People keep requesting that I play this song live. I laugh!

I was again fortunate, as I was on hat., to have such brilliant, flexible musicians helping me. Toss Panos, Doug Lunn, Bryan Beller, Joe Travers, Tom Freeman and the other guests all turned in heroic work on this record. I’m forever in their debt, truly.

The DVD that comes with the 2007 remastered reissue features a 90-minute “making-of” feature that is really exhaustive, and includes a LOT of actual footage of the making of the album, including the entire “Bullys (sic)” guitar solo as it was being played, as well as 2006 live-in-the-studio renditions with Toss and Doug. It’s one of the best DVDs we’ve produced at Exowax, I believe. And the CD is a sonic improvement over the original, if not as drastically improved as the hat. reissue, since Dust Speck always sounded quite nice to begin with – but I did audition numerous source tapes and found the most pleasing versions of each track to include – it’s a subtle improvement, but it’s improved. And most importantly, the album was made available again after many years out of print.

 


Boil That Dust Speck Standard Edition (Remastered)
Mike Keneally

Exowax Recordings 2007

Promo copy:

Mike on 1994’s BTDS: “This was an album I very much needed to make– an album wrenched out of my darkest depths while in the throes of an exciting variety of emotional torment, this album is a lot less goofy than hat.” The result has been heralded as a masterpiece by critics and fans. Its songs have been a major part of Mike’s live sets for years and head-ripping live versions are featured his 2006 Guitar Therapy Live release. BTDS has been unavailable for eons, and collectors have paid exhorbitant prices for it.

Keneally’s entire Immune catalog from the 1990s is being remastered and reissued by Exowax. Boil That Dust Speck has been remastered with its original track order and is also available as a Special Edition with a bonus DVD. Songs on the remastered Boil That Dust Speck CD are:

  1. Sooth
  2. ‘Cause Of Breakfast
  3. The Desired Effect
  4. Skunk
  5. I’m Glad There’s Lemon-Freshened Thorax In You
  6. Top Of Stove Melting
  7. Aglow
  8. Bryan Beller’s Favorite Song
  9. Deep-Fried Skinks Are Go!
  10. Good Morning, Sometime
  11. Them Dolphins Is Smart
  12. 1988 Was A Million Years Ago
  13. Yep, Them Dolphins Is Smart, Alright
  14. Bullys (sic)
  15. My Dilemma
  16. Helen Was Brash
  17. Weekend
  18. Land Of Broken Dreams
  19. Blameless (The Floating Face)
  20. That Claim-Jumping Swine, O’Bannon
  21. Faithful Axe
  22. Natty Trousers
  23. Scotch
  24. There Have Been Bad Moments
  25. Frang Tang, The Valentine Bear
  26. I Will
  27. In The Bone World
  28. The Old Boat Guy, Part One
  29. The Old Boat Guy, Part Two
  30. The Old Boat Guy, Part Three

Boil That Dust Speck SE Mike Keneally

Boil That Dust Speck Special Edition (Remastered)
Mike Keneally

Exowax Recordings 2007

Promo copy:

This Special Edition of Boil That Dust Speck contains the remastered CD plus a region-free NTSC DVD featuring bonus tracks, rare studio footage, vintage live concert material, interviews with participants, and video from a 2006 reunion of the original core band (Mike Keneally, Doug Lunn and Toss Panos) performing songs from both albums. And of course, the first 3000 copies of each Special Edition will be personally signed and numbered by Mike. The Boil That Dust Speck DVD includes a 90-minute presentation of “The Making of Boil That Dust Speck,” featuring extensive video footage of 1994 album sessions, newly-shot interview footage, live-in-the-studio performances from Keneally, Doug Lunn and Toss Panos of “Weekend,” “The Desired Effect” and “Skunk,” and other vital tidbits, resulting in an exhaustive examination of Dust Speck which will thrill any Keneally enthusiast, music fan, or human. The DVD also features an audio archive, with more than 20 alternate mixes and unreleased tracks, including an unreleased recording session with Mike’s rarely documented band Drop Control, playing together for the last time.

Mike on 1994’s BTDS: “This was an album I very much needed to make– an album wrenched out of my darkest depths while in the throes of an exciting variety of emotional torment, this album is a lot less goofy than hat.” The result has been heralded as a masterpiece by critics and fans. Its songs have been a major part of Mike’s live sets for years and head-ripping live versions are featured his 2006 Guitar Therapy Live release. BTDS has been unavailable for eons, and collectors have paid exhorbitant prices for it.

Keneally’s entire Immune catalog from the 1990s is being remastered and reissued by Exowax. Boil That Dust Speck has been remastered with its original track order. Songs on the remastered Boil That Dust Speck CD are:

  1. Sooth
  2. ‘Cause Of Breakfast
  3. The Desired Effect
  4. Skunk
  5. I’m Glad There’s Lemon-Freshened Thorax In You
  6. Top Of Stove Melting
  7. Aglow
  8. Bryan Beller’s Favorite Song
  9. Deep-Fried Skinks Are Go!
  10. Good Morning, Sometime
  11. Them Dolphins Is Smart
  12. 1988 Was A Million Years Ago
  13. Yep, Them Dolphins Is Smart, Alright
  14. Bullys (sic)
  15. My Dilemma
  16. Helen Was Brash
  17. Weekend
  18. Land Of Broken Dreams
  19. Blameless (The Floating Face)
  20. That Claim-Jumping Swine, O’Bannon
  21. Faithful Axe
  22. Natty Trousers
  23. Scotch
  24. There Have Been Bad Moments
  25. Frang Tang, The Valentine Bear
  26. I Will
  27. In The Bone World
  28. The Old Boat Guy, Part One
  29. The Old Boat Guy, Part Two
  30. The Old Boat Guy, Part Three

 


Boil That Dust Speck (Original Release)
Mike Keneally

Immune Records 1994

CD song list:

  1. Sooth
  2. ‘Cause Of Breakfast
  3. The Desired Effect
  4. Skunk
  5. I’m Glad There’s Lemon-Freshened Thorax In You
  6. Top Of Stove Melting
  7. Aglow
  8. Bryan Beller’s Favorite Song
  9. Deep-Fried Skinks Are Go!
  10. Good Morning, Sometime
  11. Them Dolphins Is Smart
  12. 1988 Was A Million Years Ago
  13. Yep, Them Dolphins Is Smart, Alright
  14. Bullys (sic)
  15. My Dilemma
  16. Helen Was Brash
  17. Weekend
  18. Land Of Broken Dreams
  19. Blameless (The Floating Face)
  20. That Claim-Jumping Swine, O’Bannon
  21. Faithful Axe
  22. Natty Trousers
  23. Scotch
  24. There Have Been Bad Moments
  25. Frang Tang, The Valentine Bear
  26. I Will
  27. In The Bone World
  28. The Old Boat Guy, Part One
  29. The Old Boat Guy, Part Two
  30. The Old Boat Guy, Part Three

Personnel:
Mike Keneally: guitars, vocals, keyboards, bass, drums, percussion, slide whistle, bicycle horn, bug keychain, tantrum
Doug Lunn, Bryan Beller: bass
Toss Panos, Joe Travers, Tom Freeman, Alan Silverstein: drums, percussion

Guests:
Mark DeCerbo, Bob Tedde: vocals
Satnam Ramgotra: tabla, ending mouth
Doug Booth: flutes
Stutz Bearcat: spoken word

Producer: Mike Keneally

 


Boil That Dust Speck Mike Keneally Japanese Boil That Dust Speck Mike Keneally Japanese
front cover of special lyric booklet from Japanese “Boil That Dust Speck”


Releases:
Immune Records / 1005 / 1994 (cd)
Third Venture / TVCD202 / 1996 (cd)
Exowax / EX2302 / 2007 (cd)
Exowax/ EX2302-1 / 2007 (SE cd/dvd)