PHI YAAN-ZEK
WITH MARCO MINNEMANN
Deeper With The Anima
(Geomagnetic Records)

 

London 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 Santana’s more recent progressive instrumentals, Deeper With The Anima is intergalactic surf music, played fast and furious with Phi’s thoroughly processed guitar sounds driven deep into the stratosphere by Minnemann’s 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. www.PhiYaan-Zek.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
PHI YAAN-ZEK



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?

PY-Z: 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? There’s such a wild contrast of sounds but the overall recording sounds great.

PY-Z: 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.

PY-Z: 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. It’s 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... it’s 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! It’s 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 'Deeper…' 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

 

 
   
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