The TRANSCENDENCE lead singer/songwriter and guitarist is at it again. Ed Hale is in the studio once again recording 11 new songs for a yet another “new album.” TRANSCENDENCE just released a 14 song rarities collection entitled The City of Lost Children on the Dying Van Gogh record label in September, which featured their September 11th tribute song Rebuild America — the first time the song, recorded in 2001, was officially released for sale to the public. The label has announced that they will be releasing two other new albums – both of new material – All Your Heroes Become Villains and The Great Mistake this year as well. Good news that should finally satisfy frustrated fans since the albums have been completed, hyped, and talked about since late 2006, but were being held up due to various business problems in a constantly changing and challenging industry which has seen CD sales drop dramatically and the closing of Tower Records, many Virgin Music Stores, the bankruptcy of the band’s distributor, and thousands of smaller mom and pop music retailers around the country.
So in predictable untraditional fashion, fans will get THREE new albums by the band in one six month period. It is a sign of the generally confused state of the music business itself at this time. To make matters more confusing the band was almost finished recording the 24 song two-disc set nicknamed “the girls album” (due to all of the songs being about and having girl’s names in the titles) – the actual title being L’intrigue de Femme and Finding Francesca – but the recording of that album was postponed midway through production in 2007 with no word on when they will resume work on it.
So what to do? Evidently, record another album! Less than a week after meeting with Iran President Ahmadinejad during the United Nations General Assembly Meeting, Hale flew down to Miami, Florida to spend five weeks in the studio with fellow TRANSCENDENCE guitarist Fernando Perdomo – who is also playing the role of producer on this one – to record a new solo album set to be released in early 2009. This will be Hale’s first solo album since 1996’s Acoustic in New York.
It is becoming increasingly more commonplace and acceptable in the music community to see solo and side projects by individual members of bands while the bands still stay and play together (Unless you’re in Metallica that is.) 2007’s favorite ingenue Feist is a member of Broken Social Scene; the Stroke’s Albert Hammond Jr. just released his second solo album; Eagles of Death Metal is a side project of Queens of the Stone Age members; Gnarls Barkley member Danger Mouse releases albums both solo and with his group, and just finished recording a critically acclaimed new album with Beck. Closer to home, TRANSCENDENCE bassist Roger Houdaille’s solo project EX NORWEGIAN just released their second single (Dance Trance Pants, a catchy little number. Check it out here) and just performed at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York.
Ed Hale started his singing career solo, releasing his first album EDDIE at the age of 18, then joined a band for several years, BROKEN SPECTACLES (which also launched the solo career of singer/songwriter Matthew Sabatella), then went solo again, releasing Spectacularly Broken and Acoustic In New York, and then formed a new band, TRANSCENDENCE, who have released six albums to date. So does this mean Hale is going solo again? The band and its label insist not at all, but that instead the album simply affords Hale an opportunity to record and release songs that are not “typical TRANSCENDENCE style material.”
The new album, which is still untitled, will contain 11 songs the singer has written over the last year that are a complete departure from the glam, Brit, alt, indie or modern rock sound of TRANSCENDENCE and instead are said to be “slow, soft, personal, intimate, and primarily acoustic.” The album will not have any electric guitars and very few drums, but instead will feature many makes and models of acoustic guitars (both Hale and Perdomo are avid acoustic guitar collectors) and other stringed instruments such as mandolin, viola, cello, and even balalyka, and piano. Fans of Hale’s YouTube channel will recognize a few of the songs, including “Everywhere she is there,” and “Architect’s Daughter.”
“I wouldn’t call the album folk,” Hale says. “It’s more like singer/songwriter music, or “whisper pop” if there is such a thing. Because the sound of the album is so quiet and intimate.” When pressed for more of what the album will sound like he mentions Nick Drake, Donovan, Kings of Convenience, Jack Johnson, David Grey, and even Bob Dylan. “In TRANSCENDENCE we are really lucky in that we’re all pretty open minded so we are able to get away with recording a wide variety of styles of music. More than most bands are able to get away with. But we’re still essentially a rock band and limited to that TRANSCENDENCE sound, whatever that is. So these are all just songs that would never make it onto a TRANSCENDENCE album, because they wouldn’t fit our sound. And frankly I dig that we’re all doing little side projects like this now. This is an album I’ve wanted to do for years. I’m very happy and excited to be doing this. It’s like I have to pinch myself. It’s the most personal thing I’ve ever done. That’s for sure. A lot of just me and the guitar.”
The new album may appeal to a whole new spectrum of music listeners. Hale says Perdomo was the natural choice to produce the album. “We’ve worked together for six years now. He’s the most brilliant musician I know. He’s crazy and a total fucking pain in the ass. But we all are I guess. But he’s also this organically genius musician on so many levels.” Old bandmate Matthew Sabatella has also been enlisted to sing harmony vocals on the tracks. “Matt and I have been singing together since we were in Junior High. I’ve waited a long time for a project that we could work on together again. I can’t wait to hear what he does on this album. Our voices work really well together. And he’s awesome at coming up with good harmonies. All and all we have the makings of a good little album here.”
Hale is currently blogging about the recording of the album on his Transcendence Diaries blog, and will be posting photos and clips of the songs as they are completed to his website www.edhale.com and Facebook page. Stay tuned for more.