released July 27, 2013
Recorded and mixed by Mike Walker, Brandon Studer and Terrill Mast
All songs written & performed by Nature's Neighbor
Brandon Studer - guitars, percussion, synths, vox, bass, lyrics, sampler
Mike Walker - guitars, lyrics, vox, synths, toy piano, melodica, bass, violin, sampler
Terrill Mast - sampler, synths, beats, melodica, piano, auxiliary percussion
Caleb Nelson - aux percussion, synths, vox, sound effects
Mike Nardone - sampler, keyboards, saxophone
Matt Nauss - synths, percussion, sampler
Jack Wilson - soprano saxophone
Shailaun Manning - vocals
Michael Byrnes - bass
mastered by Mike Walker
Contact Nature's Neighbor
The end of 2012 was a very strange time. Looking back on it now it seems almost unreal.
I had finished the lease with Terrill and Mehdi at the Roosevelt Collection and moved into a place on the 8th floor of a wonderfully odd building called River City. For the first time since 2010 I was living alone in Chicago until I could no longer take it and convinced Shailaun Manning, an acquaintance from a party at the Roosevelt Collection, to come and live with me for a few months. Before leaving the Roosevelt Collection I had recorded a few pieces of music that would eventually make their way onto this album. One very early track was Lilith, recorded with Michael Byrnes and Terrill Mast in his bedroom, it was the last piece of music I recorded at the Collection before moving out.
After finishing up Sync Up I still had very little ideas as to what direction I should move musically. All I knew was that I wanted to have no limitations and take the techniques I learned with Terrill and push them even further. I also wanted to make an album that was completely different from anything anyone else was doing in Chicago at the time.
Terrill had returned home for the summer and I was looking for someone else to collaborate with because Mike Nardone was very busy with work and we only managed to make one full track together and it was cut from the final tracklist. Dan had moved away to Champaign and although I would visit him from time to time by taking the Megabus, we only managed to make one full song and that one also didn’t make it onto Thingamajiggy. Terrill and I would start writing together again when he came back for the fall semester.
Anyway, wanting to write music with someone new and different, I called Brandon Studer who had been introduced to me by Terrill. I remember him recording a song with Terrill that sounded very Morriconian and I loved it. We decided to meet at his place in Bucktown. When I arrived at his place I remember being awestruck by what was inside. Brandon lived in a warehouse that was completely cluttered and filled with gigantic oil paintings that he had been working on. He called this place The Bunker and in one little sectioned off bedroom he had a small home recording set up. We started recording new music straight away and became very close friends almost immediately. He was a deep well of inspiration and someone who I still look up to as an artist. Brandon is a man of may talents and when he makes music he does so with no limitations. I began to visit him in the Bunker at least twice a week and would continue to do so for the next 8 months until he moved to Pilsen in 2013.
The Bunker was a place to hang out as well as a place to make art and once Terrill got back in town we would often hang out there and write songs. I would usually arrive to find the both of them already hard at work on a piece of music. It was a magical place where we were free to create. It also had no windows & a few rats.
As the 2012 fall semester began I made a few new friends. One person I met was Nagi Nakayama. She had moved to Chicago from a small college town in Missouri and I was introduced to her by a new friend named Fino Li whom I had met in one of my classes. Nagi was sort of looking for a new place to live and I was in need of a roommate since Shailaun was leaving in early November. We became fast friends and after introducing her to Brandon the three of us became an inseparable group. Through the cold final months of 2012 Nagi, Brandon and I would hang out in the Bunker, drink beer/wine and watch movies until 3am. It was a magical time and by December of that year about 3/4 of Thingamajiggy had been recorded.
It was an album that was just being made as life went on. Life was exciting and I was trying to capture the feeling of what it was like to be alive at that specific time. For me and my group of friends anyway. Brandon, Terrill and I made countless songs in the Bunker and discarded many of them. The ones that made it onto Thingamajiggy are the most extreme and unhinged (or “cracked out” as we used to say) Brandon very much believed in the absurdist art philosophy and the music we were making was very much in that style. Each song was meant to be its own demented fucked up world. The record had a lot to do with madness and lust. I guess it was where we were at at the time. It was an intense time in our lives.
Brandon also had a strange sense of humor in his lyrics. Brandon wrote songs that were funny and whimsical while simultaneously being faced with usually a very disturbing or even frightening subject matter. It almost made me uncomfortable at first and that is when I knew that he was the perfect person to work with if I wanted to learn more about making records. He opened a door in my perception of music, art and life. He pushed me to dig deeper and get darker.
Come 2013 all my friends went off back home for the holiday. Terrill to Virginia, Brandon to Ohio, Fino to Shenzhen and Nagi to Hiroshima. Before going away Nagi had moved all of her things into my place so that we would be roommates for the remainder of our time at Columbia College. Brandon came back first and when he did he brought back some disco-style drum loops that I just loved immediately. We went out to buy a case of beer and when we returned to the Bunker we went to work on what would become Lofty Fruit Melancholia. When Nagi got back from Japan Brandon and I picked her up from O'Hare and played it for her in the car and she definitely got a kick out of it.
Getting a few months further now into 2013, everyone was coming back to Chicago again for the Spring semester. Brandon would soon have to move out of the Bunker when his lease was up and when he finally moved out I went with him to find him a place in Pilsen. By the time the lease was up Thingamajiggy was also just about finished. We recorded a few new songs in his new place which he called Turquesa. Some of those tracks were オオスズメバチ and Don’t Stop Don’t Doubt, whose beat was ripped and looped from a $1 thrift store CD I bought in Chinatown. After those songs were finished I decided that Thingamajiggy was done.
When I hear it now, even though its incredibly rough and somewhat cobbled together, I hear the beauty in it. I hear music made by people that were all so very close to each other and were in a completely freewheeling stage of life where anything went and nothing was too insane. I hear confusion and sadness but I also hear a lot of love. It will always be the weirdest fucking album we've ever made.