Spank Your Inner Monkey, now available from CD Baby
I should also mention you can hear excerpts from every song on the album on the CD Baby page!
About the Album
Between my usual guitar-oriented rock albums, I like to experiment with electronica.
As an additional challenge, I write electronica style songs completely inside the sequencer. Each note is manually entered onto the sequencer's 'piano roll'. This is very much like writing music on paper using traditional notation, except I have the wondrous advantage of being able to hear the song as I write.
Writing in this fashion, as opposed to writing on an instrument (like a guitar or piano) helps steer me away from my comfort zone of learned riffs and musical figures. It steers me away from keys that fall easily on the guitar. It allows me to produce music that may not actually be playable by humans. It may sound odd but it is actually a great form of musical freedom.
So, a few years back, I started this new album with the intent of keeping it strictly electronic. I wrote songs using the technique described above. The songs sounded, I thought, pretty good. I thought I had a finished album.
Then I made the mistake of playing along with a couple of the songs with my electric guitar.
Suddenly the songs bloomed and took on new life. I was excited, yet anxious - how to integrate guitar into these electronic-oriented compositions? The songs were in un-guitar-like keys, had un-guitar-like rhythmic structure. Would human-played guitar work with the electronica?
I decided early that this would not be a turned into 'shred' album - an album showing off technique. I chose not to use the songs as beds for unending guitar solos. Instead I wanted to songs to sound like, well, songs. Melody, dynamics, interesting sounds - I kept these as my parameters.
After about a year, on and off, adding 'real' guitar, and obsessing over every song, I arrived at the fourteen songs on Spank Your Inner Monkey.
I'm pleased with the results. I was able to integrate my electric guitar into my electronic world in a way I haven't before. Sometimes the two clash and sometimes they meld. I've come to appreciate this dynamic.
Thanks for listening!
Excerpts from Spank Your Inner Monkey Reviews (most recent reviews listed first).
From Progression Magazine, Spring 2012, Issue 64. Review by Nick Tate.
Rating: 14 out or 16
Making techno safe for progressive ears. That's what this new release from Jeffrey Ryan Smoots (JRS) is all about. Smoots is a jack-of-all-trades composer-musician whos musical strike zone is bordered by prog, fusion, electronica and speed-metal guitar from the Vai-Johnson-Satriani school. To torture the metaphor: Smoots hits it out of the park with this one.
Spank Your Inner Monkey is more sophisticated than the title suggests. It's a one-man-band showcase of Smoots' extraordinary talent. the 14 instrumentals here are built around smoldering guitar licks, chunky rhythms and melodic drumming. And a note for technophobes: There isn't a trace untzy-house music to be found.
From the opening title track - a runaway train of guitar frenzy - to the techno-metal closer "Rishathra," Smoots practically dares you to listen without tapping a foot. There are a few clunkers here that suggest a handful (ahem) of self-indulgence. But highlights like "Float the Boat" and chamber music etude "Autumn in the Park" are adequate compensation.
Kick back and listen to JRS MP3 Radio.