I.S.S. albums

I.S.S. - She's a Girl

Tim Smolens' I.S.S.

In cart Not available Out of stock

Brand new! Buy the new I.S.S. album as download (mp3 or FLAC if requested) or shipped CD.

The 15 years later sophomore release from Tim Smolens' time-warping boy band, I.S.S., is partially an unapologetic homage to the Beach Boys lost 1967 masterpiece, "Smile," namely the principles of music composition and production discovered and implemented by Brian Wilson in the mid 1960’s.

"She’s a Girl" is a veritable journey through the cool sensibilities of 50’s barbershop quartet, contrapuntal doo-wop vocal harmonies, expansive song arrangements amply laced with half-diminished chords, lush 60’s orchestral pop productions in the vein of the Phil Spector/Brian Wilson famed "Wall of Sound," quadrupled bass (run through vintage tape echo), and echo chamber drenched percussion (castanets, tambourine, sleigh bells, hand clap, timpani, glockenspiel, etc.).

Not just a "Smile" homage, what I.S.S. album would be complete without some other-worldly improvised poetry and melodies by George Smith, who’s deep musicality and scathing, off-beat perspectives find a rare venue for their own sort of redemption? Not merely a savant of lyric/melodic improvisation, George is also a fantastic tunesmith in his own right, contributing two of his own depressingly sophisticated, bittersweet, transcendent tunes to the song cycle.

Special guest appearances by Timba Harris (Estradasphere, Secret Chiefs 3, Probosci, etc.) on violin/viola, Bär McKinnon (Mr. Bungle, Umlaut) on tenor saxophone, Luke Kirley on tuba/trombone, and Rory Reagan on drums.

Message from Tim:

"She’s a Girl" is a record I began writing in 2003 on the heels of the heartbroken, self-pity-fest of I.S.S.’s debut, "Forget about the Girl." In the subsequent years I have scarce found the time to begin this daunting recording, although I knew it was among the strongest material I'd penned. After unexpectedly facing imminent fatherhood in 2007, I was unable to maintain any hope of providing for my new family in the pathetic remnants on the outskirts of “the music industry” that I already resided. More than 12 years later, 2 kids, a transition to a more stable profession that allots more days off than days at work, and a relocation to gorgeous Colorado with a room in the basement for my small studio, I have finally returned to S.A.G. Somehow, the decade plus of musical inactivity has imbued these songs with a refreshing new life. The background vocal arrangements are more varied and colorful, the music production sounds more authentically 60’s, and the result is a more cohesive pop listening experience than I've been able to muster previously. It would seem the musical transcendence of "Smile" (and Brian’s 40 year struggle to manifest) affected me too, though I suppose getting off easy with only 10 years in the desert.

- Tim Smolens

(for FLAC link, send email after download purchase and link will be sent)

Read more… close
/
  1. 1 She's a Girl 08:44
    /
  2. 2 The Death of Rock n' Roll 10:07
    /
  3. 3 Dissatisfaction 05:22
    /
  4. 4 Timeline Revision (my name is mud) 02:46
    /
  5. 5 Bat's Hand 06:34
    /
  6. 6 Goodbye Kiss 03:02
    /
  7. 7 Stand by your Man 03:20
    /
  8. 8 Graduation Day 02:51
    /
  9. 9 Bound and Broken 00:59
    /
  10. 10 One Summer's Dream 03:48
    /
  11. 11 Lucky (she is mine) 03:26
    /
  12. 12 She's a Girl (radio edit) 05:38
    /

The S.A.G. Sessions

Tim Smolens' I.S.S.

In cart Not available Out of stock

This would be 3 disc set is the complete virtual (download only) boxset companion for the new "She's a Girl," album containing all the nuanced instrumental backing tracks and the exposed background vocal harmonies that will add 3 hours of additional tracks and expose the sublime subtleties of the multilayered production. Buy this only if you have and like the official "She's a Girl" album and are interested in delving deeply into the production layers. Casual listeners need not apply.

Laid bare will be acapella 5+ part, contrapuntal doo-wop vocal harmonies, quadrupled tape-delay basses, heavy doses of echo chamber washed out wall of sound-style percussion (castinets, tambourines, sleigh bells, guiro, timpani, triangle, glockenspiel, celesta, organic mouth pops, etc.) harpsicord, wurlitzer, B3 organs, grand piano, and tight acoustic guitar accompaniment.

The listener will also be treated to the original demos of certain S.A.G. songs, some of them horrendous and embarrassing, but nonetheless imparting insight into the evolution of the songs. Of real value insight are extensive liner notes by Tim that contain in depth notes on each album track and insights into the box set tracks as well as lyrics and chord progressions for the entire record!

Read more… close
/
  1. 1 The S.A.G. Sessions Preview (Advertisement) 15:07
    /
  2. 2 The S.A.G. Sessions Backing Vocal Montage 06:44
    /
  3. 3 She's a Girl (instrumental backing track) 08:37
    /
  4. 4 She's a Girl (producers choice remix) 08:49
    /
  5. 5 She's a Girl (interlude vocal build up) 04:27
    /
  6. 6 She's a Girl (climax vocal build up) 01:59
    /
  7. 7 She's a Girl (heroes vocal build) 03:48
    /
  8. 8 She's a Girl (a capella, no lead) 08:38
    /
  9. 9 She's a Girl (a capella with lead) 08:38
    /
  10. 10 She's a Girl (bass louder snippet) 03:00
    /
  11. 11 The Death of Rock n' Roll (instrumental backing track) 09:12
    /
  12. 12 The Death of Rock n' Roll (a capella) 10:05
    /
  13. 13 The Death of Rock n' Roll (intro vocals build up) 02:51
    /
  14. 14 The Death of Rock n' Roll (outro vocals build up) 03:05
    /
  15. 15 Dissatisfaction (instrumental backing track) 05:27
    /
  16. 16 Dissatisfaction (backing vocal sections) 04:31
    /
  17. 17 Timeline Revision (instrumental backing track) 02:47
    /
  18. 18 Timeline Revision (a capella) 02:45
    /
  19. 19 Timeline Revision (bass louder instrumental mix) 02:47
    /
  20. 20 Bat's Hand (instrumental backing track) 06:35
    /
  21. 21 Goodbye Kiss (instrumental backing track) 03:01
    /
  22. 22 Stand by your Man (instrumental backing track) 03:21
    /
  23. 23 Stand by your Man (a capella with lead) 03:22
    /
  24. 24 Stand by your Man (a capella, no lead) 03:20
    /
  25. 25 Graduation Day (instrumental backing track) 02:56
    /
  26. 26 Bound and Broken (instrumental backing track) 01:00
    /
  27. 27 One Summer's Dream (instrumental backing track) 03:46
    /
  28. 28 Lucky (she is mine)(a capella with lead) 03:26
    /
  29. 29 Lucky (she is mine)(a capella, no lead) 03:26
    /
  30. 30 Lucky (she is mine)(instrumental backing track) 03:26
    /
  31. 31 One Stormy Monday 04:24
    /
  32. 32 My Baby Whatah (featuring 3 year-old Prisca) 03:07
    /
  33. 33 Lucky (she is mine)(original beatles-esque demo) 02:12
    /
  34. 34 Graduation Day (acoustic demo) 02:52
    /
  35. 35 Mama Bush (original George improvisation) 00:35
    /
  36. 36 Graduation Day (midi demo, 2002) 02:26
    /
  37. 37 The Death of Rock n' Roll (crappy midi demo) 02:53
    /
  38. 38 She's a Girl (mediocre midi demo) 05:49
    /
  39. 39 She's a Girl (totally lame EDM version) 03:36
    /
  40. 40 Goodbye Kiss (Chip's original unusable, brilliant improv take) 02:25
    /

Forget About The Girl

I.S.S.

In cart Not available Out of stock

Allmusic.com review by William York

This self-described "time-warping boy band" I.S.S. is led by vocalist/songwriter/producer Tim Smolens, who is better known for his work as bassist in the genre-hopping Santa Cruz, CA, band Estradasphere. The quartet is rounded out by fellow vocalists (and occasional songwriters) Joey Ryken, Joel Robinow (Once and Future Band), and George Smith. The group's album art, lyrics, and overall musical approach are a mixture of homage and parody concerning the decades-long history of the boy band genre/phenomenon, from the Four Freshmen to the Beach Boys and on through more modern groups such as the Backstreet Boys. While on paper they may seem to possess the trappings of a mere novelty band, they surpass that sort of designation on the strength of their songwriting and musicianship; listening to them, it becomes immediately clear that they put a great deal of effort into their music and not just the concept behind it. I.S.S.'s songs are built around four-part vocal harmonies that are at times uncanny in their similarity to Pet Sounds/Smile-era Beach Boys (Smolens is a devoted, largely self-taught acolyte of Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson). I.S.S.'s debut album, Forget About the Girl, came out in 2002 on Mimicry Records, the label of Mr. Bungle/Secret Chiefs 3 member Trey Spruance and the home of Estradasphere's first few releases. Forget About the Girl included contributions from Smolens' brother, Doug Smolens, on drums, along with backing vocals and instrumental assistance by fellow Estradasphere members Timb Harris and John Whooley.

MIMICRY RECORDS review:

***The debut album from I.S.S., "Forget About the Girl," is an absolute breakthrough in the sadly decomposing genre of the "novelty" record. A self described "Time Warping Boy Band", ISS is shamelessly derivative, and very, VERY convincing. Now before you start to puke, stop to consider the fact that ISS have managed to re-inject the genre of the nefarious "Boy Band" with the magic and marvel it once knew with the Beach Boys and the Four Freshmen--this is definately NOT an exaggeration. Don't be expecting another half-assed imitation of Pet Sounds by some smug, irony-obsessed art-farts--ISS is the REAL DEAL! Tim Smolens (Estradasphere) is the main songwriter and producer behind ISS. His obsessive study of the harmonic elements of Brian Wilson compositions (and, shamefully, New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys) meet up with his increasing skill in the studio environment to bear absolutely remarkable fruit. The psychedelic madness at the core of this "band" ends up drowned in such rich, full-bodied, fully-orchestral clarity & perfectly sung 5-part harmony that casual listeners would never suspect the psychotic subtext. The strict and crass realism in the rendering department only heightens the jarring transitions from 1968 to 1986 to 2002. To be sure, the historical persistence of the Boy Band and it's attendant cache of gooey love songs is given a ethnomusicologically exact tribute in ISS. But it's more than that. "Forget About The Girl" is an inspired and sincere labor of love. Hey man, I heard this one's for the ladies. Succeeds first and foremost in capturing hearts and ears of listeners. Now there's a concept. Boldly goes where mere piss-take efforts are too self-hating to explore. Nostalgic throwback to the "Age of Irony"? Culturecide with dumber lyrics but better music? Even smart girls can't resist four cute guys singing ultra-catchy love songs

Read more… close
/
  1. 1 Remember What We Had 04:04
    /
  2. 2 Mari 02:59
    /
  3. 3 Bad Doggy 03:52
    /
  4. 4 Small Ones 02:59
    /
  5. 5 Procrastination 01:53
    /
  6. 6 Forget About The Girl 03:44
    /
  7. 7 Sarah's Song 04:56
    /
  8. 8 The Dull Teeth of Jealousy 02:36
    /
  9. 9 Look At Those Girls 00:31
    /
  10. 10 Weak Link 03:47
    /
  11. 11 I'm A Fool For You 06:28
    /
  12. 12 Only In my Dreams 03:46
    /
  13. 13 Amazing Stories 02:24
    /
  14. 14 I'm Growing Old 03:40
    /
  15. 15 Lonely Without You 02:41
    /

The F.A.G. Sessions

I.S.S.

In cart Not available Out of stock

Available as an exclusive download here, this virtual session box-set is for real fans of the "Forget About The Girl" (FAG) album by I.S.S., the worlds first time warping boy band. Do you want to hear inner workings of this record, like orchestral backing tracks and soloed 5 part harmony? If not, stick to the standard album, do not buy this.

It wasn't until the release of the "Pet Sounds" box set, that we heard just how marvelous a well orchestrated instrumental backing track could be for a pop song. Often times, the over compressed, brightened for FM radio and doubled four part harmonies had a tendency to obscure the magnificent nuance of the instrumental track.

The "Forget About The Girl" album by I.S.S. is obviously based on a Pet Sounds type orchestration. Now, hear the bare vocal-less and vocals only tracks for the first time. Come see why this is the closest thing to the legendary 60's "Wall of Sound" in nearly 40 years. The confluence of organic instruments and layering of string sections, brass, pianos, guitar, quadrupled bass, whistle, organs, tape-delayed percussion, and real reverb pumped into a REAL chamber, makes for an unforgettable and classic sound. Unmasked are the painstaking labors that Tim endured.

The instrumental tracks also serve as nice karaoke for armchair singers out there!

Read more… close
/
  1. 1 Remember What We Had (Track) 00:35
    /
  2. 2 Mari (Track) 03:03
    /
  3. 3 Bad Doggy (Track) 03:29
    /
  4. 4 Small Ones (Track) 03:08
    /
  5. 5 Only In My Dreams (Track) 03:50
    /
  6. 6 I'm a Fool For You (Track) 06:44
    /
  7. 7 Lonely Without You (track) 02:41
    /
  8. 8 Small Ones (vocals only) 02:52
    /
  9. 9 Only In my Dreams (vocals only) 03:50
    /
  10. 10 Remember What We Had (vocals only) 03:47
    /
  11. 11 Amazing Stories (track) 02:24
    /
  12. 12 Forget About The Girl (track) 04:01
    /
  13. 13 Sarah's Song (track) 04:51
    /
  14. 14 I'm Growing Old (track) 03:40
    /

ESTRADSPHERE ALBUMS

The Pegasus Vault

Estradasphere

In cart Not available Out of stock

This exclusive download-only EP is the companion to Estradasphere's "Palace of Mirrors" CD and "Palace of Mirrors Live" DVD, which brings the "Palace of Mirrors" era (and the band itself) to a stunning conclusion. One ought purchase this only if they love the "Palace of Mirrors" CD and desire to hear the twenty amazing tracks that didn't make the album.

After years of not fully living up to the potential they initially hinted at, Estradasphere finally went balls deep with the album "Palace of Mirrors,"and the subsequent Live DVD/film of the same name. The sheer volume of material they amassed for consideration that was ultimately rejected, is a testament to this fact. Hear it all here!

This download contains two separate products, 1) "The Pegasus Vault" EP and 2) the "Palace Era Compost Pile." Over an hour of new music in all, this release completes the "Palace of Mirrors" trilogy. At one time or another all the material here was destined for the "Palace of Mirrors" CD. You won't believe what got cut!

Included is an excellent PDF of liner notes, put together by Estradasphere's resident filmmaker Chip Yamada. There is a wonderfully poignant narrative running through "Palace of Mirrors" that is hinted at by the music, elucidated by the images projected in the "Palace of Mirrors Live" DVD, clarified by the short story leaflet inside the DVD (also included as a PDF in this download), and further expounded upon by the downloadable liner notes in "The Pegasus Vault." The depth and meaning present in the "Palace of Mirrors" narrative is something 95% of fans, and possibly even some of the band members have probably not even begun to scratch the surface of! So get reading, listening, and watching.

Additionally with this download you will get a funny and informative Palace of Mirrors tour journal included as a PDF, and "The Horse Coffin" short story that comes with the "Palace of Mirrors Live" DVD.

Read more… close
/
  1. 1 Title 00:24
    /
  2. 2 The Pegasus Vault 03:24
    /
  3. 3 The Return (unplugged) 05:13
    /
  4. 4 Rendezvous 04:14
    /
  5. 5 Some Semblance 00:44
    /
  6. 6 Alterna-Meow Intro (A = 432 hZ) 01:10
    /
  7. 7 Neither Hide Nor Hair 01:34
    /
  8. 8 Report to Deck 00:38
    /
  9. 9 Faceoff: Advocate vs. Accuser 04:52
    /
  10. 10 Judgement Tunnel 00:35
    /
  11. 11 Unicorns and Rainbows (single version) 04:09
    /
  12. 12 The Pegasus Vault (reprise) 06:28
    /
  13. 13 4 Hands 02:30
    /
  14. 14 A Van for a Mystery 01:12
    /
  15. 15 American Tough 02:36
    /
  16. 16 Circuit Malfunction 02:08
    /
  17. 17 Colossal Risk (midi demo) 00:47
    /
  18. 18 EMS (1998) 06:57
    /
  19. 19 Flower Garden (midi demo) 01:39
    /
  20. 20 Merry X-mas Blobby 03:40
    /
  21. 21 Smuggled Mutation (cimbalom mix) 03:36
    /
  22. 22 Star Slyderz (theme) 01:41
    /
  23. 23 The Return (live) 06:45
    /

Palace of Mirrors Live (audio)

Estradasphere

In cart Not available Out of stock

Culled from what turned out to be their farewell tour (2006, Palace of Mirrors North American tour), herein lies eighteen songs and 2 hours and 21 minutes of Estradasphere truly firing on all cylinders for the first time in their decade of existence (better late than never). Not only do they perform "Palace of Mirrors" in it's entirety, with intriguing new sequencing alterations, but the consumer also gets the stunning "Opening Set," with renditions of songs from their diverse greater luminescent influences. From the transformed classical compositions of Chopin and Saint-Saëns, which invariably get the Estradasphere "metal treatment," to the cartoon jazz of Raymond Scott, selections from the film scores of Felini/Rota (Italy) and Hitchcock/Herrman, and a 30 minute version of old-school Esphere fan favorite "Hungerstrike," the "Opening Set" has something for anyone with an ear. The promise that Estradasphere initially hinted at with their debut (Its Understood), that many a WOMer was disappointed never seemed to materialize, is finally realized here, if not but for a brief moment in time before they abruptly disbanded. Estradasphere has never sounded better live and this is a MUST HAVE for all serious fans.

Included is a PDF of the original short story "Horse Coffin" that was originally included with the "Palace of Mirrors Live DVD," the story that the record is based upon.

Read more… close

Live at the Blue Saloon (2003)

Estradasphere

In cart Not available Out of stock

This 93 minutes of live Estradasphere is for dedicated (hardcore) collectors and fans who want to hear the original lineup freaking out live. Estradasphere went through various phases in the early years, most of which entailed highly structured, technically challenging music. Eventually the hippie pressure present in Santa Cruz became too much to bear and Estradasphere took a stab at incorporating more song structure improvisations ("hippie jamming") into the set, with varying degrees of success/failure. However, on this particular night at the Blue Saloon dive bar (who booked this gig?) in the Los Angeles valley, egged on by the earth shattering saxophone improvisations of John Whooley, THEY WERE ON! The renditions of their own songs on display here are rather unfamiliar, even to the band who is clearly making up the arrangement as they go. With the original formation of the band now relegated to recollected nostalgia, it is nice to have gems like this from the Estradasphere vault finally available to the fans!

Taped by the original Estradasphere taper Stephen Reysen, this show had many of what he would call "bust outs."

Mastered by Tim Smolens, 93 Minutes

Songs: Meteorite Showers --> Impressions --> Meteorite Showers --> Police Squad --> Ciocarlia,
The Dapper Bandits, Tuvanesque Song, Theme from Beverly Hills 90210, King Krab Battle, Turkish Techno --> Hot for Teacher (tease), Every Rose Has Its Thorn --> The Trials and Tribulations of Parking on Your Front Lawn,
Hungerstrike

Read more… close

DON SALSA ALBUMS

Koolaide Moustache in Jonestown

Don Salsa

In cart Not available Out of stock

Finally! Hear it again for the first time. The first and only lobe demolishing album, composed and produced while still in high school, by Tim Smolens (Dr. Rich Appleman), Jason Schimmel (Rabbi Larry Wong), Doug Smolens (the Poo project), Father Agar Agar (Jeff Atridge), and Officer Pancake (Rob Hondrick). Considering the mysterious genesis and the content being far more advanced than their age or level of study would inidicate, Don Salsa has become a bonafide historical enigma. Out of print for many years now, Don Salsa's sole proclamation (album), "Koolaide Moustache in Jonestown," is finally available again exclusively on my website as a download only.  

Koolaide Moustache in Jonestown" boasts an indescribable collision of brutal disharmonic metal riffs, extra terrestrial musical forms, aesthetically acceptable odd-time signature utilization (free from the stench of mullet prog), Italian/Russian/Chinese musical tri-fusions including novel new genre forging such as Chinese Death Metal, inscrutably dense and dynamic noise walls, inappropriately timed original 80's-style glam metal ballads, gay new age music, poppy Rod Stewart stalker medleys, and lengthy misanthropic/animal-centric manifestos (Chicken). With the first song (The Deck) clocking in at over 30 minutes and changing styles constantly without ever really repeating, the listener is in for a wild ride (if they can handle it without emesis, elevated intracranial pressure, or having an existential crisis). These songs are overdubbed with hundreds of tracks crammed together by repeatedly mixing the tracks from 14 down to 2 on two ADAT (primitive 8 track digital recorders), which would free up 12 more tracks to keep doing the same.  This may be the most elaborate (pre-DAW) home recording of all time. 

"Koolaide Mustache in Jonestown" is Tim's most audacious and extreme work as a producer. If you are a fan of Naked City, or Disco Volante-era Mr. Bungle, you will likely enjoy this album, even with all its immaturity and blatant, hat-tipping mimicry (no pun intended). Give 'em a break, cut 'em some slack, after all,  they were in high school and this is their first record. Lets hear your high school recordings!

CAUTION !?! Listen carefully! Herein lies Don Salsa's "Koolaide Mustache in Jonestown." Chances are you're dealing with something that you cannot rationally comprehend. The category is "everything" and the tunes aren't like anything, rendering classification basically futile. The introductory tune (The Deck) is a 33 minute, non-repeating, unrelenting, blistering journey of sadistic auditory ecstasy. In order to avoid compromising their questionable artistic integrity, Don Salsa's debut was recorded without the assistance of a record company. Yes, hammered out solely by the band, this was the only way to ensure the final product honored the man's potently unique vision. That and the fact that no record company on earth would sign these guys. With future musical endeavors likely to be more contemptuously palatable and commercially viable, this album is gaming to be completely unreproducible live. 

Don Salsa's revolving back door band is/was a thick and diverse lone entourage of heaping,  half well-rounded, latently smiling, disgruntlement. Unless you possess and wield enlightened yet masochistic auditory faculties, we must emphatically encourage you NOT to indulge in this sound recording. It has been known to cause various and long lasting cerebral discomforts. The initial CD release (1997), was supposed to contain complimentary packets of extra strength Tylenol. This none of a kind recording will never reach mainstream gross circulation. With current and ex-members actively campaigning against their own creation, they're sure to go multi-platinum with the Doc's brilliantly envisioned reverse-scaled record sales success system, where the fewer the records sold translates into greater personal transcendental success.   With the majority of contributing band members honorably relieved of their duty, no one knows what the future holds for the battered Salsa emissaries. Who will step up and contribute? Apparently all work has ceased on their follow up release, which was said to be titled "Behind Every Able Man, There Are Other Able Men," which was to contain unexpectedly tender, improvised homosexual ballads sung as a duet. Did this turn some members off?

Read more… close
/
  1. 1 The Deck 31:54
    /
  2. 2 Rod Stew Art 00:53
    /
  3. 3 Raul's Men 00:06
    /
  4. 4 They Are Not Allowed To Having Sex 00:04
    /
  5. 5 Untitled 03:29
    /
  6. 6 12 + 1 00:04
    /
  7. 7 El Stronzolo 06:24
    /
  8. 8 The Bathroom Trio 00:37
    /
  9. 9 Ceylon March O'Roon 02:25
    /
  10. 10 Ode To The Moustache 00:38
    /
  11. 11 Raul's Men (2nd Cavalry) 00:06
    /
  12. 12 The Have To Praying All The Time 00:04
    /
  13. 13 Utforsalgningahumerapickle 02:14
    /
  14. 14 Rye Chip Hell 04:47
    /
  15. 15 Chicken 17:02
    /
  16. 16 Crack Grannies 00:29
    /
  17. 17 Il Tuo Sangue Vogio Ber 00:04
    /
  18. 18 Che Non Debba Morire 00:04
    /
  19. 19 F@&% Me Up My Butt 03:39
    /