Tony Appleseed is back with another intricate look into the center of his musical mind. This current project is titled Color Blind, and it contains eight nuance-dripping compositions that take the listener on a musical journey far outside the usual rock and roll humdrum that continues to plague our world. Featuring seasoned musicians such as Sean Polk, Justin Iannarone, Mike Mastropierro, Jordan Garofolo and Jen Santa Maria, Tony Appleseed’s Color Blind EP covers a broad range of styles and experimental songwriting adventures.
His bio states that, in a reality where Venezuela is on the verge of a social collapse, and Americans sit pacified behind their cell phones, escaping the world around them into an alternate reality where fed fear and subservience run rampant, Tony Appleseed is locked away in his bomb shelter, which doubles as a recording studio, blaring through the megaphone, love each other and yourself, before it’s too late.
Just over a year after the release of their debut album, Metanoia, the Tony Appleseed group will go “Color Blind” in a wash of landscapes to be slowly and methodically torn away in a decent into pure synthesis. Syncopated counter-rhythms chop against the current of a sonic mania. Filters are ringing in your cochlea, only to reveal the grand wave beneath the matrix, rolling in the rhythmic ebb and flow, crashing against the shore, and retracting only to be born again.
Anthony Defabritus III (who goes by the moniker Tony Appleseed) recorded, mixed, and mastered the album at antFARM (studio), which is responsible for releases such as Thomas Wesley Stern’s American Pain, Bone & Marrow’s Patterns, Accidental Seabirds’ Greenpoint Spill and most recently, their new EP Metedeconk. Defabritus is also the bassist of Accidental Seabirds, Little Big Toe, and is a part-time resident at Moon Motel.
Tony Appleseed was covered here last year for his outstanding project Metanoia. Like that past CD, Color Blind explores said textures and sounds way outside the normal channels of traditional music. And he does it with a great understanding of arrangement and melodic attack. He unveiled his record in Asbury Park at The Asbury Park Yacht Club on June 3 to great applause and appreciation. And while I didn’t cover that live show, I wanted to take a few moments to cover this outstanding CD here in the Shoreworld.
Color Blind opens with “Catharsis.” Mike Mastropierro utilizes echoed and effected vocals that combine with synthesizers and a statement to bring this EP to life. Walls of controlled chaos build under vocal chatter before suddenly ending to bring song number two into the player’s viewfinder. Justin Iannarone is on guitar, and Sean Polk does some synth work here as well.
“Type 0 Type 1” is next and winds into its luxurious style of a combined 1960s rock band sound and jazz-flavored romp. Offbeat and chimey, “Type 0 Type 1” floats and jags with a mind of its own. Appleseed is a master class instrumentalist and he plays just about everything on this track. Pianos, guitars, drums, bass and synthesizers all sing as one under his tasteful and logical ministrations. It reminds me of John Lennon and his Mind Games period. The bridges are a favorite of mine, blowing breezy and melodic as they blend into the Leon Russell-styled verses. The middle eight jumps and pounds with an almost Spanish influence before coming back into the Russell-inspired verse. Dark but lively at the same time, “Type 0 type 1” is a winner in my book.
“Color Blind” is up next. The disc’s namesake, “Color Blind” has that eerie rhythmic quality of The Beatles. Addressing his wish for a color blind society that leaves no one behind, Appleseed lays a nasty little groove under his passionate vocals. Once again, Tony plays everything and does a bang up job blending and recreating his sound without sounding like some guy in the studio playing every single thing for his ego. At 2:32 things begin to change with Appleseed laying down strong pianos, finger-picked guitars and an orchestral sound that seems to come from the very atmosphere before returning to his catchy chorus. He brings things into his ending with a sketched out synthesizer riff that puts this to bed entirely.
The next song is called “Komorebi.” Utilizing distorted vocals over pianos, guitars, bass, drums and programmed instrumentation, Appleseed weaves a tapestry of unadulterated goodness. Bass thrums underneath the entire piece as Appleseed brings the drums up into the mix and splashes into an ethereal section of verse. I’m a huge fan of his sense of melody and use of arrangement. He always zigs when everyone else zags, and it shows in his compositional directions. Tony reminds me of a good friend and songwriter Tom Kanach. Kanach is another writer who utilizes an almost British influence mixed with a newer age rock and experimental to get his point across. Appleseed crosses a wide variety of styles to get to his conclusion on “Komorebi” and it works 100%.
“Blunt Point” is up next and it goes into a completely different direction while remaining in sync with the overall disc. Short in the timeframe, “Blunt Point” covers the human condition of life, synthesizers and drum patterns crack and grind under Appleseed’s dry and unaffected vocal charm. Short and to the point, “Blunt Point” is over and out in 43 seconds.
“The Thinking Man” is up next. Combining drum programs and digital effects, Appleseed brings synthesizers and vocals into the mix as the tune rises into its determined focus. Appleseed blends his electronic sounds into an incredibly vibrant and robotic sound. This reminds me of early Kraftwerk. I loved the synth warbles and keyboard theatrics at the end.
Up next is “Lessons.” Mixing his synthesizers with drum programs and pianos, Appleseed soars into the mix with melodic wordage and seamless backing vocals. His bridges are dominated by a whistling type of synth that adds depth to the song. Acoustic guitars strum throughout as Appleseed builds into his next phase of compositional direction. Drum programming is top-notch on this song as is the piano work in the middle eight. There’s nothing overly done here, and each piece fits into the next like an intricate and beautiful puzzle. This is my favorite after “Type 0 Type 1.”
The disc closes out with “Pronoia.” Outstanding guitar licks bring this dusky jewel into its own. Pianos sparkle and chime under the most breathtaking melodies available. Heavier guitars take effect at 1:56 and launch this already great tune into the stratosphere. Brilliant pentatonic flurries race in under melody box synthesizers before bringing the pianos back into focus. The synths at 3:20 trickle down over sustained guitars and piano jabs that flow like a stepping stone waterfall over the listener’s subconscious mind. Additional synthesizers ping and caterwaul across the stereo spectrum as Appleseed pulls his composition into the next solar system. Sean Polk is back to tantalize on rain stick. Some synth work comes courtesy of Justin Iannarone. Jen Santa Maria handles textbook and Jordan Garofolo does toothbrush.
The one thing I can always count on when it comes to Tony is originality and deep care for his craft. Done professionally and with love, Color Blind joins Metanoia as some of the best music I’ve heard in quite a while. If you get the chance to grab this EP, do it as soon as possible, as it’s a good disc and a keeper in my collection.
For more information on Tony Appleseed and Color Blind, head over to tonyappleseed.bandcamp.com.