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Soundtracks For Trying Times

by Brian Donohoe

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Ninety-Nine 05:27


This album, which was written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, started as kind of an accident. I was initially trying to make an album of ambient electronic music, drawing inspiration from artists like Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, and soundtrack composer Adam Lastiwka, but it turns out I’m not patient enough to make an album like that. The music morphed into the record that I had been trying to make for over a dozen years, since I first started learning how to record and produce my own tracks: it’s my collision of Wayne Shorter, the Postal Service, the Legend of Zelda, and every cartoon soundtrack of the 1980s that burned its way into my childhood brain.

The pandemic caused significant financial hardship for everyone who makes a living in the performing arts. But the isolation, the inability to play or hang with creative friends, quickly became even more painful. As my attempt at an ambient electronic album transformed into a stack of complex electro-jazz-funk-rock tunes (as, you know, happens) it dawned on me – largely thanks to the advice of my brilliant wife – that this was an opportunity to involve my friends in the process. We were forced onto new avenues of remote collaboration that led to something better than anything I could have planned.

Seven of these eleven tracks feature musicians I love and respect a great deal. We were able to collaborate thanks to the technological advances in music and communications over the last two decades: having been stripped of our ability to make money performing live, we’ve learned how to be our own recording engineers and send each other bulky high-resolution audio files. Every musician who contributed to this album is also credited as a composer and engineer.

The past year has been the most challenging in living memory for most people in the developed world. Working on this album, using it as a chance to collaborate with some of the best people I know, made it significantly better for me. I hope it can be a useful soundtrack for some trying times in your life, like it’s been for mine.


released April 2, 2021

Brian Donohoe: alto and tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet, keyboards, synthesizers, electric bass, electric guitar, acoustic and electronic percussion, composer, producer, recording engineer

Carter Arrington: electric guitar, composer, and recording engineer on “Temple In The Trees”

Darius Christian: voice, trombone, composer, and recording engineer on “More Salt”

Chris McQueen: electric guitar, composer, and recording engineer on “Slacker Sauce”

Brandon Scott Coleman: electric guitar, composer, and recording engineer on “Disaster Area”

Nick Clark: electric bass, Moog synthesizer, composer, and recording engineer on “Maze”

Akira Ishiguro: electric guitar, composer, and recording engineer on “Bright”

Matt Muehling: electric guitar, composer, and recording engineer on “Time To Rebuild”

Jared Stone: visual artwork and layout design

Special thanks to: Catherine Cusick for endless encouragement, patience, inspiration, and love. Johannes Felscher for audio sorcery and consultation. Stephen Smith and Brad Allen Williams for creative gut-check. Mary and Greg Donohoe for irreplaceable foundations of support, values, and education. James Donohoe for good taste, earthy wisdom, and the first CD collection I could ever steal.

Recorded between March 2020 and February 2021 in Austin TX, Brooklyn NY, Cincinnati OH, and London England

Mixed and mastered by Brian Donohoe at Tied At 54 Studios in Austin, Texas


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Brian Donohoe Austin, Texas

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer in Austin. Roots in Albuquerque, New York City, and Dallas. Fueled by Cantonese street noodles, '80s Wayne Shorter records, and Zelda.

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