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MP3 Corder - Reptile Land

Minimal and mellow, edgy and drugged, these thirteen songs, recorded at Shawn Fanning''s house, present an eclectic mix by an American singer-songwriter living in France that portray a frayed civilization.

13 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Folk Rock, ROCK: Emo

Corder was born in 1969 in Marin County, CA and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1991. Since 2001 he has been living full time with his family on their farm in France. An early diet of Country Joe and the Fish, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and Tom Lehrer, from the age of 5, informed his musical ear. He has been writing songs for 17 years and after a 4-year hiatus while living in Ethiopia and Thailand, in 2001 he started to write again with a new maturity and heightened musical control of the guitar and his voice. Other major influences include Prince, Beck and Erik Satie.

Once at college on the East Coast, Corder taught himself guitar and started performing at campus venues. In 1991 he left the States and travelled overland from Egypt to Eritrea, arriving four months after the end of a thirty-year conflict with Ethiopia. During a year spent travelling through East Africa, India and Sri Lanka, Corder was greatly influenced by the diverse music and instruments encountered. Corder moved back to San Francisco where he met up with former college friends and began Sleeping Man Drowning whose single album was produced at Radical House by Ron K. Corder continued experimenting with different heavy guitar sounds for a year before founding the punk/grunge-inspired band Rue and playing at local San Francisco clubs as well as gigs in Orange County. He was able to conspire with a close friend and long-time musician Dave Myers, and former Shroomunion leader Mark Rogers to develop a raw but melodic sound.

In 1997 Corder moved to Ethiopia where the demands of fatherhood and painting silenced his own musical ambitions for a while. The tragic death of musician and brother-in-law Jake Savage in Ethiopia further inhibited his music. But a year stint in Thailand would bring him and his family to the realization that their real dream was to buy an old farmhouse in France and for Corder to work full time as an artist.

Now living as an artist in France, Corder has consolidated his sound and incorporated instruments from his travels around the world into his sound. He is a serious songwriter, but allows the music to dictate the words to a large degree. His music is melodic but challenges the listener to recognize the embedded harmonies within the verse.

A visual artist by profession, Corder recorded his first LP in 2003 in the house of Shawn Fanning in Foster City, CA and will release it himself this summer. The album, Reptile Land, is a heady mix of musical tastes: a strong melodic sense unifies an otherwise extremely diverse set of 13 songs. There is a sweetness to many of the songs that stands in sharp contrast to the aggressive or angst-ridden posturing of many rock performers. There is also a minimalism to the album as many of songs are based on simple guitar riffs and bass is used only where it is needed. “Day Won’t You Stay” is a 90 second gem that starts the album and is lyrically inspired by “Day-O.” The song, like a pretty duet between Corder and a sweet but haunting Rhodes, introduces the listener to the subject of Reptile Land: the U.S. as seen from abroad. He intones, “Many ships come on over this land” and “Many kin fought and over this ground.” In “Greycar,” a riveting ride through a dying Earth, he sings, “In a temperate zone/yes it’s really gone/fret and fret and moan in the Greycar.” “The Land” is really a two-part song that starts with a rap about living among farmers in France and ends with a new version of a very pretty pop song sung partly in French. And in Arbusto, a ballad about the plight of Americans, Corder seems to speak directly to President Bush when he says, “But Piggin’ off the people is going to get you fired/tried and convicted in 2004 and if this song sells you’re going down.”

Corder has set up a music studio in his barn and works on his music when not in his painting studio (or garden). For the recording Corder called upon old friend and Rue supporter Eyad Kalieh for his incredible drumming and style. Eyad is currently the drummer for Her Space Holiday. Ex-boss, good friend, and keyboardist for the Dead Gangsters, Shannon Miller, flew in from New York for the rehearsals and recording. Corder recorded at Shawn Fanning’s studio in Foster City, CA where he had the equipment and support to create the sound on the album. Aaron Guadamuz wore many hats as engineer, co-producer and bass player. Eyad also co-produced, along with Corder, and created some of the most enticing moments on the recording with his penny whistle solo in “Name Is John,” his haunting pygmy accordion in “The Land” and his brilliant use of percussion. Reptile Land was mixed by Corder, Aaron and Tony Espinoza at SF Soundworks and mastered by John Greenham at SF’s oldest mastering studio, Paul Stubblebine Mastering. Short but sweet, the recording and mastering have resulted in a unique and powerful album. Corder’s use of strong vocals is especially effective given his rich and melodic voice. He is willing to sing where others use machines or pitch control to cover their vocal range. He has begun work on a second album to be recorded at the end of 2004 in San Francisco.

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