For our first album collaboration, we built nine Saraz and use at least two on each track. This album is different however than the typical handpan album where singing steel dominates the sonic landscape. Our goal with this album was to explore novel ways that the Saraz can be used in familiar musical settings. On some songs, Saraz are used very sparingly while on other tracks, they are used extensively as we explore musical genres that range from folk songs to swing, electronica, and an epic waltz. At times, our instruments sound very similar to live while at other moments, they are manipulated with various effects in order to provide a dynamic presence and explore what is possible.
When considering who to work with on the first Saraz Entourage album, Mark chose E..W Harris not only because he is a big fan of E.W.’s work, but also because E.W.’s repertoire spans a wide variety of musical genres. E.W. has recorded, mixed, and produced a few of his own albums and a number of albums for other musicians in NYC. Mark also deeply appreciates the soulful and emotional passion, amazing vocal ability and lyrical content, which is filled with poetic depth. Being a fan of minor songs, Mark chose some of E.W.’s more driving, compelling and mysterious material. If you enjoy these songs, we strongly encourage you to explore much more of his repertoire as it ventures in many musical directions.
To back E.W. up, we pulled together some of the finest musicians that Asheville and NYC have to offer. On Saraz Handpans are Mark Garner, founder of the Saraz, and Josh Rivera, Saraz tuner and recording engineer that mastered the album, and Peter Levitov, www.peterlevitov.bandcamp.com. On drums and percussion, we were very blessed to work with River Gueguerian, www.guerguerian.com, who is not only an amazing musician but also founder of the Asheville Percussion Festival.
On bass is James Kylen from Asheville and Don Paris Schlotman, www.schlotman.com, of NYC. Don and EW have been playing and touring together for years as the founding members of the Sky Captains of Industry. We were also blessed to work with Marc Hennessey, www.toallmydearfriends.com, who plays electric violin.
On back up vocals are Jo Kroger, www.jokroger.com, Lindsay Dragon, Ryan Morgan, www.reverbnation.com/ryanlmorgan, Molly Murphy, Jenni Messner, and Ben Dawkins. We strongly encourage everyone to explore the musical work of each musician as they are all quite talented in their own projects!
Enormous thank you to all of the friends, family, artists, and engineers that made this project possible. Really big thank you to EW Harris for the endless hours put into writing these songs, recording, and mixing this album! And a big thank you to everyone that supports the project by listening to it.