Avant-Americana's Native Leanings

Mesquite Treason is my solo side project most closely relating to my collaborative efforts in Tears of the Moosechaser.  Beyond searching for Pioneering Techniques in the acoustic world of folk music, this project also plays heavily on my electronic and noise background.

I have drawn from a number of sources,  from Scandinavian Folk, Irish folk to Tuvan throat singing, and the pulsing trance world of the Navajo nation distorted by drifting in and out of range as you drive across the Mojave Desert late at night.   I have also leaned close to Harry Partch in the construction of my own instruments both acoustic and electronic,  though I primarily use the electronics for the manipulation of acoustic sound.

Ride that Raven is so far one of the most commercial pieces I have released under the moniker Mesquite Treason, and I have yet to find it suitable companions to accompany the track on the Album "Shadows Of The Wind". So it currently exists as a stand alone.

I cut the video using archive footage from D.W. Griffith's "Battle of Elderbush Gulch" against footage I shot out by Joshua Tree and Processed using Jitter. In my version though, the natives win.

Whether representative of the whole or not,  Ride That Raven Flies as Mesquite Treason's flag for the masses.  Enjoy.

EQ Suggestions


1. Increase to add more fullness to lowest frequency instruments like foot,  toms, and the bass.
2. Reduce to decrease the "boom" of the bass and will increase overtones and the recognition of bass line in the mix. This is most often used on loud bass lines like rock.

1. Increase to add a harder bass sound to lowest frequency instruments.
2. Increase to add fullness to guitars, snare.
3. Increase to add warmth to piano and horns.
4. Reduce to remove boom on guitars & increase clarity.

1. Increase to add fullness to vocals.
2. Increase to add fullness to snare and guitar ( harder sound ).
3. Reduce to decrease muddiness of vocals or mid-range instruments.
4. Reduce to decrease gong sound of cymbals.

1. Increase to add clarity to bass lines especially when speakers are at low volume.
2. Reduce to decrease "cardboard" sound of lower drums (foot and toms).
3. Reduce to decrease ambiance on cymbals.

1. Increase for clarity and "punch" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove "cheap" sound of guitars.

1. Increase for "clarity" and "pluck" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove dullness of guitars.

1. Increase for more "pluck" of bass.
2. Increase for more attack of electric / acoustic guitar.
3. Increase for more attack on low piano parts.
4. Increase for more clarity / hardness on voice.
5. Reduce to increase breathy, soft sound on background vocals.
6. Reduce to disguise out-of-tune vocals / guitars.

1. Increase for vocal presence.
2. Increase low frequency drum attack ( foot / toms).
3. Increase for more "finger sound" on bass.
4. Increase attack of piano, acoustic guitar and brightness on guitars (especially rock guitars).
5. Reduce to make background parts more distant.
6. Reduce to soften "thin" guitar.

1. Increase to add attack on low frequency drums ( more metallic sound ).
2. Increase to add attack to percussion instruments.
3. Increase on dull singer.
4. Increase for more "finger sound" on acoustic bass.
5. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.
6. Increase to add sharpness to synthesizers, rock guitars, acoustic guitar and piano.

1. Increase to brighten vocals.
2. Increase for "light brightness" in acoustic guitar and piano.
3. Increase for hardness on cymbals.
4. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.

1. Increase to brighten vocals (breath sound).
2. Increase to brighten cymbals, string instruments and flutes.
3. Increase to make sampled synthesizer sound more real.

By Instrument:
40 to 60 Hz - Bottom: The tone of the reverberation in the shell, sometimes too rumbly, can be undefined/indeterminate depending on the mic'ing/speakers

60 to 100 Hz - Thump: The "punch you in the chest" range of the kick

100 to 200 Hz - Body: This is the "meat," if you will, of the kick sound

200 to 2,000 Hz - Ring/Hollowness: Wide open bandwidth for ringing and muddy kick sounds. Happy hunting.

2,000 to 4,000 Hz - Beater Attack: This is the range to look for the "thwack" sound of the beater, critical for getting that "basketball bouncing" kick sound.

200 to 400 Hz - Body/Bottom: The central fundamental of most snares

400 to 800 Hz - Ring: The hollow "ring" in snare tone is oft unwanted but it may give life in the mix

2,000 to 4,000 Hz - Attack: stick on head "crack" often found around 8,000 Hz (Sizzle and Snap). The overtone sound of the snares themselves can be accented or dampened around this point. Gates/Compressors, Comb Filtering? Toms

100 to 300 Hz - Body: Tuning Matters... controls variations between "boom"  and "cardboard box"

3,000 to 4,000 Hz - Attack: Crack, stick on the head...

200 to 300 Hz - Clank: Here's where, especially on your hi-hats, the "chink" sound of the cymbal lives.

6,000 Hz and up - Sizzle: This range is where the "tssssssss" part of the cymbals can be brightened up to add some more life and "air" to a cymbal wash, or  bleeding from the ears

Synth "Kick"
If someone went to the trouble of synthesizing it,  they probably like the way it sounded.  Don't mess with it.

I think of Kick and Bass as one unit dancing with one another. High passing everything else to make these dominate... May be a good idea, maybe not.

40 to 80 Hz - Bottom resonances

80 to 200 Hz - Fundamentals: The primary fundamental of the bass. Right around
180 to 200 Hz is where you can try to cut in on a bass that is too "boomy" to clean it up while preserving fundamentals

200 to 600 Hz - Overtones: These are the upper harmonics of most bass tones, depending on the sound you're interested in. If you're having trouble getting a bass to cut through in a mix, especially a low-end heavy one or one that's getting played back on smaller speakers, this can be where to look

300 to 500 Hz - Wood: Particularly in upright basses, it's that distinctive, woody bark
800 to 1,600k Hz - Bite: The growl and attack of most basses can be either emphasized or toned down around here
2,000 to 5,000 Hz - String noise: Pretty straightforward here, I think

120 to 200 Hz - Boom/Body: This is where you'll find most of the explosive low end on a mic'd acoustic that tends to feedback in the live world or be disruptive in the studio. A little bit here adds warmth and fullness on a solo performance, but in a dense band mix, it's probably better to get it out of the way

200 to 400 Hz - Thickness/Wood: Core"body" of most acoustic tones. Too many cuts here, and you're going to lose the life.

2,000 Hz - Definition/Harshness: This double-edged sword band will give the definition to the acoustic tone to hear intricacies in chords and picking, but too much will make it harsh and aggressive

7,000 Hz - Air/Sparkle: A touch, and I mean a touch, of a shelf boost here can help open up an acoustic sound acoustic pickups (piezo) are a wild card. Huge cuts are completely normal. Season to taste.

Be Gentle that tone is often carefully chosen

80 to 90 Hz and below - Mud: High pass it.  Nothing useful down there.

150 to 200 Hz - Thickness: "guts" of a guitar normally come from, but can quickly cloud a mix. Use sparingly, perhaps automate to beef up a solo and tuck it away when everything else comes in.

300 to 1,000 Hz - Life: I call this the "life" of the electric, as many of the things that make an electric sound like an electric live in this range. So attenuating needs to be taken into consideration carefully. Too much though, and you start fighting with your snare and things like that, so take note.

1,000 to 2,000 Hz - Honk: This is where honky and harsh characteristics can usually be smoothed out with a wide cut centered somewhere in this range.

3,000 to 8,000 Hz - Brilliance and Presence: shimmer and mix cut through when boosted. It can be cut to keep a guitar from conflicting with a vocal overtones. Boosts in this range may cause noise from distortion/effects pedals.

Mic technique is everything: Strings (low, high) hammers,  resonator, close, distant... because it covers almost the entire range of perceivable sound you might need to dip it in places to make room for other things. Particularly human voice.

100 to 200 Hz - Boom: This can be a great place to add a little warmth to a solo piano in a studio environment, but more often than not will be the first place to cut some of the girth in a piano in a mix or help reduce feedback potential in a live situation

3,000 Hz and above - Presence: Adding a little "air" here can be great to brighten up a dark piano tone, depending on mic placement. Be careful not to bring out the noise of dampers on strings (particularly in the

3,000 to 5,000 Hz range), as this can quickly become distracting and jarring
If we're dealing with a real electric piano over a sample, things can be very situational as amp, mic'ing, and condition of the instrument itself can play such a huge role

100 to 200 Hz - Boom: As with its acoustic counterpart, the low end can go from lush to overgrown Jurassic underbrush quickly. Particularly with the rich, dense harmonics of something like a Rhodes, cutting "mud" is usually your first order of business
800 to 1,000 Hz - Bark: Managing the "bark" and damper noise can sometimes be an issue, but if things are cutting through too much, odds are it's somewhere in this range

Organ (B3)
good mic placement and drawbar settings.  EQ should be applied only as a corrective measure. Look for clashing with the bass (80 to 180 Hz), if it's feeling a "chubby" in the middle or fit with other mid-heavy instruments or guitars, make cuts somewhere between 300 to 500 Hz.

This tone was a choice… Little more to do but make it fit in the mix.

400 to 600 Hz - Thickness: Many synth sounds can get kind of muddy in this range and mess with the clarity of the sound itself, especially when you start layering multiple synths. Searching somewhere in this range is a good place to start.

1,000 to 2,000 Hz - Cut/Bite: This is where you can usually find the attributes of a synth patch that are going to help it poke through the mix. Cut here to help tuck something back and out of the way, from guitars to vocals.

3,000 to 4,000 Hz - Presence/Clarity: Also like voice and guitar, this range helps add excitement to a sound. possible pain point.

300 to 400 Hz - Honk/Woof: This somewhat depends on what type of sax we're dealing with, soprano to baritone. As we go lower, this point is also going to move lower.

1,000 to 2,000 Hz - Squawk: Again, the type of sax itself may cause this point to float a little more, but you can cut the "parrot on a 'roid-rage bender" tendency of some instruments here.

6,000 Hz - Reed noise: As saxes generate sound from a thin piece of wood vibrating in an air stream, there's a noise that sometimes accompanies this. Right around this point is where to start looking for that vibration.

100 to 200 Hz - Boom/Mud:  particularly trombone, non- compete clause with bass and rhythm section. Getting it out of the way is usually best, as this range will serve little except to cloud most mixes.

4,000 to 10,000 Hz - Brightness: This top end can brighten up a dark horn section. However, trumpets can nearly take someone's head off in this range with a good blat, so managing this band is key here

Male voices, though typically lower than female, have more complex overtone structures, meaning that at least equal attention needs to be paid to the high end of a male vocal as a female.

100 Hz and below - Rumble: For most vocals, all you'll find down here is mic-handling noise, stage/floor vibrations, air conditioners, etc. Get rid of it.

200 Hz - Boom: This frequency is usually where you'll find the "head cold" sound. The female voice may run a little higher, but this is the ballpark. Anyone with allergies or sinus issues knows exactly what I'm talking about.

800 to 1,000 Hz - Word Clarity/Nasality: Not enough and intelligibility of some lyrics may be unintelligible, too much and you get the teacher from Peanuts

3,000 Hz- Presence/Excitement: This is right around the point that tends to add some energy, or some "buzz" to a vocal. Not enough, and the vocal may sound deflated, flat, and dull. Too much, and your listener will feel like he or she is getting poked in the ear canal with a chopstick every time the vocalist opens his or her mouth.

4,000 to 8,000 Hz - Sizzle/Sibilants: Typically this is the range a de-esser is handling. If your vocalist sounds like meat hitting a hot pan at the end of any word ending in "s" or a similar sound, this is where to hunt

10,000 Hz and up - Air: Want to "open up" your vocal a little? Apply a light shelf boost around here and that should do it. This is not always necessary, though, and simply adding "air" for the sake of it can make things harsh, brittle, and introduce noise to the sound

Basketball With Animals

Making animations with Dave Quion is one of my most rewarding undertakings. The following has pretty much been our routine since we were Suite mates at CalArts and worked on our first short "Lobster Shmobster" together.

Day 1. 
He comes to me with some absurd script and we spend hours in my studio recording voice overs and Improvising around the theme, laughing at our own silliness.

2 Months later.  
I get the animatic and seeing the characters shape and form start to lump together a sonic landscape. 

8 Months Later. 
Receive Dave's meticulous one man hand drawn animations and starting cutting in sound effects.  The overall process and collaborative element of our projects together is truly one of the most rewarding working relationships I have.

The fruit of that love and labor has resulted in one of our most polished and sleek shorts to date. "Duckhammer and Beavkid Get Buckets",  Is the story of two roommates,  a slacker Duck, and an average Beaver.  In their Universe all problems are solved with Basketball.   In this first Episode Duckhammer Learns how to dunk and Beavkid coerces him into face off against Rhino and Iguana for a futon.

Dave's rendering of 2D into 3D camera moves is particularly of note.   We intend to continue this as a web series,  or get a deal with one of the networks.  If you like it, help spread it around.  We are all grassroots here, doing this Independently as a labor of love.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


Song of the Open Road - Walt Whitman

82. Song of the Open Road
by Walt Whitman

AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,   
Healthy, free, the world before me,   
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.   
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;   
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,  
Strong and content, I travel the open road.   
The earth—that is sufficient;   
I do not want the constellations any nearer;   
I know they are very well where they are;   
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.     
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;   
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;   
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)   

Mesquite Treason Releases Etudes In Construction Of Timbre

Etudes in Construction of Timbre is a study in layering recordings of building and experimenting with a series of new instruments, including a guitar turned cello, aluminum pipes turned chimes and bowed children's toys and a microtonically tuned Autoharp.

The Bluebird - Charles Bukowski

The Bluebird

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see you.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that he's in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess me up?
you want to screw up the works?
you want to blow my book sales in Europe?

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be sad.
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him die
and we sleep together like that
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man weep, but I don't weep,
do you?

Charles Bukowski