28 September 2005

(Red Journal Excerpt 4 - Jet Blue: Part 2)

I immediately phoned my dad and told him the news. He had no idea it was happening, which is probably for the best. He was in the garage working on his car. It must have been strange to hear I was OK after not having known anything was amiss. It could've almost been left unsaid, but of course that would have been impossible since I soon related the story to the rest of the world!

I called Anastasia (who had been watching the event unfold on television with her fingers crossed) and then Tom- he was tuned in and didn't know I was on the plane! He informed me of the news crews filming passengers exiting the plane, and when I told him I was almost ready to do so myself, he told me to wave. Once out, I did. I waved at a helicopter and smiled widely, laughing drunkenly in disbelief.

We boarded a bus, the sun setting on the tarmac and the firemen walking about, illuminated by sirens. The terminal was swarming with media, and we were told we didn't need to answer any questions if we didn't want to, but I didn't care. As I went to retrieve my baggage, I was approached by a sea of lights, lenses, microphones and dictaphones, and I was asked a string of the same questions over and over again; I somehow never tired of answering. I stood next to a pretty girl with whom I had exchanged smiles on the plane. Someone inquired if we knew each other and we answered no, but I smiled, saying I had noticed her and thought she was cute. Oh, to be drunk with a beautiful girl in front of news crews.

I was soon requested to do the early show on CBS, and thought, "What the hell? Sure, I'll do it." Good Morning America asked me as well and I had to turn them down. How bizarre is that? CBS put me up in a three hundred dollar suite complete with a flat-screen television at the Beverly Hilton, and Alan (the show's producer) accompanied me to my room to relax and handle logistics. He flipped through the channels and caught news coverage of the flight. I watched myself responding to reporters on four different stations, and it already seemed distant- even more surreal. After a sushi dinner on Wilshire and La Cienega, I showered and half-listened to the news about the incident on a small monitor in my bathroom (yes- there was a second TV in my bathroom!). I went to bed after midnight and nestled in the soft, fluffy, strange comfort of a hotel bed, and thanked God that everything was OK. I scheduled a wake-up call, and finally let my tired eyes close for two hours...

As the outside world was dark and fast asleep, I washed up and put on the same clothes- they were the only clothes that weren't packed and protecting all of the promo albums I received from Mush. My hotel phone rang, and with groggy and burning eyes, I entered the bright, spacious lobby where Alan was waiting for me. "Hey rock star," he said, handing me the morning paper, "you made the cover of the Los Angeles Times!" And there I was, descending the steps from the airplane, holding my cell phone in the air and smiling triumphantly. I was on the cover of the fucking newspaper!

Alan picked up two iced coffees for me at Starbucks, and I started sipping one of them once in the limo on the way to the studio. The girl I had seen at the terminal (Christiana) was coincidentally also asked to be on the early show, and she arrived soon after with her father and her kitty, Margot, who also traveled with her on the flight. We were given light make-up and basked in the lights in front of the camera. Our interview was brief, and then we were whisked off in an even nicer limo to KCBS for a second round of interviews, and then did two radio interviews by phone on the way back to my hotel! I had an hour to kill, and I spent it talking to friends who were just hearing about the whole thing, seeing me on the news and in the papers.

Once at the airport, I did yet another interview with someone from AP, then met CBS at my terminal- they were waiting with a camera to film me checking in! I had lunch from a cafe upstairs and spoke with Stuart, finally heading to the gate and receiving star treatment from the airline. Surprisingly, I wasn't scared getting on the plane, and ate almonds watching "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" as if absolutely nothing had happened. I had a gin & tonic coming in to JFK and laughed at old Monty Python routines on TV. I made it off the plane feeling very lucky and happy, albeit exhausted.

I was given a gift basket containing fruits and cheeses and driven home in a limo after a final interview with CBS. I was so excited to be home in Brooklyn! I joined Swati and her friends Shalani and Yemi as they had a picnic in the living room, showing them the newspapers and images in my camera. Swigging some whisky Christy-Claire had gotten for me and smoking some weed of theirs, I opened my inbox to 72 messages... I wrote the whole adventure down in my Myspace blog and went to sleep after three; I had been awake for 24 hours.

The next week that passed was eventful and lovely. I did an interview the next morning, modeled for Forrest, and ate delicious sushi at Geido on Flatbush. Stuart's surprise 30th birthday party was that Sunday and was very emotional. We cried together, and it was just so heartwarming to be among close friends on that occasion after such an incredible ordeal. I was a paid member of the Maury Povich show audience the following day, and it was even trashier than I imagined it being- especially the audience! They should've been on stage themselves! I tried going to a second job on the west side where I would've been an extra in a Bollywood movie, but apparently they had enough people.

Christy-Claire and I met at Rai Rai Ken for delicious ramen, sitting near the window at the bar. She wore a nice dress and had done her hair up a bit, and looked beautiful. We bought Sweet Tarts and brown-bagged Sparks, drinking on the streets as we made our way to the Lower East Side. I really just remarked how nice it was being with her, looking pretty dodgy as we laughed and drank together on busy side streets. I finished mine by the time we got to Ludlow and Stanton, but we sat on a stoop so she could catch up. Unfortunately, she didn't finish in time: a police car pulled up and she was issued a ticket! I felt kind of bad for her, but thought it was pretty funny- so did she.

23 September 2005

Jet Blue Flight 292 and My Last 24 Hours

Before I even start the story, I just want to thank all of my friends- both new and old- for getting in touch with me with kind words, prayers, concerns, and even shitty jokes in the last 24 hours… I am still reeling from an experience I haven’t yet processed, and seeing myself on the news and on the covers of newspapers is only making these impending realizations even more difficult to make.

First, some exposition…

I arrived in Los Angeles last Thursday, taking some extra time off to catch up with friends in town before playing the Six Degrees Festival on Saturday: the reason I was initially flown out on Jet Blue. And, if you haven’t rode that airline, I still fully recommend it as they are one of the classiest airlines I have been on, and I’ve been around the world. I was lucky to stay with my friend Take in Hollywood and have him and his girl Sarah cook for me (I was the guy washing the dishes), and did fun things like take a sunset hike in griffith park, swim in backyard pools and hot-tubs in Bel-Air, shop for records and get VIP treatment from the great folks at Aron’s, share vodka with my friend Anastasia and her neighbor Grover in Laurel Canyon, and go to trashy bars in what I think was Los Feliz (I have no idea, actually). Whatever we did, there was a lot of wine and smiling before Tuesday, which I thought would be my last day in town.

That day, I met with Robert Curcio at Mush and handled the logistics for our workings together (I will be doing my next two records with Mush as they are licensing my record from P-Vine for a December release), and then headed to record a shoegazer rock set with the illustrious Mark McNeill (aka Frosty) at Dublab. Take did an amazing set as well- check out Dublab.com to listen! Then, after a nice dinner with our friend Valida and her roommate Nadine, we headed to the Little Temple for Sketchbook- the illest downtempo night in LA. Kutmah, Take, Orlando, and Eric Coleman spun records, and I performed live to a happy and engaged crowd. As 2AM drove us out onto Santa Monica, I figured it was a wonderful ending to a wonderful trip.

Not quite…

I got on my plane in Burbank completely exhausted the next day- yesterday- the now famous Jet Blue Flight 292. A nice businessman sat to my left and we had a seat open between us, so everything was comfortable. I swiped my credit card and purchased “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and was able to watch about ten minutes of it before Brad Pitt’s face froze and the pilot came on the air with an announcement:

“Ladies & Gentleman, this is the captain speaking. Unfortunately, we encountered some trouble with the landing gear upon our departure from Burbank, and we are in contact with Burbank and NY to see what course of action we should take.”

Basically, our landing gear didn’t retract after lift-off. I thought this was no problem: just leave it down and, when we get to NY, you won’t have to bring it back out! Obviously, it wasn’t that simple. A little less than a half-an-hour later, the captain announced we’d be doing a low fly-over Long Beach (another Jet Blue terminal) so that someone- with binoculars (!!)- would be able to ascertain if our landing gear was in fact down or if it was only a computer glitch. Either way, as they were figuring out what to do, we knew we weren’t making it to NY that day, and would have to perform some sort of an emergency landing at LAX.

My neighbor suggested I stop watching the movie as I would have to watch the beginning all over again on my next flight, so I started switching around on Jet Blue’s Direct TV channels. I stopped at MSNBC, but could’ve stopped at any network: Hurricane Rita’s coverage was interrupted by footage of a Jet Blue Airliner in the sky, with the caption “Jet Plane Is Burning Fuel Before Attempting Landing.” It was our plane.

My heart sunk, and I could taste the anxiety in my throat. The cabin-attendant lights were blowing up in every row, and the stewards and stewardesses were calmly making their way around the airplane and reassuring everyone that this was nothing out of the ordinary and that everything would be fine. Well, the trouble was that now more than half of the passengers- including myself- were watching the news, and were being informed that our landing gear was skewed 90 degrees from its landing path! The potential was there for it to simply break off in what was going to be our crash landing, and any moron could surmise a possible result: the nose of our plane scraping the runway at well over 150 miles an hour and a fire that would eventually ignite in the fuselage. To many of us, there was little comfort in the commentators’ assumptions and predictions…

People started to mill about in the cabin- some cried, some just stared- but everyone wanted to know what was going on. I became terrified in one moment, and tears came to my eyes as I watched our small, white plane hanging in the sky on the little television screen. I felt humbled and scared yet surprisingly disconnected, because it was as if the news broadcast somehow extricated me from the reality of the situation and things continued as they would in a movie: a now-public experience shared with strangers I later learned were lined up on the freeways watching in real-time. I needed a drink.

Jet Blue wouldn’t give me anything at that point, but my neighbor passed me a large bottle of what looked like seltzer and said, “Have some of this- it’s leaded.” He had smuggled a huge mixed vodka-tonic on the plane. It reminded me of my little subway whisky cocktails in coke bottles and I had a whole new appreciation for people’s creativity and guts. I’ve been ticketed for drinking a 40 on the subway, but who is going to stop someone with a bottle of seltzer?

So, the vodka took the edge off so much that the situation was rendered completely surreal. I became frustrated with the news and opted for Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, switching back and forth from Comedy Central to the news networks. After three hours of circling around with nervous/scared/confused passengers, the stewardesses instructed us on how to brace for our emergency landing. Almost like a mantra, the staff and what seemed like at least 25 passengers continually shouted “Brace! Brace! Brace!” as we sensed the ground getting closer and closer outside the window and underneath us. Our satelite signal was cut off about 15 minutes prior to our televised landing, but we would’ve been unable to watch it anyway since we had our heads between our legs and were too busy praying or just closing our eyes, accepting the skid of the landing gear along the runway.

Truth be told, it was an amazingly smooth landing! We touched our back wheels down and basically did a wheelie down the runway before the pilot gently inched down the nose of the plane. Fumes of burnt rubber and smoke filled our nostrils but, miraculously, none of the fire and smoke made it inside the plane. We grinded to a halt and everyone erupted in enthusiastic and grateful cheers: we were safe.

I had tried calling my dad earlier and got no signal, but now T-Mobile was coming in loud and clear. He was in the garage and had no idea what was happening, so my explanation of our emergency landing came out of left field! Friends in LA started calling me immediately, some watching the live news broadcast.

As I was exiting the plane I was talking with Take. Watching the news, he informed me they were filming everyone walking down the ramp and to the tarmac. So when I got to the door, he recognized me and told me to wave. We both started to laugh, and I was waving around my hand- holding the cell phone- saying hi to him through the news cameras. That is the story behind the photo so many of you have seen on what made front page of the LA Times and other publications.

The mood was emotional, humbling, warm, and bizarre. I was still pretty drunk, and we were shuttled by bus to the terminal where we were debriefed. “There is a lot of media at the gate, and you don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to,” they told us. When we made our way to collect our checked bags, we were bumrushed by microphones, lights, and cameras. I spoke with reporters from what could’ve been 50 or 100 different television networks and newspapers, relaying the same story over and over again in a bit of a haze, but I felt surprisingly coherent through it all: I was alive.

Soon, a producer for CBS’ Early Show named Alan approached me to interview the next morning, and I even turned down Good Morning America! This was the ultimate in surreal. I was driven to the Beverly Hilton where I stayed in a beautiful room on CBS’ tab, and we relaxed for about 10 minutes while taking care of some more logistics with the network. We flipped through the channels, and I did double-takes seeing the footage of the interviews I had just done on the flat-screen TV. I had made CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS, and local stations like KTLA. Huh? I just wanted to eat- we went for sushi and Sapporo on La Cienega and Wilshire.

I returned to my room at around midnight and showered, but had no clean clothes- all of the dirty clothes in my duffle were used to wrap and cushion all of the promo CDs I had gotten from Mush! So, I slept for just over 2 hours and awoke at 2:55 AM…
I was taken via limo to CBS studios to film the early show, followed by a local interview for KCBS and a third interview with the anchor, Kent. I was joined by another passenger from my flight whom I had recognized, Christiana Lund from NY via LA. She had just moved to NY 2 weeks prior and had returned home to get her cat Margot. She was a sweetheart and so was her cat, and we had fun being in a daze together covered in airbrushed make-up.

In the limo back to my hotel just after 8 AM, I did two interviews with local LA radio stations KNX & the Coast 103.5, receiving calls from Fox News, the LA Times, and the beginnings of calls from friends out east who were just starting to learn of my little adventure. I was literally on the phone for the first half of the day, eventually doing another AP interview and just sleepwalking through security at the airport after CBS met me to film my check-in.

Getting on the plane felt natural, although at times the memories slid in and I was reminded of yesterday. But, soon enough, I was watching Mr. & Mrs Smith, having tea and almonds, and it was if nothing had happened. A gin and tonic eased my landing as I watched the end of a Monty Python episode, and we were safe in NY.

Jet Blue had arranged people to meet and greet me, giving me a bag of snacks including fresh fruits, cheeses, and bread, and we waited for my one checked bag. CBS was there once more, doing one final interview to see how I felt now that I had landed in NY, and I was taken via a car (thanks to Jet Blue) back to my apartment in Brooklyn where my roommate Swati and two of her friends were having a little picnic in our living room.

Having some whiskey and opening up my inbox was a little daunting… I had 72 messages in my hotmail box alone and felt simultaneously so happy that so many of you took the time to get in touch and so frustrated that I couldn’t respond to everyone personally. I have been doing my best to answer my phone and return phone calls as well- please know I am getting your messages and am so thankful to be hearing from all of you guys. And I am amazed that people who had seen my CNN interviews and such looked me up on google and found my myspace page, even posting about me on their own websites! Thank you so much. A friend jokingly said this was “the best publicity stunt [I] ever pulled” but, ironically, I was able to get in touch with new and interesting people. And, most obviously of all, I am able to share this experience with all of you.

You can see Christiana and me on the CBS Early Show interview here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/22/earlyshow/main878702.shtml

Anyway, thank you so much for reading. Know life is more fragile than you can ever imagine, and live it like you understand…

21 September 2005

(Red Journal Excerpt 3 - Jet Blue: Part 1)

I was about to make a major move in every respect the next morning- away from the past, and away from her. I got settled in my new place fairly quickly, but September was probably the craziest month yet. I hardly felt grounded and raced from place to place, working on music, working infrequently doing modeling, and gearing up for my trip to Los Angeles. I signed with Mush Records, put together a new live set which I performed at CMJ, then trekked to Los Angeles the next day for a week-long trip.

My plane was grounded in New York for two hours due to weather conditions, so Tom was unable to pick me up as planned. Luckily, I had made plans with Anastasia, so she was able to pick me up. It was her neighbor Grover's car- the ultimate vehicle for someone in their 80's (which he was) to drive. We went to her beautiful apartment in Laurel Canyon and dropped off my stuff. I met her grandparents (they own the building) and had orange juice and delicious bread with garlic olive oil. They are both artists- sculpture and painting- and they proudly showed me their work.

[Omitted]

Anyway, Los Angeles was fun! It soon became obvious that I could never live there, despite the little fantasies I had before. It seems like a sprawling strip-mall of a town that famous and very rich people randomly decided to inhabit. LA could be in the middle of North Dakota and be the same, shallow city. If it wasn't on the ocean with its pretty palm trees and flowers, it would be the biggest shit hole I've ever seen. Yet, Tom and I would go to Trader Joe's and get food and cheap wine, cook, listen to music, and have a great time.

[Omitted]

Tom and I did our Dublab sets, had a nice dinner with Valida and her roommate Nadine, then headed to the Little Temple for Sketchbook. It was a real closure to the trip- or so I thought. The next day, after breakfast and ripping songs from Tom's computer, Anastasia picked me up in her new Volkswagen convertible and took me to Burbank for my flight. There was a pretty uneventful check-in, I was tired, sat in the waiting area and, well, waited. It's funny. I can't even remember anymore. I was sat at the last seat on the plane- 26E. A large businessmen named AJ was seated on the aisle, and we luckily had the middle seat free. Our flight attendant Judy was really cool and jokingly offered us cocktails. I swiped my debit card and bought "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," and it started soon after take off. About ten minutes into it, Brad Pitt's face froze, and the captain's voice came on in the cabin:

"Ladies and gentlemen, there was a problem leaving Burbank and our landing gear didn't retract. We are in communication with Burbank and New York and trying to determine the best course of action."

Huh?

Brad Pitt went back into motion, and it cut to Angelina Jolie. What the fuck was going on? It didn't seem like a big deal. I looked over at AJ and we simultaneously shrugged our shoulders. I continued watching the movie but felt the largest uncertainty building in my stomach. It wasn't fear yet, it was just a question: why hadn't the landing gear retracted, and is that actually a problem? I mean, OK, so the landing gear is down- just leave it down and, when we get to NY, you won't have to bring it down again, right? Wrong. About twenty minutes passed, and the movie froze again.

"This is the captain speaking. We are going to perform a low-fly by over Long Beach and someone in the tower with binoculars will be able to ascertain what exactly is going on with our landing gear. We'll find out soon after where we'll be able to land- either in Long Beach or at LAX."

Fuck. I wasn't making it back to New York yet. I kept watching "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," trying to remain unaffected by what was still relatively innocuous news, and ignore the fear starting its slide up my throat. The cabin attendant lights in multiple rows lit as they sounded, and passengers started milling about uncomfortably. Everyone wanted to know what this meant. The stewardess was completely calm and assured us it was no problem. I believed her, yet still, people were tense, and some had already begun crying.

AJ recommended I stop the movie since we'd be landing fairly soon, so I started flipping around channels with my little armrest remote. On MSNBC, I saw footage of an airplane flying about in the sky, with the headline "Breaking News: Jet Blue Flight 292 Burning Fuel Before Preparing For Emergency Landing." It was our plane! I can't say my heart sank right away, and it wasn't even shock really. I thought to myself, this can't be a big deal. It's just getting blown out of proportion. People started tuning into the news and I laughed, "that's us" and pointed to the monitor. AJ showed me the same coverage on Fox, and we had made CNN, CBS as well. We more or less monopolized television programming for the three hours we flew in circles to burn off our fuel and lessen our chances of dying in a huge explosion upon impact.

I was now afraid. Tears welled in my eyes. It was completely out of my control. I was a lame duck broadcast into homes, bars, sports clubs, hospitals, and anywhere a television could be plugged in, and these viewers- myself included- were watching what could've been the last few hours of my life with predictions and commentary about what would happen. There could be a loud crash, the landing gear- which we learned was skewed perpendicular to our landing path- could snap off, causing the nose to skid on the runway, catch fire, and ignite the fuselage. I told Judy I needed that cocktail right about then, and she refused me. I still don't know why- what harm could I have done? I tried powering my phone on to call my dad, and waited patiently for a signal to no avail. AJ noticed I wasn't doing too well, and as he got up from the bathroom, he offered me a bottle of what looked like seltzer, smiling as he said "why don't you have some of this- it's leaded."

I took a sip and, shit- was it ever! He had made a very stiff vodka tonic! When I started drinking, the situation became much more surreal. I had gotten tired of listening to the paranoid news broadcasters and found the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I wanted to smile and laugh. It wasn't helping to see footage of myself. It made it too post-modern! You aren't supposed to see footage of yourself on television as people speculate whether you'll live or die. I did switch back and forth but, as I got drunker and the climate in the plane grew more intense, it was as if I no longer cared. I didn't think I was going to die and, even if I did, what good was it doing me to think about it?

They cut our television feed as the newscasters warned we'd land within fifteen minutes. People were crying, holding hands, talking with strangers and comforting them as if they were family. They moved people to the back of the plane, shuffling luggage around and doing their best to make everything fit. A woman named Nadi was sat in between AJ and me, and she began showing us pictures of her niece's wedding- the reason she had come to LA in the first place. Her parents had traveled there from Manila. The stewardesses started going over the emergency landing procedure, and we looked over the safety information card in the seat back as they came row by row to insure we knew exactly what to do. Then, we began our descent- slowly.

Nadi asked if I was OK.

I replied, "yeah, I think we'll be alright."

"No," she immediately said, "you know you'll be alright."

"Yes. I know I'll be alright."

I had stuck tissue in my ears to prevent hearing the "loud crash" the newscasters predicted, and squeezed my head against my knees, waiting for something to happen. There was an electronic voice that said "brace," and then, like a safety mantra, people kept repeating it as if to ease us into a better landing. I felt the wheels touch and it was so smooth it almost felt anti-climactic! Slowly, the nose descended towards the runway, and the touchdown was imperceptible. The smell of smoke and burning rubber filled the cabin, but there was no fire or danger on board! We ground to a halt- everyone safe with their heads on their knees or pressed against the seats ahead of them- and the pilot immediately came on with the news.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have safely landed and there is no fire in the cabin." Everyone erupted in cheers and tears of joy- we had made it!

13 September 2005

Upcoming Shows This Week in NY & LA

I will be playing some shows in the next few weeks and hope those of you who will be in NY and LA can come out to say hi!

This Wednesday, 9.14, 8:PM

CMJ Music Marathon 2005
@ The Knitting Factory - Old Office

74 Leonard Street, NYC 10013

$7 (yes, they are letting in the general public- you don’t need a badge)

Then, off to LA:

This Saturday, 9.17, 3:PM - Midnight

The Six Degrees Festival Collective in collaboration with the

Selah Artistic Giving Center present:


The 2nd Annual
 Six Degrees Art, Music, Fashion & Film Festival

WWW.SIXDEGREESFESTIVAL.COM

LOCATION: 1329 East 6th Street, Downtown Los Angeles

WHAT: Five independent creative zones hosting live performances, film, art, fashion shows, Q&A opportunities, and exclusive clothing and record sales. Outdoor vendors and concessions.
$10 all day / 21 & over

And

Next Tuesday, 9.20, 9:PM

Sketchbook- with DJs Kutmah, Reneau, Eric Coleman & Take

@ the Little Temple

4519 Santa Monica Blvd, LA 90029

FREE/21 & over

Then, back in NY:

Monday, 10.3, 9:PM

Wrecking Ball - with Calmer and MishaSnall

@ The Lucky Cat
245 Grand Street, Williamsburg, BKLYN

$7 donation

Lots of music to come- hope to see you soon!

06 September 2005

[DISCOGRAPHY] Remembering Today


Remembering Today
(P-Vine, 2005) PCD-23706 (Japan)
(Mush, 2005) MH-242
Format: LP, CD & Digital

1. I'm Way Too High
2. Bleached Platinum
3. They'll Make A Video Game Out Of Killing People Like You
4. Entre Chien Et Loup
5. In Tandem
6. Summer On Cassette
7. Auto Rickshaw
8. Lake
9. Wishing On Airplanes
10. Suicide
11. Mouth
12. Insect Headphones
13. Non Art

Artwork by Doug Bowden


One-sheet

Remembering Today collects tracks recorded during the gap between Caural's 2001-2003 releases for Chocolate Industries and his relocation to New York. Originally from Chicago, Caural debuted in 2001 with the full-length, Initial Experiments In 3-D. He then joined the respected Chocolate Industries label, appeared on the compilation Urban Renewal Program, produced standout EPs in 2001 and 2003, and released his critial breakthrough full-length, Stars On My Ceiling in 2002. After moving to New York, he began work on a new album scheduled for release in late 2006. Remembering Today is both a companion piece to his earlier work and a link to his upcoming material. A series of snapshots from the life of an ever-evolving talent, it is the perfect set for Caural to both reintroduce himself to old listeners and court new in preparation for his next steps as an artist.



Reviews

Rockpile
Whether Caural's Zachary Mastoon is busy making drunk pedestrians laugh at four in the morning, turning down CBS's Good Morning America for an interview after becomming the poster boy for a narrowly avoided plane crash, doing animation voiceovers, or fronts his Myspace music page not a new "photo" but an ultra-realistic painted portrait crafted by a severely talented Brooklyn artist, there is this fantastic pervasive sense, in both his music and his life, of "Huh? How?" It's all freakin' there in tracks like "Summer on Cassette" and "In Tandem" and Suicide." This is electronic music that breathes with life, and gorgeous, drunk melody. It's fucked up hip-hop that makes you think and bob and trip on your cat. "Auto Rickshaw" is genius and WTF at the same time. There are only a few names that have justified the existence of electronic music to me, and Caural is one of them.
-Chris Eichenseer

Signal to Noise
How do you spell happiness? B-E-A-T. I'm a sucker for a tight groove. We're not talking 200bpm dance music, but rather solid downtempo boom baps that activate the spring in the back of your neck - the rhythm of misty rain, heartbeats and good sex. Remembering Today is full of just this type of goodness. Caural employs simple, well programmed beats, but he lovingly tucks them in an intricate quilt of glitchy electronic noise, warbly turntable samples and crisp jazz piano licks. His style of production could be compared to the quieter, more stripped-down aspects of artists such as Four Tet, Prefuse 73 and Boards of Canada, but his work is not derivative. He's able to effectively breathe new life into musical concepts that would normally seem cliché. For example, in "They'll Make a Video Game Out of Killing People Like You," he uses old-school video game sounds to create a section of melody. This has been done time and again, but he's able to pull it off by blending these sounds seamlessly with jazz riffs and ambient fuzz, effectively turning something that could be cold-hearted and synthetic on its head and giving it heart. There are a few purely ambient tracks on this disc as well. "Suicide" goes back and forth between droning, filtered fuzziness and a stark, haunting melody that seems to come from a toy piano. In the vein of Massive Attack's "Mezzanine," this music is simple enough to be sexy and complex enough to linger around long after that sweaty, satisfied cigarette.

XLR8R
A collection of unreleased material recorded after 2002's full-length Stars on My Ceiling (Chocolate Industries), Remembering Today provides a glimpse into the tonal meiosis of Chicago-bred, New York-based producer Zachary Mastoon (a.k.a. Caural). Caural's latest is an anthology of fuzzy memories though not fuzzy logic-these 13 session outtakes are both nebulous and distinctly contemplative. The bleary, corner-of-the-eye pirouette of these shambolic, sepia-toned memoirs places Caural as a kitsch-free contemporary of LA anachronist Daedelus, while the record's dovetailing, soft-focus snaps are akin to those of Prefuse 73. But Caural's willowy, huddled, dream-pop/mope-hop exudes its own signature sway, as refracted rustles and wispy melodies flicker atop blunted stutter. Remembering Today's stereotropic vignettes taper off more than resolve, but there's cumulative warmth in the embossed ridges and static-strewn hollows of Caural's pastel-dappled haze.
- Tony Ware

XLR8R
Musique concrete and instrumental hip-hop collide on Zachary Mastoon's second full-length outing as Caural. A beautiful, near haunting mix of snips, click s and otherworldly cut 'n' paste tricks are sure to put you to sleep—in the best way possible

3Hive
Caural is short for Chicago's Artful Underdog Resists Abstract Labeling. Okay, I made that up. Caural is the stagename for multi-talented musician Zachary Mastoon whose off-kilter beats, found samples, and moody synths often find him compared to Four Tet, Prefuse 73, and Daedelus. Flattering company as far as I'm concerned, but not necessarily satisfying as a description. He's got a sound all his own and each track packs its own little surprises if you listen carefully.

Aiding & Abetting
Fabulous cut-and-paste (electronic style, of course) combined with stellar beatwork. I know, I've said as much about Caural in the past, but this album puts a fine shine on past glories. Yes, digging an album like this does require some ability in the area of abstract thought. Goes without saying. But come on. There are so many interesting ideas meandering in and out of focus here, how can anyone get bored? Stupid question, I know. Philistines rule the world. Whatever. Those who jam to the likes of Prefuse 73 probably already know Caural well. Perhaps the rest of the world ought to get better acquainted. Just so damned...pretty, I guess. In an occasionally dissonant, sometimes in-your-face kinda way. I suppose this isn't the easiest album to like, but it's real easy to love.

Boomkat
Let's get them out of the way early; Prefuse, Daedelus, Four Tet and Caribou... Caural (aka Zachary Mastoon) could legitimately be compared to any of the above without contravening a single EU directive concerning artistic similes, but whilst his music certainly shares textures with these peers, Mastoon has carved out enough of a niche to more than demand your attention. Raised in Chicago, Mastoon has recorded for Chocolate Industries and Consumers Research, with new LP Remembering Today culled from material originally committed to tape between 2003 and 2005.

Building on the foundations established by his 2002 debut Stars On My Ceiling, Remembering Today is an aural bridge that glances back to his past whilst keeping a stomp on to future destinations. Opening with "I'm Way Too High," Caural delivers an all too short prologue of sweaty breaks and digital pins+needles, before plunging the listener into the intricately twinkle-hop of "Bleached Platinum." Disjointed in a Steve Reid kind of way, "Bleached Platinum" is the sound of Scott Herron enjoying a sunny afternoon down the open-air pool; a beatific atmosphere that is belligerently shattered on the granite hyperactivity of "Insect Headphones." Elsewhere, "Suicide" is instrumental solipsism at it's most poignant, "Auto Rickshaw" resembles a coherent Magnetophone, whilst "Month" indulges in swirling soundscapes of muted elegance.

Download
Perhaps you placed this experimental/ambient artist in Paris--because American music isn't supposed to sound this cool. Titling songs in French only adds to the geographic illusion. These shifty time signatures, glowing tones, and smoky textures are the product of Chicago's hippest son, in New York City

Grooves
Having studied jazz guitar and improvisation (with Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan University), Indonesian gamelan, Southeast Asian music, and experimental electronic music at New York University, Zachary Mastoon draws from a rich background for his Caural project. Those influences surface subtly amid the blunted breaks and bleepy haze of Remembering Today, a collection of unreleased material recorded after his 2002 full-length Stars on My Ceiling. Though his leftfield hip-hop naturally aligns him with Prefuse 73, Daedelus, and company, Caural's material distinguishes itself with its rich sound. He sweetens a sleepy synth-funk groove with a glockenspiel melody and a warm bass prod on "Entre Chien Et Loud," for example, and Mastoon is equally comfortable injecting jazz references into one song ("Bleached Platinum") as he is Casio noises elsewhere ("They'll Make A Video Game Out of Killing People Like You"). Proving that this material can be experimental without being off-putting, classical string pizzicati rubs shoulders with a smeary groove, bell accents, and underwater piano on "Auto Rickshaw." The disc gravitates towards quieter territory with the leisurely lurch of "Suicide" and beatific dreaminess of "Mouth," but the staccato hyperactivity of "Insect Headphones" abruptly re-adjusts the mood with its distinctive gamelan bell strikes and thrumming pulsations. While Remembering Today offers much to appreciate, perhaps its best moment arises with "Summer on Cassette" whose grooving stutter-strut pulse, piano sprinkles, and vocal snippets Prefuse himself would be proud of.

Halo-17
In a world of million-dollar advertising budgets for "garage" bands, slickly marketed teen idols, and expensive producers who can make a blonde bimbo's singing voice passable faster than you can say "Holy ProTools, Batman!", electronic music remains the great leveller. Sure, having money and fame helps, but it's perfectly possible to make a record that sounds just as professional and sophisticated as a megastar using consumer grade equipment in the privacy of your own bedroom. Which is exactly what Zachary Mastoon, AKA Caural, has done with "Remembering Today".

Most of this stuff has a real DIY-vibe to it, yet it's still as polished and sharp as anything you'd expect from one of the greats of the genre. Mastoon has quite professionally spliced together a hybrid of glitch, hip-hop, and IDM that shows that he has no shortage of ideas, even if his sound does get a little too abstract and busy at times. If he's mastered anything though, Mastoon is the master of the beat, and he loads this album up full of good ones. Much like Massive Attack, the music is for the most part very simple, relying only on the beat and perhaps some snippets of melody here and there to give it bones. Unlike Massive Attack though, rather than making fully formed songs out of these ingredients, everything sounds as if it's been cut up and rearranged in no particular order.

Opening track I'm Way Too High, for instance, uses occasional bursts of harsh, dissonant, trilled noise to open the album with a punch. They'll Make A Video Game Out Of Killing People Like You takes the gimmicky of using 8-bit video game like samples in it, but for once this actually works pretty well, making the track something a bit more solid than a mere novelty effort. On the other hand, there's nearly completely ambient tracks like Entre Chien Et Loup, which glides along accompanied by a gentle chiming pulse and what sounds like almost random bass licks.

This album is not going to propel Caural to stratospheric superstardom, it's far too abstract and occasionally alienating to achieve that. Much like the cover art, it's occasionally too busy as well, cramming more ideas into a track than there is room for. But the rest of the time, this is a pretty impressive effort, that showcases Mastoon's considerable musical strengths while staying away from trying to do too much. Definitely worth a listen for fans of glitch and ambient IDM.

Orlando Weekly
Somewhere in the speedy tape-reel crackles and ambient buzz melodies of Remembering Today actually lies a cohesive album. These recordings represent the period after producer/performer Zachary Mastoon completed work on the 2002 Caural album, Stars on My Ceiling. Less a cohesive album than a collection of miscellaneous session highlights, Remembering Today works as a flowing compilation of understated, sample-heavy beats, slowly expanding melancholia and stretches of organic/electronic shoegaze psych. Mastoon's multiple routes are dizzying at times, but moments like the ones that make up "Lake" and its short subsequent track are worthy of deep, focused study. "Lake"'s whirling radio static and tape chirps give way to unfortunately brief, fluttering string section pulses in "Wishing on Airplanes," which are both worlds different from the busy, delirious drum loop that underscores opener "I'm Way Too High."

Other Music
Best known for his 2002 breakthrough Stars on My Ceiling, Caural's (aka Zachary Mastoon) fusion of electronic, hip-hop and Eastern sounds has earned him a place next to Four Tet, Caribou (formerly Manitoba) and Prefuse 73, while his productions are still very much his own unique style. Remembering Today is an excellent overview of the music from this Chicago native (who now lives in New York City and is currently working on a new full-length), featuring unreleased material recorded between 2003 and 2005

Properly Chilled
Caural gives us a dousing of experimental electro hop. Beats are glitching but not full-throttle IDM glitch. Video game keyboard sounds pop out new melodies and stereophonic mixing brings it all together. Imagine Orbital using their fantastic multi-layering style without the dance beats. Picture (insert abstract hip-hop artist here) dropping dope beats in and out of the mix, and with that image in your head put on songs like "They'll Make A Video Game Out Of Killing People Like You" (Possibly one of the best in your face intelligent put downs) and you'll hear Caural at his best. "Insect Headphones" is a wonderful track with buzzing noise sweeping from ear to ear and a wonderfully calming soundscape develops as the song grows in dimension. Again, Mush brings us another out-there but accessible release that should hit home with the indie/college rock crowd filling the need for beats, retro references and aural experimentation.
-Dedric Moore

Tiny Mix Tapes
Is Caural not a legend yet? Well, I guess this is only his second album. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself a little. Remembering Today is Chicago-bred bedroom producer Zachary Mastoon collecting session highlights recorded around the time his well-received Chocolate Industries debut was released and his subsequent move to the Big Apple. As such, this is an almost breathtakingly coherent release that, to my mind, sounds greatly improved over Star On My Ceiling. If not stylistically disparaging, Mastoon's unique brand of ambient, surreal, otherworldly glitch has certainly hit its stride in mature fashion. The first two tracks after the grinding, "Do Not Fire!" (Madvillain)-like, warbly Nokia-sampling opening track "I'm Way Too High" employ similar lazy, hollow-sounding beats that I just find tasty, though the mood for both cuts is quite different.

"Bleached Platinum" puts Caural's extensive worldwide musical education to work, as he richly strums out some contemplative chords with pieces of an unreleased Transmission track, while "They'll Make A Video Game Out Of Killing People Like You" makes the beat more in-yer-face as seen under a menagerie of 8-bit sounds. By that point, you should have a pretty good idea what Today is all about, and damn if you wouldn't be lucky to get more of the same. People who meditate know trip-hop, so quit thinking (yes, that's a joke) and just buy it already, will ya'? Finally, a day worth remembering.
-Filmore Mescalito Holmes

Urban Pollution
Self-described "electronic based record label" Mush Records has been pulling off something of a coup as late, first spiriting Daedelus out from under the nose of Plug Research and getting him to commit to tape his best album yet (March 2005 release Exquisite Corpse), and now releasing this shimmering creation from former Chocolate Industries artist Caural. Subscribing less to the hip-hop aesthetic of his earlier days, the sound on Remembering Today is more a mélange of sticky beats and clangs, balmy hums, buzzes, and fragmentary melodic dialogues, all wrapped up in the warmth of a friendly personal interaction.

With feet planted equally in the realms of IDM and abstract jazz, and fingers in the pies of hip-hop, world, and experimental musics, Caural treads with a lighter step than many of his producer peers. The result is an experience akin to having the artist speaking directly to you through the music, not in any pompous or didactic way, but as if each listener were on the same level as him. He just wants to have a normal conversation, tell you about what he loves, what his passions and projects are, who he's been listening to. This kind of informality is seldom found in the works of "electronic" musicians, and might seem a bit of an impropriety to listeners accustomed to the more clinical moods of acts like Matmos, Aphex Twin, or Boards of Canada, all of whom are handy reference points for Remembering Today. Instead of coming directly at you with dry clicks and cuts, this record invites you to sit down and enjoy its forays into the eclectic contemporary music world.

Opener, "I'm Way Too High," belying its title, chaperones the listener through a tasting of the vintages that lie ahead, its scrambled keyboard loop providing continuity atop a mix of sounds before morphing into the orchestral-warm-up beginning of "Bleached Platinum." This, in turn, gives way to the jazzy, stuttering meat of the song as naturally as leaves turning in fall. The song then breaks itself down, deconstructing its own elements, preparing the way for the next in a pattern that is to be repeated throughout Remembering Today. A pair of gurgling water-droplet, pizzicato string breaks in "Auto Rickshaw" anticipates the placid rise of "Lake." The gentle knocks and swells of "Suicide" fade into the ethereal wisp of ambient tone that begins "Mouth," before a haunting vocal line slides in, bringing with it a faint tambourine rhythm.

The basic elements of the album, its beats, melodies, and moods, are stable only in the most transitory of ways, but their slipperiness is somehow necessary to the complexities underlying its organization. Remembering Today is assembled as a totality, with each step being a logical progression from the one before; the songs, for the most part, hold up on their own, but they gain an extra, and necessary, level of meaning within the context of the whole. Few artists even attempt this kind of organic coherence; Caural succeeds, marrying a level of intimacy on par with label-mate Daedelus to an ear for sustained development of which Nobekazu Takemura would be proud. After spending time with Remembering Today, it's hard not to be eagerly anticipating the next project, already in the works, from Caural and Mush Records.