Today, Mark Allen-Piccolo shares his new single and video, “Under The Cherry Tree,” via Backseat Mafia. Check out the premiere here. Mark Allen-Piccolo’s new LP, Word of The Day, is out on May 1st via BotCave Records. Pre-order the LP here.
Regarding the track, Mark stated: “This song started as a soft piano ballad, but I wanted to take it as far away from that as I could. Beginning with a patch on the OB6 synth, I started searching for sonics that would complement the buzzy, spitty sound I had found. Pretty soon, the song developed into a collage of unrelated “sampled” music including some “bad” edits: a random distorted harp arpeggio, a monster bass solo by my pal Naytronix, a badly recorded piano. I processed my voice until it sounded like a choppy malfunction cyborg. The end result is quite a dystopian sci-fi cyber punk journey a la Bladerunner or Brazil. The lyrics talk about ducking under a cherry tree for cover as a storm rages. There, I share a moment with a stranger as we watch other people weather the storm”.
Mark Allen-Piccolo strives to make every song an adventure. With each new idea, a sonic journey awaits; one where he’ll discover new sonorities, new dissonances along the way. He often doesn’t know where his writing will lead, but every song has promise as a romantic journey of luscious chords and melodies—songs that are lush, dark, and moody, while never collapsing from the weight of their own angst.
His second album, Word of The Day, which follows his 2016 debut Left From Here is minimalist in approach: dense musical layers have been stripped away leaving sparseness and space; the lushness of each arrangement is supported by its enveloping quietness. During the writing and recording of his new album Mark had started studying electrical engineering in Davis, California. Most of the music was written during his 2 hour commute to campus. As he drove, he put his demos on repeat and would write lyrics and sing guitar parts, drum parts, and keyboard parts shaping the music as his personal soundtrack for the drive. This gave the songs a sense of patience and breath that is often lost in our hectic daily lives.
Mark’s quietness is perhaps his most natural voice. With this album, he intended to fully embrace that side of himself. Instead of arranging songs with a band, as he had done in previous albums, Mark played shows solo or with one or two additional musicians. In doing so, he was able to sculpt the songs into a representation of that quiet side. By breaking away from his traditional band approach he became influenced by artists such as Frank Ocean, and Panda Bear, while drawing from his rich musical background of composers such as Debussy, Takemitsu, and of course the Beatles and Beethoven.
Mark has worked with many artists as a studio musician and recording engineer, including Francis and the Lights, Tune-yards, Naytronix and Ben Goldberg. This experience has given him a comfort and confidence in the studio. He understands the limits of the studio as a production tool. At the same time, Mark—with the help of co-producer Nate Brenner of BotCave Records—has pushed his boundaries, exploring grittier sonorities: modulated drum machines, spitty synthesizers, and pitched up/down vocal processing.
As musicians get older, we must learn how to devote ourselves to art while at the same time living. Indeed, Mark has gone through many changes this year, having a daughter being the most monumental. It becomes necessary therefore to produce art in small steps: one album a year, one song a month, one melody a week, one word a day.