Dust of the American Pixel

Released: January 20, 2009

Label: Wild Iris Records


George Zhen – Vocals, Piano, Guitars, Synths, Basses, Drums, Percussion, Programming & Melodica

Charlie Albelaez: Alto Sax on “Winter”

Additional Audio Contributions:
Yewbic, Pandit Jasraj & Gareth Morgan

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I had always wanted to do a concept album. Not something obvious, but something textually deep and a piece with a degree of symbolism and mystery. I had always toyed with the idea of a treasure hunt buried in the art and lyrics of an album. So channeling my deepest respect for Pink Floyd and Radiohead, I embarked on an album decidedly more ambitious from my previous projects.

Where the formula, or “rules” such as they are, for my first record was to be as organic as possible, I intended for Dust of the American Pixel to be a deliberate blending of that which is instrumentally organic (representing humanity) and that which is instrumentally artificial (representing technology). And that is the over-arching concept of the record: How humanity is losing itself as our technological progress outpaces our spiritual, or humanistic, growth.

This conflict takes shape throughout the record both lyrically and sonically. One can hear the bustling of drum-machines coupled to piano riffs, air-raid sirens cascading across open, train-ribboned corn fields and the war depiction of ancient peoples out-matched by laser-guided bombs. And when all is done, what is left of this civilization is memories scattered upon the wind. Dust.

I know. Really bleak. But it has some high points as well.

Several of the early recordings for Dust were first conceived in Sonar, but in the middle of this project I migrated to Pro Tools. I still leaned on Reason pretty hard for much of the drum programming. I curated several field recordings from freesound.org, a royalty-free resource for such things. I even put together a real drum kit and played it on several songs. I was determined from the onset to play as many instruments myself as I could manage – and I did that save a single sax solo on “Winter” which was handled by Charlie Albelaez.

In the end, I’ve issued a challenge to the listener with Dust of the American Pixel. It has some really prescient moments when applied to today’s world and political landscape. It’s truly the one record I’ve made to date that I can listen to and still get a creative kick out of. But I hope it also serves as a reminder of how precarious our civilization is.

Related Materials

ThePixelbomb Puzzle

The other thing that is a part of this project is the Pixelbomb Puzzle. Yes, there is a puzzle in this project that unlocks a collection of alternate version songs – and one last musical epitaph to the album. All you need to get started is to listen to the album or watch the video for The American Pixel Part 2. Good luck.

Bonus Tracks

11. Pixel’s Epitaph
The concluding track from Dust of the American Pixel.

Electric Primitive Reaction (Organic Mix)

Innocence or Pi (Organic Mix)

Hands of Child (Technology Mix)

Staring BlindlyInto A Dull Sunset (imadethismistake cover)

Social Somniloquy (featuring Dion McGregor)