After two years of bars and smoky stages, local chamber folk act Minos the Saint has finally reined its rambling musical ways into a debut album.
Awake and Dream, released in late February, distills the multi-instrumental band’s live catalogue into more than a dozen songs, each with brassy arrangements and a folky bounce. Members Peter Simon, Micah Blouin, Ben Herrington, Joel Willson, Arisia Gilmore and Jessica Ottaviano plucked away at the recordings for months to pare down improvisational styles into a cohesive piece of work.
“We were very careful in selecting each song,” vocalist/guitarist Simon says. “All of the songs stand out, and they stand out for different reasons. It’s hard to choose a favorite, because we have so much variety in sound.”
It wasn’t just about leaving songs from their long-cultivated setlist on the studio floor; the band had to choose which riffs would represent them for posterity.
“Part of our identity as a band is that every time we play a song, it’s different,” says Herrington, who plays accordion, keyboard and trombone. “That might have been the most difficult part of recording an album—just choosing exactly which version of a song we wanted on there.”
Recorded at River City Studios with local sound engineer and producer Justin Spence, the album features guest spots by several Baton Rouge musicians, including Jose Morales, David Hinson, Particle Devotion’s Nick Garrison and Captain Green’s David Melancon. It’s always been a community effort for MTS, which regularly invites other musicians into its prolific and experimental live shows. Like these gigs, the album at times just feels like kicking back with friends for a jam sesh.
“It really just captures everything we’ve been working on and expressing as a band for the last couple years,” Herrington says. “To me, the goal was to capture the energy of our live performances, and then add even more layers that wouldn’t be there live.”
Herrington and Simon hope the album will inspire first-time listeners to snag a ticket to a show to hear the extended cuts of songs like the closing, multi-movement track “This Side Alone.” While the studio version carries the listener through different atmospheres of sound, Simon says the sensation of traveling “from room to room” is even more potent live.
“Our songs are always evolving, and if [new fans] like this album, they should try to make a show,” Simon says.
Minos the Saint’s Awake and Dream is available on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes and the band’s website. Expect a locally distributed vinyl pressing this summer. minosthesaint.com
CATCH THEM LIVE
North Boulevard Town Square
*Performance day/time hadn’t been announced at press time