The band: Jorge Arana Trio
The songs: "Mammoth," "Speak Beast"
The story: "It started with a very simple riff," says Jorge Arana, of his latest album "Mammoth."
It reminded him of something out of an old Western. At practice, the band played the riff, over and over again, letting it build in intensity, but keeping those same, simple notes.
"I've never really written that kind of style before," Arana says. "Usually my songs are very jam packed with info and notes and rhythms."
That riff made it into the album's title track, and guided the rest of the tracks. Arana's instrumental avant-rock music is experimental and heavy, but with this album, he played with space.
"It's kind of my first foray into really trying to write with the sound itself in mind, as opposed to always concentrating on rhythms and notes," Arana says.
With "Mammoth," he hearkens back to early inspiration he garnered from video games, like Castlevania. He says he's drawn to the grim, moody effects of "gnarly dissonance." But it's not just about sound for Arana.
"I'm a very visual guy," he says.
He fills the spaces in his latest tracks with murky sounds and fuzzy guitar riffs, which evoke something big.
"There are plenty of monsters in this album," Arana says. "With 'Speak Beast,' there's definitely a monster there. It's moanin' and groanin,' and angry at something. But, I don't know, it's the first time I've talked to it."
Arana says this album is personal for him. With his expansive, atmospheric techniques, he found what he feels he's been working toward all this time.
"It reminds me of an old nightmare I had when I was a kid," Arana says.
"I'm walking around the street, looking up to the sky and I see a giant meteor getting close to the earth. It gets closer and closer; it's hot, I'm burning. I'm not going to outrun it, so I'm just looking at it. And then it gets unbearable. Till you wake up."
Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR 89.3 in which Kansas City musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.
Andrea Tudhope is a reporter and producer for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.