Born to American opera singers in Germany and growing up in South and West Philadelphia, multi-instrumentalist PJ WINTER has been immersed in music his entire life.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2002 to study aerospace engineering, PJ began honing his skills in two of LA's live music institutions: Babe's and Ricky's Inn in Leimert Park-- one of the oldest blues clubs on the West Coast-- and The Baked Potato in Studio City-- arguably the world's foremost hub for jazz fusion music.
While working as an aerospace engineer and studying guitar with virtuoso John Ziegler of Pygmy Love Circus and Volto! in 2006, PJ began recording what would become a five year endeavor: RORSHOCK (an intentional misspelling of the Rorschach inkblot perception test)-- a ten song album of original songs, seamlessly running the gamut from jazz fusion and grunge to bossa nova blues-rock and odd time signature pop-punk.
Every instrument - with the exception of horns on one song - was played by PJ, one at a time. He calls it "karaoke with myself." Tim Hatayama (live mixer of American Idol, The Voice, and more) joined the project in 2008, and gave the music the professional sound that it deserved.
And finally, five years later, the album RORSHOCK is available for the world to hear.
PJ Winter - Vocals, Bass, Drums, Guitar, keyboard
Josh Aveling - Guitar
Matt Little - keyboards
Erik Smith - Bass
Jason Byrd - Drums
RORSHOCK released 9/3/2011!!!
Available on iTunes and pjwinter.com
Philly Native and California Transplant PJ Winter Releases Debut Album, Rorshock
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It's been over 5 years in the making, but PJ Winter has come a long way with the self-release of his...It's been over 5 years in the making, but PJ Winter has come a long way with the self-release of his debut album, Rorshock. A blend of prog rock, blues, jazz fusion, and pop punk, Winter wears his influences on his sleeve and wears them well. The album is the product of a true multi-instrumentalist, with the man playing an array of roles from that of producer, arranger, and musician to everything in between. It's evident from the opening strains that Winter has a story to tell and is inviting you to trust him and take his hand and enjoy the ride. So, let's go, shall we?
In true prog fashion, Rorshock opens with an ambient instrumental crescendo to kick off the album's 8-minute plus lead track, “Amalgam,” and showcases what Winter has to offer right off the bat. He's got some serious chops and just “gets” it—a recurring facet within his music. The track fades out with an excellent string arrangement, moving into the sweet strains of “Cruisin.” Definitely the kind of song that just makes you want to jump in your car with the windows down and do exactly what the title implies as Winter sings his heart out about a very special lady.
“Dividing Eternity” takes the rock down just a bit, but the emotion is not lost here. You feel what Winter is feeling whether you want to or not, and it's kinda hard not to. Although more upbeat than its predecessor, “Song's Been Sung” makes you want to just reach through those speakers and give the man a hug. The lyrics are tastefully melancholy, and the music is wise beyond its years. There's an aching here you want to fix because at this point in the album, you and Winter are old buddies. He's that relatable.
EGOne of the album's centerpieces is the gorgeous “Somewhere I've Never Been Before.” It's PJ and a piano, but it's so much more than that. There is an incredible amount of expression in this piece, almost as if each touch of a piano key represents another word in the conversation Winter is trying to hold with you. He takes that conversation in another direction with the amazing “Propeller,” a moving staccato beat reminiscent of California prog metal kings, Tool. Except here, Winter's added horns that completely change the mood of the track and make it utterly his. “Propeller” has a sense of urgency that gets in your brain like no other track on Rorshock, possibly due to its accompanying lyrics that encourage living life to the fullest and making every day count. A message that no listener can refute.
“For Too Long” is a little ditty that harkens to the simplicity of bands from the early '90s like Weezer, where emotion is expressed in little more than a couple of minutes—another reason why Winter “gets” it. Not an easy task to grab hold of a listener that quickly, but he's managed to do it here. To lighten the mood, Winter follows up with the fun and quirky “Spinach Green Electronic Paradise.” The laid-back attitude of the song almost feels like an ode to his California residency and the chill atmosphere that's inspired the music.
The second to last track on the album is “Amorous Infinitus,” a lullabye-like tribute to the lady in Winter's life. It's a very stripped down, honest moment that shows how adept he is at knowing when not to overdo it. The guitar and vocal arrangements compliment each other without overpowering, yet Winter's soft vocals seem to take center stage here. As the track fades out, Winter brings us back full circle to the opening of the album with another fine ambient moment to lead into the final track, “Ascension.” Pop-punk fans, take note. Winter's straightforward approach to the song makes it every bit as infectious as anything coming from Saves The Day or Dillinger 4, but with even more depth than most bands can muster.
Don't be scared off by the musicianship here, people. Sure, Winter knows what he's doing as a musician, but he's also a fan at heart, which is something that really resonates throughout the entire album. Rorshock is an album that can be appreciated by fans of all genres, one that's been made with love, attention, and care. And who knows—you might love it, too.
Rorshock, and spontaneous jams!
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