Gig Seeker Pro


Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Norfolk Debut Album: "The 71 Functions Of Consciousness" Worth The Wait"

Norfolk Debut Album: "71 Functions Of Consciousness" Worth The Wait


Interestingly, while Norfolk's studio had been remodeled, Ratliff's life seemed to have gone through it's own fresh coats of paint through the making of Norfolk"s brilliant new album, "The 71 Functions Of Consciousness."

Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Korn, Monty Byrom and Red Simpson written albums. Throw Norfolk's debut album onto the stack and be proud. You may never see another album like this come out of Bakersfield if its dying music scene can't be revived.

You can at least be hopeful that Ratliff's life was revived in part through the making of an album that plays like an ode to relationship recovery. But whether or not you know the real journey behind the lyrics of Norfolk's "71 Functions Of Consciousness," you're in for one of the best musical journeys Bakersfield music could ever offer.

From the sweeping grand piano on "Move to the City" to the echoing vibrophone sprinkled throughout "The Art Of Dying," to Ratliff's ever-smooth vocals on "71," the album's edgy guitar chords and in-your-face lyrics slice through the atmospheric album like jets through a cloudy musical horizon.

And yes, Norfolk's album comes on the cusp of change and American economic hard times. It's an album that helps you escape for a moment, even while making you realize you're not alone and that life can be hopeful. It's a reminder that music can seem to hold more of an answer than any Obama campaign.

Ratliff himself has felt some of the economic desperation of 2008. Yet, that loss seemed to be farthest from Ratliff's mind. As he headed out to check on Front Porch Music, he didn't look ragged, downtrodden or defeated. Rather, he had a sense of determination, even satisfaction for his soon-to-be released album that was six months of studio time in the making.

"When I look back at this album I'm going to think... perfect," Ratliff said. "It's been a lot of work and took every spare minute to complete," he said. The album's best song is arguably "Move To The City," a piece that's anything but innocuous with its heart-wrenching vocals and stirring piano and vibrophone overlays. Ratliff said there were two years between writing the beginning and ending verses to the piece. He'd gone through a divorce, saw his life and his own perspective of the song dramatically alter. The song took its final shape during Norfolk's military-precision-like recording sessions in at their studio beneath Front Porch Music.

Ratliff gave credit to his four bandmates, bassist Zachary Spier, synth player/pianist Evan Ware, guitarist Kyle Appleton and drummer Chris Wulfekuehler for helping to bring the final album recordings together. "If I had to do it myself it would have been a tragedy, a real trainwreck," Ratliff said.

Formerly in the band Marcco, Ratliff's old band was close to signing with a major label until he pulled away. He's been around three years on his new path with Norfolk, mostly writing music and assembling the right mix of band members.


Ratliff said not all of Norfolk's songs could be recorded in the band's basement studio beneath Front Porch music. That studio is small. You get to it after stepping down a rickety flight of stairs through a dark underground hallway.

"We did all the drums and all the guitars and the first round of bass in the studio. Then it got so claustrophobic and depressing down there," Ratliff said. He said the band recorded the rest of the album in his bedroom.

Norfolk bassist Zachary Spier said, "The band decided, We had to get a new surrounding to finish the album. It was a breathe of fresh air when we were able to move the recording process to James' apartment. It was getting depressing going down there every night.�

"All the cool creative stuff happened in the apartment," Ratliff laughed.

"Positive things DO come out of procrastination," Spier added when talking more about Norfolk's moody recording sessions.

"Move to the City" and the song "Sophia" have been around for a few years, while Ratliff said "71″ is most recent, and was the only song on the album written as a band. "We all sat down at the same time and wrote our parts," he said. I always thought the original demos of the songs were as far as I could take them. I needed really bright creative people to help. All the ideas were really great from everybody," he said.

They didn't just get creative with their recording locale but with their choice of instruments used on the album as well. The band went to a local high school to record on one instrument. "We went to Liberty High and miced a 7-foot grand piano." Ratliff said about the band using Liberty's giant Yamaha grand piano for the songs "Move To The City" and "71."

Guitarist Kyle Appleton picked up a vibrophone, which now stands against a wall in the studio. The instrument adds a tremendous depth and mystery to the recordings.


While the first two tracks of "71 Functions Of Consciousness" are good songs, it's the third track, "Move To The City," that sets the tone for the album. The rest of the album sort of falls beneath that track's rainy-written umbrella.

With such a strong sense of atmosphere, there was a lack of depth in a few spaces within the mostly rock-driven album. There's a sense that the brilliance of a few of the tracks could have shone even brighter with the temperament of a stringed arrangement accompanying guitar and vocals.

Yet, the album is filled with emotional moments surrounded by anchors of rock songs. The entirety makes for a brilliant musical tour de force of Ratliff's own desperate struggles through love and life over the past few years. "And from now on, honey, I won't be the lonely one," comes Ratliff's voice in the haunting, yet smooth richness of "The Lonely." Regardless of its troubled lyrics, the song penetrates, taking the journey of the album in a full emotional circle.

“After I got a divorce, the last thing I wanted to do was write songs about it,� Ratliff said. Either way, people should be glad he did. - N.L. Belardes


The 71 Functions of Consciousness (LP) (JAN 2009)



We're a five piece melodic rock band. "Melodic rock" may come across as a generic term, but it is our goal to arrange songs that are anchored by great melodies, whether it be instrumentally or vocally. It's not our intention to write a song full of hooks, but we believe that good music will always have elements that "hook you" or emotionally connect you to the music by the genuine arrangement of melodies. In short, we're five musicians that love music and aspire to create music that others, not only ourselves, can respect and believe in. We're influenced by bands like Radiohead, Pixies, Elliott Smith, Supergrass, Travis, and at times, Weezer. We're most often compared to these artists, but not exclusively. Recently, we released our first full-length album to great review. We sold over 500 albums at our release show alone. Currently, we're focusing on the business side of our band in hopes of making it a sustainable source of income for all of our members. The future is bright and open.