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"General Admission: CMJ Weekend, Days 3 and 4 General Admission: CMJ Weekend, Days 3 and 4 General Admission: CMJ Weekend, Days 3 and 4"

Later that night, after a couple disappointing sets in Williamsburg by Neon Blonde and The Rakes, we came back into Manhattan for the Grand Rapids band Smallspace. While they seemed very young and green, The Radiohead influenced songs were outstanding and their dazzling performance, despite the cramped confines of the 169 bar stage, effectively grabbed the attention of even the crabby old 169 regulars sitting up at the bar. Keep an eye out for them next time they pass through town, because they've certainly got something good going on here. -

"show previews"

Following on a well-received EP released last year, Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Smallspace are set to unleash their first full-length, No Matter , which they will release themselves next month.

It’s hard not to hear that more than a little Radiohead has made its way into Smallspace. On No Matter , the five-piece works with a similar palette of electronics and mutated guitar tones, while Jon Faber’s melancholic croons share a commonality with those of Thom Yorke in tone and in their implied lethargy.

But for as much as Smallspace takes inspiration from the British luminaries, on a macro level they manage to carve out their own niche. Each of the dozen cuts on the album distinguish themselves in small ways, the odd sound or vocal harmony making for intrinsically creative tracks. Recorded in the band’s own Dynamite Sound studio, the album is an impressive accomplishment in its own right and is no doubt a promise of better things to come as the band further refines its identity. —Stephen Slaybaugh - columbus alive

"Small Space gets it right"

Thursday, April 01, 2004

The men of Small Space are perfectionists -- not to mention excellent multitaskers.
The members of the innovative five-piece band -- Christopher Morse (drums), Jon Faber
(vocals, acoustic guitar, computer noises, production, engineering), Scott Kreider
("everything," including guitar, keyboards, production ideas, programming and the
occasional accordion), Thom Zeyl (guitars, keyboards, bass, trumpets) and Mark Mulder
(bass, keyboards, some guitar, backing vocals) -- worked on their musical project for
more than a year before presenting it to the public.
"We had a lot of time for planning," Faber said.
Morse agreed and said playing their songs repeatedly and over an extended period of time
helped to prepare the band to play them in front of an audience.
"We were trying to be professional about it," Morse said. "We wanted to be able to
compete with the best."
Since its impressive first show in February, Small Space has played live for the nationally
syndicated Mitch Albom radio show, attracted the attention and engineering talents of
producers Larry Crane and Costa Cross and has neared completion of its debut album (to
be released late summer).
The band's spacy-folk-rock meets electronic-pop-shoegazing creates a soundscape
reminiscent of key influences, Wilco, The Beta Band and Radiohead. Shying away from
the traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure, Small Space has a sound that
simultaneously welcomes and challenges the listener.
"We're trying to make the music more surprising," Morse said.
The band sees its music as being filled with contrasts and paradoxes and vague lyrics left
open for listener interpretation.
"It's meant to be a bridge between the spectrum of electronic and acoustic. Analog and
digital," Zeyl said.
What started as a side-project at Faber's roomy recording studio -- Dynamite Sound
Project Inc., 738 Lafayette Ave. NE -- has snowballed into a full-time undertaking. - By Tricia Woolfenden The Grand Rapids Press

"band's 'No Matter' excellent"


Smallspace, "No Matter" (Speedywagon Records)

There has been an onslaught of bands recently that bend, mix and stray from typical music genres, making it difficult to place them or even describe their sound - and Smallspace is one of those bands.

The five-member group from Grand Rapids blends spacey, ethereal electronic music with pop-rock vocals. "No Matter," its first full-length album, begins with "Loose Ends," a track that clearly tells the listener who its biggest influence is - Radiohead. Despite the obvious impact Radiohead has on its music, Smallspace is not just another imitator. The tracks that follow incorporate more drums, some trumpet and plenty of keyboard, with haunting rock vocals creating a pleasing, innovative sound.

Without realizing Smallspace is a local band, one could easily assume they're a nationally touring act on the verge of hitting it big. Tracks two and three could easily become singles on an alternative or indie rock radio station.

"Right Here" and "For Days" both have rock vocals with catchy lyrics next to mesmerizing electronic and drum beats. "You've been laying around for days/And I'll walk in the streets to find a way home from the blue glow," Jon Faber (vocals and guitar) sings loudly in "For Days."

Track two, "Right Here," has quieter, drawn-out vocals, but has a similar repetitive lyrical effect as he reiterates "You talk too much/Too much ... I'll bring you back right here/Right here" throughout the track. The song is reminiscent of the band Clinic's sound, another one of Smallspace's obvious influences.

The album sounds professionally produced, not like it was recorded at a hole-in-the-wall small studio in Grand Rapids called Dynamite Sound Project. Faber claims on their Web site that the band didn't even plan on becoming a band. He said the music was just an experiment - and it's a good thing they decided to continue with the experiment.

Smallspace knows how to use vocals in conjunction with the instruments, and is not overbearing or the focus of each song, but rather adds to the complexity of the music.

Vocals are the strongest in "Me In Berlin," but the music is still a dramatic part of the lyrics. Faber sings, "We are in your house/We are on your shelves again/I am afraid to say we don't know you in any way/So stuck in our place," while spacey keyboards and calm guitar rhythms play in the background. The second to last track, "When You're Out," strays from the other mellower tracks, bringing in experimental digital noises, almost drowning out the vocals, but not in a bad way.

Be on the lookout for Smallspace; chances are they'll soon be found on the radio or opening for a well-known band on a national tour. If Smallspace's debut album is any indication, their second album might be a masterpiece. - The State News (Mi.)

"No Matter"

No Matter
Speedywagon Records

Despite some buzz in the press, as far as I know, this album is only available from the the Grand Rapids, MI band's website. At least that's the only place I could find it, but it's well worth the trouble I had hunting it down. Hearing a couple of tracks on 3wk internet radio was enough to send me on that hunt. "Come Down Wake Up", one of those tracks, and my favorite on the album, mixes lush, experimental soundscapes with interesting vocal harmonies. The other, the dancy, but understated "Right Here", with its snaking keyboards, is another winner, with a sound that would slot in nicely beside the latest Hood release. Not that there are any losers on this disc. The title track puts me in mind of The Electric Soft Parade in all the best ways.

There's a decidedly nocturnal sound to this album, an edge to even the most dreamlike tracks. Interesting sounds or noises keep even slower songs like "Put Down" from floating off into the ether, or, as in the case of "Don't Go (The Cosmonaut)", at least they keep you tethered to the ship when they do. The vocals, while subdued, are interesting, pretty, and textured to blend well with the instrumentation.

You can listen to the whole thing on their website, albeit in diminished sound quality and disconcertingly out of track order, but it should clue you in as to whether it might be your thing.
Jen Grover - Tone and Groove - Jen Grover

"smallspace - no matter"

No Matter (Speedywagon)
Okay, we all know bands that sound like Radiohead. Apply that battered comparison to "feel" instead of the floaty, Floyd-ian atmospherics that would have been called "Floyd-ian" until OK Computer came along.

Smallspace has that feel. This fact doesn't excuse No Matter from its appealing, but decidedly obvious cribbing from the Thom Yorke Book of Hallucinatory Moping. From the wholly Computer-ized expanse of opener "Loose Ends" through vocalist Jon Faber's mumbled repetition of "Count yourself included / Count yourself included" on "Following Sea" — which could, for all intents and purposes, be "Cut the kids in half / Cut the kids in half" — this is a record that consistently betrays its own building blocks. That said, the eerie "Right Here" is a lockstep psychodrama nearly on par with Kid A standards. Smallspace — an experimental studio project from Grand Rapids, Mich., that has evolved into a proper, six-piece band — has stacked in its favour not just a decent repertoire of the sort of introverted anthems in which David Gilmour once specialized, but an unerring command of just how to frame each of its songs in the most dramatic terms. And, as the glitched-out dub drift of "For Days" and the closing cyber-folk lament "Don't Go (The Cosmonaut)" suggest, the group has a knack for bending Joseph Arthur-esque Midwestern disaffection to its own, surreal ends. If Smallspace's songwriting ever rises to the level of its presentation, this band could seriously turn heads. Smallspace plays Kathedral on Sunday night.
-BR - toronto star

"No matter sept 05"

no matter
Speedywagon, 2005

We are in an age where electronics are considered musical instruments just as much as guitars and pianos. With sampled MIDI sounds, beat production and manipulated live instruments, the doors to a whole new world are wide open.

Many people can certainly attempt this type of composition but it is very rare that you find someone who has a knack for it the way that Jon Faber (vocals, guitar and "noises"), Mark Mulder (bass, Fender Rhodes, piano, backing vocals), Mike Knorr (guitar, "noises", backing vocals), Christopher Morse (drums, samples), and Scott Krieder (keyboards, guitar, accordion, beat production) do.

Smallspace has created a product jam-packed with musical content and alt-rock influences – I hear elements of Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and, to a lesser extent, A Perfect Circle. If Telepopmusik went alternative, it would strongly resemble the Smallspace sound on No Matter. The last of the 11 tracks, "don't go (the cosmonaut)", is very comparable to the sound of Broken Social Scene. This album is on the very edge of underground and commercial, a catchy envelope-pusher.

‘Don't judge a book by its cover’, they say; I think in this case you can – the cover of this album is a great representation of its’ sound. Mark Johnson illustrates what appears to be a giant TV being trampling through an industrial city next to the forest. This idea applies nicely to the music – organic with an electronic touch.

Michigan is quickly pumping out excellent artists of all genres and one thing they have in common is that they do it all themselves. The production and mixing of this album is incredible. With a very polished sound, Smallspace will impress you that they did most of it on their own.

Kristen Cudmore - Left hip magazine

"Big sounds"

Like Jen, I've recently made more of an effort to listen to the music that is sent to me. Yesterday I received an absolute gem in my inbox. The band is called Smallspace from Grand Rapids, Michigan. They sound a LOT like Radiohead. There's no avoiding that comparison, but that's okay, because they are good enough to pull it off. I've literally listened to the stream of their album off their website 5 times through since I got the link yesterday afternoon. I can't get enough. I'm dying to see if they can pull it off live.

They'll be at Trash in Williamsburg on Sept 7th. Idlewild and The National with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are playing that night, but I think I'd rather see these guys right now. They'll also be here for CMJ, playing 169 Bar on Friday at Midinght (9/16). Now that Neon Blonde is going on earlier (10:15), I'll hopefully be able to make it in for that too. I've got some MP3's below, but have a listen to the whole album on the website. It's well worth it.

- central village blogg


Small Space’s sound gets even bigger on their expertly crafted full-length debut, No Matter. Probably the most richly atmospheric band on the local scene, with studio chops more than capable of giving their sound a proper recording, Small Space has crafted a set sure to please both music aficionados and jamheads. Frontman Jon Faber (who also runs Dynamite Sound, where the disc was recorded) has an uncanny ability for hitting the same sort of wavering notes as Thom Yorke, tugging in emotions to his band’s lush acoustic guitar- and piano-driven, yet digitally beat-rich, arrangements. Small Space is a band full-length discs were made for as collectively their expansive songs achieve far greater than they do alone, or in smaller doses. Learn more at -- Eric Mitts - Recoil


smallspace e.p

smallspace - No Matter


Feeling a bit camera shy


In some ways, the music of smallspace evokes the kind of images one normally associates with Western Michigan – barren stretches of weathered land dotted with pockets of industrialization. But musically speaking, this Grand Rapids five-piece injects a healthy dose of humanity into their futuristic electronic pop-rock; just when you’re transfixed by one moment’s starkness and delicacy, in comes a wash of lush harmonies, melodic surprises and rhythmic idiosyncrasies to give the proceedings a vibrant, organic spirit.

Smallspace grew out of impromptu jams between singer Jon Faber, keyboardist Scott Kreider and a friend on the vibrant Grand Rapids coffeehouse scene, where the two found they shared an enthusiasm for cutting-edge bands like the Beta Band, Clinic, Wilco and Radiohead, a common bond that organically led to more structured collaboration in a home-grown makeshift studio setting. Soon, they conjured ambitious and expansive ideas that required a sophisticated level of production from the very beginning.

“We didn’t really even set out to be a band,” Faber admits. “Mostly this was a recording project, just an experiment to see what we could do.” And to that end, they realized that to fully grasp the potential of the musical concepts pouring out of their small collective, they’d have to have a real studio at their disposal. Faber found a hole-in-the-wall space in the bad part of town, slowly pooled gear and equipment with other engineers, and effectively established Dynamite Sound as a top studio on the local scene. As the studio itself grew, so did the amount of time they spent happily holed up there. Faber confirms that the unlimited recording hours available to them made all the difference in shaping the band’s complex but cohesive sound. “Without the studio, our sound wouldn’t be what it is at all,” he says. This luxury allowed them to experiment at will, and allow each song to evolve at its own pace – “kind of like a painting you can keep coming back to, each time sketching out a little more detail.”

Drummer Christopher Morse and multi-instrumentalist Mark Mulder soon followed with their kick-ass rhythms and ultra-tight playing skills, which brought the band’s level of professionalism up another notch. The final piece was experimental guitarist Mike Knorr, whose use of pedals, e-bow and gritty effects added extra edginess and aggression to the band’s sound.

The complex music this new unit created together – songs like the infectious “Right Here” and the beautiful “For Days” – required a skilled touch, so they brought in San Francisco producer/mixer/tech guru IBU600 (aka Kosta Cross), with whom the band collaborated over the Internet for months using cutting edge technology.

No Matter was released on May 31, 2005, and was the 6th most added album in the country, beating Oasis, Secret Machines and Embrace in the process. Smallspace’s music has recently been featured on NPR’s Open Mic program with glowing results. The band has further taken the national stage by appearing on Mitch Albom’s syndicated radio show and having their music in Division, an indie film. The press has begun to take notice, too -- Recoil magazine assured its readers that the smallspace album “will haunt you for days,” while the Grand Rapids Press hailed the band’s “spacey folk-rock” meshed with “electronic-pop shoegazing.”

But the exciting response the band received for their recorded persona was not enough; now they were compelled to somehow translate the material into a live setting. “The live show takes over where the album leaves off,” says Faber. “It has much more improv and we get a lot louder and abrasive at times. We like to make jumps in dynamics through guitar pedals, and we use effects on almost every instrument on stage. We take the live show just as seriously as our recording – just in a different way.” The smallspace live experience has been stunning crowds from Kalamazoo to the South Park Music Festival in Colorado. The band has recently opened for Apostle of Hustle, the Redwalls, Mommy and Daddy and United States of Electronica and been selected to perform at the CMJ Rock Hall Fest on June 11.

#6th most added CMJ (5-31-05)
currently #102 on the CMJ 200 (6-28-05)