Philadelphia-based experimental jam band Muskrat Flats, serves us up the driving, groove contagious record, “Terrapin Terrace,” from their long-awaited debut album, “Field of Rays.”
Muskrat Flats have achieved rapid success and recognition as their distinct sound fuses an array of genres spanning funk, world music, jazz, rock, bluegrass, folk, and electronic elements. With an abundant passion, heated amount of talent, and intoxicating live aura, Muskrat Flats draws on the influences of the jam band scene accompanied by their growing library of original material, some of which is featured on their debut album, “Field of Rays.”
“Terrapin Terrace,” glimmers with funk with the opening elements of a bright electric guitar being plucked away while it dances on our head tops. Upbeat and vivid elements of a rhythmic bassline and up-tempo drums create infectious grooves that set the tone for this hit song. All of the components of the instrumentation mesh seamlessly creating an effortless vibe in a record that has clearly had a lot of thought put into it.
The warm vocals and rich harmonies add a texture that you didn’t know was needed. They have a soothing and calming effect that showcase the genre-bending likes of Muskrat Flats.
The precision and harmony displayed through their performance captures us from the start of “Terrapin Terrace,” and pulls us into the end. You can’t help but get lost in the catalytic essence they put forward as a band and how each individual shines through their performance.
Muskrat Flats has proved to us how they master improvisation and emit an aura so lively we can’t help but want more. We are looking forward to the groove they have in store for us in the future as they channel their inner inspirations.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Muskrat Flats! Congratulations on the release of your album, “Field of Rays.” We absolutely love “Terrapin Terrace,” and would love to know, what did the creative process looks like for this song?
Muskrat Flats was started by musician/producer, Matty McCann in winter 2018. McCann had been collaborating with the band’s original bassist and co-founder, Jay Stolnis, and the two were ready to make some new compositions into the recording studio. After being approached by Speed of Sound (SoS) Studios owner “LL Gatsby”, McCann assembled the final pieces for the band— Jared Williams on drums and Kevin Cooper on the keys. McCann invited his brother Paddy (DJ PY McCann) to engineer and co-produced the album.
The song Terrapin Terrace, as well as the entire Field of Rays album, was recorded and engineered at Speed of Sound Studios in Dover, Delaware. The main part of Terrapin Terrace, as far as the verses and chorus of the song, were written in one sitting— one cold snowy afternoon in Philadelphia. The instrumental part was composed in the studio as we recorded.
What do the well-crafted lyrics mean to you? What moment inspired this song?
One of our biggest inspirations is Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead. He never explained what his songs were about. It was something that would come alive in the mind of each unique listener. On the surface, Terrapin Terrace is an ode to the earliest supporters of our band. The words also echo admiration for our biggest influences like the Grateful Dead. Performing this song has become one of the biggest highlights of our live shows. Terrapin Terrace acts as a portal, taking fans on a journey back to the early days of Rock & Roll.
We can only imagine how fun the studio session was like when recording, “Terrapin Terrace.” Could you take us into what that looked like?
For each recording session, the band would drive an hour and a half from Philadelphia to Dover. Because of the long-distance drive, we typically spent the full day recording, which made for a very creative atmosphere. The environment at Speed of Sound Studios was perfect for bringing our creation to life. It can’t be overstated—we could not have done this without the studio owner LL Gatsby. The place is an absolute dream. About eighty percent of the album was already written going into the studio, but there were still many question marks. There were a lot of grueling sessions and the creativity was off the charts. After several months of recording with exciting collaborators, Muskrat Flats would go on to release the debut album in October 2018.
On, “Field of Rays,” does each band member have a favorite song? What’s your reason behind this?
Though we each thoroughly enjoyed creating every track on the album, our instrumental Dodecahedron was truly a special song to record. Aside from no lyrics or vocals, we speed up the tempo during the song which is a really cool recording technique we experimented with. “Smile” is also a big band and fan (or as we call them “Fam”) favorite. It is one of the many tracks on the album that takes the listener on an epic journey through lands foreign and familiar. Since the making of the album, Muskrat Flats have added JP Florio (Guitar), Isaac Gaston (Bass), and David Koster (Keys/Vocals) to the lineup. It is super fun to see the music come alive in a whole new way since these guys have joined the band. The songs have developed a whole new feel with these guys on board.
What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
In August, Muskrat Flats recently kicked off their east coast tour headlining Ohmfest, a COVID-compliant outdoor music and yoga festival in Delaware. Since then they have released Muskrat Flats: Live from Ohmfest 2020 as well as our brand new line of merchandise and official website, Muskratflats.com. This winter Muskrat Flats will begin pre-production on a new album slotted for 2021 release.