February 15, 2020
The Man From RavCon is now on Bandcamp! The bandcamp site will feature exclusive previously unreleased songs by The Man From RavCon, as well as pre-MFR rarities. Follow now so you don’t miss anything!
February 4, 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 9: Another World (2018)
Having ventured into Prog territory with my previous couple of releases, my 2018 album, Another World was a bit of a departure. I wanted to make a lighter album, the kind of thing that would make a good soundtrack for a nice summer drive. With the help of contributors Larry Smith (returning for guitar on Colossus), and Jeff Eacho, whose marvelous flute work graced a couple of tracks, I was able to craft an album incorporating the influences of some of my favorite bands… Steely Dan, Supertramp, Kraftwerk, the Stones… stuff I like to listen to in the car. The prog sound still remained here and there, most notably in the title track and Code Red, and there was a bit of Spaghetti Western in Promised Land, but overall, I feel it was a quite unique addition to the catalog. Thanks to the efforts of famed prog promoter, Billy James at Glass Onyon PR, it was the most widely exposed Man From RavCon release so far, receiving airplay and positive press around the globe!
My favorite tracks would include Colossus, Max The Cat, and Pole to Pole.
January 27, 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 8: Strange Universe (2016)
While some said my eighth Man From RavCon album, Strange Universe, was the best thing I had done so far, some complained that it was too slow! In my defense, I’ve always liked slow, dreamy music. Also, I see the subject matter, the universe, as slow, lumbering and ancient for the most part… sometimes, from a distance, it’s hard to tell if anything is going on at all. Besides, there are several upbeat tunes, so, whatever! Influences at the time included Todd Rundgren, who I was reading a bio about, a lot of “Kraut Rock” – german bands like Kraftwerk, Neu!, and Popol Vuh, Dutch prog rockers Earth & Fire, and early Joe Walsh. My main memory about making Strange Universe is recording Prelude/Jupiter on a cold, snowy afternoon. I think most of the album has that wintery feel. This one featured another great cover, and wonderful inner gatefold artwork by Tyler Strouth.
My favorites would be Prelude/Jupiter, the title track and Ancient.
January 22, 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 7: The Puzzle Master (2015)
After releasing six albums between 2010-2013, I decided to take a year off. Well, not really. I kept working. Having received a great review for Skyscraper from one of my favorite U.K. publications, Prog Magazine, I was encouraged to carry on in a more progressive rock direction. Making use of some newly acquired vintage synth software, I began to experiment with writing songs based around arpeggiated sequences (think The Who – Baba O’Reily). This provided a whole new vein of inspiration for me, which I continue to mine today. This was also the first time I invited outside musicians to contribute, with Joe Diaco and Larry Smith providing crucial pieces of the puzzle.
The album title comes from the fact that after two years of writing and recording, I had a bunch of tunes that I had to somehow find a suitable running order for. As a lover of album oriented rock, this is a very important part of the process, and can be quite taxing on the brain… like solving a jigsaw puzzle. This was the most difficult bunch of tunes to organize yet, but after trashing dozens of burned CDRs, I finally settled on a suitable track order. Tyler Strouth‘s amazing cover art provided the final piece of the puzzle. In retrospect, I feel I may have tried to include too many pieces, and should have maybe pared the album down by a song or two. However, the album was well received, and gained many new friends in the progressive rock community, without losing fans of my earlier work.
Personal favorites include the title track, Metropolis and Starlight.
January 20, 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 6: Skyscraper (2013)
If I had to choose a favorite Man From RavCon album, I believe it would be my 2013 release, Skyscraper. I hope it doesn’t sound egotistical, but when I listen back to it now, it’s hard for me to believe that I created some of these tunes. Sometimes things come together in ways that just seem to be beyond my capabilities. I remember being surprised by playbacks when I was recording it. If I was ever truly inspired in my career as a composer/musician, I believe it to be so on this album. There’s a sense of melancholy brought about by the loss of my dear friend, James “Frank” Rick – particularly “Higher”, and “Friend” which was dedicated to his memory. The title comes from the fact that most of the tunes deal with elevation in one form or another. I guess that’s just another form of escape which is really what music has always meant to me.
This was also the first album to feature the artwork of Tyler Strouth. I had met Tyler at 23 Studio back in the early days of NoDa (North Davidson Arts District) here in Charlotte, NC in the 90s, where my old band The Ravelers performed on a regular basis. I saw on FaceBook that he was still creating some amazing work and asked about the possibility of using one of his pieces. He asked to hear the stuff I was working on, and was inspired to create a cover specifically for Skyscraper. When I saw what he came up with, it truly blew my mind! I couldn’t have asked for a better cover to go along with the music.
It’s really hard for me to pick favorite tracks from this one, but if I were limited to three, they’d probably be “Secret Passage”, “Veni, Vidi, Vici”, and “The Fugitive”.
January 18, 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 5: The Traveler (2012)
As I’ve mentioned before, my late mother, Ann Brown, was a reservationist for Eastern Airlines. When I was a child, I was able to visit some pretty amazing places (thanks to mom’s pass riding benefits) and I’ll always have fond memories of those trips. I still remember getting up early in the morning, before dark, and putting on my best Sunday clothes (a requirement) for a quiet, sleepy ride to the airport. There, if I was lucky, I’d get blueberry pancakes at the airport cafe before a huge jet would take us away to our destination. Every part of it was fascinating and I’m thankful to my mom and dad for every minute and memory. With my fifth album, The Traveler (2012), I tried my best to capture the mood and atmosphere of these trips, which have proven to be some of the best times of my life. The cover art is a photo taken by my mom, Ann. The “Traveler” pictured is my late grandfather, Carl “Hollywood” Westmoreland.
In a way, I think of The Traveler as my first “real” Man From RavCon album. The albums that came before were experiments in different genres, and the tunes were often my interpretations of my favorite examples in those genres. With The Traveler, I think I managed to meld those influences into something of my own for the first time and I’ve continued to follow that path since. Many have told me that this is their favorite Man From RavCon release, including my wife, Peggy, and it remains one of mine as well. It’s very personal, and I can’t listen to it without thinking of those wonderful days.
January 16, 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 4: Night Of The Beast (2011)
Dad loves westerns, Mom loved horror films… I love the films, and the music.
Very shortly after the release of The Man From RavCon Rides Again, I began work on what would become Night Of The Beast. In fact, it was released only two months after Rides Again in 2011. NOTB was inspired by my appreciation of horror film soundtracks – in particular, the work of Italian Prog-Horror band, Goblin – Fabio Frizzi, who provided scores for many of Lucio Fulci films, and John Carpenter who wrote and performed scores for his own horror films. Another source of inspiration at the time – I was reading The Summer Of Night by Dan Simmons. (Of particular note, while I was reading a passage, the day, date and time were mentioned. I glanced at the clock to notice that it was exactly the same day, date and time as in the book. – surely a sign that this album must happen!) Anyway, the tunes poured out and were recorded almost as quickly as they were composed. I found the perfect cover art in the horrific classic Saturn Devouring His Son created by Francisco de Goya in the 1820s.
My personal faves from this one include The Portrait, Ascension and the title track.
January 16. 2020
10 Years in Review – Part 3: The Man From RavCon Rides Again (2011)
My Dad has always been a big fan of westerns, and we used to watch a lot of them when I was growing up. What I remember liking most about them was the music. With The Man From RavCon Rides Again, the 2011 follow-up to Everything Is Golden, I decided to go deeper into a genre I had touched on with the previous two releases – the music of the Italian Westerns. With my imaginary Spaghetti Western Soundtrack, I also chose to incorporate elements of another favorite genre of mine – Progressive Rock. Featuring lots of Fender Jazzmaster and Mellotron, Rides Again was more heavily orchestrated than anything I’d done so far.
The photographs used in the cover art for Rides Again were taken by my wife, Peggy Brown, in Arizona.
January 14, 2020
Ten Years in Review Part 2: Everything Is Golden (2010)
Several incidents led to my exploring the sounds of surf rock on my second Man From RavCon album, Everything Is Golden. Although I had always enjoyed the random surf instrumental, the sounds of surf guitar in the spaghetti western soundtracks I had been enjoying were really what brought me to fully appreciate the style. Also, the instrumentals of Duane Eddy and The Shadows really caught my ear. It was all about the tone of my favorite instrument – the guitar.
Around the same time (late 2000’s), my late friend, James “Frank” Rick, developed an appreciation for Dick Dale and Man Or Astroman? and thankfully, his enthusiasm proved contagious. (Before he passed, we were lucky enough to catch excellent live shows by each.)
Finally, and probably most importantly, a customer at the record store I work at decided to sell off his extensive collection of surf rock. I was exposed to bands I never knew existed. Some good, some bad, some excellent! The music ranged from the traditional surf rock of the early 60’s to the later bands that were incorporating more modern influences. My favorites of the newer bands, The Surf Coasters, The Bambi Molesters, Laika & The Cosmonauts and The Mermen seemed to really be doing interesting things with their re-interpretations of the genre, and inspired me to take a stab at it myself.
Ask most people about Surf Rock, and they think Beach Boys. Some may even have heard the instrumentals – Wipeout, Pipeline or maybe even Miserlou. What many don’t realize is that “surf rock” covers a wide variety of sounds, styles and moods only hinted at by the recognizable classics. With Everything Is Golden, I tried to touch on all of my favorite aspects of the genre, including the exhilarating speed of surfing huge waves (Hammerhead, The Ferguson), the moody atmosphere of the beach at night (Moonlight Mountain, Deadman’s Cove), frivolous summertime fun (Flip Flop, Mosie), and the glory of sunset/sunrise over the ocean (Everything Is Golden). Of course, I couldn’t help letting some of the spaghetti element in as well (Organ Grinder, and the Ennio Morricone cover, Once Upon A Time In The West). My personal favorites would probably include Atalaya (an abandoned Myrtle Beach “Mansion”), The Ferguson and the title track.
Everything Is Golden was well received, and made me a lot of new and lasting relationships with folks all over the world. I still enjoy listening to it myself, especially on a nice summer day.
Confession: I tried to surf once in my life and failed miserably. However, I did live on the coast for a short time after college – Wilmington, NC, where my wife Peggy took the cover photo of our footprints in the sand.
January 13, 2020
Ten Years in Review Part 1: Zombie Pimp Cowboys From Outer Space (2010)
In the mid 2000’s, following the breakup of my band of 16 years, The Ravelers (for which I sang and played guitar and keyboards), I found I was a bit burnt out on pop music, and spent my free time pursuing an interest in cult films. I gradually came to the conclusion that a large part of the appeal of these films were their often extraordinary soundtracks. The first Man From RavCon release, Zombie Pimp Cowboys From Outer Space!, was a collection of my experimental explorations of these sounds – Cult Horror, Blaxploitation and Italian “Spaghetti” Westerns. The results weren’t originally meant for general release. I burned a few CDs at home, and gave them out to friends. The feedback was pretty good, so I burned a few more and consigned them at the record store I work at. My co-workers dug it enough to give it some in-store play, and when customers heard it, some actually asked about it and bought it! This positive reception encouraged me to get serious, and begin work on a follow-up, however, it wasn’t until after releasing the next project, Everything Is Golden, that I decided to order a quantity of ZPCFOS and offer it for sale on the internet as well. Surprisingly, it remains one of my best sellers.
To be honest, my feelings on this album are mixed. As it wasn’t a planned album, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge. However, it’s full of ideas that I’ve been able to expand and consolidate on subsequent releases, achieving what I believe to be a more cohesive, organic sound. I’m not really happy with the drum machine I was using at the time, and wish I had access then to the more realistic and flexible drum software I’ve come to use since. I find it hard to pick favorites off of this one, but after a recent listen, I found I was still quite partial to All The Gold (a kind of prog spaghetti western theme), Pimpin’ For Homie (Blaxploitation obviously) and Space Cab (a bit of a prog/go-go hybrid). While ZPCFOS is certainly not my favorite release, I still have a soft spot for it, and feel that listeners may find it interesting to hear the early roots of what has followed. Who knows, it may even prove to be someone’s favorite!
January 9, 2020
2019 has been a quiet, but very productive year. I spent a good bit of it writing and recording tracks for the next album, which should be available later this year. This will be my tenth Man From RavCon release, and it will feature more guest appearances from my talented friends than ever! For a limited time, I’m previewing the brand new track, New Wings, featuring Robeone, aka Robert Schindler. Just click here to give it a listen. I’m excited to be working with Rob, and all the other contributing artists, and can’t wait for you to hear all of the results!
January marks the tenth anniversary of my first Man From RavCon release, Zombie Pimp Cowboys From Outer Space! It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years. This past decade has been the most productive period of my music career, and I’m very thankful for the inspiration and support that I continue to be blessed with. To show my appreciation, I’m making the opening track from all nine Man From RavCon albums available for free download! Just click here, go to each album’s page, and click the Free button. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to check out music from albums you may not have explored yet.
Thanks again, and have a Very Happy 2020!
October 14, 2019
As most of you know, horror soundtracks have always been a big influence on The Man From RavCon’s work – especially the cool made for TV films of the early ‘70s, and the ominous synth based scores of the ‘80s. This brand new playlist features tracks from Night Of The Beast album, and plenty of spooky faves from other MFR releases. It should be particularly appropriate for the season. Just click Spotify or YouTube to listen! Of course, YouTube is preferred, because it’s got some videos!
August 13, 2019
New YouTube playlist of The Man From RavCon’s personal faves. Don’t forget to subscribe!
August 8, 2019
Check out The Man From RavCon’s Personal Faves, a twenty song playlist on Spotify.
January 30, 2019
October 1, 2018
Music Street Journal just published an interview with The Man From RavCon. Read it online now here! This interview is also available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
June 22, 2018
The Man From RavCon’s ninth album, Another World, is now available at CD Baby. The digital download version is also available at iTunes, Amazon, and many other online retailers. More info available here.
May 30, 2018
Another World creeps up on you and sneaks in through your mind’s backdoor to pull you into a trance.
An Ian Jane/Rock Shock Pop review is the next best thing to listening. Check it out here.
May 11, 2018
Just in from Chris Spector of the Midwest Record…
Modern prog that rose from the ashes of North Carolina power pop feeds the mash up frenzy with a kaleidoscope of sounds that swirl and whirl like you wouldn’t believe. Crazy stuff for crazy times, the vocabulary of prog is expanded in so many directions here that it’s almost hard to fathom. If this ain’t music for a modern happening, what is? Check it out.
Coming June 22! The Man From RavCon’s ninth album, Another World.
September 16, 2017
Friend The Man From RavCon (Mike Brown) on FaceBook for lot’s of cool info, and useless stuff too! As a security step, please leave a short post on the wall to prove you’re for real.
April 12, 2017
…a cross between Jean-Michel Jarre , Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd… unquestionable technical mastery covered with clouds of keyboards, for the soundtrack of an imaginary spacio-temporal film.
December 26, 2016
More reviews are coming in for Strange Universe!
From Robert Silverstein at mwe3.com
Multi-instrumentalist Mike Brown is the main man of the North Carolina based music project The Man From RavCon. Brown plays a range of instruments on the 2016 CD release by The Man From Ravcon called Strange Universe. Brown’s fascination with movie soundtracks and all things horror, sci-fi and even spaghetti westerns aside, Strange Universe is just a great album filled with imaginative, spiraling instrumental music. Brown’s background is a love of the early progressive rock pioneers like The Moody Blues and YES and while they weren’t instrumental bands, they were among the first rock bands to extensively feature keyboards like the mellotron in a substantial way. Brown’s first band was The Ravelers so it’s interesting that for his post Ravelers music he would pick the name RavCon, yet that only adds to the fun of his music. Even more keyboard dominated than the 2014 CD release of Skyscaper, the 2016 CD release of Strange Universe is very much a product of a mind that is fully steeped in soundtrack music and in the ethos of progressive instrumental rock. As can be heard on Strange Universe, The Man From RavCon once again fills in the missing links between sci-fi soundtrack music, guitar instrumental music and keyboard dominated progressive music.
From Thanos at Grande Rock
Strange Universe is an intense, well-made & motivating instrumental music album that will please all those who fancy beautiful soundscapes full of fine melodies & atmospheric passages…
From Alan Taylor at Pipeline Instrumental Review
Melodic, tasteful and polished… Music of this type is often described as being for an unmade movie, but Strange Universe goes deeper than that, and stands up well on its own.
November 11, 2016
The Man From RavCon’s eighth album, Strange Universe, has arrived!
With Strange Universe, his eighth full length release, The Man From RavCon (a.k.a. Mike Brown) invites you along for a sonic voyage to the heart of the Universe.
Strange Universe further expands on The Man From RavCon’s instrumental explorations into the realms of melodic, ambient, psychedelic progressive rock, and once again, artist Tyler Strouth provides striking cover and gatefold imagery that perfectly reflects the music within.
Listen to Strange Universe in it’s entirety and purchase the CD or download at CD Baby. It is also available from a wide range of retailers and streaming services, including Deep Eddy, Amazon.com, the iTunes Store, and Spotify.
September 29, 2016
a seriously Pink Floyd-esque soundscape that’ll chill you right out and take you to weird places… a really strong album of spacey, attention grabbing instrumental music.
If you’re curious about what to expect to hear on the upcoming Man From RavCon album, Strange Universe, look no further than Ian Jane’s in depth track by track review at rockshockpop.com.
July 11, 2016
Due to the increasingly dysfunctional direction of FaceBook’s Artist Page format, The Man From RavCon’s FB page will no longer be updated. If, at some time in the future, improvements are made, this may change. In the meantime though, all activity on FB will be facilitated though my personal FB page. Please friend me there, or subscribe to the mailing list (at the bottom of this page) for all Man From RavCon info.
April 7, 2016
The new album, Strange Universe, has been mixed and mastered. The Man From RavCon will be meeting with artist Tyler Strouth later this month to finalize the cover art. Tyler also created the artwork for the previous two Man From RavCon albums, Skyscraper and The Puzzle Master.