Bonsai Universe and the upcoming album "Moonstream" was reviewed by Steve Hochman on KPCC's Take Two on Tuesday, January 16th 9-10am PST-- Bonsai Universe is the brainchild of musician/guitarist Woody Aplanalp
“From the far out reaches of space comes the latest release from Bonsai Universe.The band is the brainchild of musician Woody Aplanalp and his new album "Moonstream" is performed, produced and mixed by himself. Aplanalp has worked with well-established artists like Bobby Womack, Lauryn Hill and Aloe Blacc, and he has taken those experiences into his new 13-song release.”—The Record Journal
How would you describe Bonsai Universe and the upcoming album "Moonstream"?
"Moonstream by Bonsai Universe is a superb record . To me it sounds like a modern psychedelic folk album . Woody Aplanalp is a true songwriter who's a musical genius and an exceptional musician . I'm honored anytime he gives me a call to play drums . " - Anthony Logerfo , drummer for Neil Young and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real .
"Its like if Neil Young fronted Parliament , or maybe if Prince fronted The Band " - guitarist for The Magic Band and The Grandmothers , Max Kutner
"Badass Spacerific"- Corey McCormick - bassist for Chris Cornell , Neil Young , and Lukas Nelson
"Intergalactic Vision Quest " - Audio engineer , Christopher Hastings
"Retro tinged electronic folk " - looping guitarist , Andre LeFosse
"Interstellar Groovadelic " - guitarist of Oingo Boingo Dance Party , Mike Glendinning
"Alien arrival soundtrack music " - KPFK radio DJ , Mark Torres
"Psychedelic Indietronica " - Twin Cities guitarist Benjamin Hubbard
"imagine if happiness was colors and joy was sounds , now wash and repeat , it's kinda like that " - fan , Mike Sato
"It's pop music that I could meditate to " - fan , Ron Adam
"Galactic chill " - fan , Rene Valle
"Forward thinking exotica pop " - fan , Cory Sklar
WOODY APLANALP’S BONSAI UNIVERSE SET TO RELEASE MOONSTREAM
(Release Date: February 9, 2018)
San Gabriel, CA October 2017—Bonsai Universe is the creation and brainchild of musician Woody Aplanalp. Aplanalp has made his mark primarily as a guitarist, recording and touring with an unusually diverse and notable array of artists such as multiple Grammy winner Lauryn Hill, soul legend and rock n’ roll hall of famer Bobby Womack, UK chart topper, Aloe Blacc, Indian fusion master Trilok Gurtu, and the “Lion of Zimbabwe” Thomas Mapfumo. Aplanalp’s avid experimentalism on the guitar, combining disparate elements of rock, psychedelia, world music and the avant garde, have also led to collaborations with Nels Cline (2001’s Destroys All), Banyan with Stephen Perkins, and Old Californio. All of this has served as stepping-stone for the creation of Bonsai Universe and its new album, Moonstream.
Moonstream is a journey to an inner world of electric folk and an outward expansion to the far reaches of a deeper space. The album winds an unlikely yet surprising path from harmony and synth laden electronic music (Moonstream, Starstream, Should I Believe You) to rock and pop sensibilities (Am I Good Enough, Sweet Exaggeration, Walking With My Eyes Closed, Once Upon A Dream), to front porch acoustic music with it’s eye on a bigger picture (A Lot of Nerve, Summertime), to utopian and dystopian vistas (Too Real, Astrotonic), whether real or imagined.
With such eclectic influences over the years, Aplanalp has developed his own unique style. “I enjoy playing every kind of music,” he said, “ I’m thinking of this as debut album, even though I have 2 other solo records in my past. They were just so long ago and the sounds on this record are so different.”
Aplanalp, who plays much of the instrumentation on the album, also enlisted some heavy friends to help out. Anthony Logerfo (Promise of the Real, Neil Young) lent a hand with drums, Paul Lacques (I See Hawks in LA) added dobro and guitar, pals from Old Californio Jason Chesney and Justin Smith contributed bass/ vocals and vocals respectively, while Miguel Atwood-Ferguson arranged strings. Other very notable contributors include vocalists Rick Garcia, Kathryn Shuman, and Liela Avila, as wells Robert Hall on Synthesizer, Caroline Cirone on arco bass and Bryon Holley on percussion.
Aplanalp grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and has music in his blood. His father and uncle are renowned jazz sax players, Lanny and Richard Aplanalp. Picking up the guitar at the age of seven, he started playing music because, “I thought The Beatles were cool.” His first tour was as the bass player for the Nels Cline Trio, which set off a long career as a sideman. Bonsai Universe and Moonstream was both written and arranged by the artist who surmised, “I think I have my own style, but that’s more for others to say at this point.”
Logerfo is also a friend of Aplanalp, and was partial inspiration for recording the album. “He was going to be in my band years ago when I had a band, but we both got other gigs and became busy,” explained Aplanalp. “Everytime I see him he’s on my case to jam or make a record. And I’ve been making some recording equipment upgrades, so now I’m satisfied with the quality of my recordings. The songs “Summertime”, “Sweet Exaggeration”, and “Should I Believe You” have been around for years, but I’m only happy with the new versions. “
Another inspiration has been today’s political climate. “It’s unfortunate, yet inspiring,” he states. “The content of the record is not obviously political, but the theme of the first and last songs (“Moonstream, “Starstream”) are about escaping from the craziness. I have been pretty happy over most of the last decade and was content to help other people with their music, ride my bike, and simply enjoy being a sideman and music teacher. With the rise of demagoguery in our society, I feel a need to do more, and doing music is the only thing I have to offer.”
Moonstream is a welcome solo project and fantastic debut from Bonsai Universe and Woody Aplanalp.