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Pipe Dream

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The Calculus Affair: 'Pipe Dream'

The Calculus Affair: 'Pipe Dream'

Pipe Dream

  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
The Calculus Affair 300

Paul Mariz of The Calculus Affair Laurie Frankel hide caption

toggle caption Laurie Frankel

Note: This week, Second Stage is featuring artists from the RPM Challenge, 'The Wire' magazine's annual open invitation for musicians to produce an entire album in the shortest month of the year, February. Check out the website to learn about this year's challenge.

Though Paul Mariz did not win the song contest that initially prompted him to begin his solo project as The Calculus Affair, he did not let this early setback end his musical career. With three RPM albums under his belt now, Mariz may be a veteran of the annual challenge, but he admits that surprisingly, each year has been more difficult than the last. Besides enduring the frigid temperatures of his basement recording studio in Seattle (Mariz turned off the heat to prevent the pipes from rumbling), Mariz also had impossibly high expectations for this year. "I set off trying to make a really finished, professional sounding record (in one month), which is a crazy goal," he admits.

For Mariz, a software engineer by day, the RPM Challenge is all about getting his creative juices flowing. Mariz realizes that he will probably discard much of what he recorded this past February, but even though he isn't entirely pleased with everything he recorded, he celebrates the opportunity to "learn, cull, and re-create from that raw material." For now, Control Of Electromagnetic Radiation remains an impressive and pleasant collection of songs, especially when you consider the entire thing was conceived and pieced together in 28 days. "Pipe Dream," the song Mariz chose to highlight for the site, is at once catchy, melodic, intimate, and it wonderfully conveys the hope and desperation inherent in the challenge.

Though Mariz has recorded three albums under the moniker of The Calculus Affair for the RPM Challenge, his first LP created outside the challenge, The Fellows are Opening for Jon and Ken, comes out later this spring.

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