When Timothy C. Reece was diagnosed with stage four cancer, he and his bandmates knew they had to collaborate again, just one last time.
On Jan. 22, 2017, just three months into Reece's chemotherapy, Via Satellite gathered together at SDRL studios with recording engineer Sven-Erik Seaholm to record what would become the band's final release.
Reece died on May 15, 2017, leaving bandmates Drew Andrews (The Album Leaf, Bit Maps) and Scott Mercado (Manuok, Black Heart Procession) to finish the album in his honor. The result is a triple-release that consists of a 10-song LP called "A Thousand Mountains," a four-song EP called "Yet/Still" and a book featuring lyrics, liner notes, poems and Reece's visual art.
Throughout this ordeal, Eric Howarth was checking in on Reece, who had been his first employee at M-Theory Music. The two discussed Howarth flying out to Denver to shoot a documentary on Reece, but his worsening condition made this impossible.
Knowing that Reece's primary concern before dying was to "leave as much of his art behind that could live on as his legacy," Howarth decided to make this final Via Satellite project the first Vinyl Junkies record label release.
Aside from regular Vinyl Junkies Record Swaps at the Casbah and opening up the Vinyl Junkies Record Shack in South Park at the end of 2017 with Casbah owner Tim Mays, Howarth is starting off 2019 with his new Vinyl Junkies endeavor in the most honorable of ways.
According to Howarth, the project will be limited to 300 hand-numbered vinyl, which, in its small way, "will be able to help spread the word about our friend's artistic accomplishments while he was here on this planet."
"The amount of passion and dedication that these three artistic companions put into this recording was immeasurable. Tim recorded drums tirelessly in between a week off of chemotherapy and we can only imagine the emotional intensity his bandmates were going through during this process as well. As you would expect, the soul of this record shines through because of it," Howarth explained in an email.
This is what music should really be about -- not the branding, self-promotion and endless haggling, but the beauty, the tragedy and an artist's dedication to both. Rest in peace, Tim.
Via Satellite release their last album on Tuesday, Jan. 22 -- two years to the day they started the recording process -- at the Casbah. If you go to any show this year, go to this.
Rutger Ansley Rosenborg has been with NBC SoundDiego since 2016. Find out more here.