David Bernabo has been a fixture on the Pittsburgh music and art scenes for the past ten years, enthusiastically throwing himself into his own projects and collaborative art and video work. David currently performs and composes for the band/art ensemble Host Skull and collaborates with Emily Walley, Maree ReMalia, Erik Cirelli and Jeff Berman, among others. Host Skull has released two pieces of music on the Contraphonic and Antephonic labels and has recently performed a series of iterative performance art pieces titled MODULES. Additionally, Host Skull completed two art installations in 2012, one of which allowed participants to add their voice to an everchanging sound collage. David has worked with Corey Layman on two video game soundtracks for Nintendo Wii and PS3. In 2013, Host Skull will release a new LP on Wild Kindness Records (9.3.13) and David is collaborating with CSA PGH, Maree ReMalia, Taylor Knight, Jil Stifel, and others on new projects.
Shortly after graduating high school, David joined the chamber rock group, Boxstep, on Overcoat Recordings. After touring nationally (and internationally, if you count Canada), David contributed to a Pavememt compilation on Homesleep Records in Italy and Boxstep's full-length Back Roads, also on Homesleep. Prior to the release of that record, drummer Greg Cislon and David Bernabo split off as the duo Vale and Year and started a close collaboration that lasted until 2006.
Vale and Year entered the world as a studio project when Modey Lemon member Jason Kirker went on tour and left Vale and Year the use of his studio. After three days of learning how to work the tape machine and board, Vale and Year recorded A Perfect History, a stylistically varied album that utilized a wealth of instruments, odd recording techniques, a huge wooden room, and some very sincere songs. The album earned praises from City Paper's Justin Hopper and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Masley. Vale and Year went on to tour and play shows with Early Day Miners, The Dirty Projectors, Okkervil River, The Evens, Prefuse 73, Impossible Shapes, Wilco, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Tatsuya Nakatani, Jack Wright, and Nina Nastasia.
Vale and Year made four more full-length albums, three EPs, and a book published by Incredibly Thin. After self-releasing the first three albums, Vale and Year signed to Enamel Records. In 2006, after a deal with Fat Possum fell through, Vale and Year went on hiatus.
David started his solo career with an acoustic album called Word Roses, released on Sort Of Records. Following that, David started collaborating with a number of Pittsburgh musicians. In 2007, he joined Daryl Fleming and the Public Domain and engineered and played piano on The Blockhouse and Bloodhound Sessions album. David also engineered and played accordion, piano, and guitar on Boca Chica's well-regarded Transform into Beasts. David also released three albums for Sort Of Records in 2007 and had his first solo art show at ModernFormations Gallery. The art show consisted of graphic scores, some for glass and paper, some created with nails and screws, and one score that filled an entire room. The scores were performed by violinist Ben Harris and David at the exhibit's opening reception.
2008 saw the introduction of the three-piece improv-noise band DBLD, collaborations with the chamber group Alia Musica Pittsburgh, scoring a Nintedo WiiWare game (Critter Round-Up) with Corey Layman, and joining the 27-piece HiTEC, led by filmmaker and musician tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. The imprint Abstract On Black expanded with new releases by John Berndt, Jack Wright and Alban Bailly, Alia Musica Pittsburgh, and Chicago's The Friction Brothers (Colligan, Lonberg-Holm, Zerang)
Throughout the end of 2008 and into 2009, David quietly assembled a new project, eventually called Assembly. The resulting album was Happener-Magicker, a wide-ranging work consisting of 25 musicians and incredible artwork by Owl Kahol. The album was accompanied by a release show that featured the work of many poets and writers, filmmakers, and the band, Meeting of Important People. The release show was streamed in its entirety by Incredibly Thin. After the release, a website was created by Lin Clark to stream the album and provide a free download.
Prior to the release of Happener-Magicker, David collaborated with composer and pianist Nathan Hall on a self-titled album that combines Nathan's compositions with improvisation. The result is a peaceful classical jazz album in the ECM tradition. Corey Layman and David contribute metal and prog covers of classical pieces to a PS3/xBox game called Rock of the Dead.
In April 2010, David released his first work at DJ Responsibility in the form of a one copy CD called Formalism. The CD was presented as a listening station in the Carnegie Libary of Pittsburgh's Music Department from April 19 - May 31, 2010. There is no official release of the album, but the sole copy is avaible in the library's collection. The project attempts to create a contradiction between exclusive and publicly-shared.
David was awarded the DATA Award for 2010 Musical Artist of the Year for his work on Happener-Magicker, Formalism, and the Nintendo Wii score. Other 2010 projects include engineering work on the well-received CD/Tab Book by David Leicht and Raymond Morin called Petrifidelity. Other collaborations included contributing music to Nina Sarnelle's Body in Ten Parts, organizing musicians for the premiere of Jem Finer's Shortplayer, and contributing music to Justin Hopper's Public Record installation and book.
Current focus has been given to the duo with multi-instrumentalist Will Dyar (Oakley Hall, Skinks) called Host Skull. Host Skull released Fourth River, an 11-minute composition for modular synth, ensemble trio, classical guitar, and percussion. Originally released as a digital download through Chicago's Contraphonic label, a limited 7" version was released in 2012 on the new Host Skull Ongoing Box imprint. The band has also released the full length Totally Fatalist LP on Contraphonic's sister-label, Antephonic. The full LP includes many contributions from Pittsburgh and Sante Fe musicians, along with fantastic artwork by London's Adam Dant and design by Pittsburgh's Bearded. The band is in the process of setting up multiple Inhabit Host Skull art installations, performing the dance/composition/theatre piece, MODULES, and working on a second full-length album with artwork by Joe Mruk.