2022-11-21 (Week 2242): Off the Road
This blog's title is a little more literal, as the alternator on my car crapped out on Saturday, and it's in the shop. I'm hopeful the repair team can fix it ASAP because I've got a job to get to and parents to visit on Thursday (Thanksgiving).
As for the music progress, I've got my kicks and snares done, and I'm rendering toms right now. I still need to do hats, rides, cymbals, percussion, and glitches, so there's still a ways to go. This week, I will keep going with the drum samples, especially since I have most of today to progress.
Once I finish the sample creation, I will start on an album that will be a precursor to "In Reflection." I've realized that "In Reflection" won't be done until I get through all the archives and remasters. Considering I'm still in 1996 and haven't released any of the 50+ remastered albums yet, that will take a long while.
The next album is "Amidst the Remnants," where I feel like I am. Digging through all these samples and notes of a life once lived and being on the other side. Not death per se, but realizing those times are gone and cannot return.
Whereas "In Reflection" is likely to be massive, "Amidst the Remnants" will be more stripped down. I have an idea for the sound (similar to "Shattered Memories" with beats), and I'm hopeful I can get started working on the album in the next week or two.
I have ideas for a couple of other albums too, but one is silly and abstract, and the other is the follow-up to "In Reflection," so putting energy into either of those right now seems unnecessary.I'm also discovering the band Low, who never crossed my radar until I heard about Mimi Parker's passing a couple of weeks ago. I'm getting ideas for future creativity through listening to albums in their oeuvre. They inspired Steve Von Till from Neurosis (which is how I heard about Mimi Parker), and I noticed their influence on his output. It may be a few years before I get to where this influence shows up in my work, but it's making an impact that will likely affect my creative process.
Until next week!
2022-11-14 (Week 2241): Back and Forth Between Lanes
After taking a week away from working on "In Reflection" and focusing on arranging my notes from past years, I realize that I have even more work to do on this project than I previously thought.
I'm not sure how much work I have to do before I finish the album, but it feels like the finish line comes after I go through all of my old musical work to see where I stand. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
I'm still getting antsy about not being able to release new music now that my processes are coming together, and I am ready to release something, so I'm considering a stopgap release (or multiple) before "In Reflection" is complete.
The issue is when I make time for it in the schedule. These weekday mornings are for collating drum samples for "In Reflection," and I'm likely going back to working on my notes next week in the morning. I made substantial progress organizing and collating them last week, but I barely scratched the surface. Maybe the week after that, I can start on the stopgap.
I'm also considering taking a particular day of the week to clean up old notes - perhaps on Mondays after I finish this web post since I'm already working with words anyway. That way, I don't have to take a whole week away from music - something to consider.
As for the evenings, I'm deep in the middle of 1996. It's a year with many long tapes, so I will probably need this week and some of the following to get through that year. At this rate, I hope I can get the remasters of "The Early Years (1994-1998)" and "Burned" out by the end of this year, but I can't be sure.
In any event, I've got a long way to go through my old work. I'm also writing thousands of words of notes every week, which also adds more backlog. I'm my own worst enemy! That's alright; it'll all come together eventually. It's a matter of working with all the puzzle pieces until the picture unfolds.
Until next week!
2022-11-07 (Week 2240): Notes From the Road
I decided to take the mornings of every 10th week and go through old notes, and that's where I am this week. As this is the first time I've done this, I have many ideas to sift through. Hopefully, by the time Week 2250 rolls around, I'll have much less sprawl with my writings.
I think this will help the next album come together more accurately, as I'll have my ideas together better and make more sense of where I've been. The album is coming together in a way that blends all my different styles from the past 28 years.
The title and art keep changing, though I'm currently leaning toward "In Reflection." I have the last track figured out, and it's a bridge to the next album. I also have an idea of the format and color scheme for the next album. I'm pretty sure I'm not able to experience synesthesia, but I can try to sculpt the album in a way that feels like that color to me.
As for "In Reflection" (as it's currently titled), it's every color I've dabbled in before, whatever those colors may be. I had planned to do an "In Reflection" album years ago (2002-2003, I think), but I am now ready to approach this idea. After all the random chaos from my creative output since finishing the Links to the Past demos, I'm prepared to piece things together and move forward.
Hopefully, this week of digging through old notes will help me discover more insights and help clarify things more as to what "In Reflection" needs to be.
Until next week!
2022-10-31 (Week 2239): Following Multiple Paths
I'm doing multiple things relating to music at once, and that's how it will be for a while. The mornings are for new music creation (as well as this blog on Mondays), and the evenings are for sifting through old works.
As far as the mornings go, I have an actual album coming together. The themes are appearing, the album after it is already in mind, and the last track will likely be a preview. I'm building each track layer by layer and incorporating all elements that will plausibly fit. It will be more complex and layered than I described last week, but I imagine most of that process will appear in these tracks.
It's currently a process of writing and recording eight-bar keyboard tracks, lining them up randomly to a list I made years ago of sound fonts I like, running those tracks through Audiobulb Ambient, then building pieces from what comes about.
The loop lengths (and the number of repetitions) decide each track's song length and BPM (beats per minute). I'm still building the foundations for all 12 pieces, but it's looking like it will be about a 75-minute album with tracks between 5-8 minutes long.
The album summarizes all that's come before, so it's likely to be some mixture of metal, industrial, experimental, ambient, and noise. I'm starting with these ambient background tracks to create a foundation, and then I'll start putting together foundational drum tracks. Unlike the plethora of albums I've planned since finishing up the Links to the Past demos, I'm doing my best to let this one come together organically instead of forcing an idea to come to fruition.
As far as the evenings go, I'm about halfway through my 15th year, and I've realized how easily the music I listened to influenced me. It was all death metal with gory or satanic lyrics, so that's what I was writing too.
I cringe at what I went through to get there, and I could have prevented much of the misery back then by altering my mindset. I'm still not the happiest camper, but I'm more often at peace in doing my best to follow The Way.
I've also found another track to add to "The Early Years (1994-1998)," so I should have enough material to make it a separate remastered release from the remaster of "Burned." I have about 50 more cassettes to get through before I'm at the point when I put out "Burned," so I'm sure I'll find some more material.
I think that about covers it, and I feel this will be the blog structure for a while. I'm doing my best to be more active on social media, so if you want to give me a follow/holler, find me on Twitter.
Until next week!
2022-10-24 (Week 2238): One More Drive Down Memory Lane
I've made it through the earliest stretches (1979-1994) of my drive down memory lane, which entails listening to cassette tapes I made as a child/teenager and gleaning what information I can from them.
It feels like I used metal, horror novels, and horror movies as a cloak to give me an identity and shield me from many of life's realities because I was afraid and insecure. I was also relatively sheltered, so I seemed immature even compared to my other 14-year-old friends.
I also should have put more energy into the piano than I did into the guitar because my guitar work as a 14-year-old is very unsure. Though my piano work at that time was simple, it was much more steady. It's likely due to taking a year of piano lessons a few years prior.
It's also leading to releasing another collection at the same time the remaster of "Burned" comes out. I'm leaning towards calling it "The Early Years (1994-1998)" or "The Cassette Years (1994-1998)" and doing a remaster similar to what I did with "Burned." I might also tack them on to "Burned" as bonus tracks, but we'll see.
As far as new material goes, the process is coming together. I start with atmospheres, add piano parts in the bass and treble clef on top of that, add drums on top of that, then the last layer will be guitar arpeggios that support the piano parts. It's a four-part process, and I have folders for each stage of the song creation process.
I'm not sure when I will get to creating new material again since I'm diving deep into going back through my old material, but I'm sure the desire to tinker with new material will arise now and then. I have a lot of work to do setting up samples and presets, so I need to schedule my time more efficiently.
I need to get back to it, so hopefully, I'll have some interesting findings (and newly-remastered material) soon.
Until next week!
2022-10-17 (Week 2237): Bridging the Gap
I've had some time to dig back through the past few years of my musical ideas, and I realize the quarterly EPs are the wrong approach. I have a lot more internal work to do before I'm ready to put out a new release.
I must go through all of my old music and written material to see what of my work will "bridge the gap." The "gap" was the era of COVID, so now that said era is more-or-less over, I need to see where I stand.
I also have to remaster and rework what music and writing I can to help decide whether or not to leave it on the other side of the metaphorical bridge or bring it across with me. I have ideas for where I'm heading and structural concepts for the album, but I'm not entirely sure where I will end up.
There's underlying anxiety about needing to release new material. That anxiety has built for the past year and a half since finishing the "Links to the Past" demos.
Rather than feeding it, I need to address its reason and see if I can expel it through this process. It feels like it serves no purpose other than to drive me crazy, and it causes resentment from those around me because I withdraw my attention and focus on my art.
That said, I realize I can't carry all of my past with me, so I have to bring along the parts that work for me and leave behind the parts that don't. An existential purge, if you will - perhaps this is my midlife crisis.
As I said earlier, I feel like I know the direction I'm heading, but I will find out once I get there.
Until next week!
2022-10-10 (Week 2236): New Exits Appear
I'm on week three of the "Fall 2022" EP, and I've got a lot of material to put together. In the first two weeks, I wrote 12 guitar parts and 12 keyboard parts, so now I'm starting to assemble four pieces out of these 24 parts.
I also realized what I was doing wrong with the "Purging Darkness" album, and I have a side album series planned called "Shadowscapes" (referring to the piece from 2016 below) with the subtitle "Down the Rabbit Hole." It will sound more like the "Purging Darkness" demos but with more ambient/noise and less drone/noise.
Also, in going through old demos, I found a demo from a just intonation-focused side project (also from 2016) that resulted in two similar pieces using a five-tone just intonation scale (which you can hear below). I'm keeping the melodic samples and scale and will attempt to create an album with a similar sound. The working title for that side album series is "What Is Just" because I'm not afraid to lean into bad dad puns.
That said, I won't tinker with those two projects (much) until I can mostly complete the "Fall 2022" EP. I'm developing a schedule as I go along, and here's what I've got so far:
Week 1 - guitar demos.
Beyond that, it's a bit nebulous. I've got a few weeks to figure out how to finalize things and how the release will work, but I'm working on setting up a process to make this a regular EP cycle. Part of me wants to go through all the old demos and material before I get to this point, but I know it will take me a few EP cycles (at least) to do so. That said, I'm not going to worry. I'll keep moving forward and get there when I get there.
The EP itself feels like a return to "Burned," which I hope to re-release the remaster of around the same time as "Fall 2022." I still have over 50 demo tapes from 1994-1998 to sift through and attempt to glean insight from so I can better understand how I got to "Burned," so that will take a minute.
Until next week!
2022-10-03 (Week 2235): Day Two - New Route+
It's weird how mental shifts sneak up on you. After spending a good chunk of last week writing new riffs and sifting through the previous year and a half of demos (and some reworked demos dating back to 2003), it feels like a new dawn has arrived.
I wrote a few weeks ago that I don't believe in new beginnings. That said, it feels like everything before I started writing riffs again was Day One, and Day Two began after that.
It could be due to planning quarterly releases, with at least four tracks per release. I'm keeping the album names simple (the next one is "Fall 2022") and using a photo from that timeframe that encompasses the album's feeling. It will likely be a sunrise photo, and I already have a few good ones I could use.
As for the riffs that have come about, there are a few heavy ones, a few strummed ones, a few arpeggios, and a few from previous works. I already know which one will be the last track on the album, but I'm still looking for an opener. I have twelve riff demos to work with, so I'm sure things will come together more soon.
I will also spend the rest of this week working on piano/keyboard/synth demos and seeing what comes about. Once I write what I need to this week, I'll spend next week tracking drums for the demos and then further developing them into some musical pieces. Anything I don't use for "Fall 2022" will be carried over to "Winter 2023" and reworked if possible.
As for the "New Route+" idea, I'm sure most gamers are familiar with the "New Game+" feature. It feels like I'm starting over my musical route with all the ideas and things I've learned before, but without having to carry them forward.
I don't have to shove all the different styles I've done before into one piece or one album - what is still relevant will come forth, and what is not will fade away (or come back if it becomes relevant again).
With "Purging Darkness," I tried hard to create new and bizarre sounds because I felt I had to carry my need to tinker and experiment forward because I couldn't go backward. I realized going back to old styles of writing isn't going backward - it's a return to what is natural.
I hated editing hundred of samples over and over again, and it was driving me crazy. My emotional state was suffering and affecting those around me negatively. After picking up the guitar again last week, I've been calmer and enjoying the creative process rather than seeing it as work.
I've gone back to listening to albums that resonated with me in my formative years, and a lot of those albums are early ones from Amorphis and In Flames that have a Nordic folk influence in their composition:
It could be my Scandinavian Studies major coming back to the forefront or an appreciation for those melodies that I didn't fully recognize. I don't know, but I'm seeing where things go.
Until next week!
2022-09-26 (Week 2234): A Dead End and a New Path
I'm sorry to say I've carried the "Purging Darkness" album as far as I can. All the arrangements are very similar, as are the drum patterns. I could try rearranging some (or most) of the tracks, but I also feel that would yield little result.
Putting so much work into creative expression and realizing it's going nowhere is unbelievably frustrating and led to a rough Friday and a less-than-stellar weekend. However, it's a new week, and a new path has unfolded.
Perhaps it's not a new path, but there were two further albums in my trajectory: "Walking Away" and "In Remembrance." While I also don't think "In Remembrance" is going to come about, "Walking Away" (or whatever its name will eventually be - thinking about "Into the Woods" right now) is next on the agenda.
The album idea is a return to instrument-based sounds and composition, which I've needed to do for a while. I got a couple of riff ideas over the weekend and an idea for potentially reworking "Apocalypse" yet again:
I'm leaning towards using only guitar and keyboards, but I'll have to see if I can get appropriate low-end. I know the keyboard can go pretty low, and the 7th string on my electric guitar is at G1. That gets me down to 49hz, and if I throw an octave pedal on a layer or two of guitar, I can have some 24.5hz and 12.25hz frequencies, which is plenty low.
If the song calls for it, I might put some other instrumentation (like pennywhistle melodies/leads), but those two instruments will be my foundation. After I finish this post, I will start setting up my recording equipment and working on the next version of "Apocalypse"/writing new material. As an aside, the recordings of "Apocalypse" above are the 2nd and 3rd, so here's the first from late 2001:
Hopefully, the 4th version can be the last one, but we'll see.
I'm also considering doing four-song EPs every quarter, but we'll see how prolific I am with writing material. Wish me luck!
Until next week!
2022-09-19 (Week 2233): 3000 on the Neocities Odometer and Neverending Sample Editing
First, thanks for the 3k views on Neocities! If you want to check out more of my work, follow me on Bandcamp or Spotify. The Bandcamp page will be busier shortly with the remasters, so that's the more active page to follow.
As for what's going on, "Purging Darkness" has hit yet another sampling snag. With the synth tracks for the 15 pieces assembled, I now have to sift through 148 drum samples and clean them up. Lord, kill the pain.
Speaking of the synth tracks for the 15 pieces, I wanted to listen to one of them to see where this album is going, and boy howdy is it dark:
"Purging Darkness" indeed. The intro reminds me a little of the opening to "Demanufacture," but instead of moving on to a metal assault, it stays in the dark ambient noise space.
Maybe some of the drum tracks I do for "Purging Darkness" will be in a machine-gun style like "Demanufacture." I have to get through editing them first. Hopefully, I can finish the drum sample editing this week.
As for the remasters, I've got "Burned" (under my Soul Ablaze project) ready to go, but I'm going through older recorded material for further insights on what led up to recording "Burned." It's a process of self-discovery that has uncovered quite a few things.
"Burned" is my longest gap between released recordings (18 years, almost ten months), so there's a lot to sift through. It was my childhood and teenage years, and many things happened that shaped where I am today.
I'm also considering an album called "In Memoriam" or "In Remembrance" that would attempt to write a song in a general style of all the different projects I've made over the years, naming the pieces after the project.
That would be quite an undertaking and would span from 1998 to 2014. All of my releases since 2015 have used my name and have been ambient/drone, so covering tracks in those styles seems unnecessary.
I also have some one-off or few-off projects that I might add to the album, but looking at my release list, I'm already looking at 17 tracks, so we'll see. Some lesser evolved projects might be left off, but we'll see. That is also a few years down the road. Hopefully, I can get something released soon. "Purging Darkness," here we come!
Until next week!
2022-09-12 (Week 2232): Looking Back to Drive Forward
A lot has happened in the past week. I started working on the new material in the morning while working on the old material at night.
While working on the old material, I realized that the old feelings in those pieces are still sitting with me, and I haven't adequately forgiven myself for feeling those ways. I went through all my old work a couple of years ago, and there was much mocking and ridicule. Now, there is letting go and forgiveness.
I realize that the pieces I'm working on now are the process of letting go and forgiveness, so the album name has changed again. The current album's title is "Purging Darkness," and the album after that is "Walking Away."
"Purging Darkness" will consist of the five noise tracks I had made for "As the Noise Builds" but split into 15 tracks. Each of the "As the Noise Builds" tracks were three parts, so I broke those down into individual components. Three-minute pieces are a little easier to digest than nine-minute ones.
As for the names of those tracks, that's where going through my old albums comes into play. I'm taking the emotions I feel and remember feeling when I made those pieces and using those as song titles. Song titles like "Betrayal" and "Isolation" will be on the album.
I will make drum tracks to go along with each of those titles. There will likely be more than 15 drum tracks, so I'll use the 15 best/most relevant ones, and unused ones may get reworked for "Walking Away."
Speaking of "Walking Away," it's also a conceptual album, with all the titles reflecting the things from which I'm walking away. Whether walking away from pigeonholing myself to one genre per album or letting go of things I can't control, it will also be an album of letting go and forgiveness. It will mostly contain new material, but it may also have reworkings of old material (released or not).
Part of me also thinks I may end up with a remix album from going through all these old pieces and remastering them, but I'm not far enough into the process to say. I have some ideas for a remix of "Escape from In(s)anity," but that's still a few remastered albums down the road.
So, I've got my plate filled for the next couple of years (at least). That's cool. I like keeping busy.
Until next week!
2022-09-05 (Week 2231): Divergent Paths
I took off last week to give myself a breather from all my work on "As the Noise Builds." I also went to the Oregon Coast with my life partner so we could get away and enjoy ourselves.
The trip revealed some things to me, but the biggest one was that I was pigeonholing myself too much by trying to make an album sound like one thing or one style.
I want to write with guitar, bass, piano, pennywhistle, or whatever my heart desires, but I don't want to limit myself to abstract samples. I will still work with them and make weird ambient/noise music because that's part of what I want to create, but it's not the only thing.
I need to do all these different things to figure out how to get them to work together, which seems like what Devin Townsend has done with his career. His new track "Moonpeople," coming out the day before I left on vacation, planted the seed for the idea:
Granted, it's not a new idea for me because that's what my Natthimmel album from 2003 was - a collection of all the different styles I was interested in at the time:
Next year will be 20 years since I released "The Great Beyond," and when I get done with "As the Noise Builds" (if that even stays the album's name), that will be the approach I take. First things first, I need to finish my current project.
Then there's the flip side of needing to clean up what was, so I'm going to overhaul my Bandcamp page, remaster everything, and re-release some rarities and oldies. It'll allow me to handle the mastering process better, especially since I have 49 releases to work with ("As the Noise Builds" is #50).
I also want to get this page more streamlined, with foci on more than just a blog. Album releases and remasters, proper discography, playlists, retro game projects, and this page as a launchpad to other sites or deeper pages. I'll get there when I get there.
Until next week!
2022-08-22 (Week 2229): Almost There, Then a New Destination
I'm about six hours from completing all the sample editing I need to do for "As the Noise Builds" - at least the initial samples. That's my focus right now, so I'm going to keep this short.
The only musical progress I've had this week is that I want to figure out how to incorporate my battery of samples with heavy guitar, inspired by Godflesh's "Post Self" album. I've recently listened to it in my car multiple times, making me want to riff away again.
The album I want to do with a guitar is at least three down the road, so I'm waiting a couple of years on that one.
I'll also take a week off to rest my ears from all these samples once I complete them, so I'll be quiet next week. I'll be back in week 2231 (my teeth are getting long) with some progress.
2022-08-15 (Week 2228): Staying the Course
I'm making progress with the sample refining, and I'm about halfway through constructing the foundation for the fourth track, so I should finish all the background layers by the end of this month.
The album's name is currently "As the Noise Builds." It may be too literal of a title or a little too on the nose. It's a metaphor for how things build to a climax, and once they're over, they fall away with only echoes remaining.
It feels like there have been a lot of endings over the past few years, and it's a lot harder to get invested in new beginnings. Even though I put out a demo-quality album at 21 (Week 1146) called "A New Beginning" and believed in new beginnings up until a few years ago, I no longer have that feeling as a 42-year-old.
I feel that you can't ever really leave behind what came before - you can only choose to pay attention to it/give it weight or not. That could be why it feels like life moves in cycles, though not uniform ones.
Uh-oh, I can tell I'm starting to philosophize too much - hopefully, I'll have enough progress to share some of it next time.
Until next week!
2022-08-08 (Week 2227): Up Winding Hills
In creating anew, I go through old ideas to see what still resonates, and I ran across this gem: "The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between."
That comes from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and while I don't listen to much of his music, I find it agreeable when I do. Some of my interest in using aleatoric elements in music comes from Mozart's musical dice game.
It led me to realize the way that I'm working is too constricted. So, I've added 20-second intervals of silence after each 2-minute and 40-second buildup. I'd post a sample, but I haven't added any delay or reverb to the tracks yet, so it'd be a wall of sound and then random stops. Yawn.
That also led to the realization that if I keep things with the same amount of layering in each of the three parts per track, it will also end up falling flat.
So, I'm layering double and triple the number of sounds for each piece's 2nd and 3rd parts. That will require combining the samples from the 1st part of each piece for the 2nd part and the 1st and 2nd parts for the 3rd part.
I'm going to change the octaves of the samples to keep things exciting, and I'm planning to add drums increasing in velocity using the automatic drum preset I created some weeks ago.
These plans likely sound like madness, but they will make sense once I get further along. I can also tell after this madness, I'll probably make an album sans drums and with sparse notes, something akin to Morton Feldman's work:
I had a plan to finish this album before the end of August, but with the extra layering involved, I think it'll be sometime early in the fall.
I want to be as productive as I was during the 2017-2021 stretch of eight ambient albums and fifty video game covers. Perhaps this slowdown and retooling is a necessary development in my musical process and stage of life growth, so I guess this is growing up.
Until next week!
2022-08-01 (Week 2226): Driving Through the Barrens
It recently occurred to me that I may be trying too hard to find ways to be unique with my sound.
Even though I'm many hours deep in refining samples and putting together an ambient noise album, it's leading further down the rabbit hole with noise blending and using aleatoric presets for drum patterns. It's also giving me pause.
I'm going down the road I've gone before with making plans for tens of albums and getting excited to do them, though realizing the amount of time to knock all of them out would be difficult to come by even if I wasn't employed full-time.
I had an idea late last week to make heavily layered chilled-out music - an intense level of calmness. I'd pick up a pennywhistle and record many improvised tracks directly into Reaper. After that, I'd drench them in delay, reverb, and whatever other effects sound cool - painting with sound, as it were.
The above idea sounds like the path of least resistance, in opposition to editing 500+ samples. I've already done a lot of work in editing and experimenting with these samples (as the earlier blog entries can attest), but maybe it's time to let them go and be spontaneous.
I often write of the path of least resistance, or Wu wei as it is more commonly known. The current path is not one of least resistance - it's one of throttling the listener with chaos and noise. Is that the best use of my time?
I try to be a calming or positive influence in life, so why is the music I'm producing so dark and chaotic? Could it be because the samples I collected were from a darker and more confusing time in life?
After thinking about it, sifting through all these samples separates the wheat from the chaff. I'm looking for the best sounds to fit in with the eventual pennywhistle barrage, so I must go through everything at every octave.
It's also a symbolic exploration of the past since these samples came from chaotic and confusing times. I'm trying to find the best parts of those times and move forward. I'm doing that with my music, and I'm doing that with my life.
Sometimes I think I have too much time on my hands.
Until next week!
2022-07-25 (Week 2225): Driving Faster Than I Can See
After more tinkering with the sounds I've developed recently, I hit a wall. I'm happy with the place I got to, but I was clueless about how to go further.
So, I changed lanes at a breakneck speed.
I took the 60 synth samples I created recently, let them play out in various octaves, and now I'm randomly piecing together noise tracks with the results.
I'm digging where it's going.
I have a plan for a six-track noise album with the tracks around 8+ minutes a piece, comprised of the samples that I created.
Taking that detour gives me a better idea of how to proceed with the first demo, but it's also an entirely separate project.
Instead of creating new project names, I'm going to do album series like Volume 1, Volume 2, etc.
I tried to do that with the Days Gone By, Volume 1 album, but there never was a Volume 2.
I'm okay with only one volume of that because there may only be one volume of other planned series - that means that the sound I sculpted ran its course with the first installment.
I don't imagine a second installment will happen with Days Gone By because I am no longer interested in reinterpreting old material. It feels like cover material since I'm no longer the person I was when I wrote those songs.
It also makes me wonder if songs have a certain shelf-life for the artists that create them, and to continue to revisit them can only be detrimental for the artist.
I know we as listeners want to hear the songs we love from years and years prior, but I guess that's why we pay the artists to perform them and why it is considered work.
To return to the original topic, I'm going to create an album series instead of doing new projects - it seems more straightforward and still accessible for the listener to differentiate between the varying sounds of each album series - the path of least resistance.
So, expect albums that sound like both of the above demos down the road. I'm working on the project for the 2nd one pretty fervently now, so it may come first.
That said, my creative whimsy can be highly erratic but takes me where I need to be (even if I don't appreciate it at the time).
Until next week!
2022-07-18 (Week 2224): 2000 on the Neocities Odometer and Progress
First off, thanks for the 2k views on Neocities! I'll keep up the work of talking about the new tunes I'm working on, posting old ones I've done, and linking tracks on Spotify that I'm digging. It's the path of least resistance, and it seems to be working for me, so I'll keep on keepin' on.
As for what I've been working on, a key piece fell into place last week. There's a band from the shoegaze realm called Seefeel that I'm familiar with, as I've had Filter Dub on playlists for a while:
However, I finally decided to dive deep and listen to the album that Filter Dub is on (Quique) and Seefeel's early/mid-90s work before they disbanded and reformed in 2011. It's the feel and sound I've sought. Bass and drum vamps beneath hypnotic loops - it's what I've been trying to do for many years, and they came out with these pieces before I even knew what I was doing with a guitar.
No matter, because now that I have a blueprint of what I'm trying to do, I can better aim for what I'm trying to accomplish musically.
Here's what I've got so far, and while it doesn't sound much of anything like Seefeel, it's definitely in the realm of what I'm trying to accomplish:
It's a little looser than what I'm going for, but I'll get it dialed in before too long. I probably need to tighten up the chords, so it's not an eight-bar repeating phrase and is something a little more immediate and hypnotic, but I haven't figured out how to make that work yet. I'm okay with the bass & drums, even if the drum sounds are weird and the beat feels random in 19/16. I'm getting there.
As far as the naming and projects go, I'm not going to worry about that until I get further along with creating things. I have elaborate plans but lack the time and desire to see them through. Again, following the path of least resistance. Things will unveil themselves as I go along. Such is life.
Until next week!
2022-07-11 (Week 2223): Dubbing the Engine
My anchor is changing, mainly because I forgot the actual anchor, which is bass. The previous anchor was bass-heavy, but it was a massive low-end blur.
Anyway, I came up with a dub-like bass tone, added my field recording samples to it, and something is starting to form.
A lot of this came about by listening to "Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove" by Killing Joke again after Absolute Dissent was released on Spotify a couple of weeks ago (it was originally released in 2010):
The bassline in the demo is from "Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove," so I'll be changing that, but I wanted to use a bassline I liked to build the tone.
As for this sound, it came about after canning at work on Thursday. My coworker had put on some early 90s rap, and all I could hear while we were canning was bass, hi-hat, and industrial machinery. Many of the field recording samples I have come from industrial machinery, so off I went.
I want to make dub bass presets for all my previous tracks that are applicable (and some old demos if I can find them), but I also need to make some new basslines for whatever the next album will be. I haven't given up on calling it "The Long Road Here," but I also think that could be the name for this blog.
I've developed a new project that this music would fit under, but I'm not pulling the trigger until I get my samples squared away. I've got the first round of drum samples figured out, and I'm sifting through my machinery synths, so I'll see where I stand once I get more writing done.
I want to dig my bass guitar out and start composing, but time will tell. I'm not there yet. Hopefully soon.
Until next week!
2022-07-04 (Week 2222): Key in the Ignition
Finally, something is starting to happen. I still have questions about where to go, but at least I have my anchor set.
The anchor uses the method of drum experiments I've posted demos of, which I've detuned, distorted, and turned into a wall of chaos.
I'm also working with a windchime sample in the higher frequencies, the same one I used for my "Everything in Chime" project that I tinkered with and put away in an earlier iteration of this website. I may unzip the work I did for that project again for more insight.
I feel the sample fits into the wall of noise, but I need to layer it with at least another sample in a similar frequency range. I'm thinking of a pennywhistle or a keyboard sample from some of my older works. There's a piece I'm thinking of titled "Pico Gets His Groove On in Port Town," which is a cover of the Port Town music from F-Zero for the SNES that fits the bill remarkably well:
I could also use some of the metal drum samples I recorded from this time (2005) in the current material because I think they would fit well with the proceedings.
I'm not quite to where I want to go yet, but with the noisewall anchor to work with, I have some sort of direction. I'm finding myself digging on a couple of tracks from an old favorite album lately, so that might be the direction I head:
I've visited this territory before with the title track from the "Dragons of Putrescence" album under my Cyanidic Rapture project from 2008, but I think I can do it more justice now with another 14 years under my belt:
I wonder if my musical directions over the years are a pastiche of everything I've listened to or an homage to which ones I'm connecting with the most at the time I make the albums. It's hard to say without more internal digging.
Until next week!
2022-06-27 (Week 2221): Back to the Station
I've realized that what I've worked on recently is a side project that will be under the umbrella of a new recording label. The label will be centered around Neocities and Bandcamp, as will most of the projects.
I'm still going to release music under my name, but it will stem from guitar arpeggios instead of abstract sounds. It'll be easier to make music in various time signatures with arpeggios as the base. Again, I'm following the path of least resistance.
I'm also unsure how much time I'll have to work on music with the summer ramping up. I've got responsibilities to be responsible for, places to go, and fun to have (outside of creating music). I like to imagine my music is of more import than it is, but looking at my Bandcamp and Spotify stats brings me back to earth. Still, I create.
The label will take some time, but it's what I want to do so that things will move along more naturally.
Until next week!
2022-06-20 (Week 2220): Tuning the Radio
I've managed to come up with something short over the past week, but I can already tell it's not quite right.
For one, it's way too short. I'm still looking for that long, more encompassing soundscape feel; at two minutes long, I come nowhere near it.
Also, a few of my samples are of two of my cats, and the "meow" you hear is from Kirk (aka Cookie), which is the large black & white cat below.
My other cat Barclay (aka Bark or Barkie), is the grey fuzzball, and he's sampled in the noise background (though that's harder to pick out).
I'm randomly selecting the samples for the pieces, but I think I need to be more discerning in the future. Random sampling is acceptable for the noise wall, but I need more drum-like samples for the actual beats.
I also need to leave less of the pieces up to random chance and have more of an idea for structure, which seems to be leaning towards no-wave/industrial metal/anti-music of bands like Swans (the earliest works), Godflesh (the longer pieces), and Halo (barely rhythmic noise walls).
I've thought about starting up a new project since this is a bit more industrial than my previous ambient works, but it's close enough to Shattered Memories that I think I can roll with it. Plus, I'm working towards following the path of least resistance and starting a new project adds more resistance.
There's also the thought of changing the album's name, but I'll keep working with what I have and see if "The Long Road Here" still works with the material. I have the alternate name ready, but I'll wait a bit before deciding.
Until next week!
2022-06-13 (Week 2219): Figuring Out Paths
I finished equalizing all of my drum samples at the end of last week, so I still haven't had time to do any more compositions.
That said, I'm noticing the drum samples sound like ones I created years ago for a couple of different projects: Forfallen and Concrete Mutant.
I've listened to many Godflesh songs lately, and I did Godflesh covers using the previously mentioned drum samples years ago, so I'll post those.
Here's a cover (and the original) of Godflesh's "Mothra" that I did in 2005 for my Forfallen project:
And here's a cover (and the original) of Godflesh's "Avalanche Master Song" that I did in 2007 for my Concrete Mutant project:
The drum samples I'm working on now aren't entirely as distorted as the ones above, but they could be. That's part of the issue I'm having.
I'm wondering how far to take the modification of the drum samples. I converted the original field recordings into beats (titled Round 0 -> Round 1), and I'm going to texture those beats with some distortion and mastering (titled Round 1 -> Round 2a).
I'm calling it 2a because I may want to remaster the beats differently for another project, which would be Round 1 -> Round 2b. I may also want to keep adding different effects with the drums from Round 2a, which would take them to Round 3a, or I may want to break off and do another project with those beats, which would make the new beats Round 3a1.
I'm likely getting ahead of myself with the labeling, but that's how my brain works. No wonder I haven't finished much of anything recently!
In any event, I'm going to get all the samples squared for Round 2a (which entails adding effects and saving each beat individually while mastering them to -6dB) and figure out where to go from there. I'm leaning towards either making pads out of the field recordings to use with the drum samples or adding electric guitar to the proceedings somehow. Or both.
I may add some other samples as well, so it looks like it's going to be another week of sample creation/editing. So it goes!
Until next week!
2022-06-06 (Week 2218): Refueling the Tank
Last week wasn't incredibly productive for creating new ideas, but I made many new drum samples.
They came from a collection of field recordings I've made over the past five years (most from 2016-17), and I reduced them into beat samples. I also found an ambient guitar demo in that collection which I'm pretty sure I made with an EBow, so I ran it through Audiobulb Ambient, and here it is:
It may have been better without the processing - shorter anyway.
As for how the composition is coming along, my most recent musical note description is "current Meshuggah structures combined with early Godflesh beats combined with Shadowscapes: Forgotten Industry ambiance & rhythms."
You might be familiar with Meshuggah or Godflesh, but likely not "Forgotten Industry." It's one of my tracks that I posted about in an earlier entry, but if you didn't catch it the first time, here it is:
Hopefully, next week I'll have something resembling a demo or two.
Until next week!
2022-05-30 (Week 2217): Exploring Detours
Last week I wrote about the dream I had of wanting to do a side label with a bunch of different abstract musical projects, so I decided to explore that trajectory.
The results were interesting enough, and they came from the idea of having randomized tom samples as I do in The Long Road Here demos.
I used five instances of Reason's Redrum to add 50 samples playing randomly at different speeds (10 drums each at 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32 rate) using a Reason Refill of 50 affected hand drum samples by Doru Malaia. I made two different loops at 52 BPM, which you can hear below:
They have a good rhythm and create a solid background, but I feel like it will all sound similar if I keep going with that method.
Then I decided to run those loops through Audiobulb Ambient, and while I could post those samples, they sound like hundreds of metal balls propelling through a metal dumpster and bouncing incessantly off the sides of the said dumpster.
While that didn't work out so well, I remembered that I had a sample pack of 1160 keyboard samples, so I decided to run those through the above drum setup. I selected 50 of them randomly via an integer generator at Random.org, plugged them in, and here was the result:
It has a similar rhythmic feel to the hand drum demos but more bass and 8-bit chip sound. Running that through Audiobulb Ambient proved a little more interesting.
I got a little bit of that dumpster sound from before, but this feels more like the sound effects to a bullet hell game with the bass frequencies turned up to 10.
I'm not sure what the next step is with this, and I came up with some labor-intensive ideas that will take me further down the rabbit hole with this detour I'm on, or I could use this as a background with live instrumentation.
I had hoped to get The Long Road Here done by the end of summer, but who knows how long it will take with all these detours I'm exploring. It feels like I'm more interested in chasing sonic ideas than making music, but that's a more esoteric post for another time.
Also, come to say hello in the new Chat link above or fire off any questions you may have. Until next week!
2022-05-23 (Week 2216): Pit Stop
It's been a slow week work-wise, as there have been a lot of personal events that have taken precedence over creating music.
I did a little reworking of the track I posted last week, trying to anchor it around the A 9-tone scale, going to E 9-tone for the 2nd part, bringing it back to the A 9-tone, and then changing the arpeggio to D 9-tone instead of B/F# 9-tone:
It's becoming more apparent that this is three parts of three different songs. I'll likely leave the third part in its original key and change it to 7/4 since I keep hearing it that way in my head. I'm thinking about changing the 2nd part to 9/8 and using it in a different piece.
I've done more clerical work on the album this week, figuring out song titles and time signatures for each song and picking keys for about half of them. As I haven't decided on the keys yet, I'll leave them out, but here's the list and the time signatures:
01. Counting the Miles (4/4)
It feels like this album is picking up where I left off with Enveloped and other albums before those, so maybe this is kind of an unofficial Days Gone By, Volume 2 (Volume 1 is here). There will be parts from old tracks and demos showing up in these pieces, but it will be mostly new material.
On the flip side of that, I had a dream last week where I ran a web label with many different noise projects that were all mine, similar to the old Hanson Records site.
I don't know what to do since I have a knack for putting together presets that dial into specific sonic parameters. I've had dozens of different projects over the years, sometimes having upwards of 10 or more at a time. Many of them never made it past the development stages, but if they did, I'd likely have something similar to the Hanson Records site.
I had a project earlier this year before The Long Road Here started coming together that was heavily inspired by the aesthetics of Sewerslvt, though that also never made it past the development stage. I have a long list of notes about how I wanted it to sound, so I need to figure out if I want to keep that going or just let it go.
Regardless, I know I need to complete The Long Road Here, and I'm not sure if it will be before I do anything else or if I will work on both concurrently. There are many things to decide in the warehouse this week, and everything is a process.
Until next week!
2022-05-16 (Week 2215): Five Quick Turns
I've made it somewhere with the first demo, which I've unofficially titled "Five Quick Turns" because it has five different parts. It could be called "Four Quick Turns" instead, though it's a working title.
I took the demo I posted from last week, slowed it down two BPM (from 56 to 54) to let it breathe more, and added four more sections.
The sections follow the Circle of Fifths (in 9-tone scales), going from A -> E -> B -> F# -> C#. The B -> F# section is a key change with an added layer, and the A and C# parts are the same but transposed up a major third.
When the piece was still at 56, I felt like the part in A 9-tone needed a string section layer added on the 3rd and 4th repetition, but dropping it to 54 BPM alleviated that desire. It's weird how that works.
I still need to add bass and piano parts to it - bass to match the rhythm guitar, and piano to make the parts with the guitar arpeggio and lead a bit more ominous, as well as help with the transition back to the transposed original part.
I've also had a couple more riffs pop into my head over the past week, and I got one of them mapped out:
I've got bass and piano on this one too, and this one either feels like it needs the lead over it, or it's building to something else. A middle section, I suppose.
I also conceptualized a piece that has a 5/4 base with a 6/4 arpeggio over top of it, but it feels like a middle part. I'll likely add the intro section from Apocalypse to it since it's a 5/4 part I've worked with for the past 20 years. You can hear the part in both of these tracks (from two of my different projects):
I'm not sure I'll be as productive as I have been these last few weeks because I've discovered a new game that's holding my interest called The Planet Crafter: Prologue, but I'll try to keep working on music before work and get some gaming in at night.
See you next week!
2022-05-09 (Week 2214): Building the Engine
Since starting to develop "The Long Road Here," my process for composing pieces changed at least three or four times, so it's more like "building and re-building the engine."
When I started this album project, the first track was "Surveying the Map." I made three demos of two tracks each - all of which have the same background track:
They all have a feel of pieces I've created before - they remind me the most of the Altered Sun era. I prefer the first variation the most, but it's a moot point because things have evolved since then.
I've continued with similar sound samples to those in the above tracks, but instead of running the drums and keys/vibraphone through Audiobulb Ambient, I've left them unaltered.
The tom samples are randomized to create that moving and tribal feel that I love in tracks like Sepultura's "Territory" or Neurosis's "Through Silver in Blood" (or "Cleanse" if you want to go into a deep cut).
I added distortion to the 9-tone chords to emulate the heavy guitars I plan to record in their stead (or in addition to - I haven't decided yet).
I want to combine most of the things I have a musical interest in with this album. Things like aleatoric/generative music, 9-tone scales, and the use of Audiobulb Ambient to create abstract sound tapestries. I also want slow and heavy metal guitars, guitar arpeggios, and sampling. It would be nice to get just intonation in there, but I don't think it's feasible for this album. Perhaps for the next one.
That's all I've got for this week. See you next week!
2022-05-02 (Week 2213): Prologue
The last couple of years were somewhat chaotic for one big reason and many smaller ones. During this time, my creative output felt very scattered.
I completed my Links to the Past project at the end of April last year, but even that began to feel uninspired and like I was only trying to get to fifty pieces.
My original goal was to complete one piece a week for a year, and including the Shattered Memories album, I managed that goal and kept going for an extra ten weeks.
Since finishing that string of pieces, I haven't had any cohesive ideas until a little over a month ago.
After diving deep into the Devin Townsend Podcast and listening to most of the episodes multiple times to glean information, I began to carry a pocket-sized notebook around with me to jot down creative ideas.
It took a couple of months for cohesive ideas to form, but they came flooding in once they started. I have the title locked in (see above), the artwork is in a good place, and I'm nearing completion on how exactly I want to approach this album.
I haven't fully decided whether it will be ambient with drums or more structured. Considering what Shattered Memories comprises, it will likely be the former.
I also want to give the ambient pieces more structure, so it will likely be more loop-based. It might be somewhat akin to my "Forgotten Industry" track from late 2016 but more abstract. I won't know until I get further into the creative process.
In any event, I plan to write an update every Monday to talk about the process of "The Long Road Here" or things that happened on the long road here (thus the title). I'm still trying to figure out my weekly schedule after going from two part-time jobs to one full-time job, but I've settled on Monday updates.
See you next week!