2022-06-27 (Week 2221): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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 "Shadowscapes: 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): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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): The Long Road Here: 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 Shadowscapes: 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!