Since I've read everything I've written before about the Crosses EP, I stumbled upon a to do list I did (ahahah) a while back. So yeah, guitar distortion.
Turns out to be that I had forgotten about having an amplifier for my guitar. Using the multi-effect pedal board as a compressor/denoiser/whatever, and the S-OD by boss, and playing it through the amp (which has no brand and it's really small and ugly), I get a very fuzzy, noisy distortion sound. I need to experiment with it, along with a condenser microphone, or something of the sort, to get a final sound, that's more analog than digital. To be honest, it's just a matter of location from there, and possibly the kind of microphone in use will be important too. I need to look into that, since the bit-crusher experiment didn't work so well. In the end, the sound I get is satisfying. It is both lo-fi and powerful, but not aggressive and overwhelming, like using too much of a bit-crusher for noise.
All right! Ok. I can do this! I can totally do this.
I'm more comfortable with experimenting with different styles, more open to try things in my songs.
Given that I have no one at my back giving me shit to have Crosses out in time, and that my own self imposed schedule collapsed a bit, I will take my sweet fucking time composing it.
I feel that, as I listen more and more to stuff like TWIABP or American Football, I am more comfortable with sound like that. Of course never forsaking either the chiptune/electronic influence, or the post-rock influence. Basically it would end up being some sort of chiptune YPOFH. I know I've given myself a lot labels this past few months, but I feel like it's all coming to an end. The "search for sound", as I work in the basement of my parents house, is coming to an end, where I finally know what kind of lyrics I want in my songs, what sort of melodies I want to achieve, the sort of instruments I want to use, the way I want to distribute them, which instrument is going to be more important, and so forth. Further seems forever.
And it's very interesting. Just today I've shown somebody something that was in a style closer to the indie/emo stuff, and they told me it was actually good (feedback is great). Now I've been giving it a try every now and again, but this I just woke up and thought "maybe this will actually work", and It seems to have worked. Of course it's not perfect, and needs a lot of doing, but that's the fun of it, right?.
I kind of never read back, so I guess I should start compiling ideas from a very long process of composing, and keep going once I've gotten myself a solid base. Guess I might do that just now.
I guess it's totally useless as long as I'm not making any fucking progress on Crosses. I'm afraid I may have forgotten about the actual message of the song, trying to focus my efforts on the style, and what goes where. Lots and lots of directions and "ideas" that turn to be nothing, eventually. I need some inspiration. Urgently.
I need not to freak out though., since I'm not exactly drained of ideas. Just a couple of days ago I recorded two sister songs. One was very much like a Diego Fontecilla song, very cinematic and crecendo. The other one, however was very much like a SPORT or TWIABP song. It would be interesting to do something where a cinematic song meets an indie, post-rock, emo song. Not a combination you see everyday.
Anyway. Due to lack of time I guess, and lack of motivation, of course, I won't be able to meet the deadline I put myself for the Crosses composing period (my friend was right: it's a fucking creative process, can't put a deadline to creativity). So I guess I'll take it easier from here on in. I don't want it becoming a chore like everything else, because there's only a long way from here. And I'm up for the challenge. MAN I AM DOWN WITH THE CLOWN ON THIS ONE.
Spontaneous to-do list:
-Finish composing (not a composition from Finland, you dum dum)
-Finding the right distortion for the guitar parts.
-Recording at a good quality, taking into consideration the engineering side of stuff
-Also learn mixing and master engineering basics
-Mix and master
-Also the cover for the EP
-Plan out a possible live set to present Crosses (this means looping/sampling stations, pedals, amps, keyboard controllers, synths, visuals, etc)
-The mysteries of release
-Think about a remotely possible physical release in vinyl/cassette tape formats.
-Think about a remotely possible label collab. (not)
All right, major progress right about now (at least I think it's major... i don't know... like... whatever...)
Tested the intro structure for Playa Chica, and it kinda sounds good with a bass drum beat, and two extra guitars. But not only that, it could even be shorter than what I thought, and the bridge could be something more ambient-y sounding. Instead of a dredg-like bridge, something more like a lowercase noises bridge, which then results into a different chord progression.
Right now I'm thinking maybe follow the same progression than in the bridge, and then, after a few bars, start with the longer chord progression (which I'm starting to like, btw), and do the part I was thinking about. After this, another clean guitar only section, but this time with a faster paced drum beat, building up to the final part of the song.
Right before the end, maybe close it up with clean guitars, a synth, no drums, and a couple of voices singing melodically, so that the last thing said echoes into Terminal. I'm also thinking right now that to get that fuzzy/noisy distortion sound I'm currently not getting, I should add a bitcrusher (like the Decimort) to the guitar. I will try that out.
(Is 25 going to be the one until I'm done? hope not, would be weird and all. But still...) As I anticipated, before I even started, in the process of recording composing the last two songs for the Crosses EP, I started stumbling upon other songs, in much different styles. It's ok, though, since these songs will be in the Playa en Invierno thingy (Remix EP, or Single release, or B-Side or whatever) One of them, for example is to be something in the style of Talk Talk's I believe in You. Although not a proper cover, it's going to use sampled drums from the song. Don't know how it'll work out. Another one, which I recently finished (cof cof yesterday cof cof), is something between Nightmares on Wax's Argha Noah, Boards of Canada-ish music and synth-pop.-
I honestly wish to get a hit on Playa Chica's melody soon. I've set up deadlines and I intend to keep them.
I can't fucking believe it's been three weeks already, almost a moth. Wait, what? a month.
Sure, I've done stuff. In fact I had the idea for a pretty sweet duo of songs about the Apollo-Soyuz project and it's pretty pleasant to hear. But while I've been experimenting around, trying to find a way to escape boredom, I seem to forget I have a SHIT TON of projects in the waiting.
And now, as it's fucking freezing, I think it's time to go back, full throttle, and do with this what I intended to do in the first place. REPORT *loudly sing-y voice*
So first in today's menu is having a dear friend, and supporter, be successful, but not only that, but also be inclined into giving you part of that success. He asked me to be part of the release of his work, by being the music in a video he is making to promote his stuff. Frankly, I almost shit myself with the idea that someone with so much potential and creativity and a gorgeous aesthetics idea might consider me, a peasant, for promoting his work. Truly great. Had only to give the best of me.
Second in today's menu is the fact that lately I seem to have met quite a lot of nice people who are into working with me, doing stuff together. The feeling of people saying "We could do something together in the future maybe, you know?" is so fucking gratifying, elating and inspiring, I burst into rainbows, man. I've also stumbled upon people who consider my work to be good enough to share in other languages (like hungarian. IKR), and saying nice things even about stuff I recorded years and years ago, when I knew nothing.
It's true that maybe this past few months have been difficult for other reasons (not gonna complain, not gonna whine), but it's stuff like these things that make me stronger, make me want to carry on. Make me daydream about projects, get lost in ideas. Meeting nice people is so fruitful for the mind, such a nutritive thing to do with your time (yeah ok maybe there's something going on there but SHUT YOUR TRAP).
Last in today's menu is possibly one of the most important things to happen yet. I FUCKING FINALLY got my hands on an audio interface. YES MOFOs, now I can record my instruments in fucking studio quality. I'm pretty fucking excited, yet I haven't had the time to record anything. But soon.
As I mentioned to a couple of friends, and my mum, if things go well (and I intend them to), I will have finished recording, mixing and mastering Crosses by the end of the winter. I even thought of asking people to help me expand the "Crosses Experience" and do a little extra after the release, so people get actually excited about it. I want it to be good, and I get all hyped up about it.
I wish I wish I wish.
I may be forgetting something but I guess suddenly there's a lot going on.
Oh yah! Got access to a MIDI controller to. It has a little bit of latency, but what the hell, it works great so far, and it was free for me, so no complaints there.
Anyway; as always I haven't been around much. What brings me here today? I've got a week worth of "free time", so I plan to spend it doing stuff. I will continue reworking songs.
This time it's "Cloudy Skies Clear at Dawn".
First off the influences: I've been listening to a band called I Am Waiting for you Last Summer, and awesome mixture of post-rock and electronic music. I've also been listening to a whole bunch of stuff by Boards of Canada. I think that a good way to go with this is to make one of the versions very oriented towards indie music; something that sounds like Alt-J or The XX (somewhat, idk. In fact, the tr 808 has a very distinct sound I plan to use), and the other version (the "electronic" one) to be more oriented towards a Tangerine Dream type of thing.
I've been trying to get the time to do this for a while now, probably more than a week. SO I've set everything up already, and tomorrow I'll give myself the time to focus on this entirely. I still don't have a clear notion of how it's going to be, but I'll give it a fair try.
I'll update in a few hours. Wish us luck. Mutant and proud.
I'm gonna write this down here too, although I already wrote it on my notebook.
(Finally) I've got an idea for crosses 3rd track Playa Chica (the most important of them all). Up to this point, I had only one concrete idea for that song: a starting melody and a bunch of chord progressions, but other than that nothing really concrete.
Since that song is probably the most important in the album, it needs to be intense, but not with a lot of layers and overloading it with instruments. It's easy to overwhelm a song with too many instruments when you can simulate most of them. I decided the song needs at least four instruments plus drums.
I realized, however, that instruments coming in in steps is rather boring. I also realized that it should start with the same pads from the end of Playa Grande, since all of that fades away in the previous track. I decided it should start with the melody mentioned earlier, and at some point other instruments, plus drums, come in. This will give intensity to the melody (there's a cool scheme of this on the notebook).
Also, as an attempt to follow a given motif for this Crosses EP, Playa Chica should have less synth instruments than the previous song (Playa Grande). The idea is to go from a full synthesized song, to an almost all "analog" song, as the album progresses. This, however, won't be complete, since there's still have to be synthesized instruments in the last song (Terminal), like synth drums or something else.
New projects, beat making and the wonders of macro blogging.
This quote, attributed to Albert Camus:
"Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend."
that actually belongs to a Jewish kid song, made a new idea click inside my head.
I decided what to do with all of those old songs I've been "composing" through the last years, ever since I wrote Momentum. The idea started as a I reworked a song I recorded during some sort of improv session I did last year, and seems pretty consistent with all of this. Gives a good space for all those songs that don't really belong anywhere else to be presented to the public (?). The idea is the following: a two part album with six songs each. One album will consist of re-written version of the songs, will the corresponding analog instruments, and only the right amount of synthesized stuff, much like if it were any of the rest of the albums. On the other hand, the second part of the album is going to be almost completely synthesized. With the discovery of the automation in Cubase, things can really be done now. But that is not all: the songs that go in the fisrt part of the album are going to be the same songs as in the second part (Wait, WHAAAAAAAAAaaa). Yes, this gives me space to rework something into a much more electronic variation of melodies, which is really appealing for me right now. And it express something about duality and whatnot. (I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir!)
The name for this two-parter is going to be (possibly): "Don't follow, for I won't lead. Don't lead, for I won't follow". And the songs that are going to be in this selection are:
- Someday, You Will Be Somebody Else's Happy Place - The Ascent - Momentum
- The Stairs of a Metro Station - The Cold Sunny Morning of the Last Day of Fall - Cloudy Skies Clear at Dawn
Though some of these songs have a very clear structure, very few are completed (they are mostly recorded on one session, and they are something of an improvisation in a bunch of different tracks, so there's no clear tempo, structure and leading melody), so it's imperative to rework these songs into something with short duration. The idea is to make a 30-ish minute album with each part, sort of following an EP structure, and something that can eventually put into a physical release (a cassette tape is 60 min long, on the average).
It's fun that I though of doing this in the near future, because the songs are already there, and though they aren't all time favorites (Aurora Australis broke the hundred plays mark in something like a month, and I'm seriously thinking of starting with that as a sell), but it is something I need to do and it will be fun too, exploring with automation, getting versed in sampling and remixing.
Finally tomorrow I'll have some time to work on stuff. Life is difficult for the failed engineer. Times is hard. NOT. No, not really. I basically wanted to write about the time I first laid hands on a Moog synth, which was today. I tested the Minimoog Voyager, on a synth store downtown. It was all I ever expected.
I've been gathering circuit information to make a whole lot of stuff. Here's what has been on my mind lately: - Finishing my oscillator is a must. - Building a sequencer. I seem to have all the data. - Building a VCF filter - Building (somehow) a tape delay with cassette tapes. - Building an analog mono delay pedal - Building a wee-mixer for a guitar. There's word that there are some of them on the interwebs.
Also, speaking of the synth-thing (nothing but a synth thang), I learnt how to vary the duty of the Monotron's LFO signal, so now I can make beats with that, and bass lines and it's pretty rad.
That's it. I gotta do stuff. This is what it's all about.
Alright, ok. It's true, I haven't done much lately.
Is times like these where I start getting worried, because there's a bunch of ideas in my head but I can't quite execute them, and it sucks. I came to the conclusion that I need to rework a lot of stuff. Everything from last years autumn to spring season, should be redone for a number of reasons, the most important being that I didn't think of them as songs, but as improvisation sessions, and they have no tempo or structure, and it stings a bit. (I just dropped my ice cube, literally) ("Dropping the ice cube", is that a sex thing?). Anyways, it might be a good start for making some ideas, that are moderately good, into something more ambient/electronic/lo-fi oriented. Also a good chance to test some drums, and learn to make stuff like the Superior Drummer and the Famitracker to coincide.
Oh yes, also I've been trying to cover the new Cosmos theme into something more Vangelis-like (it's probably some sort of publicity stunt going in my head but it might just work).
After watching some of Daniel Öhman's live performances for his Halo of Pendor project, I've come up with an idea for material that is suitable for a live performance as a solo project.
I came up with the idea so I'll just write it here while it's still in my head. First of is the drums: relaying on a drum machine, or a sampled drum is the way to go. It's simpler and it's much more authentic than a playback track with drums.
Also: only up to two guitars should be good. Or maybe even one guitar and one other instrument like piano or a pad. This should also be backed with other instruments, either analog or electronic.
About singing: this is a much more personal way to put things, so singing should be an option. However, always following a much more electronic oriented line, the voice should be modulated by a vocoder, using a pulse wave as modulation.
So in live performances both the guitar and the voice are played live, and even the modulating track, and possibly the other instruments that accompany the main guitar could be introduced before the actual song starts. So the on stage performance can be made with a guitar, a set of pedals, a computer and a midi controller, occasionally accompanied by other instruments.
This is a much more minimalist installation, and responds to a more personal and laid back performance.
Today a friend contacted me, and asked me If I was able to do a show for her school. She needed someone to play music in front of people.
I told her I couldn't do it because I didn't have the gear for that (NO MAN! NO MAN!). And while that is certainly true (I could make do with an amplifier, a midi controller and a good enough mixer), the main reason why I said no is because I haven't really thought about it. The idea of performing in front of people is quite appealing, but If I intend to do it, I will do it with quality (and dignity). Letting your music be know to people is about how you present yourself to the public as an artist. If you stand in front of a group of people and show them a bunch of instruments sounding strange, some too loud, some too faint, some to dirty and some to boring, and out of tune, rusty guitar and song that doesn't have a body, then people will take you for an amateur, a guy who doesn't really put much attention to it.
However, I try hard not to be like that. I try to put on a respectable amount of quality into my work, no matter the limitations. This is the reason why I haven't begun to sell stuff, even though I have a good amount of music to offer, and more on the way.
Just for the sake of preparation, though, if somehow the opportunity presents itself, I will prepare material to play live, and study the way to do it.
The Monotron Chronicles. It hasn't even been a week, but the Monotron Delay came to me as a gift from space (a meteorite?!!1). Analog Synthesis is just beautiful. The thing is that being able to bend sound in such a way, with a slight turn of a knob, is not from this world. Anyway, I've spoken long about analog synthesis and it's pretty clear how much I love it. However, it's not exactly all that brings me here today. I spent the whole day yesterday recording an experimentation on a melody played in the Monotron. I have to say I'm pretty impressed by the way such a short, uplifting melody (rather exploratory), can change so much. So, even in spite of all the tech difficulties, and quality limitations, the results are positive.
I told myself I was not gonna upload it, but so far the response has been pretty good.
I got my hands on my first analog synth ever! the Korg Monotron Delay is here to stay, and it is SICK. I believe it holds the voices of all the people that have ever tried to scream in space. I recorded a first track with it (on the chords for Penelope), and it is very versatile, as in can be a noise maker, a lead synth or a bassline, and even a little robot doing it's thing in space. This is all about space.
Also: Acquired new VST instruments and plugins, that are here to stay. The Wave - Mercury plug-in bundle, without which I wouldn't have been able to record the Monotron (the analog hiss is nice, but jeez!). Also u-he's ACE and Filterscape, Toontrack's Superior Drummer 2.0 and Applied Acoustics Lounge Lizard Electric Piano.
I believe with all of these I pretty much cover all the bases, from electric pianos to modular synthesis and noise making. Also, Wave's potential for mastering and doing quality music is just uncanny. It's the ultimate thingy and I do hope I can learn how to use it.
I really need to star defining musical motifs for the story. However, to do so, I can't be the killer I once was... uh... to do so I need to organize a real story in my head. Up until now I've gotten to a few conclusions.
The first one is that Arps reflect anxiety and despair in the main character. For instance, in Pictures from our Ship, the arp is very subtle and it follows the lead around, as if thoughts creeping behind the main idea. In Life Support the arp breaks into the music in the climax (the arp starts the climax), which would coincide with the part of the story in which the main character faces certain death. Also, Back to Penelope is one big arp, so it reflects the anxiety of the main character about his home being desolated, about his family being in danger.
The second one is the identification of the topics that need to have a motif. These topics, rather than being characters or entities, are going to be feelings, states of mind, etc. Some of these topics are:
-Homesickness, love of the main character for his family, memories.
-Desolation, despair, the lost of faith and depression.
-Resolution, strength to face obstacles.
To name more topics would be forcing this too much. That's the reason why the story has to be looked into with more detail. Though the story-line is somewhat settled, environments, settings and characters have to be defined. However not complex or with a background necessarily, but psychologically determined. The story is a tragedy, and feeling is what I'm to focus on.
A short, but important one. The genre orientation it's finally decided. I've fallen in love with oscillators, envelopes, bitcrushers, and electronics in general, but I cannot leave behind that old post-rock love for analog instruments like glockenspiels, trumpets and melodicas.
Also, if I'm gonna have to sample most drums, and if they are going to sound robotic in essence (for the most part), I say lets make them truly electronic, and add bitcrushers and distortions to them. So, all in all, I'll try to orient my work in that direction.
Okay, okay. I haven't been writing much, but that is because I haven't been doing much. However it doesn't surprise me, nor upset me, because I've done a bunch of good things. Set a couple of goals, and even define the style as a whole.
Even though I haven't been writing a lot on this blog, there's a physical worklog too. And it records ideas I have during commute time, and while I'm in college.
Anyways, here's today entry.- I noticed, when I finished recording the second draft of it (little less than a year ago), that Go Big or Go Home has a couple of sections that are redundant. It's for another time for me to break it down, but here's what I mean. Right before the start of the first power chord section, there's a part in which all instrument decrease volume, reaching almost silence. This part is redundant because of two reasons: The song had just gotten stronger right before that part, and also there's a section, towards the end of the song, when the fourth motif is developing, where instruments go silent to let the voices sound clean. This whole situation is to be fixed with sampled drums. This would also help to change the feeling of that section, going from extremely calm to impatient/anxious/optimistic, and far more upbeat. This would let me add a crecendo bass drum or tom, so the change into power chords is not so abrupt, but still explosive enough. This might resolve into a modification fo the composition, however not too imperative. All of this leads me to realize that a combination of synth/sampled drums and analog drums enriches the sound of the song, and also allows more complexity, and is it far easier to achieve (physically and money-wise). I will look into all of this soon enough.
Because I already wrote about this in the morning on my worklog notepad.
The video for Back to Penelope is LIVE. It's not exactly what I expected it to be, but to be honest I didn't have a clue of what I wanted it to be. It's trippy as balls.
Also: GLITCHES ARE AWESOME.
I guess my main motivation was to use royalty free stock footage, because that way it's easy to achieve a feeling that is related to the era from which the inspiration for Back to Penelope comes from. Everything had to be space themed, everything had to be before the eighties. Everything had to low quality.
The thing is, the idea had been going around my head for a while now, and today I just had the time and felt like I was up to the task. It is a whole lot of work though. A shit-ton of work.
These days I've had nothing but a few flashes of ideas. Here's what I got so far:
-For Playa Chica from the Crosses EP project I've decided a couple of things: The first is that it doesn't have to be that much tied in with Playa Grande at the very beginning, thus diminishing the amount of pads (the same that are present by the end of Playa Grande).
The second thing is that Instead of an ambient presence, there should be a more Indie-emo-punk thing going on, like something out o Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson or many o the indie-emo-punk bands out there, that make music so beautiful. The right amount of clean pr slightly over-driven guitars should give it the energy I need. Besides, since it's meant to be close to 10 minutes long, there's room for variation. As for Terminal, also from Crosses, it should be a place to experiment with other analog instruments, such as a glockenspiel, melodica and trumpet, but also coexisting with very lo-fi sounds, such as square or saw leads, and triangle pads, and D16 drums. These two tracks combined shall have a running length of 14-15 minutes.
-The theme for Shifting Lights will be more related to water and the sea (what?), since the sister song is First Dive in the Ocean. The singing melody is yet to be composed, and the lyrics yet to be written, but there are a few ideas here and there. I will seek for inspiration in Youth Pictures', The World is a Beautiful Place's and Yo La Tengo's style of writing, and probably singing too.
-I will make a data bank of sampled drums, exploring with band equalizers, distortion and compression. Hopefully I will get some interesting sounds.
Turns out, there's a big difference between what you are supposed to do, and what you actually end up doing.
I just did this pretty little thing (yes, I'm actually proud of this one, as with all of them), and it turned out to be what I wanted to do a long time ago.
I set myself to experiment with reverb, to achieve a very modern ambient sound, like in some of umber's or EF's songs. I ended up using 3 reverb thingies: The pedal reverb, in the pedal pre-amping the guitar, one reverb with a lot of release in the envelope, but still mostly dry, a delay processor, with low mix and lots of feedback, and another, wet-only, reverb. It sounded pretty much like what I was expecting.
The funny thing is that I had this project from a few days ago, in which I intended to do some ambient music using only synths, that was leading me nowhere. I had this idea in my head that sounded god on the piano, but pretty bad with anything else. It was very sad tune too. However, once I reached the reverb effect I wanted, I combined the untitled project with the reverb guitar. At first it sounded pretty bad, but then I decided to change key, and make a more hopeful song. I also used a D-16 drum machine, and it turned out to be pretty useful.
Once it was done, however, it had no name, so I decided to call it Aurora Australis, one of the names I had put aside for the Atlas to the Austral Skies project, an album or EP revolving around the concept of star-gazing and space watching from the southern hemisphere. It might sound crazy, but when I took the trip down south a bunch of weeks ago, I could almost hear this song when I looked up in the sky. So yeah, here it is.
Also, I only have 10 minutes left on the soundcloud page, which is bad. So there's two things: I either find a way of paying for a pro account, or I start making videos for some of the songs and post them somewhere like vimeo or youtube. I think the later is a pretty good idea, and I have footage enough to make a couple of videos already.
It might seem like I'm a little too persuadable on my side, but I'm gonna apply a couple of the ideas I read last night on Kleon's book. I'm gonna jump in between my projects so I don't get sick of them, and I'm gonna let my limitations be as inspirational as the next inspirational thing.
So I'm gonna go to work on Safe, Away from the City, from the (supposedly) self-titled album. What I'm gonna do first is try to get a better structure, more ambient-ish, and maybe even more Yo La Tengo oriented.
Also, I'll try to make do with what I have: where I want trumpets I'll put very fat-sounding synths, where I want strings I will go with processed guitars and something more b-bit sounding, obviously saving the proportions of what the actual track with only analog instruments will be.
It might be a good experiment, and might even set up a way to combine both lo-fi nintendo-ish sounds with the analog, more classic post-rock elements. Even If i can't record it, it's about time I did something with my hands.
I just finished reading "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon. I got a digital copy from a Facebook friend, a very good and talented musician. And I read it while listening to I am Responsible by EF and Meaningless by Jon Brion.
It was exactly what I need right now. It didn't exactly take away my feeling down altogether, but it sure boosted my spirit. It is a truly inspiring book. It goes through most of the things I've been insecure about, or the habits I've taken in (like this blog). Everything from getting stuff done to how to avoid being disappointed about the internet reaction to your work.
In the end publishing that statement on Facebook earlier did really pay off, with an amazing book, offers of future collaboration, hearts and nice words. It was good after all.
That's it. Just like Ice Cube sang: It was a good day.
Am I an attention whore?, am I really aching s much to be noted? Or is it that I want people to hear my work, which I know is not the greatest quality, but at least as a showcase of what I can do with my passing creativity?
I do feel, though, that I am aiming at the wrong target. I can't treat my facebook friends as audience, but I know it is time to keep going forward, to push towards greater things, so I can migrate to where I can find real audience.
But that is being an attention whore, I don't want to be an attention whore (whore whore whore). I want to be recognized for my music. Maybe this was a big step, one that could make the whole thing more vulnerable, but I think it is time to slow down, keep it cool, and do things in their right time. Once I have enough money to buy the three or four essential things I need, I'll be able to record albums, to release them, and then I'll be recognized for what I do.
It is dangerous to go at it alone, but I don't have an option. I've struggled (really?) to find partnership, but all I get is "yeah, maybe i could do it, i don't know", or simply lack of results. But I know I can do it on my own, I am capable.
You'd think depression strikes when you are overwhelmed with feelings, and such. You'd think, consequently, that when depression strikes, along comes a sudden burst of magnificent inspiration, and great things are done. And you'd be right sometimes, but most of the times, when depression strikes, you just wanna lay in bed and do nothing. Sometimes, even, that depression strikes due to a lack of inspiration in the first place, and you feel that everything you've done up to that point is garbage.
This is all very frustrating because I do want to do things. I do want to compose a pretty melody for Penelope, and I do want to revisit The Cold Sunny Morning of the Last Day of Fall (which was a people's favorite last year), and I do want to remix it, record new parts, take out the old ones, and make it a good song. And I do want to keep working on the Crosses EP. I do, I really do, my fingers are itchy for some muzak, but for the life of me, I can't seem to get the right inspiration.
Here's something worth making a note about (the whole reason to live for this blog: ideas). It's a pretty simple musical concept but, fuck, why didn't I think about it before?!.
Here's the thing: You know (no you don't) how Back to Penelope sounds so violent, and it gives you this feeling of hopelessness and anxiety (oh my god, what?), and also how Penelope is meant to be a pretty tune that makes you feel homesick, almost as if the message of the song were to cherish what you have, because it is beautiful? Well, The secret to making both songs related by anything other that the name, is to go from minor to mayor chords. Or at least that's what I think. Maybe it'll work. We'll see.
That Idea from last night finally paid off. It not only was simple, but it also left a lot of space for improvisation, which in this case I really enjoyed. The final track (as always, everything is open to changes in the future, but still) was really what I expected, and even though it wasn't a controlled environment, fit for improvisation, I did the best I could with what I had. Turned out to be pretty decent and yes, I am proud of this one.
Maybe, like most of my stuff, it won't appeal to the general public, but as long as I'm proud of it, It's ok. At first I thought it was gonna be like Says by Nils Frahm (mentioned it earlier), but it turned out to be much more hostile and much more violent. This is funny because I intend Penelope to sound like home: mellow, happy, maybe a little bit nostalgic too, a lot of homesickness and whatnot, but since this was so much like the opposite of that, I named it Back to Penelope (for reasons that will be explained later).
It is totally not post-rock, which is good, for it means that I'm not closing my creativity to only one genre, but many, and different.
At last, I learnt how to do what I wanted to do with drums a hundred days ago! That simple but cool effect in the drums that you can hear on TWDY's A Three-legged Workhorse or in When The Clouds' The Dawn and The Embrace. Turns out it was a simple task. Now it will only take some time and patience to achieve the sound I'm looking for in each track, and possibly All The King's Horses won't need a drummer with physical (analog?) drums.
On another note, I decided to go social media with AtKH. Both the Twitter account and the Facebook page went live today, with moderate success. For the next release, which I hope will be pretty soon (probably a remixing/revisiting of some of the revisit-able songs), I will go public for realzies, posting on groups and stuff.
On a third, slightly related, note. Last night I took the time to go a little farther with the cross-like image for AtKH (which is probably ill advised by my more good-artistic-taste friends, but hell, It's already done, and It can always change). Anyway, here's what turned up.
Only that they come when you decide to go to bed after a long day of fiasco and mishaps. But still, a good arp, good improvisation, and finally a chance to use properly those Kraftwerk and Vangelis sounding synth presets I had laying around. Once it's polished, It'll be time to start working on Penelope, I hope that around that time I get enough ideas.
I've gone mad. Well, not like mad mad, but as the song says, slightly mad.
To use the Reddit slang, TIL how to record and amplify my voice using a speaker, and also how to make sound using only a battery. It's little experiences like this that make me wanna do more stuff, and help me familiarize with this sort of things.
On a slightly related note, the Penelope thing yesterday was a fiasco. I guess I'm not in the place to do the song (lack of inspiration or what have you), but that is completely normal and I do not freak out about it. However, in light of today's discoveries, I think I will make the whole FMOst, or at least Penelope, more experimental-oriented, experimenting with feedback and possibly, if I get my hands on some old toys, a little bit of circuit bending too. Being able to record it will be a challenge (probably a frustrating one), but I think it is very much worth it. I mean, dude, I can record sound using a speaker. Not a microphone, A FUCKING SPEAKER.
To conclude, life and nature is amazing and one should never seize to be amazed by all of it.
On another, very unrelated note, and continuing the break from the Crosses EP, I will probably get to work on a song for the FMOst (Forgotten Moon Original Sound Track, name subject to much change), which I like to call Penelope. All the listening to Nils Frahm's Says and Tangerine Dream and Trent Reznor & Nine Inch Nails, makes me want to make some awesome chord/arpeggio kind of thing.
Just to talk about it: the FMOst started as the idea of musicalizing (is that a thing?) a story about space colonies, war, family and loss, which I've intended, unsuccessfully, to make into a text game, a side scroller shooter, and an RPG video game. Or, for that matter, a proper story. I'll get into all of that, in detail, later.
I will take a break from writing about the Crosses EP (next I'll talk about Playa Grande), to talk about the I Dream Of Wires documentary.
Granted I haven't finished watching it yet (the hardcore edition is around 4 hours long, and I decided to watch it in parts, so all the information really syncs in), I'll just say it is a documentary that explores the world of synthesized music, and more specifically, the Modular synthesizer.
Since the beginnings of time, when I decided to enroll my ass into a University and study Electrical Engineering, I had one goal in mind: I wanted to canalize the acquired knowledge in electricity, electromagnetism and electronics, into something that would collide into music. Much like all the new musical instruments that, I knew, were created around that time, I wanted to have a part in that in the future. A couple of years later, when I took a class about the evolution of music in the XX century, I stumbled upon thins like magnetic tape recording, the Theremin or the Ondes Martenot, and I was fascinated by the power of electronics in music. Fascinated by how circuits could create sound. That is when I first wanted to build a Theremin.
A year after that, I found out about the existence of the E-bow, and again I wanted to build a circuit, and be able to create sound not only by playing strings or buttons, but also by applying whatever knowledge I had. Sadly, life caught up.
Today, I have been watching an inspiring documentary about engineers making sounds, setting the bases for a whole lot of genres, for the music of the future, and again I'm stroked by the simplicity of how it all starts. So I decided I will build these things. I will study it's components (finally!) and make them on my own. I hope I will get working on a simple oscillator and a very rustic E-bow, and see how things turn.
Also, in the documentary it's mentioned how computer generated music (with vsts for example) sounds so great, but after a while you just wish to be able to get away from the screen an still be able to make that amazing music. I've felt this myself, and now I wish I had a Modular Synthesizer of some kind. Maybe that's why I want an oscillator: it's not gonna be exactly the same, but hell, it's still fun.
Since, like most of you must have already noticed (there's no one here), I finally uploaded Ruta 78 to Soundcloud, I ended up setting up the A side from Crosses EP for everybody to hear. So I had to make a little something to make it more appealing to the eye (I guess, I don't know. I tried, though). Here are some of the results.
Since there's still no definitive font, I decided to either go typewriter or really, Japanese-like, slim. On another note: FUCK it is frustrating to be so limited when it comes to sound cards. I can't believe how long it took me to get a decent enough mix, without stupid cuts and glitchy sound. I guess there's still a long way to go (No, I don't guess, I know).
Apparently, the VSTi programming part for Ruta 78 is ready (except for a few changes I might do in the future, the song is basically what it is right now). After three days of working, lots of VST instrument tracks and group channels, and a series of fuck ups, the song turned out to be what I intended.
It's funny because, since Playa Grande (the track that comes immediately after Ruta 78) was composed before, Ruta 78 worked as a variation on the melody and harmony of Playa Grande, exploring in 4/4 instead of 3/4, and in a slightly slower tempo. In the end, it was what I had in mind a bunch of months ago when I got to work on Playa Grande; an ambient track, with heavy influence by lo-fi music, and also influenced by Disasterpiece's work on the FEZ and The Floor is Jelly soundtracks.
By the end of the process, I guess I started seeing all my limitations sound-card-wise. There were so many virtual instrument tracks playing at the same time, that at some point this machine could not allow me to play the music and edit it at the same time. The ASIO usage was on red most of the time. Anyway, luckily once the track is exported as an audio mixdown, the sound-card was able to do it's job.
As I mentioned in #2, I intended to merge the songs by pairs into a project, simulating a recording on a 15 minute tape, so there is a Side A and B. With the length of Ruta 78 already established, Side A's skeleton is complete, and it is a very elegant 14 minutes and 30 seconds long. I hope Ruta 78 and Playa Grande fit together positively nicely.
Now, going into detail.
About the name; Ruta 78 is the technical (what?) name for a toll highway called Autopista del Sol, and yes, you guessed it, it's the highway you take when you want to go from Santiago to Las Cruces. So that's the name, nothing really cryptic or poetic about it, huh? I guess I wanted to go simple on this. Unlike the titles for songs in the other projects, the titles here are pretty simple, the actual deep emotional meaning is given by the places themselves. I guess artwork will have to help in that matter, when the time comes.
On a more technical note (again, what?), I applied a number of tricks I gathered experimenting for the Forgotten Moon OST project ("wow! from, like, a movie called Forgotten Moon?" uh no. I'll get into that later), like a synth bass that, with the right amount of delay and reverb, creates a great soundscape, or like the TAL Bitcrusher, which is great for adding some well adjusted noise to the soundscape. I love the word soundscape: soundscape soundscape soundscape.
Although I'm reluctant to upload the song to Soundcloud, since the analog instrument parts are yet to be done, it might be good in the way of a demo, or preview or whatever. Plus it's been months since I uploaded anything (again, technical limitations are a bitch). If anything, I'll edit this post later to add the song, or link said song to the post, via Soundcloud (Soundcloud is a pretty rad name too).
Yeah, Crosses is the name of the EP I'm currently working on (as douchy as that sounds). The name comes from a place in what is called the Litoral Central here in Chile: Las Cruces. Although I've been there only once, it has a certain meaning. It's memory is herald to happier, maybe much naiver times. So yeah, Crosses.
As far as today, It's a project I've been developing by myself, and it takes inspiration from many places. The final Idea is meant to be a council between lo-fi, chiptune, ambient, post-rock and shoegaze music. The track list goes as follows:
The four track format seems adequate, since it is meant to be presented as Extended Play. I also thought that the tracks could be put together as would-be 15 minute tapes, which would define two pairs of tracks, so that Side A would consist of Ruta 78 and Playa Grande, and Side B would consist of Playa Chica and Terminal.
The overall feel for the EP is related with the feeling of doing a road-trip to a beach not far away (much like the experience of going from Santiago to Las Cruces). So, for the most part, the mellow, laid back feel of ambient music is going to be imperative.
I will go into detail with every track separately, and it is probable that there will be a fifth track, although I will try not to break the balance that a four-track format has.
As of today, I am currently working on Ruta 78, an introspective song, mostly inspired by umber's take on ambient music, but with a large presence of synths (and probably a bit of an abuse of it), much like in the rest of the songs. Also, the second track, Playa Grande, is already released, but mostly as a showcase of what the album will be in the future, and it will be also edited further, later.
The artwork is yet to be created/determined. A picture will most likely do, but there's still the issue of finding a font that represents in an honest way what All The King's Horses is all about. Funny enough, though, a friend visited me today and showed me a picture of her trip down south, and I believe the picture is very, very (man, it is VERY) close to what I want, and even though I would prefer a picture from actual Las Cruces, I think it will do nicely.
I think this EP should give a good glimpse of what All The King's Horses can sound like, even though the synth use in the future is not as large as here. But fuck it, I always wanted to do chiptune music and post-rock is amazing, so If this turns out to be something like ambient Noisewaves, all the better.
I admit it. I was watching The Social Network a while back and I watched how Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg blogged through Livejournal how he hacked these databases and told everybody how his recent ex was a bitch. I found the idea very appealing. However, since I don't have the equipment for making recorded notes (which is kind of ironic, considering the craft I chose) much like Josh Robert Thompson here, I have to make do with what I have. This one, the first one, is gonna be a long one, because there's a lot to say. This blog is supposed to be a work log, or Work-blog for the kids. What?. Maybe as a way to keep track of what I do, or want to do, or ideas I have when there's not enough time to focus on making them happen, or there's technical limitations, or I am drunk or having an out of body experience. But fuck it (I used a cuss word there, did ya' see? I said fuck it, because I don't care, and I am a rebel), if I'm gonna rant, I will rant, or if I want to panic, I will very eloquently panic about existence an such. All of that aside, I am gonna state that I used to run another blog (which, in time and under the circumstances, became a vlog, no videos involved), but I wanted everything to be perfect and stuff. Not with this one, this one comes out once and that is all. No edition, no literary bullshit (maybe). There's a lot to be done, over the course of this year. Why this year? you ask (you probably don't). Because I am tired of waiting, and you gotta make things happen or else you end up waiting. FOREVER. So this year. I'm gonna set up dead lines, I'm gonna work regularly, I'm gonna get feedback, the whole nine yards. There is a lot to be bought, lost of equipment to be installed, and quite possibly, many manuals to be read. There's also a lot to be learnt, to be asked about, the information is all there. There's the Forgotten Moon scoring, the All The King's Horses self-titled album, and the Crosses EP, (not to mention the whole Atlas for the Austral Skies/scattered songs issue). The first two require more work, so in the nearest future I'll be focusing my attention on the latest. I'll get to all of those in time, but not right now. All in all (always wanted to say that, and probably got it wrong anyway), there is a lot to rant about too. There's the lack of time, the unwanted/wanted/loved/hated career, the lack of money, the possible/hoped for job, the afterlife, the lack of snow in this city, the heat, etc. Oh, and the lack of fellow musicians. Fuck that. Introduction? My buttocks. I've written about it before, and may I say, much more metaphorically, and cryptically (can't believe that is a thing). Although, since the last time I bragged about trying to be a musician I probably became a real musician and understood I'm no better than the next guy who does things, or any neighbor for that matter. There's a lot of coincidence involved, but I will redact that part out of the story for now. The thing is, ever since everything went to shit in my personal, sentimental, professional (? what?) life, I recovered that same creativity I had many years ago, during the Childhood/Momentum/Thoughtful era. Somehow, during the course of the past year, my mind started racing, I felt the need to do more, to have more resources, to show my work to more people, to listen to more music, and to explore. I am a fucking Conquistador now. My Soundcloud page got richer, and it no longer held all of the things I did. I learnt how to filter my work, how to release it periodically, and ever since I've gotten collaboration requests, commissions, kudos, salutations, and really good feedback, from people in and out of the scene. I've meet real musicians, I've been encouraged to keep working, get better, to keep up the good work. I broke the fucking 1k listens wall. You may say it's not that much, to which I reply "HOLY FUCKING MACARONI, JOHNNY". It was ground breaking for me. I got to be part of the community, my work was recognized, enjoyed. Once I said: "If I ever reach one person, at least one who enjoys what I do, It'll be pay-off". Now look. I told you I could do it, Mom!. (Nah, my Mommy is cool). I got to experiment with a studio piano, which was a huge boost for all these things I do, but also got to experiment with VSTi, specially the fxpansion, the simpler 8 and 16 bit oscillators, and Zebra2, which is basically a virtual Modular Synthesizer. And there's still so much more I to experiment with, to explore. This new America thingy is pretty awesome. And then there's all the incredible music. So many creative peoples in this world. So many kind peoples in the world. So many beautiful tunes, inspiring songs, quality works, and humbleness. There's such good music out there, from different countries, backgrounds and objectives. It amazes me how creative the human being can be. It brings me hope for the race, and such. Lastly (for now), it never hurts to acknowledge where is home. And it never hurts to know where you're going.