Saturday, August 16, 2014

Steampunk Lullaby Comments

Deacon Fawkes said "Steampunk Lullaby - Anthem to the Mysterious, a post apocalyptic anthem wrapped in retro splendour". Thanks Deacon. And my sister said "OMG THIS IS HORRIFIC LOL. I FEEL LIKE I AM IN AN OLD 40'S INSANE ASYLUM" Thanks, I think....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sometimes I Scare Myself - "Lobotomy Ward"

Where I grew up there was a very large asylum a few miles away that I had the chance to go into from time to time(as an employee in an unrelated capacity). While I am pretty sure there were no lobotomy patients(victims?) residing there I did see several very lost souls lounging about and often wondered what could be going on inside their heads. Then one day recently while I was experimenting with the effect settings on one of my guitar amplifiers I recorded what was to become the bed track for this song. Then I got out the synth and when I was done this is what I had recorded. As usual I left it for few days thinking I'll want to make some changes when I get back to it but when I listened to it a few days later the hair stood up on the back of my neck and I started to recall my visits to the asylum, so I left it as it was.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Night Circus

What goes on in the late night hours, long after the midway has closed down and the customers have gone home? I don't know either but when I thought about it for a while this song emerged. The entire piano track that carries the whole piece was written on a guitar being played fingerstyle but the piano track sounded more ominous to me. The weird groans and moans section was created by recording an electric guitar playing short slide licks which were then processed into one track with some going backwards and all fading in and out to make an eerie hodge podge. I had to get some "circus organ" in there as well and the songs ends with some harmonized electric guitar.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

November First Coming Down

All the parts of this song were recorded entirely in real time on real instruments. The first guitar you hear is a nylon string classical acoustic, when the strumming starts you hear a steel string acoustic which is joined by 3 electric guitar tracks playing in harmony for the "big ending". I'm playing a solid body electric bass throughout and all the synth parts were played, not programmed. There is no percussion here, I just couldn't here where it needed any. The title alludes to the day after halloween, the excitement is over and the good memories are mixed with anticipation for the next year's festivities. I'm considering working up a solo guitar version of this song, I really like playing the fingerstyle part it starts with and some friends and past musical collaborators are asking me to come out and do a few songs at one of the many open stage nights in my area. I used to frequent them in the past, it's a great way to test out songs and meet new people while reconnecting with old friends.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Red Narasimha

This song was inspired by a picture of an ancient Tibetan mask that has it's roots in early Tibetan mythology. The complete story is complicated, involving many long names and relationships but the gist of it is that "Hiranyakashipu"(Narasimha) had a visitation from "Lord Brahma" after many years of meditation on a mountain top and was informed he could not have immortality but he could choose his own "death wish". He then replied " let not death come to me either by man or beast, nor devil, nor god shall cause my death by day or by night with steel or stone or wood, indoors or outdoors, or earth or in sky. Grant me undisputed lordship over the world. Brahma agreed and Hiranyakashipu got his death wishes granted. Thus he became practically immortal."
Red Narasimha Mask

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Release the Bats"

This is probably the liveliest song I've ever written, a fairly busy bass guitar track drives it from start to finish with various percussion and synth treatments creating the "hectic bats" atmosphere. The outro features an electric guitar played by pushing the side of a pick up and down the strings in an almost bow like fashion while moving up and down the neck. I further altered the sound by mixing the main track with a reversed track. I think that makes three times I've used this technique on this album. For those into the finer points of mixing, I used "side chaining" on the bass guitar and drum tracks to get them to sit together right in the mix. They were fighting each other at first but this solved that, I think.

Monday, May 19, 2014

More Halloween, I'm Afraid - Recording Details

When I recorded this track I initially wrote the bass line and added a drum beat with the intention of writing a second part that would alternate with what I had so far. As happens sometimes when creating music, the plan changed and a "less is more" attitude was adopted. It seems I couldn't tear myself away from the bassline/beat combo and kept adding other instruments and sounds over it that I liked, and every new idea I tried for a second part just didn't fit in. Once I decided to go with this idea I recorded a couple of simple single note synth tracks while working the modulation control slightly at various points, making both of these tracks run for the entire length of the song. Then I mixed these two tracks together and started experimenting, when I reversed one of them and played them both back with one going backwards and one going forward I knew I had something. These are heard as a quiet sort of spooky wailing sound that goes up and down in intensity throughout the song. The brief synth lead at the beginning of the song was an aggressive lead setting I tend to favor and the actual melody is used again at the end of the song with an electric guitar. The so called "middle eight" that many songwriters refer to could be the section in between the synth intro solo and the guitar solo. Here I recorded several short passages of electric guitar played with a slide, in this case a glass bottleneck type. I faded these in and out while adding more eerie moaning sounds from the synth and a muted toy piano lick. There's also some additional percussion hits here. Then the song is taken over with a dark toned guitar solo that brings it to a close with the same lead the synth introduced at the start. This guitar solo was intended to be darker and quieter, I used an Epiphone Les Paul with the neck pick up and the guitars tone control turned completely to the bass end. There is distortion, reverb and digital delay on it but along with the dark bassy sound I kept the volume under control here because I didn't want it to sound too "rock show" and it fit better. To give it an even more mysterious sound I used an exotic Persian scale(1 - flat2 - 3 - 4 - flat5 - flat6 - 7) to break away from playing overworked pentatonic licks. Of course I do use a note here and there that doesn't belong in this scale but that's what makes improvising interesting.