Production

Tracking and Titles

Somehow, I’m finding a decent amount of time to work on this album. I’ve been able to track two more songs in the past two days. And what’s more amazing to me is that they’re nearly done in their current state. The aesthetic for this album is going to be a lot more sparse than I’m used to working with. There are songs on here that are a solo piano with nothing else involved. These last two are piano with a simple synth pad of some kind underneath them. Sure, there are more complex songs with multiple layers of guitars and all kinds of effects and stuff like that, but even those are a lot more raw than the norm. But I’m very happy with how it’s coming out, even though I’m also wanting to be done with this set of things so I can put some work into other stuff.

Titles for songs have always been fairly important to me. However, most of what I come up with is simply Too Clever for its Own Good. Which, incidentally, I’ve decided is going to be the title of my autobiography/memoir. But take for example “This Town Loves You, This Town Will Destroy You” off of halt. I like the title a lot here, it’s catchy and I felt it matched the two-part nature of the song. Problem is that the song itself isn’t as good as its title, in my opinion. You expect this epic tale of woe, but you get this noodly thing. It’s one of the most clicked-on tracks in the bandcamp page, which tells you that the title is grabbing people’s attention. But “Adoré”, what I consider to be the best track on the album, doesn’t get as much attention. The title is a much better fit for the song here, though.

And now the part that some of you have figured out was coming. I’ve told you that I have a lot of songs for Results Not Typical, and I told you that titles are important to me. Now I tell you the titles of the songs! At least, these are the probably-final titles from the most-likely-going-to-keep tracks for the album. There will be other songs, too, but I’m either not happy enough with the title yet or I’m not sure the song’s going to be good enough to make it on. These are also the ones I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to finish.

  • Amid the Stacks
  • Another Empty Hour In Every Day
  • By Pint and Pound
  • Closure
  • Dustwood
  • Ghosts of Persistence
  • Mettle
  • Open to Suggestions
  • Those Born of Kings
  • Unfurled
  • Whether or Not

Presented alphabetically so as not to imply any kind of album ordering.

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Music, Production

A Weekend with the Wavedrum

I’m currently borrowing a KORG Wavedrum from a friend of mine. For those unfamiliar with this fantastic instrument, it is an acoustic drum synthesizer. It works by using vibration sensors underneath a real drum head and rim that respond to all of the dynamic playing that a hand drum is used to, and then sending those signals to a synthesis engine. The engine then takes the input waves and modulates them with various PCM sources and algorithmic sound models to create the output.

What all of that technobabble really means is that this isn’t a drum, it’s a thousand drums in one box. And unlike a drum machine or normal synthesizer, it is played like a real acoustic drum would be. In short, it’s pretty awesome.

I’ve only had it at my place for a few days now, but I’ve managed to spend a few sessions just playing with it. It has an impressive range of tones, most of which mimic real drums of various flavors in addition to a bunch of very otherworldly sounds that have very little to do with drums. However, the fact that you play these sounds like a drum adds a rhythmic character to it. Another great feature of this instrument is that it outputs directly into the recording system. This means that any incidental ambient noises won’t bleed over into the recording. As you’ll recall, this was a necessary feature for my acoustic guitar as well. It turns out that a home studio is difficult to run with a 10-month old in the house. Incidental ambient noises are the rule of the day.

After my initial noodling, I set about using the Wavedrum on an actual song. This one has a bluesy little groove to it that my traditional drum machine just wasn’t going to capture. I tried to program it in Reason, but the timing was all off and it felt horrible. Ever wonder why so many techno songs are in straight 4/4? It’s because it’s really easy to program that. I’ve programmed a few different step sequencers before, and they’ve all been 16-step 4/4 sequencers. The Wavedrum, based entirely on hand input, has no sense of quantization. Thus, I quickly found out something I knew already — that I am not a very good drummer. I’ve got a decent sense of rhythm, but translating that into a particular instrument isn’t always so straightforward. Thankfully, modern post-production lets me tweak things in software where needed. That said, I am trying to have a fairly light touch on this.

In any case, I jumped in and tried a few different drum sounds before settling on a nice round conga sound. With a little compression, it gave me a nice snappy sound that complemented the acoustic guitar and bass that drives the rest of the song. The Wavedrum, being a very different kind of sequencer, turns out to be quite difficult to program. I wasn’t getting the deep booming tones that I was after for underlying the higher accents, so I ended up breaking out the drum machine for just those bits. After trying unsuccessfully to sync with the underlying groove, I simply recorded the drum machine output to a track and un-quantized it by hand to match. This is the opposite of what you usually do with drums.

After a few sessions of recording, re-recording, and tweaking, I’m getting relatively happy with the state of the song. I have a vision of some kind of bell over the top of it, or something to that effect, but I’m not sure it needs it. I always have trouble knowing when to stop.

Oh yes, the title? “By Pint and Pound”. Now you have the first title of a song from Results Not Typical. Originally the title was “Blood and Flesh by Pint and Pound”, I thought it was a little too macabre. What do you think though? Should I change it back or keep the shorter version? Maybe you’d have to hear it first. Maybe I can arrange that, if you want.

Uncategorized

The book of Faces

Psycliq on Facebook

I went and created a page on Facebook for the band. It was free, and it lets a few people follow the updates on this site through Facebook update streams if they like. Right now, it’s just started and has only 13 fans (or likers? or whatever they’re called now). This means we’re still ineligible for a decent-looking URL, which would be a handy thing. I like URLs. But even more importantly, your friends will get to see that you “like” Psycliq, and then maybe they’ll check it out and “like” Psycliq, too.

So if you haven’t already, and you’re on Facebook, go ahead and join. And then tell your friends! And tell them to tell your friends. It’ll be like a great pyramid scheme, except nobody loses their retirement account. Especially me, because this music stuff is kindof an expensive habit. But that’s OK, since at the end of the day, I mostly hope that people listen to my music and enjoy it.

I promise the next post will be about music or something not related to promotion. Have I mentioned I’m bad at this? Because I kinda am.

Uncategorized

Hello, the Internet

Welcome to all of you wandering over from a Facebook ad! It’s something I’m trying out, since I am very bad at self-promotion. But since you’re here, check out the music players of both Psycliq albums over on the side column there. You can buy each album as a direct download from the Download link underneath the player, or you can also get them on iTunes and Amazon. Most of all, though, welcome and enjoy the music!

Production

Guitars and the acoustic properties thereof

Like any self-respecting electronic band, I’ve got myself a fair bit of stuff that makes bleeps and bloops sitting about the studio. Some of which really likes to misbehave, but more on that another time. But anyway, it would seem that my preparations for this next album have made me break down and pick up some new equipment, quite in the opposite direction. You see, I finally went out and got myself a decent acoustic guitar.

What makes this interesting in terms of my music is that I’ve never actually used an acoustic guitar in any of my released material. Well, OK, there was that one time for the Kickstarter rewards project, but only the Kickstarter backers will ever hear that one. And in fact it was listening to that recording that convinced me that the old one just had to go.

But now I’ve gone and picked myself up an acoustic guitar with a built-in pickup. I know, the wonders of technology, right? Since my house is rarely quiet enough to use a microphone these days, this is an especially important feature. And now that I have it, my mind’s already started to run along with possibilities for adding this sound into the mix. It will definitely be in use on Results Not Typical, as I’ve already got three songs tracked out waiting for it. But I’m also thinking past this odd little project into how I could use it in other stuff. Being mostly a keyboard player that dabbles in electric guitars, I look forward to the challenge of incorporating this instrument into more of my music.

After all, why limit myself to just a bunch of sinewaves?