Music

Rock Paper Armageddon

For the past couple months, I’ve been working on a Facebook game for one of my final projects in school. This game is called Rock Paper Armageddon. It’s a take on the classic game of Rock Paper Scissors with some interesting twists. You can play it for free right now! Go ahead, I’ll wait. It’s pretty fun.

So as part of this game, I wanted to make a simple but memorable soundtrack. I set out to make everything in ReNoise using a very small set of samples and only a couple of lo-fi effects to give it that nice NES-era chiptune feeling. It also greatly simplified composition, since I had a pretty limited palette to work from.

The results are now available over on the music site, and you can preview it right here:

It will probably remain a bandcamp-exclusive album, unless the game becomes a huge smash hit. In which case, I’ll put it up on iTunes, watch the royalties roll in, and retire to a private island someplace. Until that day, though, you can listen to it all for free online and download it for just a couple dollars.

Oh, and since it’s all Creative Commons licensed, you can use it in your own games!

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Production

Incoming Christmas Music

I know, I know — it’s still much too early to be thinking about the Christmas season for most people. But the truth is, if I don’t get to recording a Christmas song early, it just won’t happen before the holidays are upon us. Thus, I’ve been fighting with ProTools and Renoise today to begin tracking this year’s song, “In The Bleak Midwinter”. I’ve even got the sheet music printed out on my desk in front of me, both as a reference for when I’m recording and to remind me to finish the blasted thing. I’ve got a basic arrangement mapped out, with basic chords and drum beats, but I still have a very long way to go here. I’m hoping to be able to throw some time at it over the weekend.

Unfortunately, as implied above, my studio software has been giving me headaches over this, not wanting to sync up and throwing all kinds of cranky errors at me. I’m trying to update and patch everything that I can find, but so far I’ve only been able to get it to run in fits and starts. Funny how all of this starts happening just after the new version of Pro Tools is announced. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that there’s got to be some kind of out-of-warranty timer going on here, plotting against me.

My goal is to have it all wrapped up by December, at which point I’ll put the Christmas album back up on the music site for download. Members of the Electric Goodies Newsletter will be getting sneak peeks and will be the first to know when the album is available again, so if you want to be in on the latest word, that’s the place to be.

Music

One Armed Remix

In keeping with the “always expanding” corporate statement of Mergers & Acquisitions, Inc., I’ve put up a new track online, entitled One Armed Remix:

A very simple mashup between Project 86’s “One Armed Man (Play On)” and Plumb’s “Concrete”, this song is nonetheless fun and shows Project in a very, very different environment. I actually put this together way back in 2002 and just ran across it on my harddrive, but I figured it’d be a great addition to Mergers. The track also loops very nicely. Perhaps someday I’ll go back and do a more proper smash-together of this, now that I have better tools and a ton more experience with an audio editor than I did back then.

As always, downloads of this track and the whole Mergers & Acquisitions, Inc. album are completely free!

In other news, I’ll get back to finishing up track notes soon enough here.

Music

Track Notes Vol 1.1

I’d like to take a few posts to go through some of my thoughts and notes for each of the tracks on Results Not Typical. Since the album has seventeen songs on it, it’s going to take a few posts for me to go through them all.

You might not have realized this, but each track has a narrative associated with it, and they can all be read on the music site. I’m not sure if the digital downloads contain this information anywhere, so I wanted to include them all here along with my thoughts on the tracks themselves.

Setting Out

A young boy leaves his village in search of Adventure, accompanied by his trusty sidekick. The world is a promise before them. They know not what perils and trials lie ahead, but welcome the future with great anticipation.

Like much of this album, the roots for this song are actually quite old. After having listened to Mortal’s incredible Pura album way too many times in a row, I had programmed the basic two-chord progression on my sequencer and thrown some conga drums and a noodley melody on top of it. It always felt too repetitive and sparse to do anything with, though. When I started pulling together tracks for Results, I played around with turning it into a semi-rondo, with the light ambient parts interspersed with some harder jazz/hip-hop sections in a minor blues scale. I particularly like the first drop in section with the harder drums, since it really comes out of nowhere. I’m also not entirely happy with the title of this song, but it seemed to be the best I could do.

Mettle

Strength undeniable, able to be called upon exactly when needed. Unshakable grace as life hurtles you from the top of one building to another, and the resolve needed to rise to your feet again. The fact that that for a moment there was nothing but 37 stories of empty air between you and the ground seems of little consequence.

This, I think, is my favorite track of the whole disc, and it’s certainly the closest to a “normal” Psycliq track. I think I had been playing Mirror’s Edge when I started to work out the basic melody, so thoughts of leaping into the unknown with great confidence were rattling around in my head. This started as a simple and sparse piano piece, but after I added the first synth layer to it I just kept going. Interestingly, this is made entirely with software instruments; in general, I use hardware synths to do most of the noise making.

Those Born of Kings

The throne room of the palace is immense as you seek audience with the king. Pillars, stonework, tapestries — everything carefully constructed to make you feel very, very small. But while you are always in awe of your surroundings here, you do not feel the overwhelming fear this room was intended to instill in you. And this for one simple reason: it is your living room. You belong here. And you have come to bid your father good morning.

I struggled for ages to come up with a good title for this one. Most of these titles were very bad, and I never felt they captured the sense of majesty and wonder that the music was expressing. It needed something to make this whole march business make sense, and I couldn’t get away from the idea of royalty being somehow involved. I like the final title quite a lot now. This song features the same piano-and-drum-machine aesthetic of Setting Out and several others, but the “big snare” hit sound is actually something I programmed on my microKORG using hints from this tutorial.

Amid the Stacks

The corridors of the Great Library combine into a labyrinth if incredible complexity and scale, both in the physical and ideological senses. It could take you days to walk up and down every aisle of every floor without stopping, and days more for each bound volume that beckons your attention from its place on the shelf. The world has been cataloged and ordered here, you only need look.

The first all-piano track on the album, I debated adding more to it but ultimately decided against it. There’s a moogerfooger Analogue Delay on the piano that makes for some really interesting overtones if you listen closely. This track is meant to compliment Those Born of Kings somewhat– their narratives take place in the same world, at least. The connection is obvious to me now, but didn’t occur until I’d gotten the title for the other song squared away. It’s even stranger since the roots of this song are about five years older than the other, too. The feeling here is meant to be one of getting lost in endless worlds, always with something new around each corner.

And that’s the first four down. Stay tuned for more episodes of Track Notes ™, where I’ll eventually get through the whole album. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to join the Electric Goodies mailing list!

Music

Electric Goodies and Physical Platters

I have two cool things today! First off, for those of you who want a physical, made-of-atoms copy of Results Not Typical, the wait is over! You can now order a CD from CDBaby. Now that it’s available there, the distributors should be getting copies of things so that you can also pick it up at Amazon or order it from your local record store.

And of course, for those of you who like your music digitally, you can get it from iTunes, Amazon MP3, bandcamp, eMusic, and a bunch of other places that I don’t have links to. But just go and check your favorite music website, and if they don’t have it yet, ask!

Thing the second: I am pleased to announce the creation of the Electric Goodies Newsletter! With this newsletter, I will periodically be sending out sneak-peaks, demos, snippets, sketches, and other interesting things that will let you see into the inner workings of Psycliq. By and large, this is stuff that won’t be posted on the website or anywhere else, so if you want free MP3s and cool stuff, join today! I’ll even give you a subscription box:

Google Groups
Subscribe to Psycliq's Electric Goodies Newsletter
Visit this group

And once you join, invite your friends! I really do want to give list members some cool things. And who doesn’t like cool things?

Production

The Music is Done

That’s right — done, finished, completed. After riding around with different test-burns in my car for a few days each, I now officially declare Results Not Typical to be musically complete. I’m currently just waiting to get the physical CDs in stock online before calling this one “released”, and that’ll only be a couple weeks or so, depending on how quickly all the parts come into place. But if you really can’t wait to get the new music, drop me a comment. You see, I’ve got a whole stack of download codes good for a free album download, just waiting to go.

I have the first batch of CDs lightscribe-labeled and ready to have music added to them, though while doing this I realized that I’m out of cases now and need to pick up some more. Still waiting to get the insert cards in from the printer and really hoping those came out good. I am quite eager for this! Eager, I say!

Update: I just got the ship confirmation for the covers! Everything is on its way here.

Production

Off to the printer

I’ve finally settled on song content and ordering, and with a last few tweaks the artwork is done. I am happy to present the final front and back sides to the cover of Results Not Typical:

I’ve sent the artwork off to a short-run print shop to be printed on dual-sided cards. This promises to be a step up from my traditional completely-homemade approach to the problem. It’s also an experiment, and we’ll see what the quality is like and how much I care to deal with the overhead. Even though it’s a shorter run than a “real” print shop, I still had to order 50 covers. I’ll be surprised if I run out of those any time soon. Sometimes, I’m so indie it hurts.

Also! After listening to these songs over and over I’ve found that I still have a little bit of the music to polish up, but any changes from here will be simple overdubs, mixes, compressions, and things like that. I can’t afford to bring things to a mastering service, so what you hear is exactly what comes out of my speakers in the moments before upload to the web. Thankfully, though, most of the songs are recorded and mixed. And just because I love you, here’s a third bonus preview track! This one’s called “Mettle” and it’s one of my favorites from the album:

Depending on when I can get time to work out the finishing touches, we could be seeing a digital release in as little as a week. Excitement!

Music

By Pint and Pound

I’ve been up at a music festival all weekend up here in New England, and being surrounded by lots of great music has made me want to share some of mine as well. So here we have the second preview track from Results Not Typical, entitled “By Pint and Pound”.

This is an example of some of the more guitar-based stuff on the album, while “Those Born of Kings” is significantly more piano-driven. This song also features the Wavedrum on percussion and helps prove that I’m not a very good drummer.

Enjoy the track and be sure to hit the “share” link up there and share this to everyone you know.

Music

A change of heart

The last song I was working on for Results Not Typical just wasn’t really coming together, so I’ve decided to shelve it for now. There’s a possibility that it’ll pop out again at a future date, but who knows.

As a side effect, that means that all the music for this album is now completed. Done. Finished. This is exciting! Of course I’m likely to go tweak a few bits that bug me, I always seem to do that at the eleventh hour. But as a whole, this baby is in the can. Mmm, canned babies.

But what about the seventeen-song opus that it once was? It will still actually be seventeen songs, since as soon as I’d decided to shelve one song another one popped up. A simple 12-bar blues entitled “The Clock on the Wall in Limbo”, this one definitely has to go right in the middle someplace. No, I still haven’t picked an order yet, but I am at least working on that part. My immediate future in Psycliq will have me listening to this batch of songs again and again until I am completely sick of them, at which point I will release them for the world to hear.

Stay tuned.

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.