Music

Track Notes Vol. 1.4

This is the final edition of track notes for Results Not Typical. Enjoy!

Incognito Shuffle

Spies are sneaky creatures. If you don’t see them, the feeling is not mutual. If you do see them, it’s already too late for you.

This started as a backing track to a face-matching game. We ended up not doing much of anything with the game, so this little ditty gathered dust for a few years before I decided to take it apart and rework it into this song. I really like the avante-guard feel here, like something out of a speakeasy, and the walking bassline really makes me want to buy a real upright bass. I’m not sure my wife would appreciate us keeping one in the house though, so we’ll have to pass on that for now. That said, on this album I actually did do a lot more with bass than I had previously, mostly because I couldn’t really rely on the synthesizers for the basslines and keep the aesthetic that I wanted to for this album, and I really love that pushing-the-microphone-past-its-limits sound.

They Came In Waves

The odds seem insurmountable. The hordes crest the hills on all sides, a seemingly endless onslaught of feral ferocity aimed directly at your head. As soon as one falls his kin rise on the opposite side. The question is not when but if this night will end.

This track was recorded entirely with the Korg Wavedrum and no other instrumentation. Consequently, it was also played live, and you should be able to tell just how terrible a drummer I really am. Mind you, this is even after gratuitous post-processing and many takes on each part. I think it’s because of all that that this song is actually my least favorite on the album, though it’s still interesting to me. I like the relentless sonic onslaught that the pounding layers of drums make, and the tribal adrenaline rush that it’s meant to feel like. In the end, I chalk it up to experimentation and call it a day.

Eyes In The Forest

A pair of small lights gleam at you from the dense wood. They seem inviting, whimsical, almost playful. When you’re close enough to see the truth, you no longer have a chance.

This started out as a simple guitar progression that I liked, played on my nylon string acoustic and recorded in one take and named, simply, “forest”. When I pulled out the sketch to start building it into something more, I ended up actually using the original guitar piece verbatim (with a touch of compression and reverb thrown in to draw out the tone). After laying down a simple synth melody over the top of it, I had it mostly where I wanted it — but it was very, very short and something felt missing. That’s when I dropped the synth down a few octaves and drew out the low growling noise to contrast with the peaceful, idyllic sounds of the beginning. Also, if you get a chance, listen to this with a good set of stereo headphones.

Closure

After many years of wondering and doubting, resolution finally comes. It may not have answered all of your questions to your satisfaction, but there is finally an ending to this tale.

The final song on the album, this one feels like a sigh of relief to me. I particularly like how it falls down through some lingering tension and strange harmonics before it finally comes to rest on that major seven chord. It really is a story of life, having spent years worrying about a past event you can’t change, wondering what might have been, only to finally let it go.

 

And there you have it — a collection of my inner thoughts for each song on Results Not Typical. I’m sure I’ll find something else to fill these pages here. In the mean time, I’m trying to find a way around the Amazon problem. I’ll probably have more news for the site in a week or two on that, but for now I’ll just say that I’m looking into a few things.

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Music

Track Notes Vol. 1.3

Welcome to another edition of Track Notes, wherein I talk about some songs in greater detail than usual.

Another Empty Hour In Every Day

You are finally free of that one tedious daily appointment that you so dreaded each day. But you have nothing to fill the time with, it seems. Do you look upon this with joy or with dread? Do you rush to find new activities, or take the time for what it is? Whatever you decide, the day still lies ahead, waiting for you.

This is an instance where title and music came together from separate spheres but fit so perfectly together that I couldn’t have planned it that well. The title is actually inspired by a scene in the Vernor Vinge book “Rainbows End” where the main character completes an intensive medical rehabilitation program. He then finds himself with more free time, but nothing worth filling it with. That in turn got me wondering, what would I do if I had more free time, like I always wish I had? It’s entirely probable that I and many others would simply expand everything else to fill that time. Perhaps that time instead should be savored.

Open To Suggestions

What do you want to do today?

Me? I dunno.

This track began its life as simple background filler music at church one night, while a survey was being passed around for people to fill out. I asked a friend to join my piano wanderings on the congas, and this little song was born. The whole time, it felt like it needed a melody instrument atop it, so when it came time to record it I added a simple guitar line to complete the recording. A little serendipitous effects processing gave the song exactly what it needed. This song also features the debut of live percussion on a Psycliq recording, courtesy of a borrowed Korg Wavedrum. It is truly a remarkable instrument, one that I hope to be able to add to my permanent arsenal someday.

By Pint and Pound

Come one, come all! And come quickly, for there is much to see. The Market is here this day, and it forever pulses with the beat of a thousand hearts set sail on a thousand ships from worlds you could hardly imagine, named in foreign tongues you cannot pronounce.

Yes yes, everything is for sale here! Blood and flesh by the pint and the pound, respectively– yours today! If the price is right, of course.

This folksy blues number started out its life as a very simple chord progression and melody combination that quickly took on a life of its own once I let it. Originally dubbed “Launch” (and available as such on the limited edition Preliminary Results digital album), the song was renamed “Blood And Flesh By Pint and Pound” once I started to flesh it out. No pun intended, I swear. Regardless, that all seemed a bit too gruesome, so “By Pint and Pound” it became, with the above story snippet of the market scene (inspired by the Floating Market in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere series) to fill things out. This song also marks another appearance by the Wavedrum in addition to being the debut of another new instrument for a Psycliq project: an acoustic guitar. Is the future of Psycliq made of wood and skins?

Dustwood

A lonely stop on the side of a dry and forgotten highway. The road stretches off into the distance in either direction and shows no sign of wavering around any obstacle, visible or otherwise. Strangely enough, you are far from alone here; but it is clear that you are not nearly cracked by the sun enough to fit in.

“You must be new in town. Pull up a seat, son.”

Ever since I first penned this blues track, I felt it really wanted to be road music in a film, played over a dusty and forgotten local watering hole. An old cowboy town, perhaps, but one where pickup trucks and motorcycles were preferred over horses. I had a hard time mixing this song, for some reason or another. I just couldn’t quite get the different themes to stand out without smashing over each other. Also had issues with the ending, and didn’t get that to work until nearly the last minute. I think I finally got it all to fit appropriately, though it’s times like this that have made me really wish I could work with a producer and mixing engineer. Maybe when I’m rich and famous someday, right? Interestingly, the electric guitar sounds in this are all from the Silvertone. Man, that thing is versatile.

 

Stay tuned for the last and final volume of my notes for Results Not Typical. I promise that I’ll try not to let it take quite so many weeks in between this time.

Music

Track Notes Vol 1.2

Welcome to part 2 of the first installment of Track Notes, wherein I take a few minutes to talk about songs from the latest album, giving you a brief glimpse inside of my head. At this rate, I’ll have four total parts here to get through all of the stuff on Results Not Typical.

But before I get into that, I just want to take an opportunity to get you plugged into The Electric Goodies Newsletter. Subscribers have already gotten six free MP3s of behind-the-scenes works in progress. I’m also running a small contest available to list subscribers only. Join today, check out the archives, and have fun!

Ghosts of Persistence

Sometimes echoes of the past remain long after the presence of memory was last called upon.

This is one of those lilting progressions that I came up with just sitting at the piano one evening. Thankfully, I keep a small digital recorder sitting on top of said piano to capture the neat things like this that decide to show up. I was trying to figure out what to do with this bit, but it kept wanting to stand on its own. The bridge in the middle keeps it from becoming a completely repetitive affair.

Unfurled

As the sun sets on another day, you feel everything that had once bothered you begin to melt in the crimson rays that bathe the horizon. Breath slowly comes easier, deeper. The universe is yours to contemplate as your mind and soul unwrap and spread, billowing into the breeze. Contemplation is now your only goal, until the sun should choose to meet you again.

This is a song of quiet reflection, with the complexities of a day’s thoughts shown by layered and extended chords. You really should listen to this one with your eyes closed while taking a deep, slow breath. Or maybe a few breaths, as this is the longest song on the album. It’s also one of only a couple songs I’ve ever produced without a metronome of any kind. I actually tried to clean it up and quantize things when I first recorded it, but doing so completely destroyed the soft and loosening feel of the original demo. So here you have it, wobbly tempo, mashed chords, and all.

Whether or Not

Some choices in life are simple. To be or not to be, to do or not to do. And some things remain unaffected by these choices, a steady constant in a stream of binary waverings.

One of the things I really like about this song is that the left hand of the piano is fairly constant the whole song, never actually changing the bass note. It’s entirely up to the right hand to add tone and color, and it makes the otherwise steadfast left hand take on a whole new and exciting life in context.

Ligature/Signature

When is a signature something more? When it is a flourish of personality completely tying itself to the heart and drive of the one whose hand is the only that could truly make it. A flourish in life that identifies more so than the words it makes.

This goofy little tune is really an excuse for me to pay homage to ragtime, honkeytonk, and hot jazz. I like the off-kilter chord progression, and it was one of the first times I’d tried for some of the weirder harmonics in a song. Somehow, it still sounds OK. Also, the piano was a bit tricky to get to sound right and fit with the feel of the track, but I think the chorusing does its job well there. As cheesy as it is, it’s the kind of song that I think would be a blast to play live with a jazz trio sometime.

The Clock on the Wall in Limbo

The longest wait in the most boring waiting room in the universe. You watch the clock wondering if the ticking will ever stop. Here, it does not.

This was a literal 11th-hour addition to the album, replacing another track that I had planned but scrapped at the last minute since it wasn’t working out at all. That’s always a hard thing to do, but it’s important to know when something isn’t working. Maybe that other song will come back later. I like the simple, loopable 12-bar blues on this one, and the melody and bassline that counter each other and play off each other’s rhythm. Fun fact: this was recorded with a single sound patch from my Korg X3, with the bass in the left hand and the vibes in the right. I nearly added drums and some other stuff on top of it, and even almost put a ticking clock effect in there, but in the end I’m very glad I didn’t.

Stay tuned, parts 3 and 4 will be coming soon!