*edited 4/2021- this link is now a remix, the original was pretty bad, hopefully my limited audio skills make this a little more listenable. Probably not worth the effort but I’m kind of fond of some of the goofy ideas and from those days… same old fun-with-photoshop video.
Original 2018 post-
Another in a string of what may seem like grim metallic pieces.. in fact I almost titled this one “grimm”. Is the feel of the times is creeping into my activities? Maybe, but it has more to do with what I was working on in the ‘90s. This being another rework and completion of something done then. If you are predisposed to this sort of thing, I recommend loud, if it feels a bit unnerving imagine it as the background music to the Uruk-hai on the march. Or wait for the next, which will be prettier. Made the vid have some animation this time, just a little playing with blending options, nothing to overthink.
This and all posted music can be heard on my channels at these sites-
Thank you very much for listening
Though no ones reads this stuff and few hear the music, I feel like writing about this one just to get out the stuff rattling around in my brain, I need some room up there.
This was the last of some instrumentals I did in the 90s with a little high speed 4 track yamaha cassette recorder. It stuck with me through the years, but 2 different versions always had problems and bad sound. Finally deciding to rework it, I only found a bad stereo mix on normal cassette, but began redoing it anyway. But I wanted to somehow keep, and clean up, the original middle abstract section. I did several goofy things back then, flipping over the cassette to play backwards though an outboard Lexicon box, bouncing tracks around forwards and backwards, etc etc.. It’s something I could never recreate now, nor would I actually want to.
Somehow back then I managed to create this audacious final solo, I’d prefer not to have to learn and rerecord, that was that guy. Both of these things have a quality specific to those times, as does the piece. But I could not isolated them from the mix, and the sound was bad. I knew somewhere there were high speed dolby basic tracks. Over several months I searched years of cassettes of excruciating old stuff, badly labelled, while doing other work, not fun. I came to the end without success. There was one last tape, labeled as some music my band in high school recorded, amazingly, the basics and bounce elements for this were on it, dolby, high speed!
So everything is newly executed, but the middle section is as created originally, cleaned up and augmented, and the final solo is the original, made 20 years ago.
This one contains a lot of elements I resort to, being aware of most only in retrospect. But they also reflect a lot of my musical interests. If you don’t like metal you may think it is, it’s not, I don’t really like metal, and any self respecting metalhead will give this a pass. It’s also not progressive, in the accepted categorical sense, It’s hard guitar rock I guess, but not that basic, and it evolves and goes outside traditional rock harmonics. I’ve habitually and unwittingly utilized pop structures- verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle, chorus, a habit I intend to undo going forward, though I do like thematic consistency and development. But even that icon of instrumental scary hard prog- King Crimson’s Red, has a similar pop structure. I don’t know what kind of music this is.
I have a long history of interest, pre prog, in musicality in rock, being born into classical. As a kid, early NW instrumental and surf, then things like the Iron Butterly Theme, with it’s dark drama, massive fuzz, etc. (and an instrumental), moving into the musical histrionics and gymnastics of bands like the Vanilla Fudge, certainly Touch, pre metal Deep Purple on up into progressive and fusion.
I slip into atonalism and dissonance sometimes, the usual notes get predictable, lacking a sense of adventure. However I don’t have the knowledge to do it masterfully. “Outside” conventions that fusion and jazz use still sound predictable, even safe, to me. Often geometric relationships are more interesting, or more often, simply playing nonsense then editing or making use of it in some way, like how Chris Whitley would just open his mouth and make sounds in no language (or is it?), eventually becoming lyrics. Also, of course just beautiful abstract sound.
The presence of Jimi Hendrix has been huge from the beginning. Though I have no aspirations to imitate, in fact I’ll edit out stuff that sounds like I am. There are many aspects I can’t shake free of, and I don’t mind. This one is pretty obvious, the “Hendrix chord” is used brazenly throughout, and the short reference to “House Burning Down” is obvious. One part of this title is “tribute” after all.
Jimi makes for an easy segue into guitar noise and feedback, and what might be construed as psychedelic elements. I like it, I enjoy doing it, it’s part of my little vocabulary. I don’t find it dated, it began back then, and continued to evolve through many remarkable musicians. Even Terry Kath, on Chicago’s first album (then CTA) had a nearly 7 minute piece of sheer electric guitar noise and feedback, and they’re pop! Hendrix is a given, Townsend, on up through people like Gen Branca, Caspar Brötzmann, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel, into the post rock era and still evolving, too many to mention, avant garde and pop alike.
Which brings me to distortion, I like it, there’s good and bad, I’m picky. The guitars are obvious, you won’t hear a clean guitar from me, if it’s clean, it’s not done yet. Drums, I saturate. Keyboards, I’m not a player or from the keyboard culture, I’m naive about it. I tend to pick sounds unexpected then mess them up, and that includes different kinds of distortion. Bass, always, from the Beatles “Think For Yourself” up through Bogart, Entwistle, Bruce, Squire, Levin, now the mighty Wolstenholme, give me a massive bass, please. But I have no expertise on any of those instruments, my apologies to actual good players and their years of sculpting sound. The use of distortion is interesting, a friend makes pristine recordings, sometimes a distorted element, but rare and clear. I find the difference mainly is that distortion creates an opaqueness to the sound, clarity more transparent. Distortion is hard to mix, and I’m a novice, sometimes it’s hard to hear into it, or distinguish things. That can be irritating, or not, clarity is not always an expectation, believe it or not. Some of the post rock I like is nearly mush, beautiful swirling visceral mush. I work hard on elements you can’t clearly distinguish sometimes.
Hang notes, I seem to like to resolve the guitar to some high note that hangs on top while the music rounds 3rd into it’s finale underneath. I’ve done it too much, You’ll hear it in 4th too, and July. But there it is, this one is the hanger to end my hangers, thank you Jim McCarty. It did indeed catch and feedback, I didn’t fudge it, though I had to pitch correct it a microtone.
Finally drums, I was a drummer for a long time before guitar. I love drums and drummers and played with some great ones long ago. Since I’m not playing with a real drummer, but designing parts, I don’t generally try to pretend there is a great rock drum performance happening, or manufacture one. I like electronic drums used with real drum sounds, this is not new with me, go back to Phil Collins and earlier, now Pat Mastelotto and others, current pop. More contemporary tings like drum and bass, EDM, even hip hop, though you won’t recognize them, influence me. When designing drum tracks with real sampled drums, I try to make them lively rather than just loop, repetition gets sad. So this piece like some others, mixes both electro drums and real sample parts either separately or combined, with some liveliness and fills I design in.
OK, that’s way more than enough, this piece simply epitomizes so much of the above I took the opportunity to get it out. I have no interest in making old music, or music of “my generation”, or anything that sounds very normal, until I do. However I have in my addled brain a history and culture of music I love, that matters, even if I’d hope to make something I’ve not really heard before.
I claim no expertise about any of the above, but none of it is done thoughtlessly, everything carefully considered in my obsessive way. If you read all this, I’m truly astonished. I don’t pretend the work warrants this kind of examination, this is for me. Wow that was long and took nearly all day.