The Dream Edge

"The Dream Edge" Album Art

Finished a new album! This one is less of a unified concept than my previous LP, in fact it took some consideration (and a little time pressure) just to articulate the loosely unifying threads tying the individual tracks together into a concise title. In a sense it feels more a compilation of things I’ve worked on over the past year and a half or so. With varying levels of focus I’ve been exploring themes of hazy memories, nostalgia, dreams or dreamlike states or the blurry veil between conscious thought and dreaming. I think that ended up being manifested in more than one track by my process of starting with an initial theme or set of sounds and then filtering it halfway through, like looking at reality through the lens of a dream, or comparing the ideal of a concept to its reality.

As usual the energy level fluctuates from soporific ambient to frenetic 170bpm layered breaks. In the process of gathering material for the album I found myself questioning whether or not it’s a good approach to compile such a stylistically wide range of material – not that there isn’t any precedent for it, but generally the artists I listen to and am inspired by seem to release with much more consistency of theme. But ultimately it does feel like the right decision. As music production remains a hobby for me I have the luxury of working on it whenever inspiration strikes, crafting sounds to my own taste without external restrictions; so hopefully the end result has some purity of expression, hindered mostly by my own lack of technical ability to directly translate my ideas. And as a creative professional it’s liberating to have a method of expression that doesn’t need to answer to anyone else’s requirements, so I’m putting it together as I see fit. As such, I hope there is something on it for you to enjoy.

Listen on SoundCloud.

Purchase via BandCamp.

Bleemixes on Mixcloud

I was listening to my first “Bleemix” megamix/mashup today and decided that in the spirit of getting archived material back online and up to current standards I’d upload them to Mixcloud, so the first three are over on my new mixes page now.

Properly tagging the tracklists is rather time consuming, made moreso by the Mixcloud UI which was clearly designed towards mixes with 15-20 tracks as opposed to 110+ overlapping in my Bleemix series.  Also, I somehow lost the continuous mix for Bleemix 3 and had to patch it back together from the individual MP3s.  Fun fact, I tried four different solutions to this, all of which failed to provide a smooth and gapless continuous file, until I remembered Winamp’s “single file” Disk Output mode.  Winamp is still good for something!

Anyway I’ll have to save the final Bleemix 4 for tomorrow.

XM Archive Online

Over the years I’ve received occasional requests to put my old music up on YouTube, so today I finally set aside some time to make it happen.  I took all my old mods (mostly from 1996 to 2000), converted to 320kbps mp3 with foobar2k and encoded to video with ffmpeg.  The idea of using a video streaming service as a music sharing community didn’t sit right with me for many years, but I think it’s finally time I went with the flow.  YouTube’s ease of access is way beyond getting listeners to download a proper xm rendering player, to the point where the huge inefficiency of converting a 400kb mod into a 19mb video no longer bothers me.

So I’ve organized them into a playlist in chronological order as best I could remember.  I’m planning to do the same for my older MP3s that aren’t available on bandcamp or soundcloud soon as well.

Also intentionally found some garish old art I did in the late 90s as a backdrop, for added nostalgia.

Happy new year!

Pardon the dust

I’m in the process of transferring my site away from a slow older server to wordpress.com.  After it got hit with some automated pharmacy web-malware a couple of months ago I decided I didn’t want to be a “webmaster” anymore and would rather pay for a professional service to manage that stuff for me.

There’s a fair amount of work to do and obviously tons of things to fix.  I’m considering removing my gallery because it’s full of outdated work, though like most busy artists with families the majority of my creative artistic output goes into professional work now.  Anyway, got my old posts transferred but looks like all the images are going to have to be updated manually.

Allure LP

Happy to announce that my new LP, “Allure” is now available for download and streaming. I finally got around to setting up a bandcamp account and uploading my last four releases (excluding “Shroud”, which was signed) so if you missed any they can all be downloaded in high quality there for the price of your choosing.

Anyway, about the LP. One of my primary inspirations for these tracks was found in a cross-section I kept noticing between my wife‘s taste in music and mine – particularly the half-tempo overlap between R&B and drum&bass (much more 170/autonomic drum&bass than poppy chart drivel). Ultimately that led to the uniting theme: viewing R&B’s predominating themes of love, sex, and relationships through a futuristic, electronic eye.

Exploring that intersection struck a chord with me as well, as in it I found overlap with some of my favorite concepts from cyberpunk fiction. The idea of humanoid robot companions, for example, is fascinating to me, and I find it especially interesting to consider the point at which the human feelings of desire and loneliness would surpass the strangeness of companionship with an artificial, constructed “person”. It is essentially a common use for technology, I think – overcoming the limitations of our biology and evolutionary legacy to our own selfish ends, sometimes with long-term detrimental effects. So, to that end, I appropriated and distorted some R&B acapellas with the intent of extracting some of the essence of their emotion – removing them from lyrical context and incorporating them with an intentional, produced artificiality.

Cyberpunk’s heyday lies squarely in the 80s, so I also wanted to explore a more contemporary approach to using 80s-style synths. It’s certainly seems to be been en vogue in the 2010s – incorporating or even prominently featuring classic, analog synths in almost all genres, but I feel the approach is too often relegated to the realm of intentionally lo-fi nostalgia. Although I enjoy and appreciate the retro-future style, I feel that at this point it’s a road well-traveled, and not something I’m interested in doing myself. Instead, I tried to bring the most out of those sounds, making heavy use of the more neglected FM and wavetable synths and piping them through contemporary DSPs.

So I wanted to encapsulate those ideas (and many more) into the album art. Initially I considered 3D modeling and sculpting a head, but felt that it would have been too much of a time investment to arrive at something with the quality I wanted. Instead, I opted for a photo shoot with Sporkii. I explained (as best I could) my concepts behind the album and she not only modeled, but came up with hair, makeup and lighting looks that matched just about exactly what I was going for. We worked on the photo manipulation together and eventually came up with a cover I’m very satisfied with.