Be the light / be the void

running can be described as “a series of controlled falls” - which is also my main intention with the music on this album. I wanted this music to lift up and then drop down gently, again and again. but you don’t have to run while listening to this album. the songs are there to push and pull you along, to be a source of will if you are suddenly without.

this album is inspired by running and also inspired by the place I do my running. I run around Seattle, Washington and the title itself originates from a duality in ideologies currently battling it out in the streets of Seattle - sometimes called “the Seattle sticker war”. this war is being fought between two ideologies expressed by stickers. one side - a sticker that simply says “be the light” - is trying to spread optimism, but has been interpreted as an imperative declaration of toxic positivity. the other side - often a sticker that simply says “be the void” (or another more extreme version of this) - promotes freedom from ideological architectures but has been interpreted as negative cynicism. often I’ll see these stickers on a run, one atop another, each message trying to subvert the other.

the cover art is from a photograph taken on one of my runs. it is the inside of a tunnel where artists discretely paint (and often paint over) works while nobody is watching. this painting/re-painting of this particular artwork coincidentally depicts a being that encompasses both “be the light” and “be the void”- perhaps showing a peaceful bridge between the views.

album notes

my previous album - at the place - was made possible through the oooooo norns script (actually a lot of oooooo features came from developing that album). I really liked the potential in norns scripts, so I sought to develop some more that would help me create a kind of breakbeat-style running music I envisioned for this new album. I eventually made a few scripts that got close (clcks, glitchlets, abacus, and kolor) and then I started putting together this album from little demos I made along the way. this album comprises the resulting songs that are my absolute favorites. I’ve probably listened to all of these 30-50 times at this point (re-listenability is my key metric for a release) and I couldn’t be happier about sharing it with someone who might also enjoy it. I hope this music meets you where you are.

here are some album/technical notes:

  1. waiting

song was developed while writing some code that would sequence rhythms and chop them up in a cool way (abacus for norns). instrumentation: norns, op-1 (bass, melody, pads), korg monotron delay.

  1. change your mind

song was developed while writing code for granular synthesis: granchild on norns. I combined three random samples into granchild (vocals, some piano I recorded, some synth stabs) and then played along with it using op-1. I wasn’t adhering to tempo, but somehow I was able to get po-32 drums to sync with it. instrumentation: norns (granchild), op-1 (chords), po-32, samples.

  1. melodies

a musical braid. found three random melodies from different things I made over time and realized they were in the same key. I explored of each pair of the melodies and how they interact, and then how they interact together. played op-1 underneath it and later added drums. instrumentation: op-1 (melodies, pads), korg monotron delay, drum samples.

  1. tock

song was developed while playing with drum samples. I’ve been really enjoying splicing/reversing drum samples and then attempting to follow the frankenstein drums with bass. this one I liked enough to put on this album. to add some extra noisey leads I used icarus on norns. instrument: norns (icarus), op-1 (bass, pads), drum samples.

  1. lonlat

song was developed while writing code for granular synthesis (granchild on norns) and playing with drones (dronecaster on norns). I had recorded some piano and really enjoyed the interaction of their granulated forms so I added some synths pads and leads. I had a lot of trouble finding the right chords, but I took out plonky and immediately the chords came to me. one day I took out my saxophone and just jammed on it and I liked it a lot so I added it in. instrumentation: norns (granchild, dronecaster, plonky), op-1, drum samples, alto saxophone.

  1. dem

song was developed while writing code for a new synthesizer (icarus on norns). I was having fun with playing a long lead line on icarus and then reversing it and using that. in this track the lead synth is played forward the first half and then the exact same thing is played backwards for a different effect. like tock, this song explored splicing up drums and then following them with a bass. instrument: norns (icarus), op-1 (pads, bass), drum samples.

  1. xay

another experiment with granulation (granchild on norns), this time on some recordings I made on my saxophone in a parking garage (I used to play every day in the parking garage after work when no one was around. free reverb). I really liked the saxophone and found it was interesting again to play forward and reverse. the drums are chopped up po-32, everything else is op-1. instrumentation: norns (granchild), op-1, saxophone, po-32, korg monotron delay

  1. the wonder

I have played versions of this song for awhile, its one of my favorites. I am using a snippet of Sarah Vaughn’s live rendition of “The Summer Knows” here. Sarah Vaughn is an absolute inspiration. the drums came from a norns script I wrote (kolor) mixed in with some samples. instrumentation: norns (kolor), op-1 (bass, pads, lead), korg monotron delay

  1. close

this song came about while writing code for a sequencer and music controller (tmi on norns) which I tested out on plinky. instrumentation: norns (tmi, icarus), op-1 (pads, lead), plinky (bass, pads), drum samples.

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Excited to dig in to this this weekend! Congrats on the release man : )

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Lovely melancholy stuff. Wishlisted for tomorrow’s BC Friday. :face_with_monocle:

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Nice. There theme reminded me of Hollow Knight. Wishlisted for tomorrow

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Sounding beautiful.

I’m another in for Bandcamp Friday.

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thanks for the kind words everyone :slight_smile:

I don’t know this! will have to check it out.

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Not a big runner, but it’s also great for getting through post-easter-holiday inbox dread.

Thank you!

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Popped in to say that I picked this up on Bandcamp Friday and am looking forward to sitting with it. I really appreciate that you took the time to share composition notes for each track. I find that fascinating and appreciate the peek into your process.

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Listened to this on a run on Sunday — really enjoyed the drums on a lot of these tracks. I was also struck by the juxtaposition of some of the sounds with those drums, some of the melodic/harmonic elements were a lot more … peaceful (?) than the drums might otherwise suggest. Thanks for sharing the music and your process notes too!

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this album is out streaming now! (spotify now / youtube now / amazon now / itunes soon).

glad it works for that too :slight_smile:

thanks, glad you liked that. I also enjoy the hearing others’ process and happy to share my own.

totally hit the nail on the head I think - I think all my music vibes on this level. making something “fast/aggressive-ish” for running was really out of my comfort zone but was very fun.

Suuuuuuper dreamy, loving this!

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i need to spend time with this one…love the title

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okay I must know, the melody on Tock has this beautiful phrasing to it where some effect makes it sound like it’s almost coming apart at the end of the phrase. Is that happening within Icarus? It’s also really eye-opening as a compositional technique, definitely transmuting this somehow in a piece I’m working on

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thanks! that’s really nice of you to say. this melody was done using the op-1, with the fm engine. specifically this patch which essentially is a fm-type synth with the op-1 delay and modulation on the detuning parameter (the red knob). I sequenced the op-1 and then I performed it by manually detuning it at the end of the phrase, which I think is what you are hearing. I really like the sound of it, it kinda mixes with the delay to get partially in-tune+detuned, a lot like icarus is meant to do (icarus shows up as a low drone in this song, and in others as a overarching string-like drone atop everything). also, in case you are interested, here is the melody and chords:

melody:
F# E C# x4
F# D C# x4
A D C# x4
B E C# x3 then B B B B

chords:
Bm F#m A A(or Esus)

and sidenote I try not to use the sequencer a lot because I find it hard to perform and get organic sounds (+beautiful mistakes), but it was useful here so I could have the notes play while performing with the op-1 knobs.

ooh thats really cool! I would love to hear your piece

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Back to say having spent time with this that it is great. I also want to say that your production is really top-notch–that is something I appreciate about all of your releases. The songs are upbeat and happy-sounding, which is something I’ve come to associate with your output, though the tempo is really driving! It makes total sense that this was inspired by running.

change your mind and lonlat are my faves. Your sax playing is killer, btw.

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