midcentury modular - noncompetitive music

Earlier today, @Tyresta ‘s incredible Fallen Moon Recordings’ label released a new record of mine titled noncompetitive music under my midcentury modular project. It is available digitally on bandcamp:

(Full Disclosure: this is basically a paraphrased version of my liner notes, with a few lines addendums, so apologies if it is redundant to you).

When I was making and compiling this record, I was thinking a lot about a patreon post @boboter made, combined with further reflection from posting in and reading this thread: "Play Feel" when playing music vs. thoughtful composition (even if it doesn't feel so great) - #2 by jlmitch5

Basically, I tried to stay away from the compulsion to “one-up” myself and the previous music I’ve released. This feeling that each subsequent thing needed to be “better” than the last had unconsciously made its way into my head, causing a lot of creative fatigue and uncertainty. Creating this record was an experiment in tackling this head on, feeling things out and intuitively pulling things together, piece by piece, until each track felt fully realized…listening for what things are, rather than trying to decide too far in advance what they should be. I would often feel some hesitation and anxiety during this process, but I would try to actively work through it…sometimes I hit dead ends, but more often than not, the results were surprisingly pleasant.

The core of my finishing process the past couple of months was this setup:

When it came to these late-stage additions, I tried hard to keep with very intuitive, non-“fancy” ways of performing with the instruments, just what came out naturally played on the keyboard or tuned and tweaked on the plum. There were times the melodies definitely felt too basic in isolation, but I tried to press on through that and I think they eventually did (hopefully) all come together in a nice way with that is interesting without any sort of “poorly-executed, virtuosic attempting” fatigue.

Similarly, I’ve been refining this artistic process of “perform then combine” with pieces in my archive of recorded snippets later layered and crossfaded and stuff in the DAW. There were a lot more rhythmic layers in this one than in the past, and that was a little bit more challenging to get to feel right, but I realized that it doesn’t really matter if they line up perfectly, and I could trust myself to feel if the groove was good enough just by listening and being honest with myself.

Field-recording wise, I got into the habit of popping in my Sennheiser Ambeo earbuds (side note, they are discontinued and are a super great price for the recording and sound quality these days) when I was on a solo bike ride or was out in the garden (you can record, use the transparency mode to monitor your surroundings for safety, and listen to music all at the same time…this post is not meant to be an ad, but they are so cool haha). Due to the nature of bike riding, there was quite a bit of wind, but I was able to come up with a pretty nice processing chain that worked well for what I wanted them to be (a layer under the synthesized music):

Super-agressive compressor
High-pass filter to reduce wind boom
Soothe 2 to “de-ess” harsh sounding break squeaks while keeping bird calls in tact
Further dynamic reduction of low-mid wind sounds using Pro Q-3

Like my last record snow, the art is a marker-based drawing I did with copic markers and posca paint pens. No liners this time and some forced inclusion of white space to try to keep things a little more airy.

Also as it’s fun to get some insights into the names people come up with, here’s why I named the tracks what they are:

  1. electricity (ultrasound noise sounds like raw electricity to me, kind of)
  2. ciat 2 (this was the working title from a series of recordings I had made with my DIY’d modded gerassic organ breadboard, and it just felt right)
  3. aquatic phase (phase for the minimalist nature, aquatic cause it makes me think of water)
  4. wandering flower garden (I was thinking a lot about how gardens bloom and decay sometimes something will pop out and look really pretty next to something else that needs deadheading bad, this track kind of has those contrasts to me)
  5. hel (funny petfinder pet name I saw years ago when we were looking for our first dog…apparently that is a whole popular twitter account now https://twitter.com/petfindernames)
  6. buster (a sweet dog we inquired about…the first one actually…but unfortunately was not a fit for our living situation at the time)
  7. where was I (all the time) (the name just kind of popped into my head one day when I was thinking about this one, the sounds on this track kind of makes me think of how scatter-brained/absent-minded I can be)
  8. will it be (I came up with this name long ago, no idea what I was going for, but it seems right for it)
  9. entering the tunnel (this track makes me think about biking and some of the like “stress” there is staying alert. It also starts with an “on your left” call I made to let someone know I was passing them…might be the first instance of my voice in some of my recording music?)
  10. in the dark (IDK it sounds kinda dark, haha)
  11. wild ride (I don’t smoke weed anymore but this song reminds me of when I did)
  12. staggered blooms (similar to “wandering flower garden”)

And finally, a huge thank you to a lot of people from here that helped me with this release. No doubt there are names I’m forgetting, but I’d like to specifically thank @Tyresta, @papernoise, @samule.edmoon, @pftjschute, @mlogger, @boboter, @Shiftr, @BPCook, @sunbeamer, and @pfig.

My hope is that this record can help you feel confident in your creative impulses, and act as a springboard to push past any feelings that are preventing you from realizing something cool :).

Thanks for reading/listening!
John

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Awesome insight!

Thanks so much for sharing this and letting me have an early listen. Massive congrats on this amazing release :heart:

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Beautiful tunes, and thank you for the write up and thoughtful title. The weird subconscious competition is something I’m struggling with right now, and these thoughts and ideas are like a glass of cool water for my mind.

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Thank you as always for the encouragement @samule.edmoon

And that’s great to hear it’s helpful (though sorry you are going through it) @license. Sending positive thoughts your way to get over the hump!

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Really nice work! It’s my first listen on my brand new MOTU M4 and it’s absolutely perfect!

Congrats!

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Awesome, glad it could help you break that in!

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Hey everyone here are some codes for download for the record if anyone wants a download.

jxvl-h4rp
74gq-vpcn
vsu7-g2se
fjwv-3lh3
mfs8-hjas

EDIT: thank y’all for using these!

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I used the above code. Thanks so much! I really like this record a lot!

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No problem, thank you for listening!

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The cover art looks great on my iPhone too!

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Used this one, thanks so much! :orange_heart: Will give it a proper listen tomorrow morning on the ride to work!

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Awesome hope you enjoy

really enjoyed listening to this on the elliptical this morning, thank you for sharing.

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I hope you enjoy @pleco and that’s awesome to hear @fourhoarder Based on what I’ve heard, the record has now been listened to on the elliptical, while rollerblading, and on a bike ride, and that makes me very happy!

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aw thanks john, i’m humbled that you would include me in that list of hitters. I appreciate your depth of focus and I’m blessed you let me into your process a bit.

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Just used this one! This record rocks! Love reading all about your process too.

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@pftjschute thank you!! I really appreciated our discussion on the early material for some of this. Was definitely thinking about those things as I had been making this.

And hope you enjoy @jdambr!

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I’m really enjoying this release, thanks a bunch. And I’m always happy to hear a back story and personal notes. Very inspiring stuff.

Fellow rollerblader yay

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I just picked this up this morning after getting a nudge from Bandcamp notifications. Sounds fantastic. I particularly like the chugging of ‘Entering The Tunnel’.

Nice work, labelmate. :smiley:

Edit: I spoke too soon, maybe, the last track is my favourite.

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Thank y’all @Jet and @OHNE!

It’s interesting to me to hear the different tracks people connect with the most…also you made me realize I actually got the names swapped between “entering the tunnel” and “in the dark” (luckily I didn’t mess up the order just the names of the files/titles on bandcamp) :sweat_smile: :laughing:

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