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):
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:
- electricity (ultrasound noise sounds like raw electricity to me, kind of)
- 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)
- aquatic phase (phase for the minimalist nature, aquatic cause it makes me think of water)
- 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)
- 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)
- buster (a sweet dog we inquired about…the first one actually…but unfortunately was not a fit for our living situation at the time)
- 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)
- will it be (I came up with this name long ago, no idea what I was going for, but it seems right for it)
- 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?)
- in the dark (IDK it sounds kinda dark, haha)
- wild ride (I don’t smoke weed anymore but this song reminds me of when I did)
- 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!