Wot I like: Superorganism

I’ve come to consider myself as a creature of fads. I’m nerdy in that when I like something I like it hard, but I can never say how long I’ll like it. I’ve always come back loving music and video games and movies, but sometimes I completely lose interest in one of them – and it’s never clear how, when, or why I’ll regain that interest. Some interests have come and gone, and have yet to come back – like Anime. But it could very well come back, like, tomorrow! After all, “Nichijou” is still floating around on my  “to-watch” list. And when I do finally learn the context of those dog bites, goddammit I’m gonna write about it! So when that’s the thing Wot I Like, here’s where I’ll put it.

For now though, this is what I like.

 

For the past few months I’ve found myself particularly interested in songs with multiple vocalists communicating to each other. The most obvious and abundant are songs with a male voice and a female voice. Probably because love blah blah, heteronormativity blah blah. In most examples, I find myself identifying with the first voice I hear. Listening and finding the ways in which I relate. Then, when the second voice enters, they shed a new light on the first, revealing something about their character – flaws that I as the listener couldn’t see when I was actively relating. In my favorite examples, the voices merge, overlap, interrupt, or disappear. All of which (if done well) results sheer musical bliss if you ask me.

Literally speaking, “It’s All Good” has at least six voices. It’s never clear whether any particular voice is speaking to any other, but it is clear that they are part of the same being, speaking at least in relation to each other, and finally merging into one screaming entity. From the first time I listened to this song I was able to find a bit of myself in each voice. The robotic observer, stating the weather and listing what I might do next. The emotional reactor, trying to cope and find balance. The optimistic reassurer, trying to convince myself that I’m in control. All those voices are so distinct and full of character, but ultimately, through a jumble of noise and words, they merge and scream, “It’s All Good”. Out of that merger also comes a completely new voice that I don’t even understand (though I suppose that metaphor fails a little bit if you happen to speak Korean).
The idea that I am myself a fusion of characters is very appealing to me. The idea that when I am with someone I love, we manifest into our own fusion of characters – makes me want to cry. For the past few years, I have occasionally been blessed with that feeling,  which I can now also refer to as the feeling of “Superorganism”. “It’s All Good”, at least for today, has been a reliable way to feel that feeling.

Advertisements

My Rig, “Fun & Games”

I recently moved to a new city – Milwaukee, in the first semi-permanent move of my adult life. I’ve left for college, and to study abroad, but those moves didn’t necessitate the kind of inventory management this one has. In this move I took stock of what I own, and got rid of a lot of extraneous stuff; mostly to justify the extraneous stuff I know I’m going to accrue very soon.

In the interest of taking stock and being organized, I thought it would be nice to make a rig list dedicated to all the hardware shit I own that ostensibly helps me make art.

Computer
Motherboard:
Gigabyte M68MT-S2
CPU: 
AMD FX-8120 Eight Core
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
HDD: 1TB Seagate
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Soundcard: Yamaha MG10XU   (External)

Hardware
-Yamaha MG10XU Mixing Console (Thanks for letting me steal this, dad)
-Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers
-Boss CH-1 “Super Chorus” effect pedal
-TC Electronics “Ditto X2” loop pedal
-V-Moda LP2 Headphones
-Pioneer VSK-522-K  A/V reciever
– Floureon BM-800 Condenser Mic

Instruments
-Yamaha YDP-143 Digital Piano
-Novation Impulse49 MIDI Keyboard (w/proline pedal)
-Novation Launchpad Mini (I’ll learn how to use you one day)
-JOM
-Yamaha YRH-314 French Horn

This is probably a tacky thing to do, but I think it will be helpful for me to have a running list of the hardware I’m using, so I can at least know what I should prioritize upgrading, and so I don’t forget to use everything I have. It also gives me the comfortable illusion that I know something about life as I start to get bills, and tax thingers, and Starbucks “Partner Kits” in the mail. I’ve got a few nice “responsibility piles” going, but I’m already out of desk space, so maybe I’ll invest in a paper organizer next.

In other news, I have a Bandcamp! True, I’ve had one before, but this time I’m 70% sure I won’t immediately feel overwhelming self doubt and take it down right away. Because this time I have an EP! You can buy it for 3$, or pay what you want for any individual track. True again, this EP is actually just a collection of all the stuff I’ve made in the past year glued together and given a unifying image and title, but what is art anyway?

Actually though, it feels nice to put an end on something, even if it’s a mostly arbitrary end to something I didn’t really know I was starting to begin with. There’s a feeling of inadequacy I often get when listening to other peoples music. When I tried to express that feeling to  my friend she asked, “Won’t you always feel that way though?”. It’s nice to think that my heroes have heroes and that they probably feel inadequate when they make that same comparison. I’ve found that no matter what I’m working on, it’s hard to value the progress I’m making. But it’s humbling to think that even if you “make it” in some way, it will still be hard.

I named the playlist that held my compositions “Fun & Games” a long time ago. I think at one point it held my one and only original recorded piece. But the title still feels appropriate. It’s a nice reminder that even though I’m making these arbitrary decisions, like when to be done with a project that has no deadline, and how much to sell it for – all I’m actually doing is playing and learning, and for the moment that’s all I want to be doing.

It seems like I’ve hit the equilibrium of boring technical blubbering and boring emotional blobbering, so ta-ta for now.

Fall, Oh Me!

Recently, during the weeks in which I’m working on a song, I  will listen to that song over and over, in every environment I can. On the speakers in my room, in the car on my way to work, on Alexa: As many different places as I can, multiple times. And then, as soon as I make an edit or add something new, it has to be listened to again, everywhere. Sometimes I’m listening for imperfections, or trying a new part in my head, but a lot of the time I’m listening just because I have a hard time letting go after I walk away from my computer.

For that reason, I started this project with a strict seven day limitation. Originally I was going to do a song a week for several weeks, but I’m not going to hold myself to that just yet. I do, however, want to continue enforcing restrictions of some sort. I have a running list of things I want to work on, and things that inspire me. After reading a very helpful AMA, I decided to group things from that list into particular projects and see what comes out of them. So far I’m happy with the results.
For this project I:
– Limited myself to one week. That way I could be obsessive, like usual, but with an urgency that pushed me to progress and say yes to ideas instead wasting several days listening but changing nothing. I said yes to pretty much every idea I had with this project, so it maybe turned out a little homogenized, but that’s okay. It also means I didn’t have enough time to mix it what-so-ever, so it can sometimes be a bit of an assault on the ears. But maybe I’ll come back and mix it later. For now I’m prioritizing my goals over quality.

– Drew heavily from the call & response technique I heard in “Eyes”. I still want to do a lot of lyrical call & response, but I’m pretty happy with how much the idea of two voices communicating, reacting, and syncing influenced this one. I kept it in mind every day, and noticed it a lot in other music I was listening to, and was inspired to keep playing with it.

– Wrote something I can perform. This was the biggest one. After I learned how to lock different parts of my keyboard to different instruments, I knew I wanted to utilize that, with looping, to write a song I could do live. I’m still rhythmically inaccurate at a few parts, but I can do it, and it’s so. much. fun.

– Broke away from using one continuous loop. I have a tendency to come up with one loop and just layer on it for the duration of a song. I wanted to not do that. The communication theme helped in giving me a non-arbitrary reason to write two unique sections. I’m still not super satisfied with the bridge between them, or the fact both individual sections rely heavily on one baseline loop, but whatever. However jankily, Quest complete.

It wasn’t necessarily a goal, but as I got going on this project I became increasingly inspired by “Stardew Valley”. It captures seasons incredibly, in large part thanks to the music, and I tried to emulate that.

 

Next deadline is Halloween. I gotta come up with something spoopy, which is not my forte. I’m looking forward to it, and to having even less time to finish something.