Monday, December 28, 2015

The Instrumentality Project - Jaded

Presenting the new album,
the third chapter in the Instrumentality Project
and the third commercial release by The Lady anoNYMous:

Wow. Just fucking wow, y'all. It's almost year's end, and in the past ten months (since February 19th) I've released nineteen (gods, there's that number again... Fuck you, Stephen King!) Bandcamp records to the public - including three compilation albums - and now, three sixteen-track commercial releases, making for forty-eight of my songs bearing my soul and infecting the ears of people all over the world. And they are all over the world! According to SoundCloud, people in 116 countries have accessed my music... I'm not even sure I can name 116 countries. Personally, I have made online friends of folks all over Europe because of my music, including one super-fan in the Russian Federation, and I have regular (roughly translated) correspondence with fans in Asia. I don't know of a single fan in Missouri, aside from my mom...but then, folks in Missouri haven't really impressed me with their taste in music, with the exception of one Facebook friend who recently got a meet-and-greet with Tool. So fucking jealous...

My (half-hearted) apologies for all the f-bombs, but this is just so fucking wild! I'm not a big rock star; I'm still broke as hell (actually, I think I'm more broke than people in Hell); I'm not wildly popular on the charts of any country's music; but my music is out there and it's being heard. And with each album, both commercial and non-commercial, the number of people it's being heard by seems to be increasing exponentially. There may yet be a way to make money doing this, while also staying true to my belief in making art accessible. If only artists were important enough to society that they were considered public servants and paid as such...because it certainly feels like we are to me! But hey, I've always lived to serve, and that's no joke! From being a cook to being a janitor to being an artist, to my personal life, I feel as though I've always been (sometimes even proudly) providing people with a needed service.

For this latest album, that has meant opening some old wounds to create art that appeals to and is best related to by people who have had brushes with the crueler side of humanity and had to continue on, hardened by the experience. Jaded not only refers to my fictional alter ego, Jade (see "A Jaded Beltaine" in the Snail Tales section of this blog), but to my current disposition as a person who's been used up, spit out, and shat upon by selfish bastards, many of whom I've forgiven and have continued (though distanced) relationships with and that I have witnessed having similar experiences since. If karma is coming around to give these people what they deserve, I can only wonder what the fuck I could have possibly done to deserve some of the treatment I've experienced over the years. The last thing I want is a pity party, but fucking hell (sorry, I can't seem to stop), it seems as though my entire life has been spent being used as an emotional punching bag or being taken advantage of by people, and now I'm in therapy and on psychiatric medication after purposely trying to drink myself to death. People can be such godsdamned evil shits, sometimes.

So (heh) this album is kind of about that. From the mournful melody of "Jade's Theme" that I've been carrying around with me since composing it to introduce (the debut EP) Progress Report; to the angry spoken-word piece accompanying "Mr. Douter" about those who would try to extinguish the spark of another human being; to "The Manic Widow's" new dance mix; to the weak and the meek who end up preying on the good intentions of another in "Sublime Like Swine;" to rebuilding from the aftermath of the destructiveness of the using and the losing in "The Ground Up (Rebuild);"...the theme runs through the album until some sense of serenity is found in the keeping on to keep on of the moon ("every night she drowns / every night she'll rise") in "Lily White," is embraced like "Cold Sunlight," and solace is found among "The Tranquil Isles." 

It's tempting to use this opportunity to rant about individual personal experiences, to tell you all exactly what evil shit my ex-husband did after our break-up to earn him the alter ego of Mr. Douter after six years of marriage during which I supported him financially and emotionally, shit that's I can't imagine anyone (not even him) deserving of, but part of the purpose of these songs is re-attempting to exorcise those demons. To try - yet again - to let this shit go. But any of y'all who can relate know that it can be so hard. That you can feel as though it's over and done with, as though you've moved on, only to have those feelings of hurt and betrayal bitch-slap you when you unexpectedly see the perpetrator's face or hear their name. You can feel as though you've honestly forgiven someone who's stolen from you, then read a Facebook rant by them of going through a similar experience to what they put you through, and you can't help but feel grim satisfaction and the urge to comment, "So now you know how it feels, eh, motherfucker?" You want to be a bigger person than that. You don't want to admit that you can be that callous and shallow, and yet these are the feelings that rear their ugly heads as a direct result of the sins committed against you. Not only have these people hurt and betrayed you, but they've made you (me) an uglier person on the inside. And it pisses me off all the more.

When writing the release article for Wisps of Reason, I honestly felt it would be pushing it to come up with enough post-Occultation material to fill another album, but with these experiences to draw on, and with the insane pace at which I've been working to sublimate Holiday Season-related issues (work which will also be filling a new Snail Tunes EP entitled Sublimate, following the release of the next EP, Obfuscate) it was actually more difficult not to release this album sooner than I have. I very well could have, but it was actually nice to have the extra time to let the songs breathe as I fine-tuned them and re-ordered the track listing about a million times. As I mentioned in previous posts, I put off this release to give Alejandro (Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia) and Matt (of iamwarface) some time to work on some contributions/collaborations I requested of them. Unfortunately, Alejandro has been experiencing some ongoing health issues while also working on his own band's material while Matt has had renovations, the holidays, and the new Star Wars movie (yes, I'll actually let him use that) to draw on for excuses. For those who were looking forward to these contributions: if I have my way, Alejandro will still get around to substituting for my vocals on the more melodic parts of "The Between" (which I did re-record for this release, and I think there's been an improvement since the version released on Wisps) and Matt and I have been talking about a more equal collaborative effort (talking him recording a new drum track and a vocal track to duet with mine) for "Sublime Like Swine." I'm not as ashamed of my vocals on "Sublime Like Swine," though, and I hope y'all enjoy it. I prefer it to "Darkest Dreams." It's my feeling that the rasping, scratchy, screaming quality of my attempt to "belt it out" matches the nu-metal quality of the song, and it now feels naked to me when I listen to it without vocals. I feel as though that song came together beautifully in the end.

And speaking of songs that came together beautifully with vocals, I'm really excited for y'all to finally hear "Cold Sunlight," which is all-around a very different song for me. More in the acid-jazz vein of trip-hop, this is the result of finishing a song I started long ago when trying to come up with a more jazzy piano number, inspired at the time by Tori's "In the Springtime of his Voodoo." I halted work on it and shelved it in favor of other songs I-can't-remember-how-long-ago, and was randomly inspired to add a little bit of instrumentation while combing through the Archives of the Shelved, I do every now and again during the rare occurrence that I'm working on nothing else. And that little bit of instrumentation inspired a little more...and a little more...and I was also in the midst of practicing leaving "spaces" for vocals, and so inserted a few rhythm-section-only lengths here and there. And it just so happened that on a cold, sunny winter's day, I was sitting outside and enjoying the feel of the sun on my face while listening to what I had so far, and I started to croon random poetry to it. Then I started to write down bits of random poetry that might fit, and before long I had a song with music, lyrics, and vocals. It really came together quite smoothly and beautifully, and I'm particularly proud of this tune. I even think the vocals turned out quite well. For this release, it's a slightly different recording and edit than what I released on Erised. I think it's been improved further still. I hope those who managed to get their hands on Erised feel the same.

It is very healing to be making this music and to have it out there, if for nothing more than to have a reason to put one foot in front of the other and to have something to look forward to. Who would I be shitting if I were to say that I don't care if I never make it big? I want my music to be heard by as many people as possible and I want to be able to make a comfortable living (any kind of living at all would be nice, really) from my art, but I honestly don't care about the lifestyle of the rich and famous or the adulation that comes with (some forms of) celebrity. And that I am doing this is such a fucking rush in and of itself. It makes me want to take the many people I know who have massive amounts of unexplored talent by the shoulders, shake them, and scream in their faces, "Just fucking do it for the sake of it doing it and stop being afraid of how much you suck!" My music's not for everyone, and I admit it stung when I saw that someone had rated it only one star on Google Play (it felt so godsdamned personal, and for all I know it was!), and I know my voice isn't even close to what it used to be and I probably shouldn't be recording myself singing at all these days (after tweeting "The Between" in promotion for Wisps of Reason, a website for vocal lessons started following me in response), but I love my music, and I love to make it, and I know of at least a handful of people who are devoted to following my art because they love the art (it's kind of refreshing when it isn't about me at all!). So far, no one has come right out and screamed, "You suck, just stop it already!" (which has happened to me when I was on stage doing spoken-word long ago) but there's a strong possibility that it might. I promise myself I won't listen to them. I know y'all see a successful band like Tool or Muse and think to yourself, "There's no way they're afraid of sucking," but do you really think that, at the beginning at least, that fear wasn't there? I know this is encouraging potential competition in an already overcrowded playing field, but if you're creative and you feel as though your creativity is untapped, just do it for the sake of doing it, people. I don't regret starting on this journey one fucking iota.

There are so many ways that life is going to get you down, and if you live long enough, you're going to experience just about every kind of cruelty the world has to offer. I've experienced more than many do in an entire lifetime in thirty-three years, and I don't even have any enemies that I know of. That's a big part of what makes my hurts so fucking painful. They were caused by friends and family, by people I loved and that I was the most vulnerable to. There's a big possibility that some of those people are reading this, and I don't necessarily aim to make them feel guilty or as though they deserve every ounce of pain coming to them, but my heart has been hardened, and a big part of what I had always felt made me who I was used to be my willingness to trust and to extend a helping hand no matter how many times I was knocked down...but not so much anymore. My spark flickers feebly on most days. I'm not so willing to love or let myself be loved. I'm not much of a romantic anymore, and I used to be a high-flying hopeless romantic. I miss these aspects of who I used to be. I think what makes me most angry at the people who have hurt me is that they've changed me, and I get angry at myself for having let them. But I can say this much for being Jaded: I feel as though I could stare into the eyes of just about anyone seeking to harm me and rip out their soul with nothing but a steady gaze. Is that something to take pride in, I wonder? Or is there truly no benefit, to anyone whatsoever, of becoming what life would make of you?

I'm going to say, to myself as much as anyone else, do your godsdamned best to fly high and never let anyone get you down! Nobody wins from the cruelties we have to offer each other. And don't let fear or feelings of inadequacy or ineptitude keep you from giving the world what you may have to offer. Just fucking do it for the sake of doing it! Let your inner snails be RESILIENT AND DETERMINED!

No, I'm not done yet. The Snail just had to make its appropriate appearance a little early. I still want to tell y'all more about what this new album has to offer. First off, let me present you with the track listing:

01. Jade's Theme (Van Gogh Reprise)
02. Mr. Douter
03. The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)
04. Simplify
05. Dorian
06. The Between
07. Jaded (Alternate Spin)
08. Sublime Like Swine
09. Nyctality
10. Umbra (Alternate Spin)
11. The Ground Up (Rebuild)
12. Jade's Theme (A Dirge)
13. Lily White
14. The Seventh Swan
15. Cold Sunlight
16. The Tranquil Isles

There, that lets me reference what songs I have yet to touch upon. Such as "Dorian," where, in all seriousness, it felt like some sort of ghost-boy tapped me on the shoulder and whispered his name before disappearing on me when it came to naming this song. I've decided that Dorian is the mysterious Arcane Son, and that this song was his way of letting me channel his name. I know how that sounds, but part of not succumbing to being a jaded bitch is letting your imagination run wild and free. So there.

I'd also like to point out that this Alternate Spin of "Umbra" is slightly different than that released on Wisps of Reason, in that it's been remastered and has a "hidden" synth, as in, you'll feel as though you have a finely tuned instrument for an ear if you catch it. Or you'll feel as though you're overly familiar with this song.

The Alternate Spin of "Jaded" contained herein is a fix on how the flamboyant guitar at the beginning always struck me as a little too over-the-top, that the immediately following piano section felt a little naked, and that the piano section following the first industrial-metal interlude always felt a little off to me. I've corrected these by replacing the opening guitar with my theremin-mimicking synth, while the rest has been solved with additional industrial effects or electric guitar. 

This recording of "The Ground Up" is different than that contained on A New Era and its spin-offs, hence the subtitle to differentiate the two. It also seeks some fixes to minor things that had been bothering me with the addition of a new synth to balance out the noise-levels in places while also helping some of the additional guitar-work feel less raw and abrupt. 

Lastly, I've remastered Alejandro's vocals on "Lily White" for this release, most notably removing the vocal distortion from the harmonizing, falsetto secondary vocal track. At this point, I'm not quite sure why I added the distortion in the first place. I think it sounds better without it. All I can is shrug and say vaguely, "Just one of those things, I guess..."

And that about wraps it up for the songs. Now, as you probably know, there is an alternate Artist's Edition available to Patreon patrons. Unlike the other Artist's Editions, this one has two additional songs on it, which are inserted among the other tracks rather than being tacked onto the end as "bonus tracks," making it more of an "extended director's cut" than a "bonus track edition." I prefer the Artist's Edition and think the additional songs and resulting change in the song ordering enhance the overall flow of the record. If you're wondering why the hell I didn't include these songs on the commercial release, it is expressly for the purpose of treating my Patrons as more special than those who would buy the commercial release from a store. I value the personal connection that Patreon facilitates and that these people - my Patrons - place value on supporting me directly. And these tracks are also on this Edition to encourage others to join in the Patreon system and find out exactly how much more of a rewarding and personal experience it is than just streaming an album or purchasing it from a store. Now, one of these tracks can already be heard on a previous blog post and on my SoundCloud page, that track being "Overdrive." Consider that but a teaser to when it is joined with "Passage Through The Veil," an epic post-metal song that rivals "The Cloud Walkers" and also paves the way for "Overdrive" with its closing piano riff.

The Artist's Edition also has the qualities the other Artist's Editions have that separate them from their commercial counterparts. You see, my distributor only allows me to send the tracks and the album cover far and wide, while the Artist's Editions have everything that makes a Bandcamp release superior. There's individualized, unique artwork associated with each track, and there's a PDF booklet of artwork and liner notes that accompanies the downloads. I've discovered that, on appropriate songs, you can also display lyrics on capable devices. Seriously, I wasn't aware of that before until I tapped my phone screen during "Sublime Like Swine," and up popped the lyrics! I was the one who input them into Bandcamp, but I didn't know that this was a resulting feature!

So, while I will be - as per usual - promoting and listing all of the ways you can stream and download the commercial version of this release, remember that the Artist's Edition provides a superior experience and that you really can't do better to support an artist and their work than by making a pledge (even if it's only a one-time thing!) through Patreon.

And that, I do believe, is all, folken! Enjoy the album! I will be posting links here at the end of the article to the stores at which this release is available as it goes live.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Erised and What Came After - UPDATED 12/20

So, y'all should know by now that I'm pretty impatient when it comes to sharing my music, though I've gotten a lot better! Still, holding off on releasing Jaded is fucking killing me, yo! However, I do have an outlet for my impatience in the form of Patreon and The League of Extraordinary Snails, masked as a way for me to reward my financial supporters, when in actuality they are my guinea pigs that I unleash songs on when I just can't hold out anymore. Cue sinister laughter.

And so it is that I've created Erised, shamelessly named after the mirror in Harry Potter to proudly display just how much of a geek I am. If there were a shorter name for the Mirror of Galadriel, that would have been the title, just so you know. I would've gone for a Lord of the Rings reference first. Why I've named this three-track mini-EP after a mirror - why a mirror reference in general seemed of import - escapes me, so feel free to psychoanalyze it and get back to me with whatever you come up with. But the title goes wonderfully with the cover, and the cover is a beautiful manipulation of the base image for much of my poster art and for the cover of Jaded (which I call "Nym, the Great and Powerful") and the photograph by Robert Zuchowski (titled "Up in the Air") that was used for the cover of Wisps of Reason.

Little trade secret: I'm showing the cover image with this background and this size because it will conveniently appear perfectly-sized for links posted on social media. Just sharing in case you ever noticed a pattern and wondered about it.

Anyway, as far as Patreon goes, Erised joins Jade & Co. in the tier of rewards for pledges of $5 or more. If you're thinking that these two combined will give away all the new material to be found on Jaded, you'd be wrong. I've been working so much on new material while fine-tuning Jaded and waiting to see what Alejandro and Matt might come up with that I actually already have a title, cover, and track listing for the first seven-track Snail Tunes EP to be released in 2016! So there is one song from Jaded included on this new teaser, but the other two songs (titled "Passage Through The Veil" and "Overdrive") are from the next Snail Tunes release. I've decided to share "Overdrive" here for you, my dear readers.

This bit of orchestral dance rock with darkwave, industrial-metal undertones is actually a sequel of sorts to the other song, "Passage Through The Veil," which is an orchestral post-metal epic that threatens to replace "The Cloud Walkers" as my magnum opus... Well, maybe not. There are similarities, but is there really any replacing "The Cloud Walkers?" Only my audience will be able to tell me when "Passage Through The Veil" is released in 2016.

The song from Jaded joining these two on Erised is very, very dear to me and I'm very proud of it, but also very nervous to release it. It's a haunting, bluesy, mellow little piece of trip-hop in the acid jazz sort of vein of that sub-genre, called "Cold Sunlight," and I sing on it. This isn't me screaming, or trying to imitate Maynard, nor is it chanting or wordless wailing. This is the gentle crooning of genuine lyrics. Okay, I go a little loud and grungy for one verse, but the rest is me just letting these verses be pulled out of me by the music. I'm not going to try and get anyone else to sing this one for me, so this is what you get, and I really hope you like it. I love this song, and I hope I'm doing it justice. Even today I've been working hard at fine-tuning it. Luckily, I still have a few weeks to continue to do so if the need should come upon me before I release it to the public at large.

Well, that's all about Erised. And so y'all know, "Overdrive" is also available as a single-song download for all Patrons, and Erised is available to Leaguers as well. Now, I've been working all day just to get these rewards ready and posted, and I'm cracked out on coffee and my stomach is rumbling and it's three in the morning. I'd say it's about time to have some desert and watch The Vampire Diaries, wouldn't you?

UPDATE: A newly remastered edit of "Sublime Like Swine," featuring myself for vocals, is now available in tier of rewards for pledges of $1 or more at Patreon.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Starlight Music Chronicles Spotlight

Howdy, folken! A very brief, but very special post today.
The Lady anoNYMous is now being featured in the Spotlight
Check out the interview!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Jade & Co.

Man, I haven't felt this grateful to be working as a musician in a while now. What has changed, you may ask? Absolutely nothing. I'm still piss poor and facing all the usual discouraging factors, but I've felt a resurgence in inspiration hitting me out of nowhere that has me excited to be working again - and yes, it is work, and it's like any other job where you have days where you feel like you just can't face it - and I've been having moments are I appreciate the enormity of the little things. Like earlier today, I came into the house after freezing my ass off to smoke a cigarette, then poured a fresh cup of coffee and returned to my little work set-up on the couch...and it smacked me hard in the face that, while this may not last and this adventure might not be successful, right then I was going to settle onto that couch with a hot beverage, cozy up under a blanket that's been in my life as long as I can remember, and work from home doing something that I wanted to be doing then and there. And if that can't provide a little extra motivation to get my ass in gear and work as hard as I can to be successful at what I'm doing, I don't know what can.

I can't really put my finger on where this post-Thanksgiving gratitude or fresh creativity has come from (it really might be Abilify - you've undoubtedly seen the commercials - and yes, I'm really on this anti-psychotic mood stabilizer now, and no, you won't ever hear it called that in the commercials, just the friggin' psychiatrist's office) but since releasing Wisps of Reason, I've been on a roll. Remember how I said (in the release article) that my goal of releasing the next commercial record by the end of the year might be pushing it? Well, if I let my impatience get the best of me, I could put it out now. I've been working nonstop, only taking a break to eat and catch a couple hours of sleep here and there, just like in the early days when I had myself working in feverish delirium all the time, except that I know better how to pace myself and care for myself now. There's just no dragging ass, which I had been admittedly prone to lately.

It's really kind of hard not to put the album out already. There's so much new music that I want to share! And I'm not even done promoting the new music from Wisps yet! So I guess it's kind of a good thing that I asked my rock star friends (yeah, I really call them that in my head) Matt Warface of (IAM)WARFACE and Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia to consider offering their vocal talents to a couple of my songs and told them they had until the end of the month before I move  forward with the album. I already have vocals recorded for the specific songs I've asked for their assistance with, and they're not half-bad at all, but I think these songs could be considerably improved with their abilities. For example, "The Between" is already released on Wisps of Reason with my vocals, but I think the more melodic bits (but I'm keeping my screaming on there, dammit! I'm just too proud of it!) would suit Alejandro's beautifully clear warbling better. And I have a con palabras recording of "Darkest Dreams" retitled "Sublime Like Swine," but I think Matt would sound fantastic on it, and he's been offering for a while now.

So I'm being forced to spend more time with these songs, which really can't hurt, as I get the inspiration to tweak them every now and then. Even if Matt ends up not having time to record vocals for me before the end of the month, I've already gone and remastered the vocals on "Sublime Like Swine" with a different compressor, which has made a hell of a difference from the recording I sent off to him, which happens to be the same recording I've already released to Patrons and Leaguers on a new reward titled Jade and Co.

Jade and Co. is a new four-track mini-EP (I learned today that, according to Distrokid, it would technically be considered an EP because it's more than three tracks, while all of my seven-track "EPs" would be considered albums because they're over thirty minutes in length, but I make my own rules, so whatever) offering a preview of the new album, which I'm confirming is going to be called Jaded - there's already a cover, I've always wanted to name a record after her...yep, it's Jaded. And Jade will be arriving with some friends; new characters to add to the Snail Tunes/Tales mythology. But more on that later. The mini-EP offers two all-new original songs bookended by two new renditions of familiar tunes, all of which are exclusive to the new album, for a track list that looks like this:

1. The Ground Up (Rebuild)
2. Sublime Like Swine
3. The Seventh Swan
4. Jade's Theme (Van Gogh Reprise)

"The Seventh Swan" sounding like this:

There, that should help with my almost overpowering need to share my music! I hope y'all enjoy it. I love this song. It was almost effortless in the writing and recording process, and then it tapped me on the shoulder and said, "By the way, I'm the Seventh Swan." To which I replied, "What the fuck?" but it was gone on invisible wings before I could get any clarification on the matter. This song has been with me for a good while now, and I've listened to it more times than I can count and have already tweaked it quite a bit, so I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this song will appear on the album as it is now. Just so you know. And yes, that's a sample of the working cover for the album. It's simple, elegant, and I didn't have to pester an artist to donate their work because I can't pay them anything.

This leads me to touch on the taboo subject of reaching out for funds. You know that old adage "You have to spend money to make money?" Well, it happens to be true in the music industry. One problem I've encountered is that collecting royalties is not nearly as simple as it should be. Sure, Distrokid will collect royalties for me from sources they've distributed my music to...for as long as I pay them. Then there's royalties from sources they didn't distribute to. For example, I now have four songs playing on Darkwave Radio, earning me income, but the royalties just get set aside in some nether world that no one can really explain to me and if they're not collected within a certain amount of time that nobody will specify, then they just dissipate. Also, YouTube sets aside funds for royalties for music played in all monetized videos, but again, they have to be collected. Anyone can be using my music in YouTube videos without my even realizing it, and YouTube might have money waiting for me, but I have no easy way of knowing it's there and the task of collecting isn't an easy one. Turns out there's different kinds of royalties and you have to jump through all sorts of bureaucracy for all manner of types and different districts to collect, which is why companies exist that will deal with all that shit and collect your earnings for you...for a price. The best I've found is a one-time payment of $75 to a company called Symphonic Distribution. I don't have $75. Right now, my earnings (mainly through Patreon) pay for my music addiction with an Apple Music subscription and tipping hard-to-find artists who offer their music for pay-what-you-will on Bandcamp. I don't even pay rent, because I don't have my own place.

You see, I have this theory: when you offer a service or product on a "pay what you can, when you can" basis - offering to work for tips/donations - people will undoubtedly figure, "Well, I'm sure if they're doing that, then they must be able to afford to work for free" or they'll think, "I'm sure someone else is tipping them, and what good is $1 going to do them anyway" or they think (and this is the kind of person I don't even want listening to my music) "Well, I'm not made of money, why should they get to do something they love." That last is such a loveless attitude and doesn't recognize that I offer is a service and a product, and I've had a hard time coming round to this stance myself, but I do deserve to get paid for it, because I work damn hard at it.

But man, if you listen to someone's music and you pass up on an opportunity to make a donation to them because you figure they're getting paid by someone else...please don't. Because I'm being totally straightforward and honest with you here: I don't make shit and the only way I'm able to do this right now is because I've taught myself to use free resources and because I'm disabled from a failed suicide. I can never manage touring, much less even a live performance, because of my physical handicaps. If it weren't for modern tools, I wouldn't be able to make music. This isn't a pity party. This is to make you understand that I'm in a unique situation and I'm a unique person, to be able to do what I'm doing. Most musicians have day jobs and they absolutely have to demand recompense for the entertainment/mental health services they provide.

So I can be absolutely piss poor and make music. But what I'd like is to be able to afford to better my tools, resources, and living circumstances. I'd like to be able to afford to collect my own earnings. I'd like to be able to feature a real theremin on my recordings. I'd like to be able to get in some studio time for decent vocal recordings; to have my music professionally mastered; to pay contributing musicians and artists... I'd like to be able to afford to finally put together a real physical product - an album called Nothing Left To Lose - that I can share with those who have been supporting me.

And part of my job is working my ass off to reward those who do support me. Financially, I mean. I am incredibly grateful to all those who offer their support just by Liking and Sharing on social media, and to those who simply listen and/or read. I mean, let's just take a moment to appreciate that over 2,200 individuals have given this blog a +1 on Google. Not, this blog has been +1'd 2,200 times, but that's 2,200 individuals who gave the blog itself, not just one of the articles, a +1. Now, I don't know how many of those people are regular visitors. But if just seventy-five people decided to click the "Support Cyber-Busking" button on this blog and donated $1 and didn't just figure that someone else would donate, then I'd be able to collect royalties on my music from all sources that I can think of all over the world. But why just donate that $1 when you could click the Patreon button and pledge $1 and the reap all the rewards that come with such a pledge, such as The Occultation Sessions, A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection, and single downloads of "The Ground Up" and the sin palabras versions of "Lily White" and "The Between"? And if you have $5 to spare, you just opened up two more options. There's buying stock in either Occultation or Jade & Co. on MIME, or there's getting a month's subscription to The League of Extraordinary Snails. Feeling like getting a lot more than one album's worth for $10? Then you can choose from buying stock in both items on MIME, or getting a ton of rewards on Patreon.

See, I not only work hard at making the music itself, but on promoting the music and making it worthwhile in other ways for people to support my making the music. It's a very demanding job. It really sucks ass sometimes. It's only that I love making the music itself and that it's something I happen to think I'm good at that drives me. And I need your support. So I'll break down what you can get for it. This is currently what a subscription to the League has to offer:

All of that is yours, instantly available for DMR-free, high-quality download in a format of your choosing and available for unlimited streaming on the free Bandcamp app. Plus, if you don't have one already, you'll gain a Bandcamp member Feed that you can stream and explore music from, similar to the app.

Now on Patreon - The $1 and up pledges gain access to:

The Occultation Sessions; A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection; and the singles "The Between (Sin Palabras)," "The Seventh Swan," "The Ground Up," and "Lily White (Sin Palabras)."

The $5 and up pledges gain access to:

The above rewards, plus Jade & Co, An Abbreviated Era, and the Artist's Edition of Instrumentality.

The $10 and up pledges gain access to:

All the above rewards, plus the epic 21-track compilation A New Era, the Artist's Edition of Occultation, and - because it's the next release - an Artist's Edition of the new album, Jaded, on or before its release to the public.

Finally there's the MIME stock exchange, where you can buy stock in artists and get rewarded by the artists themselves, as well as gain interest in your stock, for which I'm offering Jade and Co. for $3 and Occultation for $5. So there's plenty of ways to offer financial support - and not for much money (even I pay a buck or two for music that's offered for free on Bandcamp much of the time) - and get a hell of a lot back for giving. Shit, I think that's called an exchange of goods and services, or something. The thing is, I'm an unconventional artist, and I offer a lot of unconventional ways to give your support when you can. Just please, don't always figure someone else is doing it, so why should you? That's the kind of thinking that leads to a whole lot of nothing going on.

As always, thanks for your support and your consideration. You guys do absolutely rock for even just reading all this nonsense. May your inner snails remain resilient and determined.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wisps of Reason

There is no way I could have predicted this. It's beyond what I would have expected in many ways. The radio play, the downloads, the readers, my patrons, the relationships that have been forged... That I would have stuck with my art, or the directions it has taken! At this point in time, as the year is drawing to a close and I've released my third compilation album, there's definitely a lot to reflect on. There's plenty to be thankful for, but I'm thanking the gods that I didn't try to write this on Thanksgiving, when the record was released. It's not an easy holiday for me. Gratitude can be hard to come by. It's a practice, something to strive for, and it can feel unnatural at times. Ironic, then, that it's often most difficult to feel grateful when you have to force it. As a child of a broken home who suffered joint custody between warring sets of parents, the day itself has been repeatedly scarred. This year was nearly not an exception; in fact, it was like reliving my childhood when my mother tried to bully me into joining a Thanksgiving celebration with the family of her fiancé. I stood my ground, however, and opted to spend the holiday alone this year. It took many celebrations with a chosen family of friends to start reversing the negative stigma attached to the holiday for me. I'm not adding a fourth step-family to my history of Thanksgivings I'm not thankful for just because my mother is getting married again, thank you very much. I'm too fucking old for that shit.

So to give this year's Thanksgiving Day positive connotations for me, I chose to release Wisps of Reason on that day.  The material was all there. I just had to assemble it to my satisfaction which, judging by the fact that I've been listening to the record since it's release and it's continuing to make me happy, I believe I have done. Some things didn't work out the way I was expecting or hoping for, but they may all be for the best. That sounds like things didn't come together right, but it's more that they didn't come together as planned. A minor example would be that "A Most Resilient Snail" was bumped off the record in favor of "The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)" at the last minute. A major example would be that I had been hoping to release a version of "Darkest Dreams" complete with lyrics and vocals on this record, but decided to go with the sin palabras version, even though the lyrics and a demo recording of the vocals had been completed. 

I kept trying to will myself to return to the "studio" (meaning go shut myself in the car in the garage with the iPad) for another vocal recording session, but I decided in the end to not stress about it. It was getting too last-minute to feel like I would be doing the song any favors, and I let an email from Alejandro (Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia) be the deciding factor. I had emailed him about the possibility of his recording vocals for the more melodic parts of "The Between" (one of the new songs on this record, previously only available on Nyctanthous B-Sides to Leaguers and Patrons). Now, I'm proud of my work on "The Between," including the vocals I want him to replace. I just know my range is still shot and I haven't accomplished the notes that I desired when recording them. The screaming is excellent, if I do say so myself, but I feel the rest would be served better by Alejandro's talents. In his reply, which I received late Thanksgiving eve (it might have even technically been Thanksgiving Day) he indicated that he found himself drawn to "Darkest Dreams," and I let that be a sign. I have yet to get back to him (are you reading this, my friend?), but my feeling is that I should let him have a crack at it and maybe we could even merge ideas. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm still going to poke at him about recording vocals for "The Between" as a favor to me, and hopefully we'll be hearing what that sounds like with someone who hasn't tortured the fuck out their esophagus singing it on the third commercial release.

A very supportive fan, who has become about as close as an online friend can get to me can be, says that she loves my voice. She's only ever heard it in my songs, so I'm taking it that she thinks my singing is just fine. I hope the rest of you enjoy it as well. I'm pretty self-conscious about it, but I'm feeling braver these days, and like my vocals have recovered significantly since my time in the hospital. Man, I used to romanticize the sound of a voice tortured by whiskey and cigarettes so much. Now I don't even have to try to sound like Kurt Cobain, and I'm wishing I could sound more like Maynard James Keenan, which I used to in my days of singing Tool covers. Maybe someday...

Man, I don't ever want to look through this blog and count how many times I mention the old glory days of my singing voice. Moving on! I really can't believe how quickly I amassed enough material for this record. I guess it just seems quick because I can't seem to help counting back to Occultation when I should be counting back to Nefelibata. I owe a lot of this record to the original material I wrote for the release of Occultation. It's all here, and it's also thanks to said material that, unlike Instrumentality to Nefelibata, there's no new versions of old songs on this record, with the exceptions of "The Last Waltz" and "Jade's Theme."

The version of "Jade's Theme" here, subtitled "A Dirge" (for kinda obvious reasons when you listen to it - it's kinda funereal), is different than that which appeared on Nyctanthous in many ways. In fact, it's the most different from it's Phase Three EP counterpart. The songs use the same instruments and are based around the same melody, but the similarities end there. It's been entirely rewritten and re-recorded, and has the addition of piano and strings instead of being entirely built on synths.

There's differences in other songs from their EP counterparts: the Alternate Spin here of "Umbra" has an entirely rewritten and re-recorded piano part, with minor differences in the drum and guitar tracks as well. The piano opening of "Nyctality" is different. "The Cloud Walkers" has been subtitled "Selenophilia" because the differences between the versions on Occultation and Selenophilia, although subtle, are so many that I feel the distinction should be made. Of course, the Feral Bitch mix of "The Manic Widow" didn't appear on any of the EPs but was recorded and released to Patrons  and Leaguers during this time period, but shouldn't be counted as a counterpart to "The Manic Widow" on Libration, to my thinking. "Feral Bitch" was originally going to remain exclusive to Patreon and The League until the next commercial release, but I kept finding that "A Most Resilient Snail" wasn't fitting into the track listing for this release, while I felt "Feral Bitch" fit in perfectly. So, as I said before, that change was made at the last minute.

That about covers what should be said about the track listing. The cover art is from a piece called "Up in the Air," by an absolutely stunning photographer named Robert Zuchowski whom I met through Tsu. He gave me permission to use this photograph quite a while ago, and right now I can't contact him through Tsu because of computer woes (I really just can't get into that right now, but I count myself lucky to be able to publish anything right now, and suffice to say I simply can't log into Tsu without my Internet browser crapping out), so I can't let him know I've finally gotten around to using it or send him a link to download the album in thanks! It's a little distressing to me, but hopefully it will be resolved soon enough. Maybe I can find another way to contact him. Unfortunately, I don't know if the website I have listed in the credits is what he would have preferred; it's what came up when I Googled him. But I very much encourage people who love the image or photography in general to check out his work. Like I said, it is stunning, and I count myself very blessed to be using one of his images with his permission. It should also be mentioned that the image inspired the title for the album. Yes, I know I've mentioned Wisps of Reason as a possible title for previous records. I've been holding onto this image and Robert's permission to use it for a while now, waiting for the right time.

I know this kind of comes out of nowhere, but I need to wrap this up and eat something, and you know what? I am feeling pretty grateful right about now, and it doesn't feel forced. It might be the Abilify kicking in, but I am thankful for the radio play, the listeners, the downloads, the readers, my patrons, the relationships that have been forged. I'm thankful for my mother for taking care of me after my failed suicide and the resulting health issues and I'm thankful for her fiancé giving her some much-deserved happiness. I'm thankful for my online social life and for the existence of such a medium for socializing, 'cause it's about all I think I can stand. I'm thankful for my therapist. Aaaand that's about as ooey-gooey as I can stand being at the moment. But hey, it takes practice, right?

Wisps of Reason, y'all...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Small Business Saturday Sale

Starting at midnight Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, November 28th, for Small Business Saturday, the Snail Tunes store will be having a special sale. While all items are always marked "name your price," no minimum (which includes FREE), there will be three additions to the store for 24 hours only, priced at US $5.00 each. If you haven't already guessed from the picture, these will include Instrumentality, Occultation, and A New Era.

All three items will be the normally Patreon-exclusive versions, meaning these will be the Artist's Editions of Instrumentality and Occultation not found anywhere else, with track art either unique to the song or indicating its Snail Tunes origins (displaying on all media players I've encountered and heard of) and PDF booklets of album art and liner notes, plus JPEGs of the cover art and track listing, included in the downloads.

For full details (and then some) on each of these records, visit the following links to their release articles:

Remember, by making a purchase, you are not only supporting a small business, but an independent artist as well. Thank you for your consideration and your support.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

B-Sides and More

In the release article for Nyctanthous, I mentioned a song called "The Between" that I was working on and had intended to be on that EP, with the promise that it would be released to the patrons who supported that work as soon as it was finished. Well, now I've released to patrons - as well as to Leaguers and those who would join either crowd-funding platform in support of the Lady - two all-new songs. Yes, "The Between" has been finished, and I am very happy with it. I don't recall when exactly I began working on that song, but you can identify influences very similar to those that went into "Slowly Scooting Closer." I can tell you that the initial inspiration for the piano part in this song came from listening to Thom Yorke, who I personally have dubbed the King of Trip-Hop.

While "The Between" has my characteristic trip-hop beats and features piano throughout, it's very much a post-metal song, with anthemic and orchestral instrumentation as well as heavily distorted electric guitar and a healthy amount of scream-singing. That's right, I'm happy to say that I'm back in the saddle as a professional screamer, and the recording process went very well. All of the screaming in this song is one take, with no looping and no distortion or sustain effects. There is also more melodic singing in this song, but my range is still shot to hell. I'm considering asking Alejandro (who is currently very busy with The Arcane Insignia's upcoming album) to record vocals on a future version of this song; we'll see. In the meantime, what I've recorded ain't bad. This is the most vocal-centric song I have yet to release for this project, and I'm proud of it. The "lyrics" aren't much to speak of. Taken as a whole, they become a very short poem. But hey, I'm kinda taking baby steps back toward my roots as a vocalist and lyricist, and combining that aspect of my musical career with my new-found niche as an avant-garde composer is a bit more difficult than I would have expected. Yet there is progress, and it's very evident with this song.

I'm currently taking a step in a more vocals-and-verses direction with additional work on the other song that's available on Nyctanthous B-Sides. But while I wouldn't have considered "The Between" complete without the vocals, this song very much stands on its own without them. For the purposes of this release, the instrumental version included here has been titled with my initial instinct, which was "Darkest Dreams." However, as I was recording test vocals and coming up with lyrics, the title "Sublime Like Swine" popped into my head. So, the two versions of this song will have two different titles. Here, as a preview for this release and for your enjoyment, is the sin palabras version that is included on Nyctanthous B-Sides, "Darkest Dreams" - an alternative-rock/electronic-pop fusion with a goth-metal twist that actually would have suited Nyctanthous better than "The Between," despite being written after the EP's release.

I had originally intended for the SoundCloud release of this track to be private with this embed an exclusive for my readers, but just now I figured, what the hell? I can use it to more widely promote B-Sides and the upcoming Phase Three compilation (on which I'm hoping to include the con palabras version) if I make this release public. So if you like the song and want more of it in your life, log into your SoundCloud, give it a Like, and Follow my profile while you're at it! And while I'm on the subject, I'd like to remind folken that I have reached the six-hour limit of music for a SoundCloud Pro account. If you'd like all of my music to remain free to stream on SoundCloud, donations can be made through the "Support SnailCloud Unlimited" button at the top of the right-hand side bar.

Moving on... I took my sweet-ass time getting around to posting new exclusives for Patrons and Leaguers after the release of Nyctanthous, which is something I usually try to update right away, as my newest releases usually make some of my exclusives, well, no longer that exclusive. Such has been the case with "Simplify," "Jaded," and "The Tranquil Isles" being included on a public release. So, I've finally gotten my ass into gear and rearranged and updated things.

Now, I've included B-Sides as a reward for Leaguers and in the $5-or-more tier of contributors at Patreon. Already available to Leaguers but newly available to Patrons is An Abbreviated Era, a seven-track EP that includes all five of the original songs from A New Era. Also included in this tier is the Artist's Edition of my first commercial release, Instrumentality - a 16-track collection of the most essential songs from my earlier works, meaning Progress Report through to The Hypnotic Jamboree. What makes it an "Artist's Edition" is the inclusion of a PDF booklet of album art and credits, plus individual track art; all the commercial downloads include is the cover art.

This post-Nyctanthous shuffling around on Patreon has made it so that the individual song downloads available to those pledging $1 or more now include "Darkest Dreams," "The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)," "The Ground Up," and "Lily White (Sin Palabras)." As before, A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection is also available, but now The Occultation Sessions is included. I figured that since the Occultation Spins of "Pentadactyl," "Insults," and "A Not-So-Minor Distraction," and the Alternate Spin of "The Replicant" have been made freely available on Phase Three releases, it made sense to make this seven-track EP available for a pledge of just $1. It also includes the Occultation Spins of "They Delving 2.22," "No Introduction Needed," and "Winter's Remix 2.0."

And of course, the top tier of $10 and up includes A New Era and the Artist's Edition of Occultation, along with everything else.

Little has changed for Leaguers aside from B-Sides now being included for download, as well as streaming on the Bandcamp mobile app, but here's a quick refresher: League membership includes the exclusives Nyctanthous B-Sides, An Abbreviated Era, The Occultation Sessions, A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection, and the single of "Lily White (Sin Palabras)," along with the back-catalog releases Nyctanthous, Libration, Selenophilia, Nefelibata, and Instrumental. All are available as DMR-free downloads in a high-quality format of your choosing, with unlimited streaming on the free Bandcamp mobile app.

That about wraps it up. The Phase Three compilation album should be available, free to the public with optional tipping, by the end of the month. A note about that: it's going to be a Patreon-supported release. That means pledges will be collected from Patrons for this album to be made freely available for everyone. So, here's the thing: if you've been listening, downloading, and enjoying the music, this would be a great time to make a pledge. And no, it won't make you a sheister to make a one-time pledge, reap the rewards, and then cancel after the pledge is collected. It would make you a sheister if you pledged, reaped the rewards, and then canceled before a pledge was collected, which is actually possible to do. Patreon is a system of trust. That means that if you make a pledge, I'm trusting you to follow through with it and not just reap the benefits, same as you would be trusting me to not just release the same crap over and over again, or release each song as a single, and collect a pledge for everything I possibly can. I do my damnedest to make pledging worthwhile for my patrons, so I collect pledges sparingly and offer a whole lot that I put a lot of heart into in return. Because I do want pledgers to stick around. But one-time pledges are still a contribution and are very welcome. So, to reiterate: if you've been enjoying the music and the free downloads and streaming that I have on offer and can afford a buck or more to in contribution for the new compilation album, now would be an excellent time to make a pledge. These pledges keep me working and offering music for everyone to enjoy, and hopefully one day they'll help me upgrade my equipment and enhance what I'm able to do and offer.

That is all. Thanks for reading and for your continued interest and support! May your inner snails remain resilient and determined.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Happy Day of the Dead, all! A word on cultural appropriation: while I understand the intent of the charged political correctness movement and the "Dear white people..." memes abounding on social media, my personal view is that if you find something of value in the traditions of other cultures, embracing it and incorporating it into your personal beliefs or traditions is by no means a bad thing and can serve to bring down barriers between clashing cultures...barriers that, for all the well-meaning and importance of the sensitivity-promoting PC movement, are somewhat enforced by the insistence that "cultural appropriation" have negative connotations.

That being said, as a person who has dead to celebrate, pay respect to, and mourn, Day of the Dead has great meaning for me, and I am most familiar with its practice as Dia de los Muertos. However, cultures around the world seem to mark this time of year - the 31st of October through November 2nd - as a time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Many people of many traditions celebrate this in their own ways, and cultural boundaries are often blurred. I recently saw a Facebook post shared by a close friend of a person of Mexican heritage chastising white people for wearing calaveras makeup. All I have to say to that is: why can't we just appreciate people embracing and celebrating other cultures instead of pointing to lines that we insist not be crossed?

Okay, so that's my little diatribe, as sometimes the PC movement rubs me the wrong way and this struck a cord in particular as I have observed Day of the Dead - understanding it mostly as a Mexican holiday - since I lost two family members to an act of violence. Being accused of insensitivity (not that I don calaveras makeup and break out the sugar skulls) for remembering them on this day struck me as a tad...insensitive. Okay, it pissed me off. But I want to move past that now. I just want to wish everyone a happy Day of the Dead and for my friends, family, and audience to draw what they need from this time of year in whatever practices they engage in.

For me, the entire month of November is a powerful month of remembering my dead. It begins with this day and draws to a close on the 30th, which is the anniversary of this violent occurrence that I mentioned. I try not to remember just this horrific act and the two people whose lives were taken, but to remember all of my dead, and not just in mourning. When the veil is at its thinnest, I want to believe that the souls of all who have had a positive impact on my life and have passed on are especially close to me, and I want to keep them close throughout a month that in the past has been challenging for me. All these years later (this will actually mark the twenty-year anniversary), with this mindset, November has transformed from a time when I was prone to emotional breakdowns to a time when I feel a certain melancholy grace. It is a month when I am both buoyed and burdened by my dead, which somehow feels proper. Well, if not proper, at least...balanced.

It was important to me, in this first year of my career composing as The Lady anoNYMous, that I put out a release at this time. A Halloween release seemed most proper to aim for, as it feels more celebratory - a time to make light of and dance with our demons. If I had fallen behind schedule, as I tend to do, a release on November 1st or 2nd would have also been appropriate, but the closer to Dia de los Muertos, the more personal and melancholy the release would have been for me. Now, I like to be in a celebratory mood when putting out a record, so I was very happy to have something to release on Halloween itself. 

One of the songs being written for this record wasn't finished in time because of some obnoxiousness occurring in my personal life, but I didn't let that stop me from releasing Nyctanthous with a back-up plan in place. I am sorry that I wasn't able to include this song on this record, especially for the paying supporters of this release; however, when the song is finished, it will be released exclusively to Patrons and Leaguers as a sort of belated B-side for Nyctanthous. I hope that my supporters can always say that I do my damnedest to make their support worth their while. They have had access to most of the songs on this record for weeks now, included on varying exclusives depending on their level of contribution. Which brings me to the track list, which of course is the meat of this new record:

If you've been following along, you're most likely familiar with the songs "Jaded," "Simplify," and "The Tranquil Isles" by now. If not, simply visit the previous post and listen to the private playlist "Let Me Play You A Story..." which has been reduced to those three songs since I was forced to remove two others (originally from A New Era) due to space issues on SoundCloud. These songs were written with this release in mind and were intended from the get-go to be made publicly and freely available on Nyctanthous. In fact, the original goal was always to have five original songs for this release, including them, with A New Era and its derivations being a means to release some of them early as a reward to supporters. So in this, at least, I was successful.

One of the earlier songs being written for this record - tentatively titled "The Between" - is still being written. I was all for pushing myself to devote an entire day and night to finishing the writing and recording of this song in time for Halloween, and then my family unexpectedly turned time I thought I was going to have to myself and my music into a cluster-fuck. Therefore, this song (which is coming along beautifully, but still needs to be wrapped up and polished, with an intensive session of vocal recording still needed) will have to be on the next release, which is going to be the Snail Tunes compilation of Phase Three. Yes, it's already that time. I actually have the sixteen-track standard - set by Instrumentality - already filled, but I need to do some serious catching up before I have enough material for the next commercial album. Therefore, I'm taking the time to write and record more material to choose from before releasing the Phase Three compilation, which is titled Wisps of Reason (sound familiar?) for the time being.

And yes, you read that correctly - "The Between" is going to be one of those rare songs to have vocals, which I'm aiming to include more of in my music. No, I'm not trying to move in the direction of being a solo pop/rock artist. I am very much (and somewhat unexpectedly) settled in my role as an "avant-garde composer," which is strange considering my history in music is mostly as a vocalist and front...person. I had very much intended to be in the spotlight, and now that health issues have forced me into the position of a non-performing composer, I've found that I rather like being behind a veil. But I do want my music to, at times, have spaces for lyrics and vocals, and it's something I'm aiming for practice at. And I'm aiming to have more of an equal balance of instrumentals and con palabras in the final product of Nothing Left To Lose.

I am, for everyone's information, still aiming to record a "real" album (meaning physical copies and professionally produced and all that) titled Nothing Left To Lose. For more information about that, and how you can help, check out the pinned post of my Facebook profile and the "about" article of my Patreon profile.

Getting back to this record... As I was working on "The Between" and "Electrothing" (which became "Nyctality"), I returned in my thoughts to the intention I had when writing "Jaded," which was to write theme music for Jade, the protagonist of my Jaded series of urban fantasy stories (check out "A Jaded Beltaine" in the Snail Tales section, if you haven't already). The song "Jaded" was a complete failure in that regard, but I found myself unwilling to retitle it. However, I really wanted to try again, and the closest thing I could think of to what I was aiming for was a piece of music called "Sydney's Theme," composed by John Frizzell for the short-lived 1995 psychological cyberpunk series VR.5,  which remains my all-time favorite television show to this day. Therefore, I meditated on "Sydney's Theme" while recording a cover of it to see if this might inspire me.

It occurred to me while recording this that I already have a piece of music that fits all the qualities of "Sydney's Theme" that I was hoping to have in "Jade's Theme"; a piece of music that is simple, versatile, and slightly melancholy. Also, it would sound fantastic translated onto the "sliding tones" synth that I had manipulated to sound somewhat like a voice (originally in "Lily White") and was somewhat addicted to.

I was thinking of the melody found in "Introducing..." which I had "Introducing..." I no longer wanted to use that tune to "introduce" the set list for each record, and I didn't want to retitle it some variation on the word "introduce" every time I used it, but what if that tune had been introducing Jade all along? She is my fictional alter ego after all, and once upon a time I had used that piece of music to introduce the characters of the Snail and the Widow, which are aspects of myself, and therefore aspects of Jade... Okay, so I can think of a million ways to rationalize it and say, "This is how it was meant to be all along! I used hadn't realized it yet..." but let's just cut the bullshit and plainly say, the melody from "Introducing..." has been stolen and renamed "Jade's Theme"...and has ironically been used to begin the track list of Nyctanthous.

"Jade's Theme" began to dominate my attention more as I admittedly shied away from recording a "real" vocal session (I already have temporary vocals recorded as placeholders while I'm recording the rest of the instrumentation) for "The Between," and I also became enthralled with this "Electrothing" experiment I had going. Initially inspired by a riff in "Unstoppable" by Max Lilja in which he mimics an electric bass with his cello, I set to exploring some of the electric bass synths that I have shunned until now. Also, I think I may have let the hashtag "darkwave" attached to my music by Darkwave Radio go to my head a bit, or else I'm embracing what's already there and running with it. In any case, an electro-style bass riff quickly evolved into my attempt at fusing electro with piano rock in a very manic manner, turning what I had previously touched upon in the Feral Bitch Mix of "The Manic Widow" up to eleven and thoroughly abusing my fingers (health update: I'm in to see a rheumatologist about the possibility of psoriatic arthritis...fucking arthritis at age December) in the process. As I was exploring new words for the title of the EP, "Electrothing" was renamed the made-up word "Nyctality" (the state of darkness?) pretty much at the last minute.

Now, I had already stated in some article or post or other that I was leaning toward including the Alternate Spin of "The Replicant" from the Occultation sessions on this record. I have really fallen in love with this version of "Dusk Devils." It may be that I am getting over the rest of the world's love affair with "The Nocturnal Dervish" or that I'm letting being labeled as "darkwave" go to my head. It may be that I'm finally embracing the reality that I am an electronic composer, as this record as a whole would seem to indicate, despite the inclusion of acoustic guitar on "Simplify" and "The Tranquil Isles" or my piano's pervasive insistence - even on "Nyctality" - that I am a pianist first, dammit! Whatever, the edits that I made to the electronic alternate version of one of my earliest piano goth-rock tunes for Occultation have made all the difference in the world, and I am very happy to finally make it freely available to the public on Nyctanthous.

So with "Jade's Theme" unexpectedly raising the number of original tunes for this record to an impressive six (if you ignore that three of them are actually original to A New Era, which I tend not to include as a Snail Tunes release since it will never be released to the public), I thought I had this track list all figured out. And then I was unable to finish "The Between." A back-up plan snapped into my mind pretty much the moment I learned I was about to unexpectedly have a full house during time I had planned to devote to writing and recording. And that plan was, well, I have other songs yet to be made freely available to the public in the form of Occultation edits. It was just a matter of picking a song from The Occultation Sessions, and the logical choices were either "They Delving 2.22" or "A Not-So-Minor Distraction," as they match the more gothic/electronic vibe of the rest of the record. While "They Delving" is by far the more popular song, I think the many minor edits made to "A Not-So-Minor Distraction" really polished it up and made it shine, and it's a song that doesn't get nearly enough attention, in my opinion. And when listening to the rest of the record as a whole, going slightly more "electronic pop" than "epic piano rock" seemed a better fit.

Ordering the track list was pretty much a non-issue. The songs fell together in a natural order except for the two inclusions from Occultation, and they only needed to switch places. As far as the artwork...I admit, it's nothing extraordinary. When I decided to name the record "flowering at night," I simply looked up stock images of flowers of a nyctanthous nature, of which nyctanthes arbor-tristis (night-flowering jasmine) popped up quite a bit, and I manipulated and decorated a few of the images in advance of having the rest of the album set. So when the track list was finalized, it was just a matter of superimposing it over an image; same with the artwork for the credits page. And the cover was done the same day I decided on the name of the record. Of course, with EPs I tend to not put as much labor into the artwork as I do with albums, but this was borderline lazy...but I do not apologize! It still looks nice, and I think part of the reason it felt lazy is that I'm just getting smoother at assembling these things.

And that, folken, is the making of Nyctanthous. As I mentioned earlier, the next record is going to be the Phase Three compilation, which I realistically could put out tomorrow, thanks to all the original songs I composed for Occultation. However, that's going to wait until later this month, possibly even coinciding with the holiday, and by year's end I'm feeling confident that I'll have a third commercial record released...

In the meantime, let all our inner snails remain resilient and determined.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Expressions of Gratitude - and - Pick Out Your Cloud

Well, I unintentionally turned the Patreon release of A New Era into a sort of week-long online party, parceling out the new songs on this blog and through social media via SoundCloud while offering various avenues to download them. The enthusiasm with which they've been received has been very refreshing, with "Simplify" quickly becoming one of my top tracks on SoundCloud and the A ManicFeralJadedBitch mini-EP becoming one of my most pirated releases ever. A nocturnal mishap led to the publication of the wrong version of "The Nocturnal Dervish" on A New Era, and the correction has been my most pirated track ever! I'm not quite sure how non-patrons have been gaining access to patron-only posts on Patreon, but I am thrilled by the enthusiasm. This has coincided with "The Nocturnal Dervish" going into rotation on Darkwave Radio among songs by such hugely admired (by myself included) artists such as The Cure, Rammstein, and Dead Can Dance, and I'd like to think that there's a direct connection. "The Last Waltz" is now playing on Darkwave Radio as well, and I plan to keep on trickling my tunes to that station as I figure out how to collect royalties from sources other than DistroKid. In related news, the entirety of Occultation is now available on and users can access it from the 8tracks library to add songs from the album to their playlists!

Add to all of this that the article for A New Era on this blog has, within a week, become the second most-read article. as well as the article with the most +1's. This amount of support has been stunning and has me filled with warm, fuzzy feelings!

Yes, it has been an exciting and eventful week. But I have to get a little more serious and a little less lighthearted on y'all, for as I've uploaded the new tracks from A New Era to promote it - and to make them freely available for everyone - I've reached the point on SoundCloud where I only have eight minutes worth of uploads left on my Pro account. This means I can only upload one more song, and I'm about to share "Jaded" with all of you, being the only song from the album that I have yet to share with those who haven't downloaded it or the Abbreviated version from the League. This also means that I've made just shy of six hours of material free for everyone to hear. I've put six hours of music out into the world.

Okay, now I've put five hours and fifty-eight minutes of music out into the world, with this one temporarily a private share for my dear readers. Except I deleted "The Trip Begins" because that track was just fucking atrocious and I'm ignoring that I ever published it to begin with. So that frees up a little time. Anyway...

That's what it comes down to. Deleting tracks to make room for more. No more complete back-catalog available on SoundCloud for free streaming. I'm okay with this. It's been five months since I initiated Operation Cloud Rescue to successfully upgrade to my Pro account, which I am extremely grateful for, and which has been very useful for promoting and sharing my music. SoundCloud has been a wonderful tool for me as a musician, though I'm not sure how important it is to my audience. And SoundCloud wants $103 a year (that's discounted from $135), or $15 a month, to upgrade to an Unlimited account. I'm fine deleting some songs and removing playlists to begin putting only what I am actively promoting into rotation. I can think of things I'd rather put $103 toward. However, I'm going to leave it up to y'all to decide whether or not you'd like to keep the entire back-catalog on SoundCloud. It's up to you if you want to keep the playlists of all of my prior releases intact.

That is why I've included the new "Support SnailCloud Unlimited" button in the right-hand sidebar. I'm leaving the choice up to you, my dear readers and listeners; my audience and supporters. All donations made through that avenue will be earmarked for a SoundCloud Unlimited account and will be used for keeping all of my past, present, and future releases publicly and freely available on SoundCloud, regardless of whether it's enough for $15 a month or ends up being enough for the year-long membership. It will be used as needed. If there's isn't enough for even a month, well, songs and playlists will start to vanish and be put into rotation as fits my promotional needs.

There is a little time until songs will have to be removed for such promotional needs. I'm in the process of writing and recording two new songs for a new Patron-supported EP with a Halloween-targeted release date. Those songs will become available on SoundCloud as I'm promoting that EP, which will also include "Simplify," "Jaded," and "The Tranquil Isles," finally made available for free download to the public. In the meantime, as an extra bonus for my readers:

I'd also like to draw your attention to the fact that there is now a tab for The Commercial Albums underneath the blog's header. This links to a new resource: a page with graphic links to all the major avenues for downloading and/or streaming Occultation and Instrumentality. Remember that when you download these albums (preferably as a patron on Patreon) or when you stream them and pay subscription fees (to services such as Spotify, Apple Music, or MS Groove) or put up with pesky advertisements, you are actively supporting a poor cyber-busker who makes their music freely available for everyone!

Thanks again for all your support, and may your inner snails remain resilient and determined.