Monday, June 15, 2015

Pentacental Overdrive

This comes as no big surprise, right? I mean, it really shouldn't. I first mentioned the possibility of this record in the post for The Hypnotic Jamboree as a future project. It was one of three playlists that I had going when I was constructing Reprise. Actually, Reprise was supposed to essentially be a deluxe version of Pentacental, but with a few new tracks thrown in as a kind of bonus. However, it didn't quite satisfy my vision for this record.

What I should have done was hold off on releasing anything until I had what Reprise was missing: alternate versions of "Introducing..." and "A Minor Distraction," and a satisfactory remix of "Winter's Salve." I should have saved the new tracks for an all-original EP to be released after this. But, you know, hindsight and all that... Instead, after releasing Reprise, I had most of the ingredients for Pentacental Deluxe and the idea still gnawing at me, which is why when I made my Patreon page and started getting the hang of it (this was days before I made it public knowledge), I decided to move forward on the missing ingredients.

When constructing "No Introduction Needed," I began with translating the piano melody onto cello. That got something really beautiful started, along with tweaking my trusty "Fifth Element" synth into something that sounded like a bottle flute. Then, of course, it was necessary to add a beat to this ballad. Something unexpected but fitting, which ended up coming from the "hip-hop" elements of my drum machine. And since I was already going through each instrument track and playing around with sounds, why not just re-record every fucking note? Why not change a note or even a chord here or there? The changes are subtle (I mean, aside from the ones that aren't) but they're all over the song. I actually did end up re-recording every track, even the parts of the piano track that remain relatively the same, and I love the end result. This was a hell of a lot of fun to work on, to comb through like that and re-construct. I can't get enough of it, so I apologize (probably too late, since I've already been promoting it on Snail Tunes) if I end up over-sharing it. I'm like one of those proud parents that shows you a picture of every little thing their child does until you wish the kid had never been born.

"A Not-So-Minor Distraction" was less intensive, and also less fun. I felt it was essential to keep the original drum track, similar to my feeling when I created "The Snail Plays Piano," but I added another drum track on top of it, similar to when I created the Whirlwind Mix of "Dusk Devils." I changed a little instrumentation here and there, the most notable probably being the added cello when the melody kicks in. I re-recorded the "Fifth Element" track, which was necessary after tweaking the track's sound. I remastered the whole thing. And, of course, I added electric guitars. "A Minor Distraction" always struck me as more of an industrial track; kind of industrial blues-rock. But it needed a heavier, grittier sound, I felt, to fully qualify as an industrial song. Did the electric guitars succeed in giving it that necessary quality? Not quite, but they have refreshed the song for me to the point that I'm enjoying listening to it again.

"Winter's Remix" on Reprise totally qualified as butchery. It was fun to make and interesting to listen to, but it didn't succeed in its intent and it really was just stringing along bits of "Winter's Salve" with a new beat. I really didn't think there was any way to succeed. But I gave it another go. I used my ears like I'd never used them before and thought very carefully on how to rectify every wrong-sounding measure of that song, how to make the intro no longer sound like shit, how to make the guitar parts more dynamic. I worked on it non-stop for hours at a time for days. And I'm happy with the result. More than happy, actually. I'm proud and thrilled. This is a successful remix of "Winter's Salve." I fucking did it.

Of course, if you listen to my music at all or read this blog at all, then you're familiar with the rest of the tracks on this album by now. This version of "Dusk Devils" first made its appearance on The Hypnotic Jamboree and has since overshadowed both the original song and the Whirlwind Mix, to the point where you'd think that "The Nocturnal Dervish" is the original song. I renamed it from "Dusk Devils (Nocturnal Dervish Mix)" because it is so popular and so much its own entity that it deserves its own title. That, and it's less awkward. "Vainglorious Wrath" first appeared alongside it on Jamboree and stole most of its elements from "Glory and Wrath." I like to say that it cannibalized pieces of the original song: it ate the original and grew into a larger beast. Pretty accurate description, I think.

This version of "Waltz With Lilith" first made her debut on Reprise, as did "The Ground Down." "Lilith" has become the perfected version of "Giger's Lullaby." She is how that song was always meant to be, in all three of her forms. Her original form on A Waltz For Giger is probably truest to "Lullaby" with the absence of drum tracks for the first half of the song, while the drum tracks on this version - modified from the version on Jamboree - perfectly suit the song, in my opinion. So it is, finally, that I am declaring "Giger's Lullaby" perfected and in the past, only likely to appear again as more "Waltz For Giger" remixes.

"The Ground Down" did its job perfectly to begin with. I set out to make a more "piano rock" version of "To The Grind" and to fix the one issue that I've ever had with that song, which was the over-use of the dying-whale sound (as I think of it). I succeeded. I'm proud of it. I love it.

There was the matter to consider of including the original songs or not, and that was swayed by two factors. First, the vision for this project had been of a two-disc set. Yes, this is a digital release, there are no discs, and people could just as easily have downloaded the original EP along with a new seven-track EP of alternate songs. The second factor was "Giger's Lullaby." I kind of regret the Pentacental version being that song's first official release. I'm much more partial to the Alternate Spin, which is why it replaced the "original" (not counting the demo) on the version of Pentacental that is available for download at I could never bring myself to go and change it on my Bandcamp (or the Official) site, but now the shame of the Pentacental version has been expunged from this edition.

So now the vision has been fulfilled and I can put it out into the world and put my mind to rest. Two weeks ago it was released (slightly different to how it is now) as a reward for patrons supporting my art through Patreon. That was when I made the Patreon page public, when I had rewards to give to my patrons in the form of this album, the Snail Tunes mini-EP, and another project that had been weighing on my mind since I started construction on Reprise. That last will remain a patron exclusive. There are some thing that I'd like to keep a part of that club, so that it retains some exclusivity.

But some things I need made available to everyone. I want people to stumble on this, or to enthusiastically snatch it up. I want everyone to a chance at it. So snatch it up, me folken. And I hope someone in your lives walks in on you listening to it and is like, "What the hell is this?" or some random person will randomly think "Hey, this looks cool," and download this album, and then they too will have their chance to be run down by Pentacental Overdrive.

I totally went into writing this with the intention of reporting news on other topics as well, but now they've disappeared from my mind entirely. So, either there will be a post-script in the near future, or another short blog post. Until then, rest easy, me lovelies.

P.S. If you haven't been to the Snail Tunes store lately, you should totally check out the changes I've made to its aesthetic. One more step toward consensual reality agreeing that Snail Tunes is, indeed, a real record label! And I'm way too proud of the image map that I finally succeeded at creating, thanks to GIMP.