Sunday, September 20, 2015

Libration or The Story of How I Narrowly Avoided Being a Douchebag

There isn't all that much to say about this release, really. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that because it's quarter after four in the morning and I'm refusing to let myself watch any more supernatural trash TV to fall asleep to until I do my fucking job. Oftentimes the biggest challenge of self-employment (and perhaps the number one reason people fail at it) is motivating oneself and being productive, even when you don't feel like it. I'm not going off on this tangent, though. I'm staying focused.

This EP exists mainly for two reasons: the idea presented itself and was completed almost at the same time it finished forming; and it's a vehicle for a very special song that I've been sitting on for too long. When I said I had no idea what was coming next when I released Selenophilia, that was so true it's almost scary. I usually have ideas forming or I'm working on songs at the time. Work has been admittedly slow lately, as I've been distracted by things going on in my personal life, and I also don't have a bunch of material sitting on back burners right now. At this moment, there are two experimental alternate versions of previous songs that I'm playing with, and there's a finished "sketch" of a new song that needs a lot of work before it's complete. These three projects I've been working on for a couple of weeks now. Like I said, it's going slowly. I'm not feverishly churning out new songs every couple of days or pulling all-nighters to complete a remix like I've often done in the past. So I guess it's lucky that I have material to draw on from Occultation still.

The downside is that this has all been heard before, as it's at least available for free streaming, and the Snails able to contribute financially even have access to downloads. The upside is that most of this material hasn't been made publicly and freely available for download, which is what my cyber-busking experiment is all about, and it had to happen sometime. This opportunity presented itself in an idea where the track list pretty much wrote itself, while offering itself a means to share with the world my first completed collaboration with my colleague-become-friend, Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia. I am, of course, referring to the finished version of "Lily White," featuring this metal singer's melodious vocals. It's been a bit of a trial as we've had to work out the best way for our equipment to be compatible over a long distance while also having our own personal lives and separate projects vying for attention, but it has finally come together and will hopefully lead to smoother sailing in any future collaborations we may undertake. There is a collaborative version of "The Cloud Walkers" we've started on, but it is currently on hold while The Arcane Insignia is back in the studio, which is very exciting news in itself. If you haven't checked out their music yet, I strongly urge you to. It's acoustic metal with neoclassical elements by extremely talented musicians with soaring potential! There are free downloads available on their Facebook page, and they have a pay-what-you-will Bandcamp release as well.

Alejandro actually worked out a way to record and share his vocal ideas with me a while ago, and I've had this song basically completed for some time. Like I said, I've pretty much just been sitting on it, listening to it every now and again and making minor adjustments whenever they occur to me. I really thought I was going to just wait to release this until I had more new material ready for release and that it would most likely make its debut on A New Era as further incentive for potential financial contributors. However, when considering the work that Alejandro put into this and that he volunteered his talent, it seemed quite wrong to (however indirectly) be trying to monetize this collaboration. Of course it would be available freely not much further down the road, but I still would have been using it to try to encourage people to give me money. There's a big difference between tips and offering it to those who pay up-front, and while crowd-funding is a very pleasant way of exploiting one's art, it is still an attempt at capitalizing on it. And I would have been exploiting Alejandro's art. That I hadn't even thought of it this way in the first place is somewhat appalling to me. To be fair to myself, my primary thought was of rewarding devoted supporters by offering this song exclusively to them first. But there was a voice in the back of my mind saying, "And it wouldn't hurt if it motivated more people to make a pledge..."

This is an example of why Catholicism could potentially feel cathartic. I feel the need for confession (writing this all down for the public to read) followed by self-flagellation and asking for forgiveness. Let's see if I can choke down my pride enough for that last one... Aw, fuck it. Alejandro: this is my very public apology. I'm sorry I almost took the path of douchebaggery. Please forgive me. And THANK YOU for contributing your talent to my art! It has greatly enhanced my song and I'm grateful to have you as a friend and collaborator!

Wow. Okay, I really hadn't thought this post would veer in that direction. Getting back on track... And speaking of tracks, let's discuss the rest of the track list now, shall we? The idea for this EP started the last time I featured "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You" on my Jukebox posts to social media (I make these pretty much daily on Facebook, Google Plus, and Tsu, for those not familiar), when it struck me that I had managed to leave that song off of any kind of non-commercial release for over a month since its debut. That's unheard of for me! I'm usually practically shoving my songs down people's throats, saying, "They're free! Here, take 'em!" Now, I had been aware that "Dimmer" (as I call it, for short) would not be included on Selenophilia to begin with, and it's actually out of pure forgetfulness that the two-track single containing "An Arcane Son" and "A Most Resilient Snail" didn't have it as a third track. As I had already released "A Most Resilient Snail" as a single on its own and then added "Son," it just seemed beyond tacky to go back and add on a third song just because I had forgotten it. So I've been using it as an exclusive reward all this time for patrons and Leaguers. But it was past time that this song be made publicly and freely available.

A theme started to take form when I put "An Arcane Son" on the Jukebox the next day. Since it had only been on a single, it hadn't truly been on a Snail Tunes release yet. And that's when it struck me that neither had the edited, remastered songs from the rewards EP The Occultation Sessions. Now, I know I said I didn't really expect to put those on any future releases because they were "sooo Phase Two," and I hadn't expected to, but at least this way I felt I was offering people something they hadn't had the chance to freely download yet. To fit in with "An Arcane Son" and "Dimmer," I decided to stick with songs that were more straight-up Alternative Rock, which was a refreshing change from the direction I've been taking as "the strange neoclassical pianist that makes trip-hop/industrial/post-metal/ambient shit." So these aren't revolutionary sounds and they aren't breaking down any genre barriers. Whatever, I enjoy them, and I'm glad that (particularly in the case of "Son" and "Dimmer") audiences have unexpectedly become rather taken with them. These are the kinds of songs that I've been the most unsure of about exposing publicly, and as such it's taken time for them to grow on me. But they certainly have. So I'm rather enamored with and proud of the track list that quite naturally evolved and happens to include two songs from the debut EP among songs from Occultation:

So here y'all go. As part of my decision to not profit from Alejandro's contribution, and because there is no other new material, this release is not paid for by patrons of Patreon. I still encourage tips when prompted to "name your price," however, and I encourage y'all to hop on over to The Arcane Insignia's Bandcamp page and do the same, especially if you're as blown away by Alejandro's voice as I was, and continue to be.

One quick announcement: I'm not sure if it will happen before the month is out (it seems likely), but I have found an extremely talented artist who has graciously given his permission to use his work as album art for A New Era, which is of course a huge step toward completing the new compilation. It will likely be my next release, though it will be exclusive to supporters and it will replace Era among the rewards. I'm aiming to release new material on this compilation, but it is quite possible an EP including the same new material (or at least some of it) will be released around the same time. We'll see if I can light a fire under my ass and get my three current projects finished and maybe some others going.

Anyway, thank y'all for your continued support and welcome to any new readers and listeners: may your inner snails be resilient and determined.