Sunday, October 11, 2015

A New Era - UPDATED 10/16

Okay, A New Era has been online for a full day...and what a grand, lazy day it has been! But in my uncharacteristically sparse bits of promoting this release, I've been promising a blog article with details and updates, and that promise has been haunting me as I've been enjoying watching supernatural trash TV and eating vegetarian junk food. Now I've come to the point where I have Dracula Untold, chick'n nuggets, and jalapeƱo poppers beckoning to me, but I won't let myself enjoy them until I've finally written this damn article. Why is it so hard to get myself to write these sometimes? I do enjoy talking about myself, honestly. Just ask my therapist (ba dum bum!).

Right, so about this record. Man, I gotta say I'm enjoying the shit out of it. It's really an excellent playlist. I would say the best I've put together of my music since the previous Era. As you might imagine, though, it was a very difficult undertaking, selecting what to include and what to leave out from the extensive selection of my entire discography. You may take a look at it and think, "How can you possibly have a career-spanning compilation that doesn't include 'Introducing...' or 'No Introduction Needed?'" or "Only one version of 'Giger's Lullaby?'" or "How could you leave out the Alternate Spin of 'Winter's Salve?!'" and you'd be echoing my own thoughts. Originally, I was going to try to limit this track listing to eighteen songs to match the previous record. However, I threw that notion out the window rather quickly and let it come a bit more organically, while also trying to focus on what felt completely essential, was most recently relevant, and what hadn't been done to death just yet. Here's what I came up with:

01. The Last Waltz
02. Jaded
03. An Arcane Son
04. I, Supplicant
05. I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You
06. The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)
07. Slowly Scooting Closer
08. Lily White (feat. Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle)
09. Wrong Pocket Kinda Say
10. The Nocturnal Dervish
11. A Most Resilient Snail
12. The Ground Up
13. Trip-Hop Thing
14. A Not-So-Minor Distraction
15. Simplify
16. The Cloud Walkers
17. The Replicant (Alternate Spin)
18. Winter's Remix 2.0
19. Vainglorious Wrath
20. They Delving 2.22
21. The Tranquil Isles

Yep, twenty-one songs for a total of two hours and twelve minutes, but man, it flows beautifully (thanks in part to countless listens, rearrangements, and editing of the space between tracks) so it doesn't feel that long at all, and I also don't feel the absence of the not-included songs. There's been no second thoughts since the finalization of the track list. Because various factors delayed publication, I never just threw my hands in the air and said, "Fuck it, it's just going to be this way." Usually, setting the track list is the final step, but this time it was actually putting the final touches on two of the songs.

The delay was mostly caused by the Feral Bitch Mix of "The Manic Widow." It was quite a struggle to pull off. Mostly, it just didn't want to happen. I came very close to throwing my up my hands in the air with the attempt and just including the original version of the song, which is what had been on the track list as I had been assembling it as a place holder. I knew from the very beginning that a remix of "Widow" was something I was going to attempt for this release, and I kept coming back to attempts at it from different angles during the entire time I was writing for and assembling this project. However, it just wasn't happening. I knew I could force it out of me by just replacing the drum beats or something weak like that, but I felt that I'd rather not include a remix if it wouldn't come to me organically.

In the end, it was actually a happy accident that spawned "Feral Bitch." I was working on "The Tranquil Isle" (being a rewrite and re-recording of "Mattresside," the hidden bonus track from Selenophilia) and made a minor adjustment to a synth that produced a whole new sound. It was that single sound, like the thrumming of a helicopter, that I wanted to try out in my remix attempt that got my inspiration flowing and put me in the Feral Bitch groove. After that, it was a matter of putting together an additional drum track (like with some of my other songs, I feel that the original drum track is essential to the overall instrumentation that defines the song, so I put together an additional drum track that complements the original) and selecting other synths. There was some trial and error, and I did include some elements that I liked from previous failed attempts, and it all came together rather quickly in the end, in a remix that I'm proud of.

The other song that had been waiting for finishing touches was "The Ground Up," a slightly more metal version of "The Ground Down" (read: more electric guitar). I knew what needed to be done; I was just putting it off until I knew I was on the verge of publishing. There always seems to be some element that I intentionally leave out until I'm on the home stretch. Just a personal quirk, I guess.

Of course, if you're familiar with my discography, you can also see that there's two songs original to this collection included on the track list. Those would be "Jaded" and "Simplify." Both are beautiful songs that I'm very proud of, partly spawned by my further exploration of what I can do with the synths I have on hand and an attempt to use them in my rhythm section in a more Nine Inch Nails style - not entirely successfully. But the songs are beautiful works nonetheless. "Jaded" is a minor-key industrial piano tune in the vein of "The Cloud Walkers" and "Wrong Pocket Kinda Day," a song that would have fit in on Occultation and Selenophilia, while "Simplify" derives its title from an exercise in, well, simplifying my writing. I made a conscious effort to exercise restraint from overcomplicated riffs or complex arrangements and took some of my inspiration from "Numb" by Portishead. It was a very fun and smooth writing and recording experience that I think turned out quite well. I've been using "Simplify" as a sort of promotional single for this release through SoundCloud, so here's an embed:

I guess that about covers what I wanted to say about the track listing, so about the art: All of the artwork is by an artist in Germany named Jeremiah Morelli who I was turned onto by Charlie Hoover, whom I follow on Google Plus and posts a "Geekscape" every day by different artists. This led me to Jeremiah's DeviantArt page where I fell in love with his work and knew instantly that I would like to use it on a release. He very kindly and humbly gave his permission to do with his art what I would, as long as it wasn't for commercial purposes and as long as I didn't alter it in any way, beyond text. You can see more of it in the PDF booklet and JPEGs included in the download with A New Era. The pieces that I have chosen are slightly grim and have a lot to do with mortality and rebirth, beginnings and ends, while the bulk of his work is more fantastical and whimsical in nature. More of that side of his art can be seen on his homepage.

Of course, this release being a patron reward affects all my other Patreon exclusives/rewards as well. I mean, it doesn't necessarily have to, but there's a bit of a personally neurotic need to "balance" things out that is triggered by its inclusion. So here's a rundown of how my other patron rewards have been affected by A New Era being the newest reward for patrons pledging $10 or more in support of my art. First off, the Artist's Edition of Occultation hasn't been affected at all, but sits alongside this release at the top of the "pyramid." However, the Artist's Edition of Instrumentality has been bumped down a tier to be included with the rewards for those pledging $5 or more. It is now included with The Occultation Sessions and the previous Era, which will be permanently retired when "Jaded," "Simplify," and "The Tranquil Isles" are included on the upcoming Patreon-supported non-commercial EP that is tentatively being titled Whisps of Reason. When that EP is released, A New Era will sit on the $5 tier with "Feral Bitch" and "The Ground Up" remaining exclusive to this release for the foreseeable future.

However, "The Ground Up" is available to stream privately from SoundCloud for patrons pledging $1 or more, as is a downloadable single of "Simplify." The sin palabras (minus vocals) version of "Lily White" is also still available to download from this tier, and the Completed Collection of A Waltz For Giger has been bumped down so it can now be downloaded for as little as $1 as well.

Of course, all of this will be shifted around again in a few weeks time, and before long the current changes will be reflected in membership exclusives for The League of Extraordinary Snails. I'm thinking this will be in the form of a League-exclusive mini-EP containing the new material from A New Era. I just have to put it together. There always has to be balance, dammit!

In closing, as a special reward for my readers and a thank you for everyone's patience, I've decided it would be interesting to include a private stream of "The Tranquil Isles" here, which can be compared to "Mattresside" by visiting the embed of that in a previous post or by streaming it from the embed of Selenophilia in the right-hand sidebar. Thank you, dear readers, for your continued interest and support, and may your inner snails remain resilient and determined.

UPDATE 10/14: A seven-track EP including the new material from A New Era is now on offer to members of The League of Extraordinary Snails. Here's the track-listing for An Abbreviated Era:

01. Jaded
02. The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)
03. Slowly Scooting Closer
04. Simplify
05. The Ground Up
06. The Replicant (Alternate Spin)
07. The Tranquil Isles

The $5 (or more, if you so choose...) subscription - which can be canceled at any time (so there's no obligation and it can also be a one-time thing) - also includes a host of other goodies, including: the first Era, The Occultation Sessions, A Waltz For Giger - The Completed Collection, Nefelibata, Instrumental, Selenophilia, Libration, and the singles "Lily White (Sin Palabras)" and "An Arcane Son / A Most Resilient Snail," all available for streaming on your Bandcamp Feed or the Bandcamp mobile app and all available as high-quality downloads in a format of your choosing.

Also, "The Ground Up" is now available as a solo download for the $1 or more tier of pledges on Patreon.

UPDATE 10/16: Another A New Era-related Patreon reward has been added for patrons pledging $5 or more: A ManicFeralJadedBitch, a three-track mini-EP that includes (in order) "Jaded," "The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)," and "The Tranquil Isles."

The coming of this mini-EP means that $5 and up patrons can now download all five new songs from A New Era when combining this with the solo downloads of "Simplify" and "The Ground Up" available to those pledging $1 or more. Unfortunately, it also heralds the last chance to grab a download of Era, which will disappear forever tomorrow!

As a very strange dirge, I present to you "The Manic Widow (Feral Bitch Mix)."