Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Other Half - Sublimate

So now I give unto you the darker, more experimental half to this back-to-back release. We begin with "Overdrive," a previewed song first exclusive to this blog, then released to the public as a SoundCloud single. It's also been included on the extended Patreon version of Jaded, along with its precursor "Passage Through The Veil," which comes later on this track listing. I've been very pleased with "Overdrive"s' reception on SoundCloud and Google Plus in particular, and am excited that it's now publicly available on a proper release. This bit of subtly darkwave dance rock that build and builds to its climax is quite infectious, from its catchy and slightly eerie opening piano riff, to its pounding post-metal climax.

Following it is "Xenophobia," which was a bitch to write. I  began with a piano riff in a peculiar time signature and found it very difficult to accompany at first. My initial attempt has been altogether scrapped, and the attempt that finally found its way into a cohesive whole took a lot of experimentation, with a lot of removing and rewriting various chunks. I got really mad at this song at times, but there were so many good ideas and wonderful new sounds at play that I kept coming back to it with fierce persistence. I'm proud of the final result, but it's taken me until last night to be able to properly enjoy listening to it after the struggle of writing and recording it. The title comes from often envisioning Giger's xenomorph (also known as the Alien in the Alien film franchise) in my head while writing and listening to it, but I didn't want to straight up call it "Xenomorph." But it makes sense to me that the Snail could encounter this creature in a world where Giger's influence is already felt, and so this song represents their encounter. And yeah; it scares the holy crap out of the Snail. So while you can definitely interpret this song as representative of fear of strangeness and otherness, in story terms the title means "Fear of the Xenomorph."

After that is another new song, the title track of Obfuscate. As I explained in the article for that EP, I'm pulling a System of a Down here. See their albums Hypnotize/Mesmerize to get the reference. I wrote this song at the same time as "Xenophobia," and this, by comparison, was a breezy relief that I came to during breaks from that song. In fact, that's how this song started. I needed to relieve myself by writing something that would manifest a bit easier, and played around in a familiar key of F in the familiar 4/4 time signature. What came out started a lot simpler than the finish product, as I was inspired to go back and rewrite bits into more complex riffs, but it all came out smoothly and quite inspired, and probably helped the process of writing "Xenophobia" considerably. As for the title...well, I think I'll get to explaining what motivated the titling Obfuscate/Sublimate as a whole later in this article.

"The Creeps" flowed out rather easily, but was also highly experimental. I first recorded this song while I was getting up the courage to record vocals for "Sublime Like Swine," and have since come back to it and rewritten or re-recorded parts of it many times, and the mastering has undergone several attempts to get everything balanced. However, the initial writing, and how the lyrics and vocals came to me, was a relatively short and painless process. That aside, this is also a song I've been hesitant to share, particularly because it includes lyrics and vocals, and I've been slow at getting practiced and comfortable in that arena. I'm still not entirely comfortable, but I've had a lot more practice, since the initial recording of this song, at mastering my vocals. The positive reaction "Cold Sunlight" has been receiving has been very encouraging, and I'm still keeping vocals and verse in mind when writing certain songs. As before, they may or may not be included, but I don't think this was just a passing phase for me. It won't, however, replace my instrumental compositions as my modus operandi. That I was just paid the compliment that it's "obvious that you, my friend, are a skilled pianist" by a Google Plus user (just now, as I'm writing) reminds me yet again that I am, first and foremost, a pianist, and I hope to never stray from showcasing that.

"Passage Through The Veil" may be this Phase's equivalent of "The Cloud Walkers." It's an epic, meditative bit of trip-hop/industrial fusion that reminds me greatly of my previous (but not, I think, replaced) magnum opus, and I'm extremely proud of it and enjoy listening to it greatly. It was also a joy to write and record, and I could think of no better song to express the experience of glimpsing beyond this world, of brushing aside the veil for just a moment. This could mean many things to many people: of passage to the afterlife; of having a glimpse of faerie; of momentary understanding of greater things; of a hallucinogen-fueled epiphany. I tend to think that it means all those things. We are limited in our perception, confined in our experience, yet the potential is there to see and understand more, and damned if we aren't constantly trying to create vehicles of new perception through science, drugs, and spirituality.

Instrumentally, "Mr. Douter" fits onto this record, and also as an (albeit more polished and tried and true) experimental tune. With its industrial rhythm and darker tone, it paved the way for some of these songs, including "A Different Story," which is an epic that began simply with an experiment in creating a rhythm section from tweaked synths. This is an area that I want to become more accomplished in, and I hope my experiments haven't been offending your ears too much. I think I'll need better tools before I'm anywhere near the level of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross in this arena, but my aim is to get there, while maintaining a neoclassical sensitivity rather than post-industrial pop or dark ambient noise. In other words, I'm striving to be, musically, the child of Tori Amos and Trent Reznor, with classical arrangements layered over industrial rhythms. We'll see if I ever achieve that, and it's a hell of a goal, but this is the direction I try to keep myself aimed in.

Now, to discuss the titles: Obfuscate/Sublimate could collectively be called Coping Mechanisms. If I had thought of that sooner, I might have called these blog articles "Coping Mechanisms" Parts I and II, but I didn't until writing this one. Obfuscation is a form of evasion, of fogging things up intentionally or unintentionally to escape understanding or to be deliberately misunderstood. It's something I've been guilty of, but as a person who considers themselves hyper self-aware, I deliberately try to avoid it, just as I am hyper conscious of every moment when I'm manipulating another's perception or emotions. We're all manipulative beings. How conscious you are of it is up to you and your level of honesty with yourself. Obfuscation is also often used as a tactic of manipulation. When it comes down to it, it's a tool for coping with your reality or maintaining your functionality. As is, much more obviously, sublimating.

Sublimating is something I've been doing quite a bit of lately. Inexorable Change has been affecting my life quite a bit as of late, and my response has been to create at a furious rate. Therefore, between these two EPs and material from Jaded, I already have enough songs to put together a fourth Snail Tunes compilation, but I'm holding off while I write new material and revisit the songs at hand to see if they want to change in any way, rather than just wrapping up this Phase and delving into the next. What you can look forward to from me, dear folken, is a continued celebration of my first year at this. An "Anniversary Spin" of Progress Report is on its way to you, as is an "update" on The Hypnotic Jamboree, before I begin to think of releasing this Phase's compilation, which is titled Radiate. Most likely, the release schedule will be something like: Revival (the Jamboree update) in a week or two, followed by Progress Report: The Anniversary Spin on February 19th, with Radiate either falling between them or following soon after. Whichever order best satisfies my need to share my music. In the meantime, Matt Warface and I are still working on a collaborative version of "Sublime Like Swine" (actually, it's more like I've handed it over to him and said, "have fun with it," and he's been like "how does this sound?" and I've been like, "sounds great! Have fun with it") which we'll be releasing together as a commercial single.

Before I wrap this up, I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of things. First is that The Lady's YouTube channel (which you'll often see referred to as SnailTube, such as in the right-hand side-bar) is growing beyond just playlists of the commercial albums distributed by DistroKid. I've taken it upon myself to start publishing music on YouTube, and to monetize it (therefore, there are ads; this blog will forever be ad-free, but I have to make money off my music somehow, and the songs are still free for you to stream, of course), and therefore new songs have started being published on this channel. Original video content may follow: I may start to vlog; I may post some behind-the-songs bonus content; I hope to collaborate with animators for videos for these songs. So: calling all animators and illustrators! If you have clever ideas or inspirations that have anything to do with my music, please, contact The Lady through Google Plus! Anyway, please, check it out, and subscribe to keep updated and to see when the newest songs appear.

Also, I'd like to remind y'all that the Lady is currently participating in the Starlight Music Chronicles Artist of the Month competition on Facebook, and would greatly appreciate your vote. There's no registration or obligation required, just a Facebook account and five seconds of your time. Follow the link and check the box next to The Lady anoNYMous and you're done!

Big shout out to my Patrons who pledged their support to Obfuscate/Sublimate and made these releases freely available to everyone! Much love to ya, say thankya, and to everyone: may your inner snails remain resilient and determined!