Friday, May 6, 2016

An Interlude

My little "vacation" is at an end. So is a new relationship that had picked up steam refreshingly fast and then fizzled without warning, or any sort of notice for that matter. I extended my reach beyond my self-imposed isolation, and had my hand bit. Because people suck. What else is new? I think we all know that upon the friction our adolescences cause with others, and after that we have buffers and filters and we're searching for people who don't hurt us when our buffers and filters are down. My adolescence was prolonged well into my twenties (which I think is fairly common these days) and I was never quite able to master filtering what goes into or out of me. My buffers remain bitchiness or absolute isolation. In short, I'm not an easy person to get to know. Sometimes I'm proud of that. Sometimes I wish I were someone else.

Now I'm left yet again with my music, with work. However, I've learned a few lessons from my hiatus. I don't want to be a workaholic anymore. I want to enjoy making music, rather than having it distilled to "work" and nothing else. I want to continue reaching beyond my baby steps. And I've been left with a lot of ideas to implement in the meantime.

First is the short story companion for Nyctanthous, which ideas are starting to warrant a planned series of short stories for that entire EP, with one story per song. Probably written out of order, and who knows if they'll all connect, but I'm stuck on the idea of making stories for that record, which started with an idea for a tale of a supernatural nightclub encounter inspired by "Nyctality." When these stories are finished, I'll probably collect them and rerelease Nyctanthous as a commercial record.

Which brings me to another point: y'all might want to download the non-commercial records from the Snail Tunes store while you can, because I've been itching to do some Spring cleaning. This means that all of the "pay what you will" records are going bye-bye, as the Snail Tunes store will be streamlined into my personal store for the "official" (commercial) records. I will continue undercutting all other online stores, and soon I'll be offering the collected digital discography at a discounted price. Also, I'll still be offering non-commercial "gifts" (such as the Anniversary gifts, Revival and Progress Report - The Anniversary Spin, and holiday gifts such as Yule Tide Carols) from my NoiseTrade page.

Anyway, I haven't started this Spring cleaning process yet. For the time being, you can still download all the non-commercial releases for a price of your choosing. I would recommend grabbing the compilation albums - Instrumental, Nefelibata, Wisps of Reason, and Radiate - while you can. That's the easiest way to collect most of my discography for free...but please, tip what you're able to! I'm going this in large part because I've been offering my music for free for a long time, and have had thousands of copies downloaded without a single tip, and I really want to make a living creating art. Obviously, there's interest in it, but people behave these days like music is owed to them and musicians can afford to give away their art for free. I mostly gave away my art for free for so long because (a) I wanted to generate interest in my work and (b) I've been living in a dream world where people will give what they can to artists when they're able to out of respect. And if I could afford to, I'd continue to give my art away for free. Unfortunately, I can't.

I still want to give out my art, though. I want people to have it and enjoy it, and hopefully it will whet appetites for more, when people can actually afford to pay for it. That's why I'm offering, for a limited time a free download of Carnivale, the first EP previewing the upcoming fifth album. I can't get the embed code to cooperate on this blog post, but head on over to this link for a free download (suggested donation of USD $3).

Now, onto my latest offering:

This record is my come-back from my hiatus, offering new songs with a couple of unreleased older tunes that were polished up to satisfaction after stepping away from them for a few weeks. "That Old Foreboding Feeling" and "Gravity Bites" were built on very similar bass-heavy electric guitar parts in the rhythm section, which was actually recycled for "Primordial Soup" (on the Cold Sunlight single) as well. There are tiny variations, but all three of these songs started from the same place. Interesting that they all turned into such very different songs. It started with "Gravity Bites," (which was originally intended to be on Revolutions) but there were parts of that song that just weren't working for me. I was enamored with the piano-and-strings crescendos in the song, but the melody wasn't working for me while I tried to make it piano-heavy. It wasn't until leaving the melody to the string-trio of cello, viola, and bass, with the addition of my familiar theremin-mimicking synth, that I started to find it quite catching, maybe because it's easy to hum. I also started over on the drum track for this song, using the newer drum machine that I'd employed for  "Revolutions," parts of "Primordial Soup" and the Higher Gain mix of "Momentum" (I'm trying not to over-use this drum machine; it screams "electronica" a bit too loudly). The result is upbeat and catchy, with those wonderful crescendos (which had almost spawned a new song entirely) still in place.

While "Primordial Soup" has garnered praise from followers of The Lady on Google Plus and SoundCloud, it's still a very experimental song, and I'm not entirely convinced of it. I love aspects of it, and it's wonderfully successful in some areas (I've never used wordless vocals this much in a song before), but whether or not the present version will make it onto my upcoming fifth album remains to be seen. To give it a listen, refer to the post "A Carnivale in Cold Sunlight."

"That Old Foreboding Feeling" was the song I left off on when I took my break from songwriting. I left it finished, in that it had a beginning, middle, and end, but in dire need of some editing. The song was overly complex. Too many layers at once had left it muddy, so much so that I almost felt that titling this song "Muddy Waters" - a title that went to a song featured on Cold Sunlight - would have been appropriate. Upon returning to work, my first step was to clean this song up with a lot of snipping of the layers here and there, sometimes writing new instrumentation to replace them. Feedback on this song has been rather surprising, proving yet again that I don't always know what my audience wants.

The remaining three songs were written specifically for this release. "Recovery" is meant to express the period in which I transitioned from not working and pushing beyond my comfort zone, to trying to learn from those experiences and settling back into a less extreme version of "word mode." It was the first new song I had written in several weeks. I started with a bass line inspired by the Drams song "Divisions of Labor," but nothing I wrote on my piano was working with it. It took successes in guitar and string parts before my piano and I were back on speaking terms. Truth be told, we're still experiences blocks in our communication, which I guess is why my piano doesn't have such a prominent role on this record. I've had to go back to the lesson I tried to teach myself with the song "Simplify" and re-learn that simple building blocks can result in complex and satisfying arrangements. It's led to these three new songs, all of which I'm very happy with.

"Interlude" was written solely for the purpose of creating a bridge between "That Old Foreboding Feeling" and "Gravity Bites," intended to be a mellow trip-hop experiment in sounds. It's built on three chords, but some frenetic piano work and metal-style electric guitar makes it sound more complex than it actually is, in places. I was so happy with the end result, which wound up being the second-lengthiest song on this record, that I decided to name the EP after it. The title also expresses (y'all know how I love multiple meanings in my titles) the period between publishing Carnivale and working on Interlude, where I had the most adventurous time I've had in my life since moving to the Kansas City area.

Those who've known me longest will recognize a simple but addicting guitar melody that I've been playing since my teens in "Once More with Feeling." I've wanted to, and have even tried a couple of times, to accompany this song with other instrumentation, but nothing's ever come of it before now. Although extremely simple, this is my favorite tune I've written for guitar. It gradually evolves until it gives a sense of urgency, and I've played it to myself during many nights spent alone and contemplative. I had it stuck in my head the day following the completion of "Interlude," and finally had the urge to record it with some beats, strings, and synths. This will probably end up being similar to "Giger's Lullaby" and "They Delving," and will have a few different incarnations. Nothing has sprung up on me yet, but I have the feeling that I may never be quite "done" with this song.

Currently, Interlude can be streamed from YouTube, Spotify, MS Groove, TIDAL, and Apple Music. It can be purchased and downloaded from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and the Snail Tunes store. Now, I can be almost certain that not all of the songs on Carnivale, Cold Sunlight, and Interlude will be included on the upcoming (as yet untitled) album. I've been writing further new songs to include on this album and have a few thoughts on a new take on some older songs for this outing, so the track list is pretty unpredictable at the moment. I can only say that I'm aiming to release it before the end of this month.

In the meantime, I hope y'all have been having more success than I at opening up to each other and moving through life with more optimism than I have. I'm still seeking out the right "cocktail" of medication, or the right psychiatrist, or both. My approach to life hasn't been working very well. Being so closed off and jaded clearly isn't doing me any favors, and neither has been working with barely any sleep. Interlude is the beginning to a new approach; one that, hopefully, has more balance. Stay tuned for updates.

May all our inner snails remain resilient and determined.