Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance

Howdy, folken! I'd like to introduce to you Dissonance, a new seven-track, forty minute EP that I've put out in anticipation of my upcoming fifth album. 

This release wasn't really planned until a few days before I published it, and at that point it was to be only four tracks. Previously, my plan had been to only put out the two five-track EPs, Carnivale and Interlude, before launching the album, but found myself being very picky in my planning for Album Five, and sitting on enough material for another short release. Dissonance was originally only going to be its first four tracks, but I found myself really wanting to put "Darkest Dreams" on an "official" release. Until this release, it's only been available on the non-commercial album Radiate, which is soon to be removed from the Snail Tunes store (along with all the other non-commercial releases), yet it's been getting a fair amount of radio play on The Shift, and now on various radio stations of the 365 Radio Network (thanks again to Cailin Dana to whom I submitted "Darkest Dreams" for her show, Smoking' Hot Tunes). It only made sense to keep it available for folks to stream and download, now on the various platforms and websites that Dissonance has been distributed to.

Man, the simple act of submitting "Dreams" to Ms. Dana was greeted with an explosion of airplay. I woke up the next day to over twenty Twitter notifications of it being played on metal, rock, and indie subsidiaries of 365 and multiple shows. I was stunned, and it made for a great day. Plus, another event, that I'll get to soon, made that day even more awesome.

Anyway, I'd been preferring "Dreams" to its con palabras (with words) counterpart, "Sublime Like Swine," as of late, even though it often feels naked to me without the vocals. But I've never been incredibly proud of how my vocals turned out on "Swine," and there are often times when I simply prefer the instrumental versions of my songs that include singing. Such is sometimes the case with "Lily White" (even though I'm head-over-heels in love with Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle's voice) and "Mr. Douter" (sometimes I just don't want to hear myself ranting about my ex-husband, and I think that the dark, trip-hop instrumentation on "Douter" is some of my best work). The sin palabras (without words) versions of these two songs have long been available to my Patreon patrons, but I've longed to have them more widely available for a while, and felt that they would perfectly round out this release, and bring the track number to a magical seven. It also makes this one of my most diverse releases; at least, far more diverse than either Carnivale or Interlude.

While the previous two EPs were entirely trip-hop instrumentals with neoclassical and post-metal tendencies, Dissonance is all over the map of alternative sub-genres. It begins with the balladic neoclassical piano stylings of "Microcosms" - a song I feel is my most successful and straightforward work in the neoclassical field since the Alternate Spin of "Winter's Salve" - and immediately launches into a hard-to-define electroacoustic, fast-paced dance track ("Frenzied"). "Interim" treads more familiar territory, being a piano-based post-industrial tune in the tradition of "Jaded," "Dorian," and "A Good Mourning." Then this release radically shifts gears into "Roughspun," an industrial-metal rocker largely inspired by Nine Inch Nails' "Starfuckers, Inc." I wasn't sure I could accomplish a fast-paced tune so reliant on electric guitar being front-and-center, but I believe it turned out to be one of my best and funnest songs to date, and it was a great exercise for my brain to approach songwriting with such different intentions. Piano and strings shows up in that tune just because I felt it necessary to throw in some familiar elements, but I was definitely thinking outside of a box I had erected around myself since writing Revolutions. Much of my goal with Dissonance was to jar my brain into expanding beyond the downtempo trip-hop/post-industrial rut I had been carving for myself. With "Frenzied" and "Roughspun," I think I definitely succeeded.

"Dead End," a song that treads more familiar ground - a trip-hop instrumental with post-metal elements - was reserved for Patrons as a bonus track on the Artist's Edition of Dissonance. But I figured I'd share it in the following exclusive stream with my readers, whom I adore. It's a little more akin to stream-of-consciousness songwriting rather than following traditional song structure - similar to "Reticulated" - but I love it for that, and thoroughly enjoy listening to it.

Still, I'm not sure which of these songs will make it onto the upcoming album - from any of my post-Revolutions releases. There are a few certainties, but as I said before, I'm being very picky, and I decided on another short release while I continue writing songs for this album to allow myself more time and more material to work from. I can at least reveal the title, which will be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, and, for you dear readers, I'd like to share what else made the day so wonderful that I discovered "Darkest Dreams" being played on multiple radio stations: the cover of CBT. I commissioned Matt Warneford of (IAM)WARFACE, who has been at work on album covers for multiple bands/musicians as of late, to design it, and it took my breath away and made the happiest little bugger in the world!

I simply told him I wanted something that went along with Dissonance (which features "Neuron Spark" by Billy Benavides, a piece I had previously used, in extremely altered form, for the cover of Nefelibata, and felt needed to be on an official release) something to do with the brain, and he created this spot-on, absolutely stunning piece! I can't express in words how much I love it. For those who don't know (though it should be obvious just from seeing this piece), Matt is - on top of being an incredibly talented musician - an amazing artist in the two-dimensional field. You can see more of his work and order prints at the (IAM)WARFACE website.

The wonderful events of receiving this artwork and such a surprising amount of radio exposure happened to coincide with an interview for the Music Manumit podcast that I'd been scheduled for for months. I'm not sure how I feel about the end result, though I was extremely excited for this chance to talk about myself and my music. It began as a fiasco, with difficulty in getting connected through Google Hangouts with the interviewer, Mr. Tom Ray. I was five minutes early by the time I had prepared myself with a cup of coffee (a single cup of which had me wired after abstaining from caffeine for over a month) and had myself situated in my garage with the laptop so I could smoke while being interviewed. I discovered then that I don't get a very good wi-fi signal in the garage since my router died and Time Warner Cable enabled my modem itself to broadcast a wireless bubble. So I wasn't able to connect with Tom on time due to that, and then my browser decided to freeze after relocating myself to the living room. So I had to quit and then restart Safari, which took an absurdly and uncharacteristically long time, and then of course log back into Google Hangouts. Somehow, all of this made me contact Tom thirty-five minutes late. Meanwhile, Tom had been trying to adjust to Google Hangout's not-so-user-friendly new interface, and tried looking up The Lady anoNYMous to contact me, only to find some very bizarre results.

Finally, the interview commenced with me spun out on coffee, mixed with my various medications (propanelol should have assisted in calming my nerves, as should trazodone, but I found myself hyper and having trouble thinking and staying on track), and my voice slightly hoarse from chain-smoking at the time. In theory, this interview should give me a good amount of exposure, but I think all-in-all it was a bit of a disaster. Still, I'm including it here just to document the event, and if you'd like, you can listen to me and Tom talking strip clubs, creative commons licensing, and how one transitions from metal projects to spoken-word theater to composing.

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As you can see, it's been a (mostly pleasantly) eventful time for me. I could go on about how the man I was dating has resurfaced with a good excuse for his absence and how that's been going, but (cellist and composer) James Radcliffe has pointed out to me that my blog posts can deviate in too many directions. I feel that my stream-of-consciousness writing is part of the charm of my blog, but I'm not entirely certain; I'd like to hear from my readers on that.

Anyway, I'm currently continuing to write material to choose from for CBT, which will be released sometime (probably early on) in June. In the meantime, you can stream Dissonance on Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and MS Groove, and/or download it from Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.

And that's it for me, for now. As always, folken, may your inner snails remain resilient and determined.