Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Instrumentality Project Comes To An End

Okay, I should have posted this here first, instead of to Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter (although, let that be a lesson to you! Follow me on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter!), but I've announced that I'm pulling my first widely-released full-length album, Instrumentality, from stores and streaming platforms.

Everyone who has been following me since those early days knows that Instrumentality was an experiment in distributing songs that I had self-published non-commercially (on the EPs Progress Report, Progress Report - The Alternate Spin, and The Hypnotic Jamboree on Bandcamp, NoiseTrade, and Jamendo) to a wider audience. Many of those songs had been composed on a cellphone screen while using crappy earbuds. They were later remastered and edited for their widely-distributed debut, but they now stand out as amateurish compositions, all of which have since been reworked for later releases, with the exception of "Winter's Salve (Alternate Spin)," which stands out as the "definitive" version of that piece. So it's been bothering me for awhile now that, when people access my discography for the first time, they may not be hearing the songs as they're intended to be heard. Really, I just want to cover up my almost-embarrassing early efforts. I've developed a much better grasp of my tools over time, and when someone clicks on (for example) "A Determined Snail," I'd rather they heard "A Most Resilient Snail."

So, for my upcoming November 2nd release (October 31st for Patreon patrons), I'm replacing Instrumentality with The Instrumentality Project, closing a chapter of my music that began with those four early EPs. I feel almost all of those songs have had their most fully realized versions published, and I want them together as Instrumentality should have been...would have been, if I'd developed my skills more before uploading an album for wide release. But all artists are constantly developing their craft, are they not? I don't regret it's release, but I think my music is better represented by more intentional albums (I still publish songs that I don't feel are my best work on my EPs, to be considered "rarities"). Besides, it's always bothered me that there are multiple versions of the same song on that album, so for The Instrumentality Project, I'm going to try to set a limit of one version per song.

Some of the songs published on Instrumentality will still be available on free releases such as Progress Report - The Anniversary Spin; the rest will be reclassified as "rarities," and will still be available to my Patreon patrons. For now, I'd like to invite you all to download this early effort while you can. It's available for just $3.00 USD from my Snail Tunes store, and Patreon patrons can download it now for pleading $1.00 USD toward The Instrumentality Project.

A bit more about the Project: it's not only going to be previously published tracks. The main catalyst for this was that I've been thinking about writing new versions of a few of the songs from Instrumentality, and that's where most of my focus has gone as I've been trying to get back into the swing of songwriting since my life was interrupted by my mom's wedding and my move. Progress report: it's working. I'm thoroughly enjoying using my tools again and creating art. Now, these new versions aren't going to be just remixes. For example, I went to work on a new rendition of "Introducing..."/"Jade's Theme," using elements from the original, as well as "No Introduction Needed" and the variations on "Jade's Theme" to create a song that's closer to the original, but with the new skills and sounds that I've developed since. When I began, it quickly became apparent that rerecording would be more practical than a cut-and-paste job, and I retaught myself all the instrumentation and even wrote some new parts. This is what I came up with:

I hope you enjoyed that private demonstration! I would appreciate it if this video didn't get shared around, as anybody with a link can view it since it's simply "unlisted." That said, you can look forward to reworkings of "Winter's Salve" and "The Nocturnal Dervish," as well. Why "Dervish," you may ask? Even though it's one of my most successful songs and the first that was ever picked up for rotation on a radio station, the drum track has been feeling a bit convoluted to me for quite awhile now. It was one of my first experiments with using multiple drum machines, and so I'd like to use what I've learned since. In this case, it's most likely to be a simple remix. Anyway, I look forward to sharing it with you, as with The Instrumentality Project in general!

May your inner snails remain determined and resilient, folken!

ADDENDUM: As we draw closer to the release of The Instrumentality Project, I'd like to share with you the newly completed "Winter's Salve (Fedund Remix)." This is another private demonstration; as was with "Jade's Theme (Introduction)," I will not be sharing this publicly for a few days, so I'd appreciate it if this wasn't shared around. This is intended for Patreon patrons and blog readers only.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Selenophiliac Librations

Does that title, "Selenophiliac Librations," even make sense? I suppose it does - something like, "the perceived gentle rocking motion of those infatuated with the moon," perhaps? Whatever, I have a long history of making up words and terms that only sort-of make sense, and that's an artist's prerogative. Anyway, it was the best merging of these two titles I could think of, which I'm featuring in this article because they are available for FREE DOWNLOAD for a limited time!

I released these because it's been really getting to me that I haven't put out any new music since Elemental on July 30th. Those familiar with my level of output know that I'm generally a workhorse when it comes to writing music. I generally put out a new EP every month or two, and those EPs lead up to full-length albums. And while these releases don't necessarily have all-new songs on them, there's usually at least two that are entirely original. Well, I haven't completed a new song since "Signor Fancypants." There are several works in progress, but I keep failing to get into the songwriting groove. I tell myself that it's okay - I have one-hundred songs published on iTunes, Google, Amazon, and multiple streaming platforms from a year-and-a-half of almost nonstop work. That's pretty rare for a musician. It's been necessary to take time off for my mom's wedding, and to move and get acclimated to my new environment. And one-hundred songs across five full-length albums and six EPs is a good point to stop and examine the work thus far. But no matter how I justify and rationalize it, it's been seriously bothering me how long it's been taking me to get back into my groove.

Part of that is how long it's been since my last post on this blog! There was a time I tried to publish a new article every two weeks. Well, take a look at how long it's been since I wrote that review for (IAM)WARFACE. It's been even longer than the last period between articles, and that had been my longest absence up to that point! I generally feel that I have to be constantly putting myself "out there" (in cross-promoting social media and the music scene) to make sure that I'm generating an audience and to hold the attention of the followers/listeners/readers I already have. So partly in self-flagellation and partly because offering free shit helps draw people's attention, I've released a couple of "updates" an old, no-longer available releases.

First was an Anniversary Spin of Libration, a seven-track EP that I put together on September 20th of last year (click here for the original release article). This was during the era of The Lady anoNYMous releasing non-commercial EPs that led up to album-length compilations (all available for free or pay-what-you-will) that in turn led to widely-released commercial albums. It was a period during which I lived with the romantic idea that I could live as an artist off of tips and streaming royalties. After publishing music for a year under this model, I came to the realization that I need to behave as if my art is worth something and that I can ask for compensation without guilt or compromised principles. Also, I had an overwhelming amount of EPs/compilations/albums available at my Snail Tunes store. A little Spring-cleaning was called for. In short, it was time for the non-commercial releases to go, and so Libration is no longer available.

But once upon a time, it had been my most popular release. It was the most-downloaded record from my Jamendo page for quite some time, and the release article on this blog was the most widely-read. It was also a pretty unique little collection, focusing more on the alternative-rock style of my music, by which I mean it had a more classically "rock" sort of sound than the neoclassical/industrial/trip-hop styles that I tend to focus on, but fused with some electronic pop elements. It had the '90s grunge-era feel in "Momentum," "Insults," and "Pentadactyl"; a prevalent electric-guitar hook in "An Arcane Son"; piano-driven dance-rock in "The Manic Widow"; and upbeat ambient-rock in "I Will Dim My Light Only Enough To Not Blind You." And there was also the first publication of the psychedelic-rock epic "Lily White" to include the vocals of The Arcane Insignia frontman Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle. The overall theme of this release: rock.

For the Anniversary Spin, I replaced some of the tracks with newer incarnations. "Momentum" was replaced with its "Higher Gain Mix" from Revolutions; "The Manic Widow" with its "Feral Bitch Mix" from Jaded; and the original published version of "Lily White" was replaced with a version with remastered vocals and slightly altered instrumentation that appeared on Jaded. Now, my original intention was to only make this Anniversary Spin available for a week, during which I failed to publish an article for it on this blog. However - even though I distinctly remember clicking the "remove this album forever" button on NoiseTrade - when I went to publish the new version of Selenophilia, it was still there! So, now we have both Libration - The Anniversary Spin and Selenophilia 2.0 available for free download.

The original Selenophilia was the first non-commercial EP to follow the publication of Occultation (being released on September 1st, 2015; click here for the original release article), and therefore made four of its songs ("The Last Waltz," "I, Supplicant," "Slowly Scooting Closer," and "Wrong Pocket Kinda Day") available for free download. Actually, it would be three of its songs, since "Slowly Scooting Closer" was originally published on the non-commercial compilation Nefelibata (a title I'd like to reuse in the future because it's such a great word!), but I digress: it was an Occultation-centric release. It also offered a glimpse of what was to come on Jaded, including the first version of "Umbra," and a demo of "Lily White" on which I sang to give listeners (and, later on, Alejandro) an idea of what I was aiming for. As a hidden bonus track, there was also a song called "Mattresside" that turned out to be a rough-draft of "The Tranquil Isles." So Selenophilia 2.0 has all those songs from Occultation, along with the Alternate Spin of "Umbra" and the final version of "Lily White," and it closes with "The Tranquil Isles." 

The original Selenophilia was extra-special for containing a newer (and ultimately final) draft of "The Cloud Walkers" than appeared on Occultation. I later subtitled this the "Selenophilia Spin," as its differences were significant enough that it warranted a special distinction. It's definitely my preferred version, and when I removed Selenophilia from the Snail Tunes store, I couldn't stand to not have that version available as part of my "official" discography for long. I decided to include it on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, even though I had the feeling that Selenophilia would someday be rereleased in some form, and I'm glad that I made that decision, as Selenophilia 2.0 (as with most non-commercial releases I'm putting out these days) will only be available for a limited time. How long is a good question; I'm thinking that I'll take it down when I release my next EP. Since Libration - The Anniversary Spin is (accidentally) still available, I figure I'll leave it up until then, as well.

My goal as of now is to put out a new EP (although it could be more of a four-track "single" such as Cold Sunlight) by the Days of the Dead (those holidays coinciding with the triduum of Allhallowtide), aiming for a Halloween release to Patreon patrons and a public release on November 2nd. Although it would be lovely to do the rerelease of Nyctanthous at that time, I'm not sure if that's what is lining up right now. The plan for that release is to have a small collection of short stories about Jade and her friends to publish as a companion for the extended/altered version of that EP. The record itself it to include (as planned so far) five of the original tracks with the Alternate Spin of "Jaded" and a new rendition of "Jade's Theme," as well as the Nyctanthous B-sides "Sublime Like Swine" and "The Between" with newly recorded vocals. Actually, it's my hope that Matt Warneford's remix of "Sublime Like Swine" will be available for it as well. So while I could probably compose a new version of "Jade's Theme" (which I'm already cogitating on for another project) and record new vocals for those songs by the end of this month, the stories and Matt's remix are not likely to fall in place.

But speaking of the other project for which I've had the idea for a new version of "Jade's Theme"...  As I mentioned earlier, I've been thinking that it's a good time to examine the work I've done so far, and part of that is to call from Instrumentality to Elemental a good span of time to draw from for the track list of Nothing Left To Lose, the album I still hope to be my first release on CD and possibly vinyl. So, as a nearly-finalized demo for this album, I put together a playlist of the twenty songs I consider to be my best achievements and/or essential to such a release. The opening track is the second Alternate Spin of "Introducing...", the song that provided the melody for "Jade's Theme." What I have in mind is to take the cello from "No Introduction Needed," record a variation on the piano from "Introducing...", write new parts for the accompanying synths, and record new beats. While it will stay truer to "Introducing..." and "No Introduction Needed," it will likely be considered a new rendition of "Jade's Theme," which is what the melody has become known as.

Also for Nothing Left To Lose, I'm planning on producing a new mix of "Winter's Salve" that will be more minimalist and closer to the original than "Winter's Remix 2.0." But other than these variations on two of the songs, the "finalized" (still subject to ain't actually final until it's published, right?) track listing for Nothing Left To Lose is as it appears in the following playlist:

I really think this is the loveliest, truest representation of my work so far, and it would be an absolute dream-come-true to have it realized as a physical album, but to make this a reality, I either need the help of a label, or more patrons on Patreon. For now, it's just this little playlist that I've made exclusively available here. And even though all these songs are available on other releases, I put together a digital download of it with some unique artwork for my top-tier Patrons. To contribute to the cause and gain access to the download, you can make a pledge of $10.00 USD or more at

Well, that summarized everything I've been up to lately. I hope you all can forgive me for taking so long to bring you up to date. May your inner snails remain resilient and determined.