Album Art (and Video)

I had, at one point, decided that the full album was too much to handle and was going to break it up into three parts, or “Chapters.”  As it stands, Hijacking Your Fiction is still presented in three chapters, but there was a point that there seemed to be less pressure to finish when looking at it as separate parts.  The plan was then to release the album in three EPs.  However, as a few of the songs came together, I realized it was actually Chapter One that was going to take the most work, and nearly everything else was already complete.  The album returned to full length.

As a result, I’m not sure what I’m going to do for album art.  I had a cohesive idea for all three covers, each similar but with degrees of change meant to imply growth and change.  I even had someone willing to do the work.

I do not do marketing well, and that includes motivation to talk to other people about what I want for my music.  After so little communication with Jolene, I found that she was busy with her fashion design work but was still willing to work with me given time.  Now I just don’t feel right springing this on her at the last second (nevermind that she lives on the other side of the planet).  Besides, I am now looking for a simplified design, but have no idea how to go about it.  Bless all you visual artists out there, because I am lost in your world.

Enter, perhaps, Jennifer Kover, a friend I made in Korea.  She is already working on some video concepts for a couple of the songs, which will be made available on YouTube and/or whatever other site I feel like joining.  She may now be my graphics designer as well.

So the third in my long list of thanks (Scott, aka Artisan002 being the first for motivational and mixing help, and Zachary Annett being second for taking on the task of mastering), are those visual designers and artists that have been willing to help, whether or not they end up doing the work for me because of my lack of discipline and motivation.  I will post links to their work in the near future.

This is the beginning of a long list of thank-yous that will be in an upcoming post.

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Christmas Cancelled?

Perhaps…

Two weeks until Christmas and I’ve not yet recorded vocals for this year’s offering.  Not a good recording, anyway.  I was able to get a couple dreadful vocal takes out in my bedroom (a horrid place to record) before my voice gave out.  I will still try to release a volume of my previous Christmas work (probably as individual tracks on SoundCloud), but without an appropriate time and place to record, I don’t see this one getting done.

Speaking of, the same may well go for Chapter One of Hijacking Your Fiction.  I still have to record for one song and find time to work with Scott to mix.  The planned release date will be pushed back as always.  I can not express how badly I want to move beyond this album.  This album was over two years ago in so many ways.  I feel I’ve moved on but I can not let this album go unfinished.

John MusiM has been kind enough to let me use his place for recording, but my voice is at its best late at night and both he and Suzy work early, so I have to do it in the afternoon.   The drive I had to finish has diminished.

The Production Notebook VI: Mixing “Ruin”

Saturday night mixing session.  “Ruin” is probably the song that needed the least work, yet somehow, thanks to Scott’s sonic compulsive disorder, it turned into all night mix session (not a bad thing to have a mixing engineer obsessed with auditory perfection, but at this point I’m ready to have things songs out so I can move on).

We spent an appropriate two hours before taking a break for coffee, but upon coming back we spent about five.  One of the first rules of mixing is to give your ears regular breaks.  By five in the morning, brains and ears were exhausted and, though I haven’t had time to do a side by side comparison, I’m afraid we’ve lost a few things, in particular the raw balance the song had.  The arpeggiated bass synth is giving us the most trouble at this point, trying to maintain its character and, at the same time, leave it as one of the primary musical elements in the song.  Scott brought some of the high end out in the vocals, and with a bit of work, gave it some of its missing detail.  The main kick is punchier, heavier, and though I didn’t want to make any creative decisions at this point, we ended up with three versions of it for different parts of the song.

As stated, I’ve not listened to it since Sunday morning as I need a couple days to recover my senses and listen again objectively.  I plan to do a side by side comparison of my previous mix and this weekend’s mix to see what is right or wrong still.  There was no objectivity or comprehension of the big picture mix by the end of the night.

What I can say with certainty is that, despite some areas of pronunciation I’m not completely content with, I am quite happy with the results of the vocals.  I tried a few things that I’d never done with vocal processing before, and am quite pleased with the results.  If all goes well, I will post a pre-mastered version on soundcloud before long.

Upcoming production work:  vocal recording and mixing for “Voices,” a new mix of “The Temptation of Saint Anthony,” and reviving an old fan favorite, “A New Man,” to round out Chapter One.

Scott at our mixing piano. Why, yes, the monitors are on a piano. What, that’s not acoustically sound?

Hijacking Your Fiction, Chapter One (Spaces Between)

A few months ago, I started to find myself overwhelmed by the concept of completing an entire album on my own.  It has been well over five years, and the album has been in its current conceptual state for nearly three of those years.  Because of this, I’ve decided to release Hijacking Your Fiction in three chapters (clever, I know), each consisting of four songs.  Now the big news:

If all goes according to plan, Chapter One (Spaces Between) will be released by the end of the year.  The first chapter will be given away for free on my Bandcamp page, though donations will be more than welcome and, furthermore, encourage me to get the next two chapters and future work finished sooner.  Chapter One will also be followed by video and artwork, but for now that is all the information I can give.

The Production Notebook V: John Beauchamp, Zachary Annett, and Lizzie Gask!

Just a quick one this time for the record, as well as a few preemptive thanks.

As mentioned previously, the creative stage is going well enough, while the production stage is virtually absent.  There are a lot of songs that reflect a broken heart (and perhaps this is one of many excuses not to work on the album), something I’d always hoped none of my albums would become.  Hence, Hijacking Your Fiction may be more therapy than art.

“Voices” is currently my favorite work-in-progress (with the increasingly frustrating “Ruin” right behind) so I feel the need to get everything just right.  I finally had a few ideas yesterday that might get me a couple steps closer to the production stage.  The lyrics are coming together (indeed, the lyrics for most of the songs are nearly finished) and I’m considering using Lizzie Gask, known around these parts for her work with The Dirty 30s, and who will likely be featured on at least one other song on the album, to help me close the song.

As far as using other people, I’d also like to give a quick mention (there will be longer mentions later, no doubt) to John Beauchamp (a.k.a. MusiM) who is doing an embarrassingly simple guitar riff for me, not because I’m incapable mind you, but because I do not at this time have an electric guitar in Seoul.  I did, but its disappearance is another story.  I’ve turned acoustic guitars into post-production electrics before, but in this case I’m going to need an electric to achieve the tone I’m looking for.  Also, my cousin Zachary Annett will be featured on drums for “Reconnect,” and I’m debating whether to hand him drumming duties for the album version of “Gate 36.”    Finally, a preemptive thanks to Scott Coward who, whether he knows it or not, will become my mixing engineer.  He may also, again unbeknownst to him, contribute some hand drums to “Sweet Victory.”

One final note, I may opt to work on The Recovery Project for a while, a digital noise side-project that I’ve had on the back burner for quite some time and have been hoping to use to vent some frustrations, instead of AllThisIsMeaningless.  I spoke of therapy, and right now I can’t imagine a better therapy than that.

The Production Notebook IV: Cafes, Guitars and Giving Up

I woke up late Thursday, and rather than getting to work as I said I would (nothing new there), I went over the hill into Itaewon (the so-called “foreigner district,” near my flat) for lunch and to go to a cafe.  I read a little, and studied Korean even less before sleepily going home, where I did manage to get a bit done.

More guitar work:  Worked on the rhythm guitar for “Reconnect” as well as “Where Are You?” (working title “Chimera”).  Also came up with a simple riff for “Electricity,” though part of what I liked about the song was its driving simplicity, so I’m not sure at this point whether or not I will use it.

Also for “Where Are You?” I put another effort toward additional percussion and am much happier with the result.  I may recruit a friend or two to add some good hand percussion, and I will likely make a third attempt.

I don’t want to do anything but sleep.  I feel I’m giving up.

One more week before I have to return to my job.

The Production Notebook III: Guitar, Gayageum, Actual Progress

I have done little to speak of this week, either too tired or desperate to get away from the computer and the apartment, returning exhausted from having spent the day in one of the most densely packed cities in the world.  But today, or last night rather, small progress at last.

The downside is that there is little to show for this progress just yet.  But there have been a few tricky parts I’ve been struggling with and trying to work out that I think I’ve figured out.  This is, unfortunately, mostly creative progress.  Creativity is the easy part – the actual work is when I start to fall apart.

The lead synth that’s been giving me fits on “Voices”:  I think I’ve managed to put together a patch on the Korg that might help beef it up a bit.  That would make the fourth Prophecy generated sound on the song.

Also on “Voices”:  Will try adding some guitar strumming and arpeggios to fill out the sound where needed.

The break, or third part, of “Chimera” (which will probably be called “Ruin”):  I think this will feature a bit of abstract gayageum and percussion.  I’ve kind of worked out a rough melody and need to flesh it out a little more.

An untitled piece that I’m determined to put on the track, but haven’t been sure where to go with it:  This is to be fairly up-tempo track, which may open the album or be the second song, after “Voices” (the more likely scenario).  There will be no drums, only acoustic guitar, synth, and a little DIY percussion.  This one has such a long way to go, it may not make it on the album.

A final technical problem:  The synth used for the bass in “Electricity” doesn’t want to work on my new computer, which means either finishing the song on my laptop or rendering the bass track, importing it on the new computer and hoping everything works out alright.