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: The First Entry, Power Supply, and Mark Bly

This is the first entry to the Production Notebook, so called with the utmost respect to Mark Bly.  Bly is one of a handful of people who have transformed Western dramaturgy in the last 50 years, and I can’t help but to think had I had the opportunity to study with him sooner, I wouldn’t be quite so disillusioned with the theatre and the graduate school experience.  The Production Notebooks (Volumes 1 and 2) are essential reading not only for dramaturgs, but anyone making a career in theatre.

My Production Notebook, on the other hand, is essentially a record of the futility of trying to make progress on Hijacking Your Fiction during my month-long vacation.

This first entry is late, and the evidence of said futility is already piling up.  I was quite fortunate to have been given a computer (thanks, Kittenita), a massive upgrade to the laptop I had been working on for the previous five years, which is now my Internet computer.  In the land of cheap computer parts, I was able to do a couple upgrades (4 gigs of RAM, a new Samsung DVD/CD drive and Firewire ports, installed, for about $100.  I spent the next three days setting the computer up to my liking, installing software, organizing, and transferring data from my laptop and various hard drives. 

Three days.

Then everything shut down.  And it wouldn’t start up again.

After a loud and curse-filled rampage which certainly disturbed my roommates, I settled down enough to come to the conclusion that, based on the computer’s behavior, the most likely culprit was the power supply.  The next day I took the computer in, again, and found that it was indeed the power supply.  My bank account a bit lighter, everything seems to be working again.  I also found it to be a good excuse to buy another external backup drive, to be used exclusively with the new computer.

I spent a good part of Tuesday finishing my setup, and now that everything is ready to go, the last thing I want to do is look at another computer screen.  One might ask why I’m writing this now.  Well, if I don’t do it now, it may not get done.  And rest assured, when I am finished I will be getting out of my flat for a while, probably to Sukkara, a cafe that makes the best organic soy chai I’ve ever had, and my favorite place to go in Seoul when I’m stressed.  My time will not be entirely wasted, as I tend to get a decent amount of lyric writing done there.

In other news, my Korg Prophecy finally arrived from the US last Friday.  As stated in the previous post, I had it shipped via FedEx for fast and safe delivery, only to have it caught up in customs for a week.  I also made a final decision on studio monitors, and decided on the KRK RP-6 due to budget, size constraints, and the fact that they are the same monitors I was using in the US (John, I hope you’re enjoying them) so they will take the least amount of getting used to.  But I’m not done spending money yet:  Due to the size of my desk (and the size of my room) I will require speaker stands for proper monitor placement, and I need a mic stand as well.  The speaker stands can wait, but the mic stand will be necessary soon if all goes to plan.

Steampunk Cabaret, Mellow Lounge, and Glorified Spoken Word

A couple of months ago, when I didn’t yet have the Internet at my apartment here in Seoul, I went to a PC Room to check my email, and while there,  searched for anything related to AllThisIsMeaningless or C/Fe Records as I do on occasion.  I was rather surprised to see something new this time:  Re:Gen Magazine’s review of the C/Fe Menagerie.  I couldn’t help but to be pleased with the review overall, despite the three-star rating, particularly the comments on AllThisIsMeaningless:

The last artist, AllThisIsMeaningless, is the most genre-bending and unusual of the bunch and is most likely to either excite or confuse. Mixing indie rock, electronics, and cabaret-like vocals, AllThisIsMeaningless employs a seemingly intentional rough sound mix giving the impression that at least part of it is coming out of an old phonograph. This gives the work the strange feeling of new and old technologies clashing, like an aural interpretation of steampunk fashion.

Better than I could have imagined.  “Cabaret-like vocals?”  “New and old technologies clashing?”  “An aural interpretation of steampunk fashion?”  How could I not be happy with this review?

It is unfortunate to see The Still Lifes work characterized as “glorified spoken word,” but then I’m fairly certain Ikarus and Willem will take that as a compliment, and they’ve publicized their music as spoken word from the beginning, so it’s hard not to feel too badly for them.  I’m am a bit surprised by the lack of interest in “Sebastian Says, “Checkmate, I think,” if for no other reason than it is the best mixed track on the sampler, in my opinion.  Yes, I mixed it, but that’s beside the point.  It’s a cool track.  By the way, I’ve heard some of the stuff they’re working on (these guys are taking almost as long on their album as I am).  It’s still spoken word, but they seem to be ditching the noise for the most part for something more accessible.

As far as the comments on the MusiM tracks, I maintain that those tracks are far, far from John’s best work, and with everyone getting wet over these three tracks I  imagine their heads will explode when they hear his really good shit.

Read the full review here.