A Year in the Life

It may seem I finished the “Missing Dead” remix for MusiM and then dropped off the face of the planet.  Not quite true, but I did end up back on the west side of the planet, once again in the United States.  Here’s a quick recap of my disappearance, soon to be followed by album and project news.  As I do not wish this to get too dull or too personal, it will be brief.

Sometime late last year, around October, things got busy:  twelve-hour work days and a new (and more complicated than it should have been) relationship sapped any desire to do anything in what little free time I had, and such time was spent trying to find another hour of sleep or playing video games.

So much work has, at least, granted me the luxury of taking a few months off.  I moved back to the States at the end of March and achieved very little.  It seems I still had a few things that needed to be taken care of emotionally before I could get to work.

Now, all is in motion.  I have much to do, but music is not being neglected anymore.

Updates to follow.

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Irrelevant and Tacky

I’m quite angry with WordPress at the moment.  After paying for the domain name, I’d rather not have PopPressed invading the bottom of posts with such trash as “What One Does in Paris If One Is a Carter or a Knowles.”  The blog remained advertisement-free until I upgraded, and now I have to pay another $30 to get rid of the ads that weren’t there before I registered the domain?  Furthermore, as I began posting a direct link to the Production Notebook on facebook, I noticed that the thumbnail showed the same photo to the link I’ve just mentioned.  So now Beyonce and Jay-Z have to be on my facebook page as well?  Blogger bubblegumcage3 sums it up very well when he says “it’s irrelevant and tacky, which makes it look like spam.”

I do not wish to say any more on the issue here than I already have (if I feel irrelevant advertisements do not belong on my blog, perhaps neither should lengthy discourse on the matter – besides, this already feels like a waste of time and blog-space), so good discussions about WordPress advertising, and what I gather to be relatively recent changes in WP policy, can be found here, here and here if you’re interested.  In the first link, a WP “Happiness Engineer” locks the discussion on the second page.

All said, I do like WordPress and have no intention of abandoning it (yet).  Nor, however, have I any intention to let WordPress use my posts to “occasionally” (occasionally, my ass – check the last half-dozen blog posts) place “discreet” (discreet, my ass – they are hideous and given precedence to “Likes” and comments) advertisements, so it seems I’ll be eating another $29.97, as I’ve already invested in the domain for a year, after which I may move this blog (admittedly unlikely).  I do, of course, understand that it costs money to run a hosting service, but this is essentially the same cost I’d be paying to self-host, only without the conveniences offered by WordPress.  While there are alternatives, I still find WP unmatched for those of us who are incapable of web design.  Fuckers.

P.S.  Did I mention that I can see the advertisements on nearly every post even though WP states that they try “very hard to not intrude or show ads to logged-in readers”?  Nonetheless, I’ve decided to wait a few days to see if they “make the ads display a bit better than they are now,” as they seem to be promising.

The Production Notebook II: More Futility, Finish First, and Going Out

There’s not much to report in the second installment of the Production Notebook.  I made a few minor tweaks to “Crush” and added additional synth work, some minor changes to “Chimera” (the working title) that I’m not entirely satisfied with, tried to replace (rather unsuccessfully) a synth in “Voices” that has been bothering me due to its thinness, and worked out a guitar bit for “Sweet Victory” (also a working title).  I attempted to add additional percussion to “Sweet Victory” as well, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  Other than that, I’m finding myself obsessed with mixing rather than finishing the damned songs, which is pointless considering I’ll have to do more mixing when the songs are finished anyway, and especially futile given that I am uncertain of the acoustics in this room.

Finish first, mix later.

I also played around with a couple songs for side projects, and one that will likely be on the next album, but these are mere distraction at a time when I need to be working on Hijacking Your Fiction.

All in all, it should be evident that it didn’t go so well today, and I found myself getting overwhelmed with the number of things I need to do, unable to focus on one song.  I’m quickly losing interest, I’m afraid.

I’ve begun to fear that the songs are too simple.  They were meant to be that way initially, but as my musical and technical skills develop I find myself wanting to rewrite everything.  I can’t quite seem to get to the “good enough” frame of mind that is necessary for any musician.  I believe it was Michael Knott (among others, I’m sure) who said that if he ever waited until he was satisfied with his music, he’d never release anything.  This is why I’m in my 30s, and have never released anything officially, with the exception of the early releases on the C/Fe Records sampler in 2009.

On this subject, I’ve come across a fascinating article from Malcolm Gladwell in which he ponders the emergence of talent, particularly in so-called “late bloomers.”  I’m much too tired to give my thoughts at this time (indeed, I’m having difficulty forming full sentences at the moment), but I can’t help but to think that my relatively late start in the musical world has something to do with the way I work.  I will leave you, and this rambling but hopefully coherent entry, with an excerpt from the article which sounds entirely too familiar to me:

Prodigies like Picasso, Galenson argues, rarely engage in that kind of open-ended exploration. They tend to be “conceptual,” Galenson says, in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then they execute it. “I can hardly understand the importance given to the word ‘research,’ ” Picasso once said in an interview with the artist Marius de Zayas. “In my opinion, to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing.” He continued, “The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. . . . I have never made trials or experiments.”

But late bloomers, Galenson says, tend to work the other way around. Their approach is experimental. “Their goals are imprecise, so their procedure is tentative and incremental,” Galenson writes in “Old Masters and Young Geniuses,” and he goes on:

The imprecision of their goals means that these artists rarely feel they have succeeded, and their careers are consequently often dominated by the pursuit of a single objective. These artists repeat themselves, painting the same subject many times, and gradually changing its treatment in an experimental process of trial and error. Each work leads to the next, and none is generally privileged over others, so experimental painters rarely make specific preparatory sketches or plans for a painting. They consider the production of a painting as a process of searching, in which they aim to discover the image in the course of making it; they typically believe that learning is a more important goal than making finished paintings. Experimental artists build their skills gradually over the course of their careers, improving their work slowly over long periods. These artists are perfectionists and are typically plagued by frustration at their inability to achieve their goal.

Three Months, April, and Other News from Seoul

Three months (three and a half) have passed more quickly than I would have imagined, and have managed to do so without much to tell.  It appears that my January projection for continuing work on Hijacking Your Fiction was far too ambitious.  My work schedule has been rather unfortunate, and while it is not difficult, I’ve had enough to do and my hours scattered enough to sap most, if not all, of my energy.  As a result, I’ve made the rather financially ill-advised decision to take April off when the opportunity to do so was presented to me.

If I am able to keep distractions minimal, I should be able to get the songs mostly, if not fully written, composed and recorded, and ready for mixing.  It will, of course, take an amount of dedication I’m not used to having.  I have also already begun selecting songs and working on the follow-up album, which might be more musically cohesive than Hijacking Your Fiction will be, where Hijacking Your Fiction is turning out to be thematically cohesive but musically diverse.

Other plans for the coming months include finding a teacher to continue my gayageum (가야금) studies and beginning haidong gumdo (해동검도) training.

Coming up:  More April goals, Foolish Fire, and the Re:Gen review of the C/Fe Menagerie!

Transitional Phases

My lack of communication (and musical production) can be said, in short, to be on account of yet another transitional phase.  I am currently a bit displaced, having no place of my own to work on music, an appropriate continuation of a year that has thus far has been no less than trying.  In times of great emotional distress, my music suffers.  I wish I could say that I was able to capture the negative energy and turn it into great art, but my mental capacity must be somewhat intact in order to keep it from sounding unsinspired at best, and akin to high school poetry at worst (“The dagger looms above me, I await death,” something like that – any teens out there wishing for a bit of publicity, feel free to submit your work chronicling your agonizing life, as I could use a proper example).  I have gone so far recently as to consider giving up music altogether, but to paraphrase a friend, I don’t dare give it up entirely because it is too much a part of me.  So in spite of it all the album is coming together (at least in my head and in parts actual composition and recording) as a result not only of an emotionally exhausting 2010, but also the sum of experiences over the last several years.  Unfortunately, the earliest I will be able to continue work on Hijacking Your Fiction, and this is hopeful thinking, is November, after my less than triumphant return to the Far East.

Live, or curl up and die on rat-stink kitchen linoleum.

A few changes and notes:

The promised full interview with Culture Shock Lewis will not go up anytime soon, if ever.  At this point it has been over a year and a lot has changed.  I may refer to it on occasion, however, if it suits me to do so, and I may post portions of the interview or restate certain ideas when appropriate.  Although much of what I said remains true, it simply feels dated.  If he feels up to it, perhaps it is time for another go?

I may occasionally post commentary on other musicians, albums and genres as a matter of interest.

I may post production notes, technological bits, software impressions, thoughts on music theory and musicology, and other things I experience or read of audial interest.

More complete album news is coming next, as well as future plans for all things AllThisIsMeaningless.