music bloggin'

I have been slammed, SLAMMED I say, with code projects. There are some cool updates/projects/DisplayHack articles in the future, when I get at least the current project I'm on in alpha phase (hopefully later on this week).

I'm going to take a quick minute before starting coding for the day to shill some music stuff.

I have no illusions. I make music because it's just something I do.

I make music to entertain myself, and probably a really small handful of people that may enjoy it. I've been writing music since a young age, I play quite a few instruments, and have delved into many different styles over the years. That being the case, what I tolerate, and find entertaining, my be quite weird and jarring to some listeners. I don't mind making mixes that sound abrasive sometimes, and in fact, I enjoy listening to things that are outside of the normal box. So, much of my music is totally self serving, or because I've had a song I gradually write in my head, and find it's milling around for long enough that I feel some responsibility to put into recorded form.

This song came out of a few things. One, I worked with Deadmau5 a couple of years ago, and was awestruck by his talent, and loved the music. I really enjoyed how he seemed to have a framework that he was building on, where many things were consistent from song to song (like bpm and maybe some tones, etc), but each song could feel very different. It reminded me of blues greats, and 12-bar blues, where there was a really strong form, but totally unique songs could be written that are masterpieces.

I'd made a great deal of electronic experimental music in the past, but had been more influenced by guys like Lee Perry. The idea of that consistently driving beat was intriguing.

Recently I read some article or reference about "Deadmau5 is 128 bpm, Skrillex 132 bpm, etc.". I don't think that's really true across the board, but maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, this led to the thought that I'm an older dude (not that old!!!!). I thought, "ha ha, I should make something 126, because I can't move as fast as a younger guy".

I started working over a bassline with some decimation type effects, and wound up with the "red alert" siren sound. I had happened to be reading some short stories of Philip K. Dick, and the one I was reading that night was "The Second Variety", which is about a future where people build autonomous robots to kill the other side. At some point, the robots start building themselves to look like humans, so that they are more effective in eliminating the enemy. There is a conundrum about which autonomous robot killer constitutes the Second Variety. I won't spoil anymore than that. Anyway, the sections of the song loosely parallel some of the sections of tension in the book, with the ultimate fading resolution, being subsumed by the "red alert" signal that represents the Second Variety.

This remix of Usher's "Love In This Club" was something I basically tried out, because I thought it would be fun to try to build a new song and chord progression around it, removing the major key vibe and putting a pentatonic/relative minor feel around it, with some chromatic evil stuff.

I like fuzz bass, and distorted stuff, so there are just crazy amounts of distortion, decimation, amp sim, etc., all over this.

Another thing I did was to use an old Dave Pensado trick, but done in a much more creepy, obvious way. What you do is to feedback the reverb into something that pitches it up one octave, so that stuff really cuts and sounds chimey and awesome. This is used subtly to really bring out vocals. At some point, I started crushing the heck out of it, and it sounded like an evil chipmunk. I found that very entertaining and creepy, so it stuck. It vaguely reminded me of some Timbaland/Justin Timberlake thing I'd heard once, so I thought it was worth keeping.

With the rappers, it felt fun to drop the rhythm stuff out, and make a break. I wound up screwing with the formants of their voices quite a bit, and layering it under their tracks, so it gave a kind of "crowd of monsters" vibe, and made it more intimidating.

To come out of that, when Usher's voice comes back in, the chords needed heavy manipulation to make it work. I did a fun blues scale/chromatic/late 60's kinda chord thing that would be more at home in Iron Butterfly or Led Zep. With the combo, it just sounded odd and new to me, so it got a pass.

The average person might find it grating, but it's music to my ears, and I like it better than the original (which was a great piece of pop, with much more wide spread appeal than the travesty linked above!).