It’s taken me six years to develop enough working knowledge about audio engineering to do some of my early demos justice.
At various points in the past, I’ve posted audio files of a cassette tape that survived a burglary in 1998, in which I lost all my early 4-track demos. The transfer to digital was never satisfactory, mostly because I lacked the equipment and know-how to do it right.
As a result, I’ve always considered that lone surviving tape as something of a bastard child, and I would always wince when friends would say they listened to it. The demos are crude in the way that dated technology makes it thus, and it doesn’t help matters when the sound quality is crap.
But two weeks ago, I gave the tapes another go, this time applying copious amounts of multi-band compression to clarify some parts and to mitigate others.
It definitely helped.
In fact, it’s making me reconsider tracks I relegated to the dustbin. One such track is something I’ve given the working title of "Acid Vogue". I was trying to co-opt the drum beat of Madonna’s "Vogue" into something I thought qualified for acid house. Not that I knew what acid house was — I just knew Duran Duran was influenced by it during the Big Thing sessions.
It’s more Depeche Mode than anything else. I still don’t know what to do with this track. Maybe nothing at all.
Back in 2008, I sent out a "Christmas card" to 10 select people — a compilation of Eponymous 4 demos. It was the greatest hits that weren’t yet hits, and the first drafts with any sort of vocal tracks.
It’s now the holiday season of 2011, and that "Christmas card" has undergone some major revisions. Where there were samplers pretending to be guitars, there are now guitars (and basses as well.) Samplers are still posing as drummers, but the samples sound slightly more human. I’ve also replaced a two tracks, replacing a Japanese-language cover with an English-language cover and a piano piece with the semi-title track from 「風の歌を聴け」.
I gave this compilation the title Original Confidence as a tongue-in-cheek gesture, naming it after the Japanese version of the Billboard charts.
Have a listen, won’t you? Here’s a track called "Go".
I play a guitar, but by no stretch of the imagination should I be considered a guitar player. I know my chords, and I can play a scale. But that’s as far as I can be trusted with the instrument.
Which is strange since I seem to write so much music that requires a lot of guitar.
NUMBER GIRL was a Japanese punk band that actually inspired me to take a smattering of lessons back in 2001. I wanted to learn how to play the band’s music, but I just didn’t want to follow tablature blindly. And learning a few NUMBER GIRL songs made me braver in terms of writing with guitar.
「DESTRUCTION BABY」 is my favorite NUMBER GIRL song. It has only four chords, but the off-kilter drum fills and enigmatic bass line turn it into something far more complex. My version of it, though, is a mess. The playing is choppy, the rhythm a disaster — not at all the precision work of the original.
Let’s just say a lot of work went into post-production.
So while I have been working on Eponymous 4 stuff, it’s more on the web side than the music side. (Eponymous 4 is as much a web project as a music project.)
I did, however, go to a photo shoot for the cover of Restraint. I’ve also been looking at mastering options, and I’ve been going through more rounds of mixing. It’s getting really close now. I’m not committing to a particular release date, but sometime in (early) 2012 is not an unreasonable goal.
The tracks you pretty much hear will be the ones on the final album. As such, I’ve also requested CD Baby take down the Work Release Program titles from all their digital partners. The Work Release Program titles will still be available through CD Baby, but I’m not going to feature them here, nor on the Observant Records web shop.
Honestly? It’s kind of painful to hear those versions. I disclaimed the hell out of them when I released them back in 2009, but I didn’t realize just how green they would sound to me just 1 1/2 years later. That’s not to say what I have now is all that masterful, but I like the idea that I’m moving forward.
Not much music is getting posted here because I’ve been hard at work on some web projects. Last weekend, I remodeled the custom-made content management system that powers this web site — nothing too apparent on the surface, but with any luck, it will help get music on this site quicker.
This weekend, however, I launched the scaffolding of the Observant Records web site. Not much content on there yet, but I hope to get a web shop running there in the future.
That’s not to say I’ve totally been neglectful of musical matters. I went back to some cassette tape demos that I transferred to digital and took another shot at mastering them. The first time I tried, I did a brute force job and ended up with some terrible files. This time, I think I have something that sound decent.
As a result, some tracks I’ve written off as trash just might be candidates for a second look. Maybe I’ll even post something here later.