It’s been more than a year since I’ve posted here on the site, which is extraordinary given all the things that have happened in that time.
Back in 2013, I embarked on releasing the Ex Machina Series, which included 4 albums, 4 EPs and a compilation. Pretty much, everything that’s been posted on the site till now. It was a lot of work that somehow made posting here the bottom rung in priorities.
After such a big push, I stepped away from the studio to recharge. It wasn’t until late August that I felt remotely ready to start writing and recording again.
Any project as big as the Ex Machina Series will have leftovers, and my backlog of songs is not yet exhausted. The Ex Machina Series didn’t have room for singles, and these leftover tracks didn’t fit on the albums. The solution? B-sides!
Starting on January 2015, I’ll be releasing a series of singles every month culminating in a collection called Retrograde Songs. The singles will be available only online, while the collection will be available online and on CD. I’m calling these releases the Retrograde Singles Series.
I’ve also started work on an album of entirely new songs. I wrote a bunch of lyrics before moving from Austin to Seattle, and in September 2014, I set those lyrics to music. As the Retrograde Singles Series unfolds, I’ll be working on this new album, which I’m calling Travis. I don’t have a release date set, but if I get things done before the release of Retrograde Songs, it probably won’t be far behind.
The cover releases, 新曲モラトリアム日本語版 and 新曲モラトリアム英語版, have been in the can for a while, but I may go back and clean them up before I do anything with them. I may save those releases for 2016.
Then after that? I have to admit I’m ambivalent.
I launched Empty Ensemble a while back but have done nothing with it because Eponymous 4 has been such a time sink. I also compulsively started another spin-off called Penzias and Wilson. I haven’t yet figured out what kind of music Penzias and Wilson will make, but it won’t be singer-songwriter. In fact, it won’t have lyrics at all.
All this to say that Eponymous 4 may be winding down in the next year or so. At the very least, I have more than enough material for live performances.
I probably should have mentioned that I’m releasing some music, but when you’re a one-man operation running a record label and a publishing company, it kind of gets weird repeating all the same news under different identities!
But today marks the release of Original Confidence. I’ve already spotted the album on iTunes, Spotify and eMusic. Amazon started listing it as soon as I gave CD Baby the thumbs up for digital distribution.
If you’re interested in a CD, a limited number of copies are available through the Observant Records Shop, and you can buy a digital/physical bundle on Bandcamp.
This release marks the first of nine over the coming weeks. Here’s the Observant Records announcement detailing this insanity, with a handy matrix to guide your purchasing decisions.
When I first started recording my own music, I programmed a lot of the guitar parts with samples in Reason. Then Cakewalk bundled a demo version of Guitar Rig in SONAR, and when I tried it out with my then-new computer in 2010, it opened up a whole lot of possibilities for me.
I’ve since spent the last three years replacing those programmed guitar parts with real ones — where my limited technique can manage, that is — and generally improving the overall sound quality of my recordings. I called this initiative the Ex Machina Series. (“Ex machina”, as in “get the performance of these songs out of the machine.”)
I can now report that the first phase of this initiative is complete.
What went into phase one?
Well, by the end of 2007, I had at least 90 recordings scoped out. I had entire albums with fake guitar parts and very minimal effects processing. The Ex Machina Series pretty much involved me going back into each of those 90+ recordings and adding effects, replacing parts and cleaning up mixes. Better sample libraries powered drums. Convolution reverb added a sense of depth.
I wanted to establish a base where I could go back into these recordings and refine them.
In the last month, I created new mixes for the last remaining albums to get the Ex Machina treatment, and they are now all available in the Music section.
It feels good to some working material that’s closer to a finished product than I had back in 2008.
Months can go by with nary a peep from me about what’s going on. That’s not to say work isn’t being done.
In fact, Eponymous 4 is undergoing something of a transition.
Since its creation, Eponymous 4 has been billed as a home studio project — something created in the confines of a personal space. I would tell people I’m not a performer, which is true — before Eponymous 4 launched, my previous performance was a concert with the college chorus in the mid-’90s.
And while I was busy putting down tracks from 2005-2007, I put no thought into how I’d make these recordings work on stage.
Then something happened after 2007 — I came down with writer’s block.
「光がない」 is the only new work I’ve recorded since 2007, and it consists of leftover lyrics written from around that time. I needed to do something to get me out of the rut.
So I decided it was time to start performing. My writing technique is pretty much overglorified theft, and I simply ran out of sources to steal. I needed to play other people’s music to internalize their voices so I could steal from them.
Considering the gap of time since my last performance, I knew that it would take concentration to get to a point where I would be passable on stage. I wasn’t writing anything anyway, so I made it official — while I was practicing for performances, I would write no new material. I would set aside time to continue with remixes, but I would not lay down tracks for new material in the foreseeable future. I do give myself leeway to jot down ideas if they come to me.
As of this writing, I’ve already done two open mic sessions. They’ve been terrible, and they are meant to be. Failing is the best way to improve.
At some point, I may pick up the pencil again, but for now, I need to reacquaint myself with how to get in front of people and play music.
A few weeks back, I took the plunge and upgraded the studio to Windows 8 and Cakewalk SONAR X2. Of course, I had to test these upgrades by putting them to work.
What resulted are remixes for the Revulsion EP. Listen to it here or head on over to SoundCloud.