I took such an ‘exile’ from focusing on music writing this year (-cough cough- self doubt -cough-) that I totally forgot to update the actual blog about this album. Well, after many periods of stress and doubt that I’d even release the thing, I published Seahorses in full just one day before my birthday. It showed up at Vulpiano on 10/08.
Seahorses is a dive into the strange, alluring yet often creepy ways of marine life. Being my second archive release, these are songs I made back in late July (2, 4, 6-10, 11, 13) and December (1, 3, 5, 12, 14) of 2016. #11 is download-only. Given that I previewed many of these songs over the past months it’s become a compilation of sorts.
My inspiration was a mix of Spencer Nilsen’s Ecco The Dolphin music, ocean-themed library music like Eric Vann’s Water World and quirky old space-age/lounge. A particular riff actually reoccurs in about three tracks, somewhat like a library record or soundtrack. I was obsessed enough with this idea of ‘aqua lounge’ to make a companion mix of these influences for Vulpiano: www.mixcloud.com/camp_fr/vulpiano-records-12th-may-2021/
When it comes to my grand-scheme priorities I still don’t feel so good about focusing on such old material for so many months, but I can say that the amount of positive attention this album got made the whole process so much more worth it. My regret shrunk for sure. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a few people telling me they enjoyed my music, I’m just happy to know it wasn’t all for naught, you know? It’s also such a thrill to know that my self-deprecating, anxious 15 year old self’s music is indeed finding some appreciation when, for all I know, it could have found none.
In other news, this means I can finally try and put more focus on newer songs and ideas. I really miss getting creative with my music; the last time I really went ahead and finished something all-new was my song for the Thaw compilation. This early October I’ve been trying to give myself a break from all the project-related stress but I want to at least drop a couple of singles before the year is through. I’d love to get back to writing too but all I can promise for now is the year-end music list. I’ve had a rough year for sure and all this focus on Seahorses meant that the lateness of October caught me a bit off-guard.
While this ‘archive album’ is suffering the worst case of delay since my 8-bit album last year, I’m still set on getting it out there this month, hopefully before it enters the ‘late’ period. To coincide, I decided to guest on Vulpiano’s monthly mix series for the listen.camp online radio station with a dip into the sounds and styles that inspired the album. I always felt that electronic music and easy listening shared this understated knack for aquatic or underwater themes, so this was a novel concept to revisit.
That means lots of ‘underwater’/surreal production effects, synths that go drip-drop, library obscurities themed around marine life, steel drums and a handful of surprises. For instance: the latest Bebel Gilberto album, which sounds eerily close to mall-themed vaporwave, and one of the most underrated Siouxsie singles in “Swimming Horses” (just because). Plus, of course, two tracks from Seahorses itself. Those are latest single “Fish In Oceania” and “Blue Whale” (which I lift from the download-only version of Ocean Flower; it actually originates from the Seahorses project).
Deep Trenches demo (0:45), Seahorses (2:15), Lullaby For Sad Porpoise (2:26)
As for the ‘piece’ I mentioned working on with the Mouthbrooder post, that found it’s way to a rough and complex state. I’m not so sure what to do with it right now and sadly, posting it in some form here feels more doubtful than before.
In this next month or so, I’d love to get back to more regular posts, since my extreme focus on That Piece led to delay for many ideas. Still, I think I have enough to juggle for May considering my plans for a special occasion in it’s last week. It’s nothing too big or fancy, but it’s a day I posted about on most previous years here!
I’m in plans of the next ‘traditional MAM mix’, but it’s not happening until sometime in summer. It can say it has some things in common with the previous one..
No plans for front page reviews at RYM right now. I have more important stuff on my plate; I did a lot already and the Dax Pierson review got a frustrating enough response to remind me why I ‘retired’ from it.
The new album from the very 80s, very YMO-ish J-pop group Crystal is ridiculously fun and also beautiful, please listen to it.
This two-song single is a taster for Seahorses, an upcoming 10-track downtempo/’aqua-lounge’ album I ‘fished out’ from my archive; it goes way back to July of 2016! I decided it had too much potential to leave behind and it gives more context behind my obsession with aquatic sounds and imagery. I’m ~hoping~ to release it sometime during March 2021.
‘Mouthbrooder’ will appear on the album, with b-side ‘Seahorses’ as a bonus track hence ‘hidden title theme’.
Also, long time no see. I’m aware that this is the longest pause between posts in awhile so I guess this is the time I let the 3-5 total people who read this blog know what’s up. On the one hand it’s the typical ‘life happens’; I wasn’t in a good place through most of 2020 for both obvious and personal reasons, and now I’m struggling a bit to get it together. On the other, that led to my many bubbling project ideas, over-ambitious as ever, to delay A LOT. One project in particular? It’s taking me SIX on-and-off months and counting. Ughhh.
In the meantime:
I did get around to uploading sample songs for 80% of my music projects to my otherwise desolate YouTube account! I’m hoping that some people digging around for music will find me there, but I’d appreciate if you subscribed! Especially when WordPress has this annoyingly closed-off ‘only members can follow’ system. You can find the full Spires EP there too, since that wound up the second MOST popular Vulpiano release on Rateyourmusic. It’s too bad I keep getting this feeling that I can’t get back on that level, in both ease of making the music and quality..
I stepped away from my ‘RYM front-page-review retirement’ to praise my mutual ~simoon’s new synthpop project, Bride. It’s a definite ‘lost entry’ in my 2020 list and she could use more attention, so give her a listen if you enjoy things like Pink Industry, Geneva Jacuzzi and space-age synth music.
To celebrate Netlabel Day and mark my 2 years on Vulpiano, the first label to feature my music, I went as far back as I could tolerate. This entire EP comes from August 2015 just like “Garden” (which I lifted from Mint and Turquoise Trilogy). I made the songs on the FL Studio ‘replica’ LMMS since I couldn’t get Garageband on my old PC. I was a younger teen who ~played around~ with music more than made songs. It was “Sea Shell”, “Cold”, and “Garden” that told me, after three years of aimless experiments, maybe my music had potential.
Many things set these songs apart from what came before. For one, it was a transitional time where I was just escaping a long-hold paranoia, so this fragile sense of hope left a mark; as did my fascination with the ‘awakening’ feel of the early morning. Sonically though, it was my focus soft, trickling synth tones (a trademark for LMMS?). For that same trio of songs 2-4, I used the pentatonic scale and loved it’s soul-searching effect.
The result was this shy, secluded ‘virtual nature’ vibe that may remind you of Turquoise Trilogy. I figure my obsession with invoking forests and oceans began here. I felt I finally found a niche to focus on, so I stuck with this style for a few months.
“Sea Shell” came first. It was my attempt to stop fiddling with awkward loops and make a pure ambient piece. 70% improvised, yet it has more focus than most songs I would make for the next year somehow. It has this twinkly sea-side sound that would pop up in so many later songs; and this happened before I got into new age at all..?
‘A gardening robot awakens among hills, rivers and mountains, not remembering an inkling of its functions and original purpose. Something draws it to follow some unusually fussy glowflies and amphibians to the rocky mass of the Chrome Citadel, where it will rediscover just what it forgot..’
An ALBUM? From ME? That’s right! After months and months of absurd delay, whether it was figuring out what to do about the cover (initially I dreamt of paying the amazing Mossworm to do it) or trying to get the quality right, I finally have my second album and first with all-new material.
ONTO THE MUSIC: I got my first 8-bit plugin in Spring 2018; Short Circuits is the result. I was curious about 8-bit music for many years before, being a video game person long before a musician, so this was a great way to merge my interests.
It was fun to explore chiptune hence a more melodic sound. In spirit, I’d compare it to a late 80s or early 90s platform game; stuff with mascots and goofy creatures like Mario or Kirby. Like most of my more uptempo projects, most songs follow a pseudo-synthpop style. I mix the 8-bit voices with effects and external sounds too, often with bitcrushing. Even a piano here and there, including one (“Mountain View”) that I think Celeste fans will enjoy.
To spice things up I created a few new songs (1, 20, 25, 26, 27) and remixed 14 and 16 from previous releases; so it isn’t a 100% archive release in the end. When it came to bonus song “Toppling Floors” I liked it but didn’t fix some iffy clicking on it before it got stuck on a freezy drive (like the other original files for the album, hence tons of other WIP material; part of why my flow with new music went out-of-whack this past year).
Despite taking most of June to get the song volumes to work as a group, I don’t despise these songs upon releasing them! So that’s a relief and it gives me hope that some of you will enjoy it.
I want to tackle more VGM vibes in the future. To hear more of this in my music check out my first album Turquoise Trilogy, where “West Forest Field” and “Entering The Citadel” originate.
The Vulpiano Records 10-Year Anniversary album came out yesterday, which means you can stream and/or download my new song “Voltage”! Check it out if you liked Spires. I was aiming for a similar futuristic/metallic sound with this one but with a bit of trance music thrown in. Polishing it for this release was a daunting task that ended in overly-soft volume, but I’m happy with the composition. I’ll add it to my own Bandcamp and Soundcloud in the next few days.
Stream and/or download the full EP at the above links. As usual any listens and/or feedback are hugely appreciated.
Along with showing a more rhythmic side to my music, my main idea with this EP was forming a ’techno’ sound with more frequent shifts and build-up as I didn’t have much patience for the minimal approach in a lot of popular techno like Autechre and The Orb.
I wanted it cold and mechanical most of all (going along with the techno aesthetic), but as with most of my music, an aquatic/murky accent snuck into it (mostly on “Zemūdens”, whose title is the Latvian word for ‘submarine’). Crashing waves and giant towering structures came to mind, hence what you see in the cover.
If there’s any two things that inspired this EP most, it’s Laurel Halo’s Hour Logic and The Knife’s Silent Shout, to the point you can hear a few similar synth tones. I tried to build a dense atmosphere/backdrop behind the more prominent beats as you hear in those albums.