Friday, May 1, 2020

Andy and Junior talk: rhythm cadency

(the songs discussed in this piece are to be found on the following austinato releases, which are all free to stream and / or download)

plurmb.




(A short foreword from g.: "ever since Philomath. it's been all these guys.  they have become quite the super production duo.  try to behave yourselves, please.")

"i'm sorry"
A: "The original one is better because it actually has a chance to develop."
J: "Wrong again, chief.  The whole idea of rc is to improve the songs.  You legitimately think a twenty minute song is something to aspire to.  No.  The schnazz mix is way better, but you probably think that `doesn't count` or something."
A: "No, it definitely counts.  It's just not as good.☺"

"a correspondence.  (happy valentine's)"
A: "The first (shorter) one is most likely the first rhythm cadency recording.  Very unofficially, though."
J: "Wow, I'm surprised you didn't remark how good of a composition you think it is."
A: "Well, I already know you like it, so there's no need to try and convince you.☺"
J: "(fucking lol)"

"gratitude.  (a/k/a thank you.)"
A: "I thought your mashup mix on plurmb. was fantastic, by the way."
J: "I kinda figured that, seeing as you put it as the first fucking track XD"

"marshall's theme."
A: "A very diverse song.  How many different ways have we done this one?  And it usually sounds pretty good."
J: "Yes Andy, `Scorpio` makes anything sound dope.  But you're right: I think this is one of your most documented tunes.  I prefer the version you and g. did for the best ever. though.  This one's like an update / revision / improvement of that one to me."
A: "Thank you.  This one was intended to be the `definitive` reading of the song, after all."

"everything then.  (andy's equinox remix)"
A: "This is actually what I originally envisioned the song as: a sort of electro-rock thing.  You made it happen!"
J: "I don't know what I was doing in mixing this one, but it sounds a lot better than everything else in that regard for some reason.  I should have made notes."
A: "Now look who needs to write everything down!"

—ANDY'S INTERRUPTIONS, BOOK THE FIRST—
A: "Remember that day we took the bus to Carson City and had to spend most of the day sitting in the shopping mall and listening to Pink Floyd?"
J: "Yes.  What a boring afternoon that was.  Focus, man."

"angel's theme.  (parts one + two)"
A: "You did the first part on your own!  You were determined to use that beat for something.  I really like how it turned out.  Sounds like a really cool show tune number."
J: "Fuck that beat.  Anyone who thinks playing time signatures that aren't 4/4 can be fun is fucking stupid.  Took two days to get those recordings without a mistake for a fucking ninety second piece."
A: "Second part turned out pretty well, too.  Basically how I envisioned that one from the start."

"mays` theme."
A: "I will begrudgingly admit that you were right."
J: "This would not have been anywhere near as effective it was eight and a half minutes long, dude."

"marvelous grey."
A: "This is also known as 'rhythm cadency theme.`  Junior wrote words for it and they're awesome."
J: "Hey thanks, but that was a joke to keep you occupied in the store."

—ANDY'S INTERRUPTIONS, BOOK THE SECOND—
A: "Do you remember the movie `Sideways`?"
J: "Yes. What the hell does that have to do with anything?"
A: "I started to write this (ed note: he's referring to the second portion of "mays` theme.") because I was mad that that movie wasn't as good as everyone said it was."
J: "Then why is it part of `mays` theme.` now?"
A: "You said to finish the song on a happy note."
J: "But. . . how does that connect with the movie — nevermind.  Thanks for the insight, man."
A: "You're welcome.☺"

"plurmb."
A: "I don't care to talk about this song, thank you.☺"
J: "Well, I'm actually glad it sounds like a power ballad this time.  I was shocked you even wanted to play it.  I think it turned out great."

"spencer, sadie, and the borax kid."
A: "I don't care to talk about this song either, thank you.☺"
J: "It was actually my idea to pick this one back up.  I had no idea it was about that though, man.  Thank you for the reminder.  Otherwise, as a beat, I was always reminded of OutKast and Organized Noize by the tone of this tune; that's why I wanted to pick it back up.  I really like this version.  Knowing that now, it will most likely be the last version."

"freefall."
A: "It's not actually a sad or angry song at all.  It's about being so happy you get that head rush.  This was the first song we did with the Shallow Water pedal.  It turned out better than I had ever imagined."
J: "I swear you once told me that this song was about aliens."
A: "Well technically, every song is about aliens."

"crossyguy."
A: "I don't care to talk about this song.☺"
J: "Well yeah; just look at the title.  As a smarter person than myself once said: spluh.  But in terms of the beat just as a musical piece, I wanted it to sound like that old Pharcyde b-side, 'Emerald Butterfly.'"
A: "I love that song."
J: "Me too.  I always wondered if it's a sample or based on an older song."

"thank you.  (separation remix)"
A: "A throwaway pop song.  But I like your arrangement here."
J: "One of my most blatant 'video game music' moments."

"angel's theme, part three."
A: "This is also known as `plurmb, part two.`  I wanted it to sound like a 1960s pop song.  Was hesitant about reusing that beat, but it's just too perfect."
J: "Agreed; that break is like a contemporary 'Impeach the President.'  Good jam."

"angel's theme, parts four + five."
A: "I never thought you'd agree to a multi-part song like this."
J: "Hey, keep it under five minutes and I'm good.  `Part five` is one of the greatest lost beats of the whole late 90s 'reality rap' scene."
A: "You should write a faux Busta Rhymes rap to go over it."

—ANDY'S INTERRUPTIONS, BOOK THE THIRD—
A: "What if Sophia isn't there anymore?"
J: "Wait, who is. . . ?  Oh fuck's sake, did you name the plant Sophia?"
A: "It's a living being, Junior.  If I deserve a name, so does Sophia."
J: "(audible groan)"

"quite attractive.  (irreverent remix)"
A: "New arrangement here, slightly.  This beat works really well with it."
J: "Yeah, the faster tempo really gets the point across a lot better I think."

"avery park.  (open my eyes + feel the air mix)"
A: "I consider this the definitive version.  This is the tempo and how I wanted it structured originally."
J: "I will always think of this song as a bit faster, but I'm not gonna lie and say this mix isn't dope."

"my melancholy world.  (rhythm cadency remix)"
A: "I still think this song should not have drums — though I am glad we finally got a chance to include my more recent arrangement and addition."
J: "I have a hard time trying to decide which one I like more: this or the one from andy's lament.  Obviously it needs drums and to not be eight fucking minutes long."

—ANDY'S INTERRUPTIONS, BOOK THE FOURTH—
A: "Do you think German music sounds better if you're listening to it in Germany?"
J: "Dude. . . what."

"steroids.  (j's bonus beats)"
A: "Ahh!  You finally learned it!"
J: "Tried to make it like a more hi-fi version of your original recording."
A: "Thank you for listening.☺"

"all possibilities."
A: "This was your idea to revive.  I had forgotten about it.  I think it turned out great.  Were you trying to recreate the original recording at the beginning?"
J: "Yep.  It reminds me of something cool, but that I can't place."
A: "Were you aware that this song is about the summer of 1999?"
J: "I was not!  Makes sense though — I totally get that."
A: "There was a lot of that `freefall` kind of feeling in those days."

"rhythm cadency stands for redundant chicanery."

Friday, April 24, 2020

Junior Reviews: .Sialogea.


(A short foreword from Andy: "Sialogea is a beach-like environment; possibly even an entire planet that is just one pleasant, slightly breezy seventy degree beach where the water is literally blue — and will temporarily turn your skin and hair blue if you swim in it for long enough.  but it's not harmful.  nothing in Sialogea is harmful.  the first symphony is supposed to be the proper soundtrack for the journey.  it is a symphony in three movements.  Sialogea is where astralpop originated.")

.Sialogea. is Andy's second solo album.  Me and g helped out, just like we did on his first solo album, last year's Anderson.  Andy initially wanted to do a co-op track by track conversational review, but all he had to say was weird shit about how the songs are supposed to feel, and any critique or negative thing I had to say he would just be like, "It's supposed to sound like that."  So, fine.  I participated in this monstrosity, so here's my respective excuses for what Andy refers to his as his "magnum opus, so far."  Ever the optimist.  That's why you're my dude, even if some of your music is, uhh, not my thing.

First Movement
I. a. the astralpop national anthem theme. b. the on-ramp.
The formatting of the titles, jeez.  Anyway, he says it's "a symphony" so I mean. . .yeah.  This sounds like mbv or Slowdive or one of those dreary British bands he likes.  The dicking around with the pedals at the end goes on far too long.  Good lord, why is it so long?

c. projection expressway. d. the off-ramp.
Feel like this is one of his best "riffs", if you can call it that.  Idk, he loves people like Michael Rother, Television, the Sea and Cake, Slovenly. . .two guitars at all times.  So that' how he thinks about writing: two harmonic participants in a conversation, I guess.  Anyway, I like how it develops.  It was his idea to sample Mall Walk, which is one of g's favorite recent bands.  I was hesitant, but hey, it worked out pretty well in the end.  Again though with the unnecessary pedal diddling at the end.  This time it goes on for even longer.  Yes Andy, delays feed back if you turn the knobs far enough.  We get it.

II. a. .Sialogea. b. the great filter.
I don't get this.  At all.  Goes on for way too long with next to no variation.  Next.

III. a. almost home. b. . . . . . . . or rust.
This is actually a proper collab between g and Andy and it's entirely g's arrangement.  The song first appeared as the perfect opening track on lasso. and now here it is again, for reasons that I don't understand.  It's a passable version, I guess.  I have a big problem with the drums being so shit.  So nevermind, it's not passable.

c. jaimie's theme. (hello again, old friend.) 
I know how closely and dearly Andy holds this song, so I don't want to trash on this version too much.  I'll just say it sounds like some really predictable classical music and the single remix we did last year is way better.

d. spectral projections, part eight. (excerpt)
This doesn't even count, Andy!  It's just your loop station demo!  It's in mono for cryin` out loud!  C'mon dude, you're better than this.  This is just straight filler, bro.

Second Movement
I. andy's theme, parts four + five.
First part is more faux-shoegaze doodling, second part is a straight up 80s hair metal song disguised as a Kate Bush cover.  He actually wrote lyrics for this one and they're hilarious.  I won't share them on his behalf, but I will say that they 100% reinforce my thought about it being a super cheesy, fist-pumping 80s hair rock anthem.  Absolutely embarrassing and hysterical.  Can't say the second half isn't a bit catchy though, have to admit.

II. spectral projections, part eight. (complete)
Ahh, okay.  The real version.  And it sounds like u2.  Fucking great.  (rolls eyes)

Third Movement
I. a. saying goodbye. (part one)
What is this?  An actual good, solid beat????  It's from a later Charles Mingus album and it was his idea to sample it.  I took one listen and was more than happy to help with a beat that nice.  As this is the only one I genuinely like, this is the highlight of the entire thing for me.  He's mad about that because he thinks this song is depressing.  Now that's hilarious.

b. adversity.
Andy and g making smooth jazz.  And even for smooth jazz, this is boring.  Next.

II. saying goodbye. (part two)
I mean, nice beat, but yet again, it goes on way too long.  The Field Mice are like, if not his alltime favorite band, in the top three.  And I guess this is probably what he thinks they sound like, or his homage to them.  Or whatever.  This took forever to record.  I think this is the most overdub tracks he's ever done on a single recording.  We spent about five days recording the third movement, and I swear to god, four of those fucking days were spent on this dirge.  I hated that the drum loop had so much vinyl surface noise, but he told me to leave it.  Okay, fine.  It's boring as hell, so why not have it sound like shit too!

Overall, Anderson. was way better.  Yeah, it had some really long songs, but at least there was some actual ideas with some groove and melodic hooks.  .Sialogea. on the other hand takes itself way too seriously and just feels really unexcited about existing.  Sorry Andy.  I'll still work with you though, I guess lol.

If I had to give this a rating, I'd say probably two overused delay pedals out of five.

—J, a/k/a "The Fake Christgau"

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Andy Reviews: dee jaye l​.​i​.​f​.​e. presents: "the schnazz​."


(A short foreword from g: "the schnazz was actually andy's idea, even though the name comes from j.  andy said that we took his songs and made them sound snazzy.  j is an idiot, so he turned that into a made up word.  those two literally have their own language of made up words based on real words.  when they get into a conversation, they truly do sound like what the name `redundant chicanery` implies.")

dee jaye l​.​i​.​f​.​e. presents: "the schnazz​.​" was a really easy and fun album to make.  Junior always wants to listen to hiphop beats and I want to like the same things as him so that we can have something to talk about, so I told him he should make beats from some of my songs.  I didn't really have to do much, as he and g either already knew the songs or told me exactly what to play in their interpretations.  So I just literally played along.  I think it turned out brilliant!  I think some of the versions here are even better than mine.

(dee jaye l.i.f.e.'s astralpop introduction)
This was really fun to do!  I especially liked making the floaty sounds in the beginning.  They used one of those online text-to-speech things to make it sound like capital G is narrating the introduction — that's awesome!  Junior wanted to add scratching on this too, but we didn't keep any of his old breakbeat / scratch albums, so that wasn't a possibility unfortunately.  Still, I think he conveyed the idea of a "hiphop mixtape intro" really well!

"jacques snicket." (violet's new invention)
g really scored big with this arrangement!  It's basically the same as mine, but this just feels a lot tighter and more concise.  We've played this song a million times if we've played it once and this is maybe my favorite recording!

"endurance round." (pueblo de tugurios remix)
I never would have heard this song in this way!  g and Junior both love the great James "J Dilla" Yancey and as soon as we got that TC Electronic analog phaser pedal, they were both in awe of how it was able to coax those familiar Slum Village vibes.  My initial recording of this song was honestly about as fast as I would have imagined it sounding good, but g just hears things differently.  I don't know why he chose to put the subtitle in Spanish, but I think it's a great touch!

"the heart wants what the heart wants." (idk versioned)
That guitar sound!  Wow!  Maybe it's the 'Play for Today' drums, but to me, he absolutely nailed early 80s Robert Smith!  I don't recall which chorus he used for this one, but it wasn't a Boss pedal.  (ed note: it was the fulltone choralflange if i'm not mistaken)  His arrangement here is also more structured than mine and I've started to rethink how I play this one, thanks to this version.  Junior was initially mad that this album was front-loaded with three of g's songs, but I understand why.  He really had some great new insights into these songs.

"another delirious night." (dee jaye l.i.f.e.'s `eesher's delight` dub)
Junior initially started this as a joke version, but I liked it a lot, so I told him I was going to finish it.  To which he said, "Sounds like a challenge to me!"  In a sort of, "I'll you show how serious I am about this joke by going through with it even if I look stupid!" kind of way.  I'm glad it exists, as this is secretly one of my favorite songs!

"the tortoise + the hare." (one day it'll all make stank remix)
g couldn't remember how the chords went, so I came up with a semi-different arrangement to see if he would notice when I was reminding him.  He liked it so much that he decided to keep the "new" arrangement!  This is actually the original way the song was played, in a sort of arpeggio'd chord style; we had just never recorded it before this version.  I decided to do my own version of this arrangement on Philomath. and I have this recording to thank for that coming into focus.

"brooke's theme." (duke zootsuitington remix)
This is actually the first recording of 142.  I was just riffing around the chords with some tremolo over a beat that Junior had assembled from some scraps and g had been recording it all for some reason.  I'm glad he did!  The way they rigged the delay / chorus rhythm part makes it sound like a really cool piano!  That was a fun trick!  This is definitely not how I originally envisioned the song and the single version that we did a couple days later is still my preferred version.  But this one is different enough to make me love it on its own merits.

"a goodbye letter." (the funky farewell)
Yes, memories of my good friend Sarah.  This was supposed to be a sad song, but Junior has always said that the Donny Hathaway song he took the drums from "can make anything sound happy."  I never thought I would hear this song in this way, but he pulled it off!  I did have to step in and play the chords / rhythm part because, as g said, "J doesn't have Andy's swing."  I don't know what that means, but I like how it came out a lot!

"eucalyptus." (blast off megamix)
Probably my favorite thing on the whole album!  The intro parts were so much fun to record!  g said he wanted it to sound like "the music at the end of a really epic video game" and I think we accomplished it!  This is probably the only song on here where there was equal input from all sides and I think that amount of care shows in how well this turned out!  I don't really have much else to say because this one is just so good!  I'm honored to have been involved!

As a whole, this is one of the most fun things we've ever done.  We had just gotten the Earthquaker Devices Interstellar Orbiter pedal and that shows up on almost every track, so if I have one critique, it would be that: maybe scale back on the filter pedals a bit.  But, they were going for a funkier feel on this, so I also don't blame them for making good use of a great effect.  If for nothing else, this album is of note because it includes the initial recording / alternate arrangement of "Brooke's Theme.", which I never would have documented otherwise.  A very fun album!

Rating: a solid four mics in the Source, or at least a feature in Unsigned Hype.

Thanks for reading!

—Andy

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Philomath. liner notes





ever since i can remember, he's talked about "that feeling."  what songs give him "that feeling", what bands and artists remind him of "that feeling" most often, where he was when he first experienced "that feeling" with a specific song or album, et cetera.

yeah, like all things he's fascinated by, andy just won't shut up about it.

j, on the other hand, quite literally does not give a fuck. he will call you a "pansy ass f*ggot" if you even admit to liking certain music, nevermind letting it have "that feeling" on you. i told him prodigy from mobb deep was not intimidating in his rhymes, but in fact, very intellectually interesting and that his rhyme schemes were fun to study. he predictably called me a "gay ass."

but j, even though he will never admit it, is in fact quite intrigued by the idea of music resonating and being emotionally moving. but, upon hearing 'shook ones', he will jump around and recite the lyrics in his hardest faux-nyc b-boy stance. he doesn't understand that getting amped up and excited is actually the music resonating with him in a very profound way.

he doesn't understand because he is, after all, a child.

so how the hell did these two manage to collaborate on Philomath. and actually make something beautiful, ugly, sad, exuberant, and ultimately, extremely resonating and coherent?

there was a time when the two of them refused to even acknowledge the other's existence.  and, for even longer, one was quite angry and abusive towards the other (i think you can probably guess who was who in that scenario).  but they both experienced the same upbringing.  it was probably inevitable that they would both arrive at the same conclusion that those summer vacations were invaluable in providing respite and, most importantly, insight.

insight into what it was like to not have that sense of impending doom all the time.  insight into what the beauty in a lot of music was actually about; not just speculating on it.  insight, ultimately, into what we could be.

andy told me years ago, upon reading an interview with him, that he wanted more than anything to hear david axelrod write arrangements for an entire outkast album.  although hiphop moving towards a more conventional mode of musician-based music production will always seem like a radical idea in the larger picture, andy's thought wasn't that far-fetched.  after all, axe had long been a sample favorite in hiphop and he even got ras kass to rap on his comeback album.  but still, that's just how andy thinks: in the larger picture.  he doesn't understand that old jazz man axe coming in to talk shop and collaborate with andre3000 and his prince obsessions probably wouldn't pan out.  he simply sees two of his favorite music makers who have given him "that feeling" more than any others and figures that, when they collaborate, it will be multiplied accordingly.  he thinks big, not practical.

when he first told me that he wanted to make an album about philomath, i told him to talk to junior about it because that was always his favorite place too.  andy, being the wide-eyed enthusiastic person that he is, immediately just jumped into it: "junior, what beats do you have?  what do you think of this idea?  do you think we can do songs about basketball?  is there any way to make it sound like the wind going through the high trees and the water running in the creek at the same time?  you remember that, right?"

and on, and on.

much to my surprise, j just kind of shrugged it off and told him that it seemed like, "a cool idea, i guess."

they didn't talk directly about it again for another three years.

andy just started to develop a new song one day and, in a very uncharacteristic manner, announced that he had begun to work on "me and junior's album."  i don't think j was aware that they had even agreed to work on anything.  uncharacteristic of him to take that initiative, but typical of him to be so idiosyncratic about it.

that song was 161.  i always knew andy would eventually write themes for all of my grandparents.  he had written one for my maternal grandfather around the time of his passing years ago before andy even knew what a major seventh was.  when andy first started to get the chords in order for 161, he just kept saying, "the way he walked was so happy."  and he's right; Donald Woodrow Anderson, Senior walked like he knew nothing and everything.  free of the worries of the world and simultaneously aware of it all (and therefore, prepared for anything).  whether he actually was or not didn't matter; he could be walking down the hall of the philomath food bank (which he founded) to help a patron, or he could be walking into the grocery store to get cat food.  it didn't matter; the man was on a mission to live the most content life he possibly could and there was not a whole lot that he let get in his way.  andy dedicated his solo album to grandpa andy last year and i knew then that it was only a matter of time before he would want to expand on his idea from years back and start working it into something tangible.  and, just like that —as is often the case with andy— it was starting to come to fruition.

j obliged as soon as he heard the melody andy had come up with.  because j knew it, i knew it, hell even capital G knew it: it was a variation on one of the things grandpa andy would whistle to himself.  i don't know if it's a well-known tune that grandpa andy took from a classical piece somewhere or what; but the point remains: andy somehow transcribed it, despite not hearing the man whistle for at least the last two decades, and we all immediately recognized what he was doing.

j told him that grandma june's theme should have an actual title and not just be "_____'s theme."  subsequently, andy made a double exception: he tuned back to DADGAD for the first time in over five years —after swearing off it because, as he put it, "there was nothing else to write about that was that warm"— and he simply said, "call it 'the baby bank.'"  164 was born.  one of their favorite places in the entire world, as it had train tracks running just behind it, the baby bank was founded by June Anderson in the late 1980s with the same ideal as the food bank: if you are in need for your newborns and small children and don't have the finances, the baby bank is where you go for resources and relief.

they agreed that andy would play the songs as he wanted to play them and j would make them sound as he wanted them to sound.  andy's musical interests have always swayed towards pretty sounds, while j wants groove.  andy likes the big beautiful middle eight and j wants the funk.  i thought for sure they would never actually get very far knowing this, but andy was surprisingly accepting of j's ideas and j was likewise very sympathetic of what andy was going for.  for me, this reaches its' obvious boiling point in 162.  andy hates j's mix, but he kept it on the album.  for what it's worth, andy did attempt an alternate mix which, perhaps very predictably, gives prominence to those big chords over the drums.  for the record, i like both.

he made it very clear from the start that this was his and junior's album.  there would be no input from anyone else unless they both agreed to accept that input.  i was fine with this, because j had become a lot more outspoken about the musical stuff recently after years of simply being apathetic and i wanted to take a back seat for a bit.  and that's what the album is: j and andy throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.  and hell, even if it doesn't stick for very long, if at all, throw it in there anyway because this is our music, we'll do whatever the hell we want, and we don't really care what you think, thank you very much.

that is consistently true for all except one of the album's tracks.  and i'm not trying to downplay what they did, because i'm really proud of it; but that one track also just happens to be my personal favorite of the entire project.

the new recordings of 120 found an unlikely contributor in the one and only capital G.  when andy first started Philomath., he said that he wanted to include updated (and hopefully improved) recordings of all of the spectral projections. compositions — or at least the ones he reveres the most.  section two of 120 is subtitled "Gregory's theme." so it makes sense that, after a frustrating afternoon fiddling with different arrangements, capital G finally spoke up and told him, "you're not playin` it right.  it should be played to sound like what you think it should sound like."  nobody knew what he meant, except andy.  after four hours of dissatisfaction and dead ends, they had it tracked and were mixing within ninety minutes.  i can't say andy wanted to create what he thinks a proper hiphop album with david axelrod at the helm would sound like, but i have to imagine that's exactly what he was going for with this new version of 'spectral three.'

the album is a mixed bag of old and new compositions.  some old ones were kept in the can for a long time, held with the specific intention of being a part of this project: 99, for example, has been kicked around a lot, but it's always been about that thunderstorm in august.  others, like some discussed above, were written specifically for this album.  165, another example of a new composition specifically intended to tell part of this album's story, details what andy refers to as his "entrance music for the trailblazers."  he remembers when j would rap, word for word, along with his tapes as he would shoot hoops for hours on end.   and he actually wanted j to write an original rap verse for it.

(junior declined: "i'm not a fucking rapper, i'm a dj, dude!")

the album's other long form track is an updated take on andy's ever-evolving work that he sometimes refers to as "sunset." — it actually consists of numbers 119 and 121.  though this song is always on the move in andy's mind, he wanted to basically make a higher fidelity recording than the one he made last year (in which he got "drum" sounds from hitting the neck pickup on his guitar in certain ways, as opposed to just biting the bullet and asking j to sample drums).  when i asked him why he wanted to update "sunset.", all andy said was that he wanted "to do justice to that memory."  i don't know what specific instance he's referring to, but if andy has anything close to a "holy" time of the day, it's when the sun is setting.  so, i get it: it's a memory that he keeps very close and doesn't really care to talk about in any great detail.  that's fair.

andy was regretful of ending last year's lasso. on the sour note that we did.  but, as i told him at the time, it was a good story, but it did not have a happy ending.  when they had about three or four songs finished, both he and junior started to talk about how they wanted the end of the album to be "sad, but not too sad; not upsetting."  because, as j put it, "there was a time when i felt like i could always look forward to going back."  and that's true; no matter what happened, 23724 was always a place that we could count on being there when we got the chance to go back.  with 166, andy did his best to make the last portion of the album convey as much of that carefree feeling as he possibly could.  that's what the joy of riding around Benton county in grandpa andy's truck felt like to andy: a jaunty jangle of a time.  however, with 167, they both decided that they needed a "classic-sounding 'last song'."

we're all huge fans of long albums where the track sequence is an integral part of what the album has to say.  andy sat down and, unlike any other song for this project, tracked the rhythm part in one take, on the first take.  none of us had heard him play it before then.  he wrote it down, sussed out the other parts and simply said, "two ninety nine."  california state route 299 is one of the roads that we would drive to get back and forth and, upon heading back to reno, driving on it signified that we were now over half way back — further away from philomath, the place he didn't want to leave, and closer to 775, the place he didn't care to ever see again.

so, what is Philomath.?

it's a small country town in west central oregon that my paternal grandparents lived just outside of, where i would visit as often as i possibly could as a child, adolescent, and young man.

it's also andy and junior's common ground.  it's where the seeds were planted so many years ago, unbeknownst to any of us then, for healing to finally occur.

it's the closest thing i've ever experienced to a "promised land."

these recordings are, to me, what it felt like to be there at the time.

thank you, guys.  i needed a reminder of that feeling.


PS— junior has already started to ask andy to collaborate on further ideas.  he has always been fascinated by 127 and 123, so he asked andy to help him with new versions.  andy was more than happy to oblige.  maybe i'm just jazzed that there's yet another recording of my theme, but i do honestly feel like what they managed to cook up with "spectral six" there is the best thing to come out of this entire project so far.

—g.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Composition number three.

Anyone who has read anything I've written about music knows that I'm a fan of the new wave band the Cure.  Along with a handful of other music makers, they have always been there for me.  Because of the introspective nature of the band's music, coupled with the nature of my own psychology, their song 'Three' (which first appeared on their second album Seventeen Seconds in 1980) has always been an absolute mystery for me; one that is easily as fascinating as it is confounding.  I'm not going to get into it too deeply here, but the song is essentially one with several identities; all of which evolved over time.  Fans have speculated for years that all of the following songs are just differing versions of 'Three' (most of these are unofficial; never having been recorded in a studio; some of these titles and performances have not even been confirmed by the band themselves):

'Three'
'Forever'
'All I Have to do is Kill Her'
'Happy Birthday to Simon'
'I Hate Rock and Roll'
'All Mine'

Sometimes live performances of 'A Forest' would morph into 'Three' (or some variation thereof).  It's obviously a pretty monumental composition for the band, and specifically creative center (and composer) Robert Smith.

No official spokesperson from or for the band has ever explained what the hell any of it means.

Nor should they.

So, through research and communication, I've discovered something:  I guess I've had my own version of a 'Three' type composition for a while now. . . .

Composition number: 3
date of composition: fall 2012
title: "untitled 3."; "moira davidson."
known recordings: literally dozens since it was initially conceived; most of them now lost.  If I had to estimate how many recordings have been made, I'd say thirty.  It has been played so many different times, so many different ways.  Some versions even have lyrics (no, I'm sorry to say, you may not know them).  Here is one of the initial recordings from late 2013Here is the most recent recording as of this writing (June 2019) — this one is intended to be the definitive and final one.
special notes: along with compositions #1 and #4, this is the "folk music" of my psyche.  The original Moira was a character in the Nevil Shute doomsday novel On the Beach.  Moira was prone to loud, antagonistic behavior after too much drinking.  She had the end of the world looming, so I guess it was acceptable to behave the way she did sometimes.  Also, she was a fictional entity.  The real Moira Davidson was (and, as far as I know, still is) just plain miserable.  She had accepted her doomsday fate; despite the fact that the world had never been under any immediate threat — and Moira was fully aware that it wasn't.  Moira was (and again, as far as I know, still is) extremely unpleasant.

~Andy