Without fanfare, I present to you a collection of songs one decade in the making, featuring just one song produced within the last five years, which I made the title track to: Sonny’s Plan.
Had this music been the exclusive focus of my creative life through these years, then this would deserve tremendous fanfare. Throughout that period however, I ran three more music festivals, played and recorded many hours of improvisational music, got deep into stand-up comedy, launched and disbanded a magazine and podcast, worked madly in a haunted house, while adapting a new life in Philadelphia.
The music that I hear is deeply connected to whatever was happening in my life at that time. Usually it is positive, because I tend to compose music when I have the extra time and space to work. However, there are plenty of sad stories in here.
“On the Rails” for me is pure heartbreak. While there is something triumphant about the peak of the song, it rises out of what sounds to me like the welling of tears in my eyes that I had while producing it.
Only the title track was recorded at my home studio in Philadelphia. This music space is not quite what I’ve always dreamed of, but it is the most professional music space that I have put together for myself yet.
Every one of these tracks were previously posted to a number of music hosting sites including my blog. All of these scattered songs with no context or proper mastering, something had to be done about them. It started with taking all of my old work offline. Now, it is up to me to package my old work in a cohesive way.
It took a little time to select these tracks, lay them in order, remix when possible, and finally remaster the whole lot.
These sessions were all archived in my hard drive, but I don’t have access any longer to the digital audio workstation (DAW) software involved. I was able to resurrect some sessions in a new version of Reason, which I ended up paying for on a monthly basis, to complete the project.
I’ll break it down briefly how I produced each of these.
“On the Rails” was produced inside Propellerhead’s Reason 7. The only analog instrument is the ARP Odyssey. This instrument threads across almost each track. It was summer 2015 and my studio was my living room at Penthouse 3 in the Lafayette Building, Portland.
“Sonny’s Plan” is totally within Apple’s Logic X. The drums were recorded in my studio, clipped and looped. It was composed in 2020 but revisited to replace midi guitar sounds with live electric guitar. It is the first time I have owned a guitar in many years. I missed it.
“Santa Crux” was fully formed in a single day, fall of 2013, in a studio apartment in Santa Cruz using Ableton Lite. I was traveling with a complete mobile production system. My friend had an empty apartment with a range of instruments, giving me the banjo and electric bass tracks herein.
“Long House” was a cornerstone for me in early 2011, produced at the InterArts office/studio. Today, it would be a serious undertaking to remix this track, as it was produced with Logic 9 as the master DAW, rewired with Reason 4 and Ableton Lite, plus MOTU Symphonic Instrument.
“Simple Structures” helped me snap out of a long music break in the spring of 2014. It reminds me of “Structures from Silence” by Steve Roach but I structured it with a simple house beat. Entirely made in Reason 7, in my Kenton neighborhood bedroom.
“Here Now” was produced at the same time as the previous track using Reason, but this time I took advantage of the new DAW features in the software. It is the only song on this album that includes live vocals, however, they are disguised under a vocoder.
“She’s Back But I’m Gone” was produced in my penthouse studio in 2015, entirely in Reason 7.
“Clap Trap” was produced around the same time as Long House in 2011, entirely using Logic 9.
Naturally, I have had a variety of midi keyboards throughout all of this, however, none of them are noteworthy.
Today, I look forward to what feels like a new life of creative work, and in many respects I put this music behind me. All put together for the first time, it follows a single thread of intention in a chaotic life. Even as so many things change, I can’t help but come back to music, and if it takes another ten years to generate an album of highly produced music, so be it, because I love the process.