2016 pt II & III Liner Notes
New album found here:
I’ve been working on some recordings for the past year and a half since I got a new computer. I didn’t have anything in mind when I started. Just experimenting with recording techniques. I settled on using my Stamps DriveOmatic pedal as a preamp filtered through a Boss Reverb/Delay pedal and an Electroharmonix Memory Boy pedal later. I have been using a Radioshack microphone I bought in 1990 for all of my home recordings since I have been recording and it still works fine. It has a distinctive lo- fidelity sheen I have yet to hear from another microphone. It cost $25 new when I bought it in 1990. A $25 microphone from 1990 is probably a $50 microphone now. I don’t know what $50 Radioshack microphones sound like now but I probably won’t buy one.
When I started recording on the computer I realized that I hated it and stopped for a while until my laziness won over my revulsion of digital recording. The first big difference is that I could layer up tracks too easily. One of the best techniques I discovered was to make several semi-identical drum tracks. Drums are one of the things I found improved as far as fidelity.
There’s a distance that develops within digital recording. The analog signal becomes unreadable and the sine wave becomes squared off as opposed to the smooth wave pattern of an analog signal. This hard-edged wave is unnatural to the human ear and digital medium has many tricks to simulate the analog signal, yet it ultimately falls short and humans can tell. Humans can always tell, whether with the naked ear or subliminally, humans can always tell. I won’t go into to any more detail about the differences between the digital and analog mediums. Most people don’t give two shits. Even though their psyche prefers analog.
I am no audiophile and only barely a record collector. My ears have been damaged from years of rock shows and pre-teen walkman headphone abuse. I recently had a hearing test done that said my right ear was more damaged than my left. This is because the drums are usually on my right side when I play live. At the hearing test I was fitted for some fancy earplugs. They spray this foam in your ear and you have to sit there for a while till it hardens. Half the time I am too nervous to take them to rock shows for fear I will lose them. More nervous of losing the earplugs than of losing my hearing.
Reverb and Echo and Delay have become primary facilitators in the recordings I’ve been working on. Some people I’ve spoken with have said that these things act as rose-colored-glasses for a lot of bands. A lot of bad music can be made tolerable by drenching it in reverb and sprinkling it with delay. Or it can act as the mode of continuity. A way to sound like you have “a sound”. I prefer to think the kids are back into psychoactives and out of cocaine. The “mood” that echo creates is the simulacrum of preponderance and introspection. Echolocation is also an important part of not going crazy. I am not a post-modern theorist.
Living In San Antonio has been something. It is sad to be distanced from my various collaborator-friends, at the same time, I find this city much more beautiful than Austin. They take care of their old buildings and historic areas instead of tearing them down. My neighborhood is peaceful and highly vegetative. Hills are few and walking is easy. The zoo is a few blocks away and many possibly semi-exotic birds have escaped and made their homes along the undeveloped portion of “the riverwalk”. I walk my dog to the park everyday. I frequently see snakes.
The landlady lives next door and told me that playing drums is ok and that I “will know if it becomes a problem”. It still makes me self-conscious. I periodically hear people in their homes playing loud heavy-metal guitar with no accompaniment or an amateur practicing drumming. I use to hear a guy play trumpet but haven’t heard him for eight or nine months. I know my entire block can hear me drumming. Sometimes I worry they will think I have aggression issues or am trying to scare all the dogs in the neighborhood. I frequently worry that my landlady will hear me singing my vocal tracks loudly to the headphoned backing track and think I am insane and dangerous. I use to think that people understood clearly that an artist should be able to do whatever he or she wants. Now, I think people understand artists as annoying, because I find many to be annoying, because I mostly know artists, which is fine.
The songs on the 2016 album are more “written” than usual. There’s more of the “sound” I spoke about and a general sense of refinery, which comes with the capability of adding many tracks. Most of the time the drums are the last track to be recorded.
List of song content information
1. Twenty-first Century Eye: In “Starship Troopers” during the scene after the cadets graduated from Academy they go to a big party and an all-girl future band is playing a weird electro song where they sing, “all is well…twenty-first century eye”. (update: I just now found out that song from “Starship Troopers” is actually a reworking of a David Bowie song “I Have Not Been To Oxford Town”. I’m not up to speed on the later Bowie albums. I’ll give him some credit on the next edition of tapes. Thanks to Dan at Ongakubaka.blogspot.com for taking notice.)
2. Poison: A person with Lyme disease, their partner can tell something isn’t quite right but a proper diagnosis hasn’t been made.
3. Prop 422: The vote on a proposition is being upheld in a town with low financial resources, which essentially halts the building of new roads and roadwork indefinitely. The taxpayers thought this would keep their taxes low but ends up putting a lot of people out of work and the roads/sidewalks fall into disrepair.
4. Kevin Grows Gills: This song deals with the film “Waterworld” and what it’s like in this world at night.
5. Wish Foundation: Semi-tongue-in-cheek very dark song about how before a person dies during an operation their only wish is for more anesthetic.
6. Stacy: A person befriends Stacy who is pretending to literally be blind even though the other person has known their entire friendship that Stacy is only pretending to be blind for whatever reason.
7. Reflections Of Shadows: More-or-less surreal “trippy”-type lyrics of the Alice in Wonderland variety. Weird hallucination after hallucination involving fire and mountains and all that kind of thing.
8. Van Ness: Loosely inspired by the Denis Johnson novel “Already Dead” about northern California post-hippie types in the early 90’s caught up in unfortunate dealings and the occult. Van Ness is one of the main characters.
9. Helena, MT.: The highway US 15 which begins in Helena, MT. and ends in Los Angeles, CA. I never drove this route but I imagine it probably takes 20 hours or so. Just seems like a nice drive.
10. The Tube: Loosely based on the film “Raw Meat” about a cannibal living underneath the London transit system. He was raised down there and actually had built quite a set-up for himself and his family. Of course the film “Dark Days” and the book “The Mole People” also play into this scenario imagining a well-functioning town under the subway.
11. Back In Dallas: Vague narrative about how the music scene in Dallas went bad. Not much detail but I like to think it “paints a picture”, so to speak of the people in the music scene there getting older and having to get real jobs, ultimately becoming well off and turning their backs on the dying scene.