As an amateur musician for years/decades, I used to play guitar and bass in mostly punk grunge bands in Japan. I have started being serious at last with recording music since joining Weekly Beats in 2020 and am trying to continue with this good habit. :)
All work done in FL studio, and most of the samples I use come from Splice.
I am closing the year with a subpar track. I could not quite make it work. I like that it's kinda silly and goes into a lot of directions but it misses something to make it work. Anyway, a track is a track and what matters is to finish something and learn from it! :)
This year was fun! I did a compilation of some tracks I enjoyed making this year and put it as a small EP. You can check it out there.
It was great doing the streak and seeing everyone producing cool and original tracks. I'll continue with Weekly Beats 2022. For those who go there, see you there next week! :)
This is another experiment track, playing with half step slides chord progression. It kinda reminded me of Sleepy Hollow or other eery/mysterious vibe, and I built from there.
The title comes from the movie Krull, where the heroes have to visit an elder lady who is at the heart of the web woven by a giant crystal spider. They have to ask here where the fortress of the beast will be the next morning! Yeah, it does not make any sense if you have never seen Krull. I loved that movie in the 80s. Haven't watched it in more than 20 years, I suspect it has not aged well.
Speedtrash of the week! I had the bass riff, loosely inspired by a new track from one of my favorite punk bands. But i had only that on Sunday night, so just added random horror samples, a disco beat and some silly synth lines. Leave in the oven 20 minutes, serve hot. Disco Terror.
A bit of a meh track, not very inspired. For some reason, I had this image of an evening on a sand beach , sand from silicon chips. Which made me think that having chips silicon sand in your shoes must be quite uncomfortable.
Playing with some new libraries, including Arkhis for some atmospheric cinematic sounds. me like.
I got myself an early Christmas present with a compilation of libraries. I made this track to try them out, between the Symphony ensembles, percussions, choirs, etc. It's quite a derivative track that sounds like a pirate jig but that was a fun exercise.
I had in mind a maze like multi-dimensional library when starting this track. This was like the conflagration of a gigantic steampunk clockwork like building, with staircases that loop unto themselves like in an Escher painting, with rooms full of bookshelves that cross dimensions (a la Interestellar), and the occasional orangutan that goes "ook". Maybe it rearranges itself, like in the movie Dark City, or curves into itself a la Inception. Anything that speaks of structures that bend and suggest that there is something going on that we don't really get.
For that, I mixed traditional elements to give that mechanical vibe, between pianos, brass, stand up bass, and some arps that give a good structure. I also went for these strange sineous chromatic piano lines that don't seem to go anywhere. I did not have good "ook" samples but elephants can do surprising good job!
Last week was very busy and pretty stressful, leaving little power to go on with the track. I went for this weird speedtrash track, that I feel reflects the mental state I'm in. The weird stress/dopamine induced ADHD-ic energy, it goes over the place and just won't let go. It's not pleasant to listen to, but at the same time, it was not a pleasant week.
I need sleep now.
Here's a slightly derivative track this week. I had a few light and fun melodies which I mixed in one track, poured some samples, stirred a little and here's this... thing. It's not bad, it's not very good either, but it kinda flew together in a random fashion. The process was not unpleasant.
I was stuck at Sagami station this Sunday for the whole day - without a computer and not even having started the track for the week. I therefore resorted to what I had in my pocket - my phone to record street sounds, Thai restaurant music, train station, a guy collecting money for cats, an Indian chef slapping the nans, etc. I added some drums and some arps and here you go. Put together quickly, super rough not only on the edges but really everywhere. It does not sound really good in any way, but I like that it will remind me of that day I spent, stuck in Sagami.
This is Halloween season, it's appropriate to go into horror/goth territory. Here's a track inspired by the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
It actually started with the slightly campy bass line. I then did an abbreviated version of the poem, and used vo.codes to generate appropriate reading of the text.
Adding some horror sound effects to finish everyone. This is a good training for what i've been working on with a friend: a re-imagining of Christmas traditional songs into dark gothic versions.
10 weeks to go!
I was watching the documentary about Billy Milligan, a criminal who allegedly had up to 24 personalities coming with his dissociative identity disorder. The documentary in itself is interesting but the soundtrack has really some great atmosphere and the banjo use in building a spooky vibe was really cool.
I then started on Saturday, took my guitar with a resonator from the wall. I have not heard enough banjo music to be able to catch the vibe of that kind of music but a couple of riffs appeared and i recorded them on my phone. Plugged that into FL studio, and started adding layers of drums, strings, static elements. Reused the Vintage Vocals sample pack from Splice (including samples of the Night of the Living Dead, which is now open source). And then added a couple of elements using the site to generate spoken voices by famous people (https://vo.codes/).
This kinda reminded me of David Lynch's Lost Highway, a great dark movie from the mid 90s. It has an awesome soundtrack (Barry Adamson! Angelo Badalamenti! Trent Reznor! David Bowie!) and has sections of free jazz with atonal saxophone. I went for more samples from splice, rearranged them and put layers here and there.
Here you go. I like the general moodiness of the track and the fact that the creation was really easy to go - it just flew with free association.
A super derivative track - I spent a couple of hours on Sunday. This is more an exercise than anything else. I wanted to try to make an interesting bass line that plays with a breakbeat drum beat. I sliced the breakbeat sample, isolated the kicks and programmed a bass sound against these kicks. This is an interesting technique I may try to use in the future, instead of going stupidly 4/4 with my bass beats.
Week 40! The year is flying fast.
I started this track very late - i had barely the start of something on Saturday night. By Sunday night, I had something that I quite enjoy but that would deserve one more day of listenings, of the dreams erring around and letting the track evolve and morph further. It is still pretty raw but it has the promise of something interesting. I'll return to it.
This week I wanted to explore the dynamic range of a track and how compression affects that, etc. Consider yourself warned on this one and go easy on the speaker or volume if you check this track as there as some sudden volume peaks!
It started on Friday night/Saturday without much inspiration, and the chord progressions or melodies are extremely uninteresting but I had fun playing with synth and finding some interesting textures and sounds to make that track somewhat interesting. I kinda like it in the end.
I struggled with making a track this week. I had seeds of different tracks, including this one here. There was another one I was working in parallel to it, to see which one could be completed (and totally different, some funk track with dog sounds).
I ended up finalizing this track, but I am not really happy with it. It is uninspired, derivative, has a bass that has been heard 10,000 times (and probably at least used in 30 other of my tracks) and the melodies are meh. The only thing I enjoyed here was finding a very cool drums sample that has a lot of punch.
Hopefully next week will be more inspired.
Here's a speedtrash this week. I had a few bits and ideas of tracks here and there but upon seeing a video of Instragram of Robin Finck (NIN guitar player) jamming in the desert with his Orange amp in the sand, I knew I had to do some Kyuss inspired stoner track.
This is raw, the sound is bad (i especially dislike the drums) but it works and I like this stupid prehistoric riff. I'll definitely bring it to the band when we're back to playing together in real life!
A track is a track is a track.
Note: no keyboard player was hurt during the recording of this track.
In the late 80s/early 90s, Tsui Hark became a very famous filmmaker in the West with the success of his Chinese Ghost Story movies. Mixing traditional Chinese atmosphere, humor, mysterious horror, and romance, they are classic, especially the first one. And fortunately, they are on some streaming services, at least where I live. Rediscovering the movies made me want to play around with the horror atmosphere and traditional Chinese instruments.
The strings are a Guzheng, using several note samples and getting them into Directwave. The drums are Japanese taikos. This is mixed with some violins samples, and xylophone and bells. The drums might be a bit too much for the mysterious vibe I was going after, and I am not satisfied with the melodies used for the Guzheng. I like how they feel strange and slightly eery, but I don't like that I was not able to reproduce the type of melodies that are typically played on a Guzheng. This sounds more like a weird piano played on a stringed instrument. But this is a step in the right direction.
Anyway, I had some fun making this track. :)
This is a track about the end of summer. The height of season is behind us, the sun is lowering in the sky. This is about sitting on the beach, with the feet in the water, a broken sandcastle near you, as waves slowly take it away.
"Les pieds dans l'eau" means "feet in the water" in French.
I wanted to go with this slow jazz/bossa nova feel, it kinda naturally went to a slightly melancholic atmosphere. There is a basson that sometimes doubles the contrabass or is even alone. The idea came from listening to Emir Kusturica and especially the track "In the Death Car", used as the main track for Arizona Dream.
I like this track as it's different and a bit more subtle than my usual arp filled bombastic breakbeat tracks.
We have had a few typhoons and storms in a row here, and the strong rains must have had something to do with this track. It started as a straight and simple stoner rock track and then evolved into something else. It even came with a short story.
When a drought hits a place, the earth crackles, dust mixes with the air and even the dry wind does not bring relief. Droughts can last weeks or even months. The only way to solve this is to call the rainmakers.
Archibald is the spokesperson for the rainmakers. This tall aborigine, with a luxurious beard, is dressed in a sharp brown suit, which contrast with his vibram five fingers shoes. You can be sharp and comfortable, that's his philosophy. He brings his troop of flotsam and jetsam to bring back the clouds, the thunder, and the rain.
There is Maggie. She always looks like she's right out of high school, with piggy tails and jeans overall. When she's not behind the drums beating as if there is no tomorrow, she lies on a long chair reading Schopenhauer while sipping coffee. Then there are the three brothers who play bass and the two guitars. They look exactly like clones, even down to the clothes. Flip flops, hawaiian shirts open on their hairy belly, big white beard, fuzzy hair and big black sunglasses. They never speak. It's more a grunt, usually due to an everlasting nasty hangover, except when they plug the instruments and the music takes over. Piotr in the back, with the crackled clown make-up. This short Tibetan fellow was raised in a temple and is an expert at Tuvan singing. He does not speak much either, but has a large smile and bright eyes. At last, Mathilda, also wearing a sharp suit and five fingers vibram shoes. She is polishing the brass instruments and taking the rainstick out of its box. They look like a weird carnival troop, maybe assembled from the remains of a random party in Las Vegas at 4am. Nobody would think they could stagger to their instruments, let alone summon the rain.
They don't do it for free, mind you. There is a payment. A pack of sunflower seeds, 1 once of fresh milk and a lonely sock.
When Archibald starts singing with the didgeridoo, as Maggie sits behinds the drums, the brothers plug their instruments, Piotr closes his eyes and opens his mouth, Mathilda brings her saxophone, the air changes, it becomes electric, the wind settles as if the world is holding its breath. And then it starts, and the clouds come, the thunder rumbles and rain flows and flows.
Done with FL studio. Live guitars and bass. I programmed the drums this time and added a couple more samples to give it more life. And used more samples for throat singing, rain, thunder, etc etc.
Another weird track. I was busy this week and could only start on Sunday morning. I had a riff, this was supposed to start as a stoner track, but then it went out and morphed, as I kept adding layers of noisy synths and textures.
This bears only a minimal resemblance to the original draft. There are a few sounds I like in this track, but I think it would deserve to be kept in the fridge for some time, and then be taken out and worked on again in the future. It might morph again.
After a few iterations, who knows, I might get a butterfly.
This track started as an experiment playing around with Poizone, one of the synths that come with FL Studio. I used also some vocal samples, which I modified with pitch shifter to be close to the main chords. I think the arps do that for me, but it always takes me back to playing the Wipeout video game, and I found this awesome sample pack of space ships flybys - I had to use it. :)
If you listen closely, there is also a saxophone along with the piano. :)
The title comes from the racing league in the Wipeout game.
To be perfectly frank, this tracks bears some resemblance to some tracks I recorded in the past. The chord progression at least is the same. I had probably that in the back of my mind when I was running the other day. I love thinking about music when running, the mind is doing its own thing of taking a track, finding counterpoints, new ideas, playing with a riff and morphing it in all kinds of directions. So i had the main bass stuck in my head and built from that.
I spent more time on this track than I usually do, which allowed me to go pretty proggy there. There are A LOT of layers in this track, which may not necessarily be a good thing in itself. The mix is a bit full. Also the mid part is a bit strange, it does not flow perfectly but that's ok.
I spent some time on the intro, trying to work on this part that I usually oversee or do very simply. It's not a perfect but there is an idea there to work on again in the future.
Anyway, here's a sci fi track, with some synthwave vibe!
I had a few ideas of tracks during this week but nothing that crystallized. Sunday night, with just a few lines. I listen to it. "sounds like elevator music".
Alright, let's make REAL elevator music.
Elevator, footsteps, and ambience samples from Splice. Sakura synth for the standup bass and a free library for the Saxophone. I am kinda happy with the saxophone, it sounds more natural than what I had managed in the past. Not exactly there yet, but dynamics, phrasing and reverb helped a lot.
Will try harder next week, I promise.