Salutations, my pretties!
I'm most pleased to announce that, after many a moon of fervent tune-tinkering toils, I've a shiny new EP on the way! Scheduled for release on August 10th, 2018, and appropriately titled "Recreational Schizophrenia" (sort of pertains to my creative process / typical day-to-day existence), it'll feature four all-new, previously unreleased tracks. As per regular Alyag tradition, each one is vastly different than the next, and cohesively zigzags between a myriad of genres, styles, and beats per minute.
I'll put it this way: if I truly had to sum it up within the parentheses of a ridiculous run-on sentence, I'd describe it as... [cue massive inhale] ...a crowd of feral gremlins stomping frivolously at a bouncy funky neuro-disco rave to the sound of Euro-trance gated saw jitters blasting laser sounds overtop a shield-wall of down-tuned guitars chugging along to the rhythm of Viking-esque war drums beating a heavy electro beat while a drunk mountain troll blows a tremendous air horn in the distance and causes an avalanche. [cue gasp for air to catch breath] Or, something like that.
Now that I've aptly summarized the gist of it, here's an actual breakdown of the tracks:
1. When I'd first seriously began this electroinstrumental journey under the Alyag guise, I began amassing a list of ludicrous, zany, at times paradoxical, rarely sense-making word salads and catchphrases, most often derived from wine-fueled ramblings with my dearest pallo (the notorious Bree, of whom I may paint a more descript picture later, maybe), or podcasts, or what-have-yous, to be used as future track titles... Squat Lobster was the very first entry on that list, and I'd long since intended to make its sonic namesake to portray something jaunty, a tad mischievous, and more than a little weird... and I think I've done that quite well.
The resulting track begins with a jingle being played by what sounds like a ceramic bongo complemented by bells made of bouncy balls ricocheting in the distance; suddenly, a train of funky electro-bass revelers comes barreling by, leaving a swelling synth solo in its wake; in enters a spanky Telecaster followed by a swingy drum breakdown (I legit went down a deep YouTube rabbit hole of Big Band drummers breaking down their performance techniques, and subsequently sought to emulate some of those during programming); a wah-ridden heavy disco build gets crushed by a trance metal mechanoid, followed by more Telectro-funk exploding into an airy guitar solo and synthy-chordy-fadey-outey exit. (I'm seriously making up words now)
Speaking of the swingtastic drum breakdown: it really inspired me to look deeper into sample pads (ex. the Roland SPD::ONE WAV), as physically drumming on one of those is infinitely easier than manually programming individual drum hits and velocities in MIDI, as I've been doing for aeons hitherto. Apt as I am at beat-making via the ol' clicky-mouse method, it's way-hey-hey more fun to actually play the parts, and tweak them after the fact. Added bonus is the live performance aspect down the road; because the more I have to do on stage during a solo performance, the better. More on that later, though. Ahem.
2. Copacetic is a track whose narrative I describe as such: if someone were to take Bossa Nova -esque elevator music, feed it a cocktail of amphetamines, and send it dancing on stage at a drum-n'-bass show in a hazy retro 80's bar while frantically strumming the acoustic guitar... that's essentially the core of it. It actually started out with a sort of jazzy acoustic guitar riff (there's an InstaGrizzle vid shortly after its conception and errrthang), later supplemented by a fretless J-Bass and a pile of layered piano / organ sounds, which I'd aimed to tone as if they came from a ramshackle elevator in an old run-down hotel lounge (anyone here play Fallout?). From there it builds and drops into a drum-and-bass re-rendition thereof, gets all airy and pretty with some of my favorite old-school bell-layered synth pads, explodes into a shreddy guitar solo, mellows out and serenades with the lone vocal verse on the entire EP, and... well, whisper and boom.
3. Argyle Twinkletoes is tense, thick, heavy, and beautiful. This one's easily my favorite to play, and I can't wait to bring it to the stage. The dynamics shift from the creepy and ominous, to the aforementioned shield-wall of down-tuned guitars, to soaring lead guitar harmonies (as if my Scandinavian melodeath influences could be more obvious), to beating war drums, to... eh, I'll let you listen to it, but there's definitely a bit of a twist a fair way's through. Speaking of war drums: while my affinity for giant cinematic percussion has certainly charted an exponential swell over the past couple o' yarrs, the undeniable source of inspiration for the inclusion of the hefty rhythmic elements within Argyle can absolutely be attributed to my powering through the latest season of Vikings around the same time I'd produced this track -- go figure. Also, the infamous Bree became solely responsible for the title, with her remarks re: my wearing a fresh pair of argyle socks being something along the lines of, "well lookit you, mister Argyle Twinkletoes!" -- and thus, a track title was born.
4. Don't Feel Sorry For Bigfoot draws its titular inspiration from some passerby episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast (one of my all-time favorites). At this point I can't rightfully recall which episode, or who the guest was, but it was a line that Rogan had spouted mid-hearty-hilarious-conversation; one I deemed amusing enough to write down, but not important enough to note the context of... my loss, I s'pose. While working on this track, I'd put in a serious multi-hour effort to go back and revisit several of the most likely culprit episodes (Duncan Trussell, Chris Ryan, etc) in an attempt to find and potentially sample the specific line ([build, build, build... "Don't feel" ..build... "Don't feel" ... build... "Don't feel sorry for Bigfoot" ...BWAOW! Drop, etc]), but in the end my efforts bore no fruit. Eh. Already over it.
Anyway, the track ended up being borne of a necessity to complete the live set I'd been working on in parallel to this EP -- surprise! (not actually though... I'd been waxing poetically about this ongoing live set project for many months, virtually everywhere except my website... durr; I swear I've been meaning to properly articulate my intentions for said endeavors via blog post for a while, and totally will at length later... I've been busy, k?) ...long story long, the track I'd initially intended to be my set closer didn't pan out due to some technical reasons, so the decision came to scrap that plan, and instead write something altogether new in its stead.
A year-plus prior, around the same time that I'd tracked the acoustic guitar parts for Public Restroom Justice Warrior, I'd also recorded another, as-of-yet-undetermined-in-its-intended-destination acoustic riff. Two, actually. Both were super fun to play, and good exercises in fretboard movement, so I'd figured I would cash in on them later, when more ideas came to. And so, lo and behold, with the old Ableton sesh resurrected, the entire track came together within the scope of some three-ish days.
It's a fair bit more minimalist than the other tracks on the EP, yet I felt little temptation to succumb to my usual M.O. of dunking it into a layer cake of sonic textures. It's also the only tune I've conjured to date, ever, in any genre, that morphs between different tempos (three in total), which was kinda neat. My favorite part, I think, was the angry gremlin-esque electro-powerhouse bit near the end, where the drop-A tuned seven-string guitars mimic the precise rhythm of the gritty synth, and are hard-gated -- which is kind of a sloppy audio-nerd way of saying that there's a muting gate applied to the guitar tracks, which only opens when it's triggered (#triggered) by the aforementioned gremlin synth. Basically, as soon as the synth makes a "BRRAP", the gate opens, and the underlying guitars are also allowed to make a "BRRAP", and together the two sound thick, and saucy, and rhythmically tight. Yays for days, all around.
Finally, a note about the artwork. Since I was developing my live show alongside the EP, the art pertains to that as much as it does to the recorded release, if not even more so. You can see the four titles, along with their tempo and key markers, poking out beneath the pile of other tracks being arranged on the giant blank canvas. The side-chained gremlin synth mentioned above is also being referenced within one of the holographic thought bubbles. I'll get into the other details and their relevance in my next blerg post, in which I'll talk about the live show (which is now ready, yasss!)... but in the meantime, enjoy the track streams as I throw them online in the coming weeks, and keep an eye and an ear out for the actual release on Friday August 10th!
Maniest n' humblest o' thanks for your listens and reads! Love ya's muchly. ^_^