Sunday
Jun202004

« Going to Mars for Boy Time »

No, that was not a Michael Jackson reference.

With Kelli being gone, I've just had a chance to be a waste of a person, sort of like I was in 1999, sans the extreme depression. I mean, it's overcast outside, and has been for weeks now. I actually like the "June gloom" just fine. I hate hot summer days, so this month has been great in that regard.

Anyhow, last night it was downloading a bunch of porn for kicks, and doing some much needed file maintenance to keep my images all organized. Then there was downloading a shitload of songs from Limewire, and the resulting attention paid to my iTunes library. Today, it was sleeping in until 10 am, which is about three hours earlier than I used to get up, but times are different now. Then I did the classic 1999 thing; moped around for a few hours, checking the mail often, pacing the house, looking at all sorts of stuff from my past that I probably shouldn't, and very typical of my musician years, waiting for some musicians to call or show up. My buddy Thax came down with his girliefriend and we all shot the shit for a few hours. He's from Orange County, so I don't get to see him too often, or nearly as often as I did when we played in the Magnificent Meatsticks (that as a result of his love life stepping to the fore). He brought me some CDs to steal. He was a huge part of my late summer 1999 creative spell by the music he let me rip off back then. Well, today he brought me The Mars Volta's Comatorium, and after several hours of my own twiddling about in the studio, I put on some King Crimson on the studio speakers and blasted some of their really mad stuff off The Construkction of Light and The Power To Believe. That was just a primer for the Mars Volta stuff.

In the last few years since I got the computer, nearly all my music listening has been on the computer, and often has been a really fragmented affair. I have a really short attention span now that everything is at my fingertips. With the time to spare and the determination to do nothing but what I want to do this weekend, I decided to just lay out on the studio floor where the bass waves couple into a massive throb that turns your gut to jelly if it's loud enough. I get to do this at any hour of the day or night, theoretically. At least that's what I did for years while my grandmother was here, sleeping in the room exactly where my computer is now, only a wall away from the studio. It's very liberating to play your music really fucking loud at 3 am. But, in the time since Kelli and I have been going out, my late night studio excursions (the ones that were always productive in my halcyon days of recording) have been pared down, partly to let her sleep, but really to be with her more, and to send that message.

So I have the Mars Volta CD playing right here, blasting into my face now. I don't think I have ever heard anything like it in one place. Shit, this is going to mark me for life. I mean, it has the musical balls that I like from the stuff I listen to, and it actually has moments that remind me of what I am trying to do, both sonically and artistically. Yeah, it sounds like they ProTool-ed the hell out of it as far as editing and arranging, but hey, it's not like the sparkling and sterile pop pabulum that gets the same treatment. This is some intense shit. Not just in its heaviness. It must be the heaviest, most frantic shit in my collection, but it's heavy in a whole other way than gobs of distortion and boomy drums. This is just intense. It's a roller coaster, almost from bar to bar there are nutty changes that just shock and awe (to coin a phrase). It's like King Crimson's older days of improvisation and anarchy, with some Santana grooves, a voice like Geddy Lee's from when he actually went for it, and I don't know what the fuck else there is in there, but damn. This is something that I can see putting in to loosen up my mind. I have some ideas that are quite down the road some of this stuff is, but I haven't had the musical balls to actually do it. And sometimes the gear is in the way too, but mainly, it takes a certain amount of adventure to get the stuff I want to do, but as a solo artist, it is just hard to get some of these things to play right. A few years ago, I would have done it, mostly because I had time to experiment and twiddle with gear for fun. My time has just been hard to come by, or more specifically, hard to focus toward music. I can't count the hours I have wasted on the computer. There are a lot of things in the way. Grrrr. At least this time, I set up the studio in a way that suits my solo artist work, with some effects back in the loop. I have not had effects ready for tracking for about three years, because I wanted to streamline and force myself to play more, and record cleaner. But some of my inspiration leaves me when I don't have some effect to play with or against. So I allowed myself to have effects printed to disk again. And, time permitting, I will try to actually molest the features in ProTools now that I know I don't want to just approach things as if I were in a band.

I guess what really impressed me about the MV CD was the liberal use of any device to show musical balls. I mean, the editing, the liberal use of effects on any and all sources and vocals, and the wild dynamics and in some cases, the sound of a single guitar just dwarfing the band is all a bunch of things you don't hear too often, and it is nice to know something like that can slip by the radar of a major label. Every now and then there is some hope for something like art to reach the masses. I guess it helps that the band is made up from some known names, so I don't know if this could be released if from some utterly new bunch of guys. Oh well, it's here and sounds good when blasted.

I should stop to hear more music on the studio floor, under the glow of the Apple display and a few dozen LEDs and LCD displays.

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