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Long-Term Projects

May 28th, 2008

I’ve taken some time off of recording and mixing, and I started a new job this week. Consequently, I have my head back in the in-progress auxilliary to-do list of my life, where each item has a price tag on it. Top items in random order:

  1. My Jackson guitar. I took this apart last year. My plan is to route out the tremolo cavity and seal it up with alder blocks and install a hard-tail bridge. I found instructions here. Then I’m converting it to Strat-style SSS pickup pattern (It’s currently routed for HSS.) I’m not sure how I want to do this. I figure I have two options. The first is to route out the humbucker cavity and plug that with an alder block, then re-route it for a single. The other option would be to use a Telecaster-style bridge, which would hide the hole. Basically I just want a single coil guitar, I don’t care about the cosmetics of it and I want the experience of working on it. My own router is going to be a $100+ investment so I may try to find someone who has one.
  2. Effects! I’m recording this record with stock delay and reverb from my amp, along with my Big Muff, and occasionally an old DOD distortion hooked up to a feedback box. I’m on the lookout for new things to throw into the signal chain, and also to add to my keyboards, which I have all hooked up to feedback loops and circuit bent stuff. So I’m budgeting for a few things–these to start off:
    • Electro-Harmonix Memory Man with Hazarai - a delay pedal with 30 second looping, sound-on-sound and tap tempo, built in chorus effect pitch shifting and backward echo. It’s crazy. It was off my list because it’s a little expensive, ($215) but then I saw the video.
    • Electro-Harmonix Holy Stain - Distortion/drive with pitch shift, tremolo and reverb. This would be great for keyboards and it’s only $100.
    • DigiTech Whammy - That crazy solo Jack White does at the end of the Icky Thump song, that’s the Whammy pedal. You control pitch bends up to two octaves with a rocker pedal. I suppose you could also use it to “tune” an instrument to a song.

    I’m looking into multiple delay pedals, since it’s the effect I use the most and it would be nice to have one permanently hooked up to the keyboards.

  3. A slab of Mahogany - I made plans to build a guitar–a one-piece mahogany body with a Fender Jazzmaster-style body and pickguard, a Strat-type recessed jackplate, two SG-type humbuckers, tune-o-matic bridge, 25 1/2″ scale Fender style Warmoth neck. Transparent blue finish with a tortoise pickguard and gold hardware. The next step is buying tools. My plans may change once I get wood planed because I fear there are some internal cracks in the wood.

The Surrealist Diary Poem

May 24th, 2008

I won’t make a habit out of posting these, but they’re fun. I came up with this idea a few years ago. Write about what you did today (Microsoft Word or similar works best. Notepad doesn’t) then randomly select and move stuff around until it looks like a poem. Clean it up and post it somewhere in the vast infoheap of the interwebs. Today’s:

that james. tracks I did
some work
tried to sleep
broke and loud amps
goes only so far
then made a mess
I still don’t
way to watch a schedule for drums

working one to see and no
now I’m no money
that’s my life.
mix movie.
quiet, yes but have my commy fuck no.
loud amps. and no
but what about no money eyes?
yes, but
I still don’t have my computer

Gratuitous Information

May 23rd, 2008

I’m running out of songs to post. I’ve been going back and forth between mixing and re-doing takes. I’m having a horrible time trying to get good distorted guitar sounds recorded. I think I made some progress today, right before I was nearly knocked on my ass when my downstairs neighbor’s CB started interfering with my amp. I’ve also been writing harmonized guitar parts, for fun.

The new record will definitely be a full length (40-60 minutes or so) with 10- 12 tracks. I have a title for it, which is a secret. The release date is a secret too. I haven’t even told myself yet. Sometime this summer I hope.

I still don’t have my computer. Geek Squad sucks. They sent it in without the receipt, which I gave them. Then it got sent back. I had to bring the receipt again (which I watched as they put with somebody else’s computer until I corrected them) and now it’s going to take another week and a half. Never buy anything from Best Buy.

There’s a new free download on my MySpace. A track called “Alone,” which I recorded early into the “Twenty-Eight” sessions. “Living on the Weekends” is still up for now, but that will be taken down once I decide what the “single” from the new record will be.

I have a bunch of half-hatched plans in my head that I don’t want to say anything about yet.

Escape Song

May 19th, 2008

Wrote this one a while ago too:

I’m trying all my hands
you’re waiting for the end
they left me in the dark
and you might be right

let them pack away
the hours of a day
we’ll sleep through anyway
and we’ll leave at night

I’ve got nothing left to do
but put my trust in you
you want it this way too
but I can’t be sure

where the things that break me go
when you’re running fast and slow
thank god I just don’t know
if they’re gone for good

waste your time on the little things you find
don’t it make you wanna try to lose your mind?

Safe and Sound

May 17th, 2008
I’d have thought we’d walk away
somehow on our own two feet
the skyline still in front of me
I’m crawling on my hands and knees

how silly this all must have seemed
my wasted breath turned into steam
now we’re safe and sound, and calm and clean
taken in by our enemies

slowly set my time to pass
they let you think it couldn’t last
now it’s back and forth, and push and pull
and for what, you ask?
I guess that I don’t know.

eRecovery and the Prokiev Box Set

May 8th, 2008

I paid $40 to have a recovery disk sent to me. Usually this comes with the computer. Not Acer computers. You have to make one yourself with a DVD+R. I don’t have those just lying around, so I never got around to it. Oh well. I’m wiping the system clean tomorrow, and then reinstalling all my files back on there. I moved my whole documents folder to the desktop of my audio workstation for now, and I made a Mozilla backup for all my email and web settings. I think that’s it.

The box set. Look at a CD, and notice the width of the case (from the top of the artwork to the bottom.) Now look at a beer can, and notice the height. Holy shit!

So I’m going to create a box set anthology of the CDRs I released between 2000-2006, excluding discs with covers on them and one three song mini-single. That totals 10 discs, and I’m releasing it in a modified beer box. You cut a 24-pack box in four, The CDs lay inside of the short end, then you fold and glue. You wrap it over so that the spines stick out the open end. Look for this when the next release is ready. The set will include:

Sounds (2000)
Abstractions + Distractions (2001)
Humid Apartment Music (2002)
Quasi Neutral Staircase (2003)
Some Days Spent Drowsy (2003)
…With Nothing to Say (2003)
I ♥ Boredom (2003)
Signals Encoded in Magnets (2004)
I’ll Stay by the Ground (2005)
Lost in the Background (2006)

Damn it! Fuck!

May 7th, 2008


My laptop is fried.  This sucks.  I spent all night trying to figure out what was wrong, deleting stuff, uninstalling things, changing settings.  It’s fucked.  I have to take it to Best Buy (where I bought it) and hopefully it’s something simple.  I’m only writing this because I’m borrowing my dad’s wireless card temporarily for my new computer.  Now I’m on little sleep and I have a stomachache and I have to go to work.

It seems like any progress made in my life is met by something else going south.  If anything I’ll put it in safe mode, grab my tracks and go into digital seclusion.  Or it may not be that bad.

While I was up last night, I came up with an idea involving making boxed sets of old CDRs and Black Label boxes.  More on that later.

Fuck this sucks.

Recording Upgrade Complete!

May 5th, 2008

After saving and researching for a couple years, I’m finally done upgrading my recording “studio,” (i.e. all the music stuff I keep in my apartment that keeps me from having a real living room.) I started setting it all up about six months ago. I got the microphones, then the control surface, and I started recording on my laptop. I got a separate computer a few months ago, and the monitor finally arrived today:


While the new CD is very close to being completely tracked, the new computer and monitor are going to be a necessity for actually getting the tracks mixed. It’s so hard to keep track of everything on a little laptop screen. And now everything is set up permanently–no more unhooking everything if I decide to go to the coffee shop.

The list:
Tascam FW-1082 control surface/audio interface
Vision DAW mid-tower computer
Acer 22″ Monitor
Audio Technica AT-2020 large diaphragm condenser microphone
Pair of Samson C02 small diaphragm condenser microphones
Shure SM57 dynamic instrument microphone
Peavey KB2 keyboard amplifier (for monitoring and as a vocal amp)

I’ve been running everything, except bass guitar, into the Tascam without processing, using the onboard preamps. Supposedly they’re pretty close to the pre’s in my fourtrack, except balanced. I’ve never really minded them. In fact I bought a mic preamp last year, thinking I’d get a better sound, but the Tascam preamps were much better as long as you turned up the treble.

I run my bass through a cheap compressor, preamp/DI and EQ directly into the Tascam, and then I stick it in the background. My bass amp sucks and the only thing I use it for is writing bass lines. I don’t have a “proper” monitoring system. The Tascam’s outputs are hooked up to my stereo system, which have semi-decent, but by no means professional, speakers hooked up to it. So audio engineers are probably going to hear imperfections on my tracks. I think they’d hear them anyways. The other 95% of people aren’t going to notice when they listen to my stuff on their computers or cheap headphones (if they listen at all.)

All that said, I’m still very likely to entertain the notion that analogue recording sounds better. If I had money and space, I’d love to be working on reel-to-reel machines and an analogue console. For now, this is practical. And the learning curve is friendlier.

Millions of Miles

May 4th, 2008

I think I’m getting really close to being done with this CD. Here’s one from a while ago:

someone take the wheel
I’m subtracting the negative space
between the stars
and the blur between the headlights from cars
as the radio plays
some AM waves from far away
nothing to lose
except whats right in front of you

i can’t look down

is lost out here
there’s nothing left
to attach it to
the black night sky envelops you
far away
from the routes they lay terrain around
breathe in and out
millions of miles

Back by Car

May 3rd, 2008

A song about finding perspective on the road:

I was right in the middle of something
I had to walk away
take a chance on a spot outside your space
it’s easy just let everything else fall away

on my way back
feeling half sick in the backseat
watching the road
speed right past me
it all came clear
there’s just too much that surrounds me
you don’t understand
when emptiness is all you see

if I could interrupt
this disorder of distraction
take a look at what I really see
follow the pavement
as it pierces the horizon
where does it go?
everywhere I’m sure