Payday Loans Payday Loans


Between the Walls and the Sea

July 28th, 2013

cassette layout

There’s actually news on the solo project front. My next record is complete. I have preliminary masters for it and I’ll be releasing it on cassette and MP3 in the fall. No physical CDs to start out, but I’m offering the MP3s on my Bandcamp page on a pay-what-you-want basis.

Between 1997 and 2009, I released at least one recording every year. There’s been nothing since then. I wrote a bunch of new songs in 2009 and then tabled them. In late 2011 I started recording some of them. I’ve been working on those tracks slowly since then, and recorded a few new songs along with them. That means I’ve been working on this release for four years. I think it shows. Every step was a very deliberate process, and I’ve gotten to know the tracks very well. This is a very different record from Open or Exits — I’ve gotten pretty enthusiastic about analog synth sounds and keyboards in general, so this record is way less guitar-dominated. There’s also a shit-ton of reverb and drum machine. Warning: the rest of this paragraph is geek-talk. I recorded it all in my room using Cubase LE (which I’m done with — I recently switched to Reaper,) an Alesis SR-18 drum machine, an M-Audio midi controller and a handful of free VST synth plugins. Guitar and vocals were mic’d but everything else was done in the box. A big part of the sound is a result of using the same very wet reverb settings on the vocals and the software synths in addition to a lot of spacey delay guitar. To master for the cassette, I ran everything through a PSP Vintage Warmer plugin and a very conservative limiter. For the MP3s I might add a multiband compressor and a little more limiting to get louder tracks if they don’t sound hot enough. They might be good enough already, I’m not sure.

Maybe this goes against what you’re “supposed” to do, but this record is mixed for headphone listening. I’ve been trying to get it to sound OK in a room with speakers, but when it comes down to me having to choose where it sounds great, I chose headphones. In other words, I’m not sacrificing the headphone sound as much as I’ve done before trying to cater to different listening environments. I’m not that great of an engineer anyways and I think I’m talking about pretty subtle differences, so maybe it’s not worth mentioning. I tried to make the kind of record that I would want to listen to privately, from beginning to end, either in a dark room or going out for a walk.

The in-progress tracks are all currently up on Soundcloud, where I’ve been posting them as they come into being. I won’t be putting the finished tracks up on there. Instead, they’ll go right up on Bandcamp as soon as I finish the “hot” masters (for digital distribution) and the cassette will probably be released at a record-release show.

My last record, Open, is currently available on Bandcamp — also pay-what-you-want. You can download it for free or throw some cash at me to help get the cassette produced. Here’s the link again to go get it:

geraldprokop.bandcamp.com/album/open

Here’s the final track listing for the record:
Between the Walls and the Sea
Side One

  1. On a Road
  2. Dwell
  3. Groundless/Flightless
  4. Background
  5. Tornado

Side Two

  1. Cellar Door
  2. Follow Apart
  3. Can of Worms
  4. Let Go

On sound and where it lives

July 16th, 2008

You can’t have a zine festival without getting questions about zines’ survival in an increasingly digital age.  Are they dying?  Why don’t people just start blogs?  Etc. etc.  I’ve had this stuff on my mind lately, as I’m about to release another record on a different dying format: CD.  Now, this time I’m actually getting them professionally duplicated, just because it will open more doors for reviews and distribution.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem with it…

(BTW-zines are not dying, and the people who read zines are not the same people who read blogs though there are those that do both.  Nobody “collects” blogs, you can’t fill a shoebox or a milkcrate with them, you can’t save them.  A zine will be there to stumble upon when you’re old and going through things.  A blog will be deleted from the server.)

So-called MP3 culture asserts a song’s autonomy, making it available on it’s own without the other songs, without artwork or credits or packaging.  I obviously don’t buy this.  Songs need homes, and singles are the equivalent of a cramped apartment where there’s nothing but you, but at least it’s a place to stay.  MP3s are like homeless people.  Just as society in general doesn’t really give a shit if some guy is homeless, the consumer market doesn’t care if a song gets distributed as part of an album or on it’s own.  I think musicians do care though.  Songs are usually recorded as albums, with a distinct group of people working on them in the same place and over a certain period of time, etc.  Songs in an album often complement each other or just “go with” each other.  They live together.

Just because a new technology makes it effortless to distribute something in a certain form, doesn’t mean that the thing necessarily benefits from that form.  Amazon.com could save people a lot in shipping by selling books as PDF files.  Why is this debate not happening with literature?

Imagine your favorite book and then imagine if you had read it curled up with your laptop computer.

When I go over to someone’s house for the first time, for a party maybe, I glance through their music collection and their book shelf while everybody else is socializing.  People typically display these things prominently.  What I don’t do is turn on their computer and start opening folders.

I decided a little while ago just what is the problem with CDs. They’re ugly, stupid, fragile things.  They don’t age well, the cases break, they scratch.  Not only that but typically CDs are not produced with any consideration for the aesthetics of the physical product.  Beyond the graphic design and artwork of the booklet, and the screenprint of the disc itself, they’re all the same.  A  beautifully produced concept-album that took two-years to make is likely to come in the same form as a the bundle of free software included with your inkjet printer.

CDs have become ephemera.  The general consensus in our culture is that if it’s on CD, it’s endlessly replaceable, repeatable, and if it’s not free, it may as well be.

I think that even though people prefer having a tangible product, CDs just don’t have that many redeeming qualities as such a product.  A little while ago, I started thinking, “why am I still using CDs?  I can buy a USB turntable, buy records, and burn them to CD when I need to play them somewhere else.”  I just read an article from last year claiming that vinyl sales are up.  It makes sense to me.  Now I’m thinking my next release might be on vinyl.  This one will be a CD, but there’s no jewel case.  It’s going to be a little bit of a book-arts project, and consequently will also be expensive and a major pain in the ass.  But I needed to make it something that I could see myself buying.