180406 – in the middle of it all

im 97 days into my current creative cycle, where every day a piece of music is written or recorded or mixed or some piece of art is envisioned, created or finished.

in all of that, i realized i had kind of lost perspective.

i tend to work at things in pieces, and as a result sometimes seeing the whole picture becomes difficult as getting caught in the mire of minor details obscures one’s vision.

i am finally at a point where the various projects i have been working on are reaching completion, and as i sat down with my studio logs and my to do lists, i was both shocked and slightly overwhelmed at the scope of what i am trying to do.

‘scalesofangels’ are currently planning the release of two lp’s, and there are an additional 3 ep’s and 5 lp’s in various stages of completion for the different projects i am involved in.

when i look at what is done, and what is still to come, it all adds up to more than five and a half hours of music.

as i listen to the pieces, i realize the music i have been making is better, more honest, more heartfelt than anything i have done in quite some time, and the thought of putting it out in the world and discovering the places it could take me as a musician and the ‘you’ as the audience has re-invigorated me.

so, head down, im going to get this finished, and will get out there to see you soon.

thanks for listening to me checking in.

see you soon.

m

scalesofangels

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180126 – recalculating

i wont lie.

in a bit of a creative fuzz.

what does that even mean?

i have two full albums of music finished and mixed.

when i listen to them i feel they are worthy chapters in the sound story i have been trying to tell.

i have music i am making that fulfills me.

but as of late, i have asked myself a difficult question.

why?

creating is one thing.

creating when you feel a sense of indefinable futility is another.

there are times where i look at the immense possibilities and potential and wish to wade in it.

there are others where i am frightened by the possibilities and potential of all of the unknowns.

but for weeks i have felt as though i am pushing against granite.

i feel like a mouse drowning in a bucket.

the weight that gives my soul substance is the same weight that makes me feel as though my feet were rooted in stone.

recalculating…

171019 – on preparing for a performance

in advance of tomorrow’s show (october 20th) at audio bleed (beljar cafe, 2072 dundas st w) i thought i would write a brief piece on what goes into preparing for a scalesofangels show.

 

every show i prepare for is different.  whether it is solo, with a band or a collaborative effort, each one requires a different sort of discipline in how i prepare myself and my musical tools.  in the case of tomorrow’s show, it is a solo performance, my first in a while, so i spent a great deal of time getting it ready.

 

the first step is a question i ask of myself before every step onto a stage:  what is it i have to say and do i know how to say it?

 

two very different, but critical, questions …

 

i have said things via my music about my environment, the world we live in, things that inspire me, and occasionally, about myself.

 

i’ve said it through different kinds of sounds, through how much of the set is worked out in advance, even to how i interact with my tools, ala, is it a cerebral vs a physical performance.

 

it has been a very tumultuous time for me, so my head space has been, scattered, to say the very least.  that said, the performance i have been working towards creating is one that marries the serenity that underpins our existence, while the distractions and stresses weave in and out, challenging the ability to see the things underneath.  its about layers.

 

given that it is about layers, the how suggests a varied palete of sounds.  things that are structured, contrasting against things that flow uncontrolled.  things that are beautiful and things that are ugly.  things that exist in a state of structured containment.  things that i can control.  things i can’t.  things that just happen.

 

all those considerations, let me early on to realize that my performance would need the following:

 

pre composed/recorded/sampled elements

instruments of chance (and an element of disaster)

tools that function as expected regardless of situation

tools that scare me because i have no idea if my touch will silence them

 

once these elements formed in my head, i started by composing the overall concept via individual pieces in order to understand timing structures.  i settled on a multi movement piece that called on both the improvisational skills i have been recently embracing and developing, in addition to rhythmic elements designed to provide rough frameworks within which further experimentation could occur.

 

the initial compositions were completed via piano textures, which were then filtered and modified in order to create a timing structure for the entire piece and to suggest a direction for overall experimentations.

 

once this was roughly in place, i turned my focus to the tools that i would use to experiment and create dynamics from a performance perspective.

 

i have relied on alternately tuned guitars, processed and modified, in order to generate melodic, rhythmic and noise elements, which are both predictable at times, but capable of yielding surprises at the same time.

 

i wanted to add the theremin to my tools.  i have been using the simple theremin i have for almost a year, but have had yet to incorporate it in a live setting.  touch controlled musical instruments that eschew traditional tuning methods have always interested me, and the potential for randomness and is something i am no longer intimidated by.

 

right there, are devices designed to run through pedal type effects, so after trial and error pulled together a mix of distorions, delays, loopers and pitch effectors.

 

next up are the modular/synth elements.  here again, my level of comfort using devices i have been using for sometime in the controlled environment of my studio but transitioning them to the live space. a make noise 0 coast, aira effects units and a mono synth combine to create a synthetic world in which precomposed elements and pedal skewed randomness combine to create a wall of sound, both crystal sharp and obscured beneath sonic waters.

 

i have run through the set up in sections, but have not yet run through the entire system, partly due to a lack of available time in the lead up, and partly to drive the improvisational elements of the performance tomorrow.

 

so there it is.  obviously there are things that i have forgotten to note, but it gives you an idea of the thought and preparation that go into a show.

 

of course, next time the process could be different. 

it probably will.

who am i kidding, of course it will be,

 

come on out friday and check it out.

 

you might be as surprised as i will be.

171011 – i am a creature 

i am a creature of multiple dimensions 

width 

depth

height 

time

space 

sound 

maybe it is why i have trouble reconciling myself in your world 

for the first time i feel as though i understand the disconnection 

the distinction 

my flaw is not my distance from your perception 

but my lack of empathy 

i am not different from you 

you are different from me

do you see it? 

that’s a mean question 

but irrelevant 

you are happy in your two dimensions 

i am curious in my many

171007 – where my head is at

this damn cold.

of all the times i should get a cold.

my body feels drained and hurts from coughing.

as if my sleep patterns weren’t disturbed enough.

in the midst of changes in my life.

in the midst of recording something to fix broken impressions.

in the midst of writing my first solo live show in some time.

i pause recordings to spit out phlegm.

(im sorry, i know it’s gross, but if you are going to read about my reality you get it all)

it is hard to focus on the notes i’ve charted.

a path through my own space and time.

i sway between my own emotions and those of others.

trying to create to reveal to relate my own statement.

glitches and heavenly choirs. 

times that don’t fit. 

things i must fix. 

resolutions to find. 

maybe i push myself harder than i have to.

but sometimes, i don’t feel as though i have a choice.

i have to make something.

something beautiful.

oh black francis, where is my mind!? 
i suspect the cold medicine has kicked in. i just talked to my plant, gary.

and he talked back. 

171003 – the ambient ping 

where does scalesofangels come from?

a lot of places. eno was probably my first exposure to ambient music, and i later discovered cage, subotnick and cuccurullo.

but somewhere in there, a friend hipped me to the ambient ping, and after my first, maybe fifteen years ago, i was hooked.

toronto’s experimental music scene would probably not be as prolific were it not for the work that jamie and scott have put into making sure that the ping was there for people who needed it.

props where props are due.

where is their key to the city?

http://rolandblog.ca/ambient-ping-18th-anniversary/