Jan. 16th, 2011 11:36 pm
solarbird: Cover of the first Crime and the Forces of Evil EP release, Sketchy Characters (sketchy characters)

Solarbird, the Lightbringer – the public face of CRIME and the Forces of Evil – had a good weekend of work and play, talking with musicians and other shadowy figures, and perhaps arranging for some degree of shenanigans, about which you’ll no doubt hear more later. Muah ha ha.

We’ve also set up a Facebook band page, at last: clickie here and LIKE IT if you know what’s good for you. XD

But most importantly, Monday the 17th is the last day to enter the raffle for the Advance Review Copy of Dick Tracy Must Die. CLICKIE:

Click HERE to enter the raffle!

So what’d you do this weekend?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: (music)

A brief post before I go to bed – I’ll post about it for real later – but the Dick Tracy Must Die version of “Outbirds” is up on Bandcamp. You can steam it off the official band site or directly off Bandcamp. It’s the first track off Sketchy Characters (which was, as you’ll recall, a work-in-progress CD, and I kind of think of it as almost a live-recording disc now) to make it onto Dick Tracy, so compare and contrast if you want to see how my ideas of engineering have evolved since January.

Also, I’m not posting a link, but sometimes – and I’ve talked about this – you put something down in a recording at night, particularly late at night, and you think it’s pretty fuckin’ awesome, but then you listen to it the next day and you’re all disappointed and are wondering what you were thinking. The bassline I recorded for Stars last night is exactly the opposite of that. I can’t believe I performed this. I’m not this good on bass, but apparently, for a few minutes last night, I was. Don’t ask me to do it again, I don’t know how it happened.

More on that later. Go listen to Outbirds, new and old. Hear what I’ve learned. What do you think?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: (music)

I haven’t done much busking this summer, but I got out there today in Woodinville at their little Farmer’s Market and played for a few hours. It’s interesting because it’s such a different experience – tho’ less so at the start because I grabbed a few chairs at one end and pointed them at me and ended up with a real live audience for most of my first set, a few sitting, several standing to watch. But with no sound system and no mics and no cables, it’s a singularly raw experience – there’s nothin’ between you and them. And I sold a CD and a bunch of people took my miniflyers and I really need to put my actual concert dates on those things, don’t I? Damn, I need to get ahead of this curve!

Studio studio studio! It’s been another distracting week (particularly with power surges – it sounded like goddamn Old Star Trek in here during the last storm what with those rrRRRRvRRvvvRRvRRRR!! burning dynamo noises) but I have some more musics in the can, which is awesome.

There’s nothing new finished (sigh) but I’ve made some really good progress, particularly on “Shout at the Desert,” which I want to get on the website soon. It’s one of the songs from this past winter that I’ve moved forward onto Dick Tracy, mostly because, well, it’s kinda awesome. YEAH I SAID IT. I should just say “I’m really excited about it” or something but fuck that, it’s awesome, particularly when paired with “Stay Away,” which will also be on Dick Tracy.

I made room for these by deciding “Life in the Underground” really is an instrumental (it has lyrics, but fuck ‘em, it’s better off without) and moved that and “The World Falls Down” (which was to be the second instrumental) onto Distractions, leaving Dick Tracy with just one, “Cascadia (How I Have Missed You).” The result will be a stronger and higher-energy album – “Life in the Underground” is kind of an old-school folk-dance tune with the slight rewrite I’ve given it since ditching the lyrics, but “The World Falls Down” is all introspective and contemplative, and thematically works but musically didn’t belong there, in the end.

I still like it, tho’, and you’ll still get it on Distractions. You can hear a little snippet of it that I stole for an extended outro on “Thought You Knew” – everything after the last line of lyric is borrowed and transposed from “The World Falls Down.”

Distractions is going to be more robust than I realised, I think. Originally it was gonna be pretty short, a real side-project kind of thing, but at this point… it’s getting kind of long. That’s not a bad thing.

NEXT CONCERT: June 1st, in Renton! See you at Renton Farmer’s Market at the Piazza for opening day! I don’t know what the stage is like but they have a PA for it. Stage time 5:30pm.

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Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: Cover of the first Crime and the Forces of Evil EP release, Sketchy Characters (sketchy characters)

…I’m told, via email:

Okay I finally got around to opening Sketchy Characters today, because I’m such a slacker with new music and ANYWAY I laughed so hard when my earnest CD-ripping software identified the CD as R. Kelly’s single “Fiesta.” Outbirds is apparently a remixed version with Jay-Z. You’re so connected to the rap scene! Hee hee hee.


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! ^_^ I’m pretty sure I’m not actually trapped in the closet, but I have made fun of Scientology in front of John Travolta, so maybe that’s the connection.

And I hear from the sound of the lawyers outside that it’s time for a FREE PERSONALITY TEST! Better go! By the way – send help?

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Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)
So I heard back from C0splay, and he doesn't have his notes anymore, but did remember the bands we talked about, so here's that combined with what I remember:

We started out talking about the prehistory of chiptunes. I talked about one of the two most important computers ever made: the Commodore 64, which took computers from those all-knowing superbrains of Colossus: The Forbin Project to "that thing you play games and do homework on" in 1981, and how it did for computer sound what the Amiga did later for graphics1 in changing the way hackers thought about it. We talked about the demo scene of the mid- and late 80s and early 90s for a while after that, and how that led to things like the gameboy, and how that became a musical instrument.

Then MC-3P0 and C0splay talked a lot about the history of hiphop - of MC Hawking, of MC Frontalot, and how a lot of people had started coming in from liking hiphop and rap but also being geeks, and, "you rap what you know," and how that turned into the roots of nerdcore. And they talked about how the humour was important from the start, which reminded me of KOMPRESSOR, the German industrial/techno and later hiphop alt-identity of Drew from Toothpaste for Dinner and Married to the Sea.

We also talked a lot about the DIY aesthetic that connects most geek music (and, not incidentally, punk) and the Lo-Tech Resistance and the 8-bit Collective, the people who hang out in front of the convention centre at PAX jamming out music on Game Boys with custom mods and carts, and the rest.

We talked a little about some bands who are kind of premodern geekmusic or geekmusic outside any category - arguably a fair chunk of metal (seriously, lots of those people are serious geeks), Za Frûmi (orc opera - no lie, sung entirely in Black Speech), Devo (absolutely geeks), Jonathan Coulton (of course), The Laziest Men on Mars, I totally forgot Joe Sparks and Devil Doll, OMG! I just remembered I should've mentioned them, They Might Be Giants, and and and and...

And I'm spending more time on chiptunes and everything else than nerdcore, which isn't fair but I don't know the nerdcore history as well, and I didn't take enough notes. But we started talking a lot about specific bands and playing samples right about them, so here's some list action for you, complete with links:

  • The Megas. "Mega Man Cover Music" doesn't begin to describe these people. They're writing the soundtrack to the SF themes underlying the games, which are deeply fucked up if you give them more than three seconds thought and as such are awesome.
  • Fighter X
  • she, who are unbelievably awesome and I don't know why "Coloris" doesn't start Norwescon dances every goddamn year. Welcome to the future.
  • Circles, who used to be with CruncyCo and I think are now with 8-bit Collective.
  • Unicorn Dream Attack, out of Minnesota. Go listen to "4l0n3." Now.
  • Anamanaguchi, who have played PAX a couple of times - I've seen them live there and their sonic and visual attack is a force of goddamn nature.
  • I Fight Dragons. The player's in the upper right hand corner of the page. Play with it or die.
  • Nullsleep. Gods, nullsleep. You like hardcore raw sound? You like Nullsleep. I like their higher-BPM stuff in particular. Watch them in Tokyo at the Low-Bit Playground.
  • Kids Get Hit By Buses, Seattle locals! Check 'em.
Nerdcore love:
  • Death*Star, our guests and my co-panelists, who rawked the haus on Saturday night.
  • Beefy, out in Richland!
  • YT Cracker, actual gangsta hiphop in that he was in serious trouble as a kid for hacking into other peoples' computers.
  • MC Lars's post-punk laptop rap, and the first nerdcore artist to chart, having done it in 2006 in Australia, with "Download This Song."
  • MC Chris, who was also Hesh in Sealab 2021, and yes, that really is what he sounds like omg.
  • MC Frontalot, who did not invent nerdcore, but did name it.
  • Optimus Rhyme. The name alone earns a listen.
  • Supercommuter, 8-bit hiphop! Also local.
  • Billy the Fridge
  • Infadread is another favourite of C0splay's, and they've got a couple of tracks online.
  • Jesse Dangerously, nerdcore from Nova Scotia! Fuck yea mudkips!
  • UltraKlystron, aka Karl Olson, from Kirkland.
Other forms:That's most of what I remember. If I left anybody out, I apologise! Please go listen and enjoy.

  1. Which is to say: before the Amiga, people hadn't been focusing on number of colours but number of pixels in order to get realistic images; it was a print-like approach. Increase the resolution enough and you only need three colours, maybe four. The Amiga inverted this and gave you now-low-grade-but-then-astounding photorealism at 320x400 at 4096 colours; it changed how people thought about graphics in a fundamental way. Similarly, the C64 before it had gone from one simple voice that you'd try to change very very often to get sound to three voices with some complexity. The Amiga continued this, of course, but the C64 laid the groundwork.
  2. Except when it is. Also, MC-3P0 actually did plug me on the panel, so I have a right.
solarbird: Cover of the first Crime and the Forces of Evil EP release, Sketchy Characters (sketchy characters)

Rosemary and Rue author Seanan McGuire, on her Livejournal, pointed at this article by Michael Melcher called, “What to Do When Your Friend Writes a Book.” The subject is pretty well handled by the title! She linked to it as part of a post on negative reviews. I got a negative review this week, myself; it had some positive things in it, but the reviewer hates my singing voice, at least in these tracks. He liked the instrumental (Cascadia), so I suppose it’s only 75% negative! That’s something, at least.

But I’m not sure what to think of the Melcher article. I mean – changing “book” to “CD” – he’s right about what all this feels like, what people want to hear when they put something out there into the world, and so on. But I think having the sorts of expectations he seems to have is really kind of asking for it. (And maybe also asking a lot. I dunno.) Don’t get me wrong; it’d be nice, but it doesn’t exactly strike me as realistic. What do you think?

Oh, don’t forget, if you want to do a review of Sketchy Characters to be entered for the drawing, the deadline is this Sunday evening at midnight. I have two good reviews and one bad one so far, and not all of those want to be in the drawing, so your chances in the drawing are pretty good!

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Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: Cover of the first Crime and the Forces of Evil EP release, Sketchy Characters (sketchy characters)

I need MOAR LINKS to my Bandcamp site, so people can find my musics! I have studied this with SCIENCE! and know it in my heart to be true. So! Let’s have a contest! My partner Anna does this with her books all the time and it seems to work, so I’ll totally rip that action off! There’ll be a drawing for either a copy of the CD (the actual physical CD, mailed to you, along with a download link for immediate gratification) or Anna’s current novel, Faerie Blood.

Enter this way:

  1. Listen to the Crime and the Forces of Evil EP Sketchy Characters! You can stream the entire thing on the Bandcamp site for free (clicky!).
  2. Post a public review somewhere. It can be on your blog, on Dreamwidth, on Facebook, Twitter even, whereever. Short, long, good, bad, the chick with the gun, it doesn’t matter, just be honest.
  3. Link to the Crime and the Forces of Evil Bandcamp site ( url: ) in your review. For bonus points in my heart, but not extra credit in the drawing, embed one or more of the songs! (You can! Click on “Share” and follow the directions.)
  4. Come over to Crime and the Blog of Evil and comment on this entry with a link to your review and some way to identify you later. (I’ll check the Dreamwidth or Livejournal echos too, but the original is best.)
  5. Reviews and links must be posted by midnight the evening of Sunday, 21 March 2010 Cascadian/Pacific Time.

Everybody who does this gets put into a drawing for either:

  1. A physical copy of Sketchy Characters mailed to you, anywhere on Earth. Or, if you hated it (or already have it), you’ll get:
  2. A copy of Anna’s current novel, Faerie Blood, published by Drollerie Press. You can read an excerpt from Faerie Blood here. It’s a multi-format ebook, so Kindle, Nook, Stanza, Sony Reader et al all work.

If you don’t like either of those, well, I’ll mail you a photo of our cats. Our cats are cute, and they like you.

The review doesn’t have to be long. Just say what you think, good or bad. But the link must be there or it doesn’t count! And don’t forget to link to your review in comments on the Blog of Evil. Thanks!

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Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: Cover of the first Crime and the Forces of Evil EP release, Sketchy Characters (sketchy characters)

I like feedback on things. I really do. I kinda need it. I mean, I’m not looking for people to tell me what I should be recording and shouldn’t – fuck that. I have my music and I write it and I’m recording it, slowly. I kinda just want to know people care enough to react in some way. I tend to think other people want that too, which is why I’m a little hyperactive with the “like” link on Facebook posts, and junk like that. It’s a way of saying, “I saw this and am telling you so.”

I think people tend to forget that I’m totally still feeling my way forward on all this recording and writing and playing and just assume I know more than I do. In fact, this post is triggered by mentioning privately to someone that I was feeling kind of disappointed by the lack of commentary back to me on Sketchy Characters. (Mind you, I know a lot of tracks got played, because Bandcamp has good stats, and that’s super-awesome! But I heard from like four people out of substantially more than 100.) And the person I mentioned this to replied – paraphrasing all this, of course – that they’d listened and just kind of assumed that I knew they liked my music, which I kinda hadn’t done. I kind of have to fight off the whole, “well, they’re saying nothing rather than saying how much that sucked” insecurity bullshit.

I also think people think I have much, much more confidence than I actually do. I don’t, really. I just say fukkit and do things anyway.

And really I suppose were I a Better Self-Actualised Person or whatever psychobabble you put on it, I wouldn’t care. In fact, I shouldn’t! Good artists ignore critics and work for the work, I’m told. (And really, I do. I love this. I just played an hour set for my sound baffles. Yes, I’ll play for inanimate objects. It’s good practice for farmer’s markets, aheh…) But I’ve been playing anything other than flute for barely two years, and while yeah, I’ll say it: I learn pretty fucking fast, I’m still pretty overwhelmed by all the shit I don’t know, and all the things I don’t even know that I don’t know!

Plus there’s the whole, “does this even register out there?” thing. Does it?

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Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: (Default)
I've set up a bandcamp site! It works omg! You can stream for listening! You can download tracks! You can even embed stuff!

I've set it so anybody can embed the 128k mp3 - that's the code you get when you click on the "share" button on the Bandcamp page.

I seem to have a lot of unique tags which is MISSING THE WHOLE GODDAMN POINT so I need better tags. Suggestions?


Feb. 1st, 2010 09:38 am
solarbird: (music)
I don't have time for more right now, but gotd dammit Conflikt was awesome.

I'm gonna have to make more CDs, too.

Still buzzed and have too much to do. More later.
solarbird: (Default)
A whole goddamn brick.

Yeah, it's just a goddamn demo, it's a sneak preview of a work-in-progress, it's not done, and half the ones I've made are for sponsors and I don't actually intend to sell any this weekend - I will if people want, believe me! But that's not even the point - but this still feels awesome.
solarbird: (Default)

Production EP/CD Nr. 1, case

Production EP/CD Nr. 1, open

There are also liner notes. The front booklet is folded, giving me a page for them, so I used it. You can't see them here. There's a back cover for the CD case too, but I changed it one last time after shooting the photo. It has the me-as-Shego photo, cleaned up and contrast-enhansed and so on.

I am very tired now, but I have a lot more assembly to do, so I will.
solarbird: (music)
When I recorded the chimes on the 6-track (complete) version of Outbirds today, I knew they were off, but I thought they were off in an interesting way, and I figured "okay, I'll fix these later when I do the final version." I wasn't really going for dissonance in this song, but it's absolutely in theme, and I thought it was kind of neat. (Have I mentioned that I spent a lot of time listening to noisemusic and can sometimes really get into microtonal dissonance? No? Well, I have, and can, and even when I'm writing my own stuff for more general audiences, I will write quarter-tones. Just so y'know.)

Then I threw the recording at some people who are not into microtonal dissonance, which is to say, "normal people." And they said "this sounds awesome except the chimes which make me want to DRILL MY BRAINS OUT." So I was confused about a synth being as off-pitch as this one apparently was, but I have a pitch shifter, and this instrument was never intended to be on the final recording - I want real chimes, properly tuned - so fine, I'll go ahead and fix it in the DAW.

But it wouldn't fix. Not even a little. I could fix some notes, but others would be off. I fix them, and the rest went pear-shaped. We brought in some other friends and got more and more confused, until E. figured out that it was the harmonic overtones, which were pretty much completely fucked. This is a common problem with bells and chimes, particularly fake ones. So I threw a big low-pass filter over the whole thing, got it down to the low notes I'd most wanted, and while they were still not quite right, and still couldn't all be completely fixed (just like above!), they were reasonable.

At this point, I'm thinking, 'well, this synth is junk. Or at least this voice is.' But by then I had the six-track recording in listenable form for people with good senses of pitch and less... esoteric... musical tastes. (K. says it sounds like the bell part sounds like the equivalent of a prepared piano now.) And that's what I needed. I also have a five-track recording without the chimes that serves mostly to show you how desperately important those chimes are to the song.

Then I powered back up the synth to see what was going on. I sat down to play the same part again and see what it sounded like on the built-in speaker, and it sounded completely different, and by completely different, I mean, as in not the same voice, not the same notes, and not even the same octave. The synth in this voice doesn't even go down that far. I checked all the settings against my notes and yes, they were right. (There aren't that many settings available! It's a simple machine.)

So at this point I'm thinking, 'wow, I got the last performance out of this thing, apparently.' And I plug in my studio reference headphones to see what it sounds like in those, and it sounds mostly the same as on the built-in speaker. Completely different to what I recorded... except... way down below all the other tones, below all the intended-by-the-maker tones, I hear my notes, and the voice I had been looking for and had recorded.

And right about then I'm realising that I hear the presumably-intended tones in both ears of my headset coming from a mono instrument. And I'd used a mono cable for the recording, since it is, after all, a mono instrument. Sound people will know what happened now, but for everyone else ("normal people"):

The left and right channels are out of phase. The engineer behind this thing decided to get the second signal for the stereo headset users by subtracting the intended signal from ground and throwing that out into the second ear. When I used a monophonic cable, I recombined the two mostly-phase-inverted channels, which cancelled out most of the sound. ALL I WAS RECORDING were the non-phase-cancelled lower harmonics created by the interference between the note pairs I was actually keying in.

And somehow, this was a reasonable approximation of what I'd wanted. Once I hammered on it with a pitch-shifter, anyway.

I will, of course, re-record this correctly - later. But I'll keep this version too. It's kinda awesome, if you know the story.
solarbird: (music)
...Outbirds is six tracks of feature-complete! Even if the hammered chimes I want are currently being stood in for by a Concertmate 1100's "Synth-Pro Crystal" tones instead. Sketchy Characters is gonna be for real omg!
solarbird: (music)
Good day in studio today. Not revelatory like Thursday, but still, seriously, the second best day in studio I've had. (I wasn't able to do much Friday or over the weekend, in no small part because of Anna's birthday but also a little from being totally wiped out Friday morning.) This actually did kind of all fall together last week, and it fell together in a way that's sticking around. I like it, a lot.

Right, so, Outbirds today got a pretty decent version of its mandolin track recorded. It's not perfect; the mandolin part consists of a series of high-speed accent notes played at about, hum, around 410 notes per minute? Just under 7 notes per second. And that's at or near the top of my current ability to play, speed-wise, so the timing's a little sloppy here and there. But it's not bad.

I also figured out a much better way to record the bodhran with the SM-57s, and a former studio jockey I know in Florida has told me how to record bodhran safely with the Novas, which I'll probably take back and apply when re-recording the bodhran part in Artefacts. (I like what I have now on the drum in Outbirds, so I won't re-record it unless I discover I have a reason.)

Oh, and new vocals. They're a lot better than what I had, but I'm still re-recording them tomorrow. I can do better.

Basically, I want to have a few copies of a three (or, if I get very, very productive and lucky, four) song EP by this weekend called Sketchy Characters. See, this weekend, there's a local filk convention called Conflikt nearby, and I'm going. It's not something where I'm going to do SRS SALES OMG; I'm not a scheduled performer there, my stuff isn't really filk because it's mostly not F&SF related, and besides, none of the tracks will be final, and any copies I have of the CD will be burned on Anna's laptop. But it will be a CD, and the recordings will all be complete, in that all the instruments will be there, with polish and such to follow. With Artefacts, that's a seven-track arrangement; with Outbirds, it's four with the strong possibility of a fifth; with Cascadia, How I Have Missed You, it's, um, one. Which is totally cheating, I admit, but hello, Crime and the Forces of Evil. We cheat.

(And if I'm very lucky and very productive, When You Leave will make at least a minimal appearance on the disc in probably the least complete state of anything. But still.)

Anyway, it's mostly just to have something I can hand to people. A sneak preview, and in a couple of cases something I can show to people I know who will be there so they can say, "okay, this is totally wrong, fix it." Later, they can become unbelievably valuable bootlegs! Which I'll counterfeit and sell on eBay! And most importantly, something I can start handing to venue managers saying, "j0. Book me." Even if I have to punt down to one-instrument-and-voice arrangements for the live show demos. Once I have the full songs, that shit's easy.

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