Backtrack: The Seventh Formation

Backtrack is a series devoted to backtracking to tell short stories about songs I've written.

Back in August 2006, I wrote out a rough 45 seconds or so of ideas in MIDI based around a 7/8 rhythm and tentatively called it "Weird Violence".

A few days later, I started working on another idea; unlike the previous, this one had some legs, and I wound up incorporating the core idea of Weird Violence into one of its sections. By the end it was about five and a half minutes long.

After bringing the song into Reason and cleaning it up, I sensed that it was right up the alley of some of the other music I had been writing at the time; tunes like Jump Error. As a result I decided to include it in my plans for the space concept album that I’d eventually release four years later. The track was called “The Seventh Formation”, a slight nod to the meter of the earliest idea for this song.

The similarities between "The Seventh Formation" and its new counterpart "The New Formation" are heard right away, but as the piece progresses the differences become more apparent. By the end of each track, their relationship to each other is pretty hard to determine. The New Formation only uses a few of the original elements, and takes the material in an entirely new direction.

"The Seventh Formation" is now available as a bonus track on "Deorbit (B-Sides)".

Backtrack: Until the Sun Rises

Backtrack is a series devoted to backtracking to tell short stories about songs I've written.

I wrote and recorded this song in 2006.

This song was a first in a lot of ways for me. I’ve been singing since I was little but this was one of my first attempts at singing on a track, as well as writing lyrics. Listening to this now, I’d love to redo this song with MUCH better vocals (which I’ll probably do at some point), maybe change up the lyrics a little bit as well. I also utilized some techniques I had never tried before, like adding vinyl sounds underneath to give it a little bit of an old feeling … in hindsight I’m not sure how successful it was at making it sound “old”, but I do like the vinyl sounds regardless!

There are a few influences for this track, including Radiohead (the vibe, harmonic decisions), Tortoise (tremolo guitar lines), and Wintersleep/Kary (some of the vocal chanting towards the end). I might have been listening to The Postal Service at the time too because I think it does feel a little reminiscent of a darker equivalent of that group at times. There’s also a hint of chip towards the back end, though this stays mostly outside of that realm.

I did this track in Garageband my first semester at music school, and recorded the vocals in my dorm room.

Backtrack: One Hot Genie

Backtrack is a series devoted to backtracking to tell short stories about songs I've written.

Back in 2007 I was hired by a mobile developer to write 16 one minute loops of general MIDI music for a puzzle game. Over a span of about three months I wrote the tracks, which are pretty much all over the map. The only commonality was direction from the client to make them somewhat dancy.

This particular track is probably one of the better ones of the bunch. Given the requirements, I took the opportunity to use my favorite tool at the time, Tabledit, (MIDI Guitar Tablature Editor Software) to create all of the music. This was one of the very first game-related projects I ever took on, and the experience helped at least somewhat in getting me interested in writing for games in general, even though the music was never actually used by the client, and I never really got to play the game while it was being developed. It may sound like a bit of a horror story but at the time I was happy enough to get paid to write music (and I try not to forget that!)

After years of dormancy, these tracks made their way onto a release called ’Limeade Grin’.