Backtrack: April (Tidings)

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

I have an Aunt in New York who has a piano (she has since moved). When I visit I always make time for the ivories — playing piano is one of my favorite things to do. (loved it so much I ended up buying a piano in 2012) This relatively straightforward piece started with some simple piano voicing and evolved into a couple of overdubs … some of the overdubs could have been done live by a good player I’m sure, but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of hand independency. (still haven't!)

It was April of 2007 and I have a vague recollection of it raining and being at night. I got a hold of some storm sounds to hammer that home, and whipped up a Garageband session (my tool of choice at the time) complete with Apple Loop drums which I’ve never had an opportunity to replace. This is a very straightforward tune, but for me there’s always been something about this kind of downward motion that I find appealing. There’s a piano ostinato that is established and eventually mimicked by a synth, and that’s really about it!

This has since been released as one half of the track ‘April Tidings’ off my B-Side album 'Noon Kids’.

Backtrack: Labyrinth of the Skulltaker

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

Fresh out of a short but intense Dream Theater phase (a band which I no longer have any particular interest in) in 2004, I set out to write my most challenging piece of music yet up until that point. What started out as a collection of unrelated ideas strewn about my hard drive turned into a 12-headed monster that eventually reared its ugly head, complete with a quote of the popular ragtime piece 'The Entertainer' (scary!). I'm still fond of some of the ideas in this piece but I laid the track out haphazardly, and as a result it sounds like a showcase of riffs and has no noticeable direction — it picks up rather early in and never lets up, for the next seven minutes or so, going from riff to riff, all largely in the key of (Drop) D.

I tried numerous times since I wrote it to find a proper place for it. It was a MIDI file, and then a 'tracked' tune with Garageband instruments, and finally I tried to make it a chiptune. I also tried to fit it onto one of my many attempts at reproducing my first album (The Chronicles of Jammage the Jam Mage, which I eventually gave up on and released. Three years or so ago I thought it would be cool to take this song that has so many ideas in it, and split it into a couple of tracks, an EP called 'The Labyrinth of the Skulltaker'. That also never happened, and instead I put it on a collection of B-Sides so that I could move on with my life. Though the thought of doing an EP of heavy, instrument based music is still very appealing to me, especially since I've been doing more somber things lately.