Passing time productively

c. 2010

In the past, before the world made me preoccupied with trying to make money all the time and necessarily using a computer to do it, I enjoyed computer music production as a fulfilling/frustrating hobby.

Looking back, there is an overall lack of substantial creativeness, the whole thing being mostly a failed technical exercise. Very occasionally, though, I still get that nice feeling of having accidentally made sense despite having no clue. Trying to get a clue, sadly, hasn't really helped since.

Here are some things that I think stand out as actual valid achievements in order of coherent successfulness, accompanied by awkward retrospective comments...

Cranpberry

Formerly known as "crapberry", this started off as an attempt to copy one of my favourite musical tricks, "repeating chords with mutating bassline" but totally failed through lack of forethought. As a reaction to the resulting frustration I put a load of distortion on it, which cheered me up, at least. As was typical with my lack of critical analysis at the time, the mix simultaneously has way too much bass and not enough.

Dr Pepper 700ml IV

A matter of taste which probably didn't do anything any favours: weird love of extremely dry, raw drum machine samples.

I still think it's valid to notice that extremely raw 1980s production sounds better on a large soundsystem than stuff that's trying to be smoother. In this case though, my attempt at incorporating that feeling combines with a cheesy bassline to produce an almost completely unenjoyable first half.

However, it leads semi-successfully into a destructively warped section that has occasionally produced actual psychological effects and that I'm actually still pleased with.

The sub bass is ever-present, stealing headroom but unfortunately, I suspect, failing to do its actual job. Never mind. I've always felt that midrange is better at being disturbing anyway.

This one interestingly(?) spawned a second, more upfrontly nasty sounding version of itself when I was briefly having to take a lot of codeine and therefore happy to sit still for a long time listening to echoes.

Medusa (Swarfega mix)

Speaking of disturbing midrange (genre here optimistically named "brainrinse"), this Ulrich Schnauss "song"(?)/piece(?) contains some great raw material, mixed in a really unusual, delicate way. Therefore it is IMO one of the more successful applications of the "just add bass and drums" technique of dubious bootleg remixing.

Following (but altering) the existing song structure was a great lesson at the time and it was fun to spend ages trying to get the "soft clipping" (essence of my personal taste at the time) exactly right.

Nobody has tried to stab me with copyright yet, but if you're considering it, please bear in mind I've never made any money or been successful in ripping anyone off in any way. And warn me nicely. Cheers.

Hydref

Named after a dubious dream about being a squirrel or something after visiting Wales once. I woke up in my parents' house where they were listening loudly to some slightly weird modal piece for an orchestra, finding myself semi-conscious with one of those "really good" ideas that "exists" but somehow can't be materialized into actual chords, probably because it doesn't really exist if you try and look at it properly.

It ended up being this instead, mostly deriving itself from the first gated synth preset that threw another idea into the mix while the first one was failing to work.

I think the main idea is quite cool but it fails to really go anywhere so ends up being boring; a problem I had a lot, to be honest. Partly this is because I had no real grasp on ideas about momentum or rules about structure at this point. Partly it's because it got totally bogged down in weird VST plugins that made the project crash, consume 108% of available CPU, render differently sometimes, etc etc. Then the laptop destroyed itself and I could never recover all the random crap I had installed.

This sort of thing actually made it an accurate foreshadowing of the total loss of enthusiasm to come. In real life, a solo producer's existence is about efficient workflow (if you're trying to play every role at once, it has to be) and seems to involve a lot of careful work around synth/effect software that is often actively fragile and borderline malicious even if you pay for it.

Soundcloud: "More uploads means more listeners."

...I'm not sure about that.