Crush remix

Next on the remix docket was Crush, a song I’d never been happy with for a variety of reasons. By all rights, I should have cut this song from the album long ago and consigned it to oblivion, but I couldn’t. It meant too much to me.

So yeah, I remixed it using what I’d recorded at Michigan. The middle section has always given me grief because it’s an orchestration of virtual instruments that was always meant to be played back when (if) I ever played the song live. I don’t remember which instruments I used originally and of course I didn’t make notes of it at the time, and I can’t just splice in the original 2010 version because clever old me had to bring it up a whole step when I re-recorded it. I could use the version I made at Michigan, but I never liked that version anyway.

This is a whole bunch of words to say that here’s the first two-thirds of the song, remixed. I should probably re-do the midsection at some point.

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Back With a Bang (remixed)

I occasionally revisit songs and remix them.  First in this series was Make it Right; then Break My Heart (which I didn’t post because Windows Movie Maker absolutely freaked out on me), and now Back With a Bang.  It’s quite fun.  I also find that I can barely listen to the old version now.

Same audio files, same notes, same sounds, same everything… but a different experience.  Less mud.  More brickwall.  Woohoo!

Make it Right (remix)

So yeah.  Unsatisfied with anything I’ve ever done, I revisited Make it Right and created a snappier drum track, and separating the instruments into less of a “wall of sound” blur.

This was done in Cubase and Reason, because fuck Pro Tools.  I don’t even want to rehash why this came out a month after I said it would (hint: software fuckery had a lot to do with it.  At one point I had to wipe my computer and re-install Windows).

Here’s a comparison of the two versions:

Blissful Oblivion (final instrumental mix)

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I have a penchant for refining and re-doing old works.  I’ve improved Blissful Oblivion a bit and here’s the new version.

Now I just have to find someone to, you know, sing the actual song with me.

I’m assuming that the most recent version of this song posted to the blog is the second mix; this is mix number four.

A quick rundown of the major changes:
– String melody has been changed starting from just before the final chorus and running through the end.
– Lower frequencies on the cello in the final chorus have been cut.
– The fills in the first chorus after the interlude have been changed to be faster and more melodic. Mostly it’s just me getting an opportunity to shred.
– An extra note has been added to the main melodic line, just before the end of the chorus.
– Most of the original song was written for three-level chords; the new version switches to four beginning with the second chorus after the interlude.
– EQs and reverbs have been meddled with.

 

 

Make it Right

Looks like it was a music week.

If you’re familiar with the story of No Boundaries, then you know that I’m one who always strives to improve.  On one hand, this is why I never finish anything.  On the other, there’s a lot to be said for always looking for something new and not settling for “good enough”. It’s why Blissful Oblivion is on its fourth remix, because even a song like that isn’t sacred and isn’t perfect.

Make it Right was one song I was never happy with, which is a shame, because from a songwriting standpoint it’s easily one of the best that I’ve done. The entire sound of the recording was just too… crushed. Far too muddy. The toms didn’t sound at all how I wanted them to. The kick wasn’t punchy enough. The harmonies and everything worked beautifully, and that probably saved the song, but the underlying structure was just not strong enough.

So I remixed it with a different drum set and a different bass. During this upcoming week I’ll scrap the “real instruments” (guitar and vocals) from the original recording and add them to this version. I think it’ll end up sounding really nice.

Oh, and remind me to upload the new version of Blissful Oblivion sometime, too.

Blissful Oblivion lyrics

No, I haven’t forgotten all my creativity in the wake of taking on a completely left-brained job. I think I cracked the code for Blissful Oblivion’s lyrics.

In the wake of Blissful Oblivion getting a bunch of likes on Radio Airplay, I knew I had to tread very carefully. I didn’t want to do this beautiful, pure melody injustice by turning it into a sappy love song. The spirit of the song had to remain intact.

I’ve had about 75% of the chorus written for as long as I can remember-

“If only earth could speak
And tell us of the great mystique
Then we could learn to fly
Through all life’s mysteries, you and I”

I don’t recall ever thinking about it much. The words just sort of seemed to make sense whenever I sang the song in my head. The really difficult part, however, was the last two lines. After “you and I,” the shifts down for three beats and then swerves back upwards for one last climax. The shift is three syllables (or it could plausibly be two), and the climax is six syllables.

Obviously, the phrase “Blissful Oblivion” is itself six syllables. I couldn’t use that for the climax, though, counter intuitive though it may seem. The stress and phrasing isn’t quite right, and the final syllable starts on a soft vowel, which undermines the percussive last note of the musical phrase. I struggled for a very long time to come up with something that made sense.

Today it came to me.

“Bliss away
And bliss for all our days.”

As I was banging my head against the finer points of RTX64-programming, it came to me, and from that the rest of the song’s words came to life as well. I’ll probably need to go back and tweak a word here or there, but the meat of the song is done.

You can check it out in the Lyric Sheets section of the site.

Now I just have to orchestrate the whole thing and hope I don’t screw that up too…

Maths

So I’ve successfully managed to NOT post anything in about a month… it’s funny how time sometimes zooms by on you.

Anyway, for the better part of the past three months I’ve been playing Dark Triad, Break My Heart, No Boundaries, Back With a Bang, August Nights and Never Say Goodbye on RadioAirplay.com; about a week ago I decided to add Blissful Oblivion and Make it Right to the lineup (replacing Never Say Goodbye and Back With a Bang), just to see what would happen.

And, well, this happened…

HolyFuck

Which, like, holy crap. I gained three times more fans in a 10-hour period than in all of the previous three months.

After that, I decided to do a little bit of research to see which songs actually were the most popular, by looking at the ratio of likes to views. Here were the results:

Blissful Oblivion: 2.38%
Make it Right: 2.13%
No Boundaries: 1.42%
Back With a Bang: 1.1%
Break My Heart: 0.9%
August Nights: 0.88%
Dark Triad: 0.8%
Never Say Goodbye: 0.56%

I did some further research on some established songs and discovered that anything above 1% is a pretty healthy ratio to have.

Now, for some Thoughts
Blissful Oblivion… wow. The leader, and it’s not even close. Well, okay, I can accept that. I once got told that it was probably my best song and she was probably right.

Make it Right is somewhat more puzzling. How the hell did that get second? I mean it’s such a dark song. Yeah, I listed it as one of my favorites, but since when did I ever agree with the prevailing consensus?

I’m also surprised that Back With a Bang is higher and that Break My Heart isn’t. Then again, I never liked the final mix of BMH. I still think that could be one of the best I’ve written, but I’ve never gotten a recording of it that I was really, really satisfied with.

Anyway, I’ve got a better picture of where all the songs stand. Once I get to Boston, I can really start to crank up the marketing and see if this will turn in to anything. Kinda hard to promote anything when you’re trapped in the middle of nowhere.

The Future

In the whirlwind of all that’s been happening the past few weeks, I guess it’s time to sit down and think about the future.

A Reason to Dwell has been a Thing on my mind for the past four years. The two questions I find most pressing at this point are 1) what do I do with it now, and 2) where do I go from here?

Some things to consider for the first point – as I was the only musician on the album, I can’t exactly play the songs live except in a stripped-down format. That’s a loss of promotion right there. So do I try to find a way around that or do I confront the problem head-on? (Because we all know that connecting with people is something I’m so good at…)

I’ve stuck six of the songs (Back With a Bang, Dark Triad, No Boundaries, Never Say Goodbye, Break My Heart and August Nights) on some radio stations; I doubt that’ll be enough. I guess how much I want to do with the album ties a little bit into the next point…

Next year I won’t have easy access to a recording studio the way I have for the past four years (as far as I know). Therefore if I do make any more music, it’s likely to be of the electronic variety, absent vocals or guitar. Now, this may actually work out for the better. I’ve noticed that my most popular music is the mood music, the beautiful instrumentals that don’t try too hard and aren’t too pretentious the way I know some of my more rock-based stuff can be. So maybe that’s where I’ll find myself. Who knows.

In the meantime, I don’t want to fall off the grid. I have to keep updating my blog and my pages. I don’t think I’m going to restrict my blog to just the music I’m doing at the time, though. I might just write about whatever happens to be on my mind. Anything to keep the crazy train moving.

Well, we’ll see how it all shakes out. In the meantime, I hope everyone’s having a lovely summer.

~ Jack

Release

So, huzzah. I’ve finally managed to upload A Reason to Dwell to a couple different stores.

Links are here:
http://jacksligh.bandcamp.com/releases
https://itunes.apple.com/album/id890231712

At the Bandcamp site, you can listen to the songs individually for free. At either site you have the option of supporting me and buying a downloadable version.

Four years ago a little boy had a dream; this is it. I humbly present to you A Reason to Dwell, by SLiGH.

Completion

A few days ago, I made a promise to myself – come what may, I was going into the studio on Sunday, and I was not coming out again until A Reason to Dwell was finished.

It is currently five in the morning, Monday, June 2, 2014. I’ve been in here since 10 AM of the day before and haven’t eaten in that time. The room is kept brutally air-conditioned, to the point where my jaw is sore from my teeth being clenched together for so long to keep them from chattering. And yet, here I stand, victorious.

After I deemed that the 85% completed version of Break My Heart would not do, I elected to re-record it all over. I probably should have decided this before the final day, but eh. So it was that at about 10 PM, after finishing the masters of all the rest of the songs, I sat down and began – yes, began – editing together Break My Heart.

The album’s not perfect. I already know that without having reviewed the thing yet. But my idea of what perfect is at this point in time will be different than my older self a year from now, which will in turn be different than a year from that. I could tinker with these songs until the end of time and never release them, never think that they’re ready. But at a point, you have to let go. At a certain point, you have to let other people see and hear and evaluate for themselves – otherwise what’s the point?

Four years ago I began working on a collection of songs for a spring independent. I never imagined it would carry me this far or what those few songs would spring. Yet here I am.

Details about distribution will follow shortly, but for now I have to go home, sleep, eat, rejuvenate, and then pack up my apartment before heading to beautiful Colorado for the summer. After that, Boston beckons, and my closest friends with it. My life is on an upswing, make no mistake.

Once upon a time, a little boy had a dream. This is it. Today, my friends, I am on top of the world.

Thanks, everybody.

~ Jack Sligh
Monday, June 2, 2014
4:29 AM