Latest news: (in reverse chronological order)
21 October 2002: Since the last entry, a few musical ideas for Mythconception have begun to take rough form. I have also begun a new recording of one of my old songs, "Revealed In Stone," which was first written and recorded during my Jawbone days. I have also uploaded a new mpeg of the original 1995 recording of "Revealed In Stone" into the Jawbone mpegs area. As for the new recording of that song, the marimba rhythms and synth-cello are in place and sounding fantastic.
9 October 2002: Smaragd's cover of King Crimson's "Dinosaur" is finished! The cover takes many liberties and omits sections of the original song. It is even based on a very simple drum track because the cover was originally started just to "warm up" for original projects, and wasn't originally intended to be heard. But the finished cover can be downloaded and heard by anybody. Just go to the projects page, scroll down, and click the "Dinosaur" link to download. Also, the Smaragd FAQ has been updated and expanded.
8 October 2002: For months I have been collecting musical notes on a microcassette recorder. Eventually I'll be sifting through these and seeing what ideas can become beginnings for the music for Mythconception. Meanwhile, after doing virtually nothing musically for months, I've begun "warming up" by working on a simple cover of King Crimson's great, strange song "Dinosaur." My cover—a loose interpretation which doesn't even cover the entire song—is pretty close to finished. I'll post it in the "projects" section of this site when I feel I'm done with it. Although they're just for practice and feel more like candy than work, I enjoy doing covers and reinterpretations of other artist's work. I might do more as I go along. As for where Smaragd goes next, I'm not entirely certain yet. There are a few old songs I wrote years ago—namely "Revealed In Stone" and "Palingensia"—which I'd like to re-record with my vastly improved technology. If songs for mythconception don't fall together really quickly, I just might start working on one of the older songs. I have also considered re-recording "What Have You Done" and "Tao (You Cannot Move Me)", and then reissueing Suchness as Suchness 2.0. I haven't decided if it would be worthwhile. But listening back, I can hear terrible faults in both old songs which I'd love to correct one day. In any case, Smaragd is active once again. The cover/reinterpretation of King Crimson's "Dinosaur" should be released here in the next several days as a download, and then I'll see if mythconception is ready to come together musically. It's great to be working with music again; it's been too long!
Also, I have just set up a new page with miscellaneous lyrics by Smaragd. The page currently includes lyrics to four songs: "Revealed In Stone," "Palingensia," "Father Sky, Mother Earth," and "Black Like Me."
24 May 2002: An extremely creative and busy night. Having had lyrics for only the first two songs of mythconception until now, tonight I wrote a first draft of all lyrics for the entire project! I am very excited about it at this point. The song titles and running order in this draft are: Digital Jesus, The Apotheosis of William Harvey, Stigma, Sarah In The Garden, The Decision (a. The Frustration of Krist, b. Blasphemy), CoyoteBringer Of Fire, The Long Day Of Gamayun, Arrest, Crucifixion In the Garden, and Mythogenesis. Note that I have only written lyrics for the 'new' songs, though I have a cassette with some musical 'kernels' recorded and will likely use some of them. Also the track titled "Mythogenesis" is the same one which appears on my Suchness album as "Apotheosis." I plan to re-record it for mythconception.
21 May 2002: Smaragd now has a press kit, available for download as a PDF file. You can also download the press photo seperately as a JPEG.
10 December 2001: Smaragd's first official recording, Suchness, was released today! Suchness is be a free download, available from this site. Cover art is also available for download.
5 December: Smaragd's first official recording, Suchness, is just about to be released! Box is finished. All I need to do is some final production, putting the tracks into order and making them flow together where and how I like. When finished, Suchness will be a free download, available from this site.
23 November: The "Box" remake is nearly done. I now have a mixdown with all the drums, guitars, keyboards, bass and the lead and backing vocals in place. I plan to thicken the shouted words at the bridge, and add a female backing vocal. Soon "Box" will be truly finished and I'll then put together the final version of Suchness.
22 November: Recorded new vocals for the remake of "Box" today. In the middle of working on "Box" I took a break from it to play with a new rhythm idea. I wanted to do something really different from my usual, something that wouldn't be expected of me. The result is a basic, bare-bones demo. Here is a short sample from that demo. I'm not certain, but this may develop into part of Mythconception, possibly the track near the end when Krist is dying.
19 November: Preparing for the release of Suchness (see 18 October below), I've been working on re-making "Box." I'm not remaking it entirely from scratch, but am replacing the drum machine with real drums. Eventually I'll be re-recording the vocals to get a better performance, and I might also re-record some portions of the guitar. I plan to leave the keyboards and bass entirely alone. I'm debating whether to make the tracks segue together, or keep them seperate in hopes of maybe getting a few airplays. A radio station in Brazil contacted me to ask for material they could play, which is one of the reasons I started putting Suchness together. Here's hoping they and a few others might give it a few spins.
18 October: I'm gearing up to issue my first official recording, Suchness. It will be a sampler with several existing tracks. I will issue the Suchness EP as a free download, including CD cover art. The EP is intended to be listened to as a CD, not as mpegs, so I'm asking right now that anybody who downloads it should please get all tracks and burn a proper audio CD of it rather than listening to the mpegs. Aside from the forthcoming EP: Alarming lack of progress on new material in the past couple months. The computer & music room is coming together, but still not really quite there.I need to invest a little cash in cables. Recording is a pain in the ass when you only have a couple cables that work, what with constantly having to switch cables.
25 September: In late August I developed a demo for "Stigma" but it came out so poorly that it wouldn't really represent the song well for my drummer friend. A couple weeks ago, I moved, and at the moment I'm working on putting the room with my music equipment into shape. Despite the distractions, I made a little progress today. Not only did I put together a pretty comprehensive summary of the plot (much more thorough than the short summary I had before) but I've written the third verse for "Stigma." I'm curious if anybody is actually following my progress or checking the Smaragd site. If you see this, would you please just drop me an E-mail to let me know? Thanks!
21 August: Great news today. An online friend of mine in Argentina who is an excellent drummer and a fellow Neil Peart aficionado has offered to record a drum track for "Stigma"! I'm completely thrilled. I suppose I shouldn't say much about it. On another note, I think I'm going to adjust the lyrics of "Stigma" a bit to fit the meters more smoothly. For now though I want to put together a demo for my friend to guide him with the drum part. I'm pretty buzzed about this!
20 August: Started work on the final recording of "Stigma." I don't have a real drum player (or even a real kit to play on myself) but I managed to come up with some really nice drum samples. I put together the basic drum groove from the samples, and finished the entire drum track quite easily. Then I layed down three tracks of the basic guitar groovetwo panned a bit left and right which are in open position, and one to the center at the 7th fret. A bit of mixing and adjusting, and the basic underlying drum/guitar groove is finished! Here's a short sample of the finished groove.
19 August: Made a rough demo of "Stigma." The drums are just a direct line-in from a drum machine. The performance is sloppy and a bit flat, but it contains the essence of the piece. I don't have lyrics for the third verse yet, so I just mumbled lines from the first and second verse to be a guide vocal. The best part is that I've got the mellotron working so it's on the demo. Here is the demo of "Stigma." Next I'll work on recording the final version. Gotta fill in the lyrics for verse three also. Funny this is the third track of the album, but I haven't started the second one yet. Ideas come in whatever order they decide to. You can't force art; at least not if you want it to be natural and the best possible quality.
16 August: Knowledge is heroin, and we, as a society and a world, love to shove that spike into our veins. More to come on that in some lyrics. Also, I'm jamming on "Stigma" now. Music is taking shape. Right now it sounds a bit Tool-ish. I'm sure that'll change as I go.
13 August: Vacation came and went without any further progress. But tonight ideas and notions about musical directions started coming to me. Instead of trying for one single progressive sound or style, it occurred to me to just cover as many styles as I like. The thought liberated me, and I think started breaking the frustrating creative block. Almost immediately I came up with a chugging, loping bass & drum rhythm which I think will do wonderfully for "Stigma." I can even hear how the lryics go along with it, although the melody is in flux. Since I'm working now, progress will almost surely be slow, but I'll just work on the material whenever I can. Been listening to FM's Black Noise album a lot lately. I've got a feeling it may influence one or more song in Mythconception. Also just got Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories, an incredible album. It reinforces my desire to use some Mellotron on Mythcnception.
29 July: Came up with a jangly, clean guitar bit which may or may not be useful. It sounds too bright and positive to me, but maybe if I put lyrics along side it... Also came up with a distorted guitar intro, but it sounds a little directionless and unconvincing to me, and a little too derivative of Radiohead's "Airbag." By the next day (30 July) I couldn't remember the distorted riff anyway. No big loss. No other real progress, though it's a bit of a downer to have such a great productive burst while recording "Digital Jesus" and then hit a wall right now. I need to just throw myself in. Maybe I'm a bit anxious about whether the songs will be as good as the concept. I hope nobody assumes it's pro or con Christianity just because of the first track and the lead character being named Krist. Maybe I better throw in some Buddhism, Taoism, or hell, maybe a psalm to our Dark Master Satan? Hehe! Seriously, I suppose when Krist preaches he'll be talking about all sorts of mythologies anyways. I probably shouldn't be concerned. I haven't even decided whether the name Krist will be pronounced to rhythme with "rice" or with "wrist."
28 July: Very productive night. Started by adding a second layer of keyboards, this time using the strings and brass together from the old Casio MT-240, playing the chords an octave higher. This took six or seven takes.I added another drum layer, using an exaggerated, gigantic reverb sound on a half-speed bass/snare bit. I discovered that when I create a loobed circuit on the four track recorder, running a line from the monitor to the input, I can use the volume controls to generate varying rumbly-hissy noises. When the volume is turned all the way up, the noises become a piercing whistle, with different (clashing) pitches in the left and right channels. I recorded some rumbling and hissing, and also recorded a bit of the shrill whistling, thinking I might be able to use it. Then I used a lovely Mac program called Flow to generate stereo ambient swirling noises. I recorded several takes, and used two of those takes, making them fade in gradually from nothing until they were full volume at the end. I used Sound Edit 16 version 2 to generate static, and then made the static fade in as well, but not until close to the end of the song. I started putting everything together, perfecting the fade-ins, mixing the tracks down. Finally I experimented with the shrill whistling feedback I'd found. I tried fading it in along with the static, but that was too annoying. I tried having the static linger at the end and then become the whistle, but that also sounded wrong. Finally I just made a brief clip of the shrill whistle fade in at the peak of the static. Perfect! Having the tracks all put together, I mixed them down, tacked on the sound of my DigiTech pedal being unplugged at the end, and... Digital Jesus is done!
I'm not sure where I'll go next. I need to turn the plot into lyrics, so maybe I'll do some writing tomorrow. I could also begin writing music for the other set of lyrics I already have, The Apotheosis of William Harvey. I have some other business to attend to in the next four days, but hopefully I'll get other projects out of the way quickly so I can focus on Myth Conceptions.
It's great to be recording again
27 July: Began recording a track! Digital Jesus started taking shape on tape. I put the Lord's Prayer into StealthTalk, a Mac program by my friend Rick Karhu, and got it to speak it in one of the built-in voices. I recorded some simple drums then, just tapping a bass and snare with delay on them. Then I recorded some keyboards. The first take of keyboards was a glassy-sounding organ imitating church music. It sounded wrong. I ditched that entirely, and instead played ambient chords on the cello sound of the Yamaha PSS-480, running it. I used the chords from a previous piece I did many years ago called "Flight" which I'll never otherwise develop. It took just a few takes to get the keyboards right. I also recorded a strange sound my DigiTech RP6 pedal makes whenever I unplug it, thinking it might be a nice end to the short instrumental. Having the vocals, a simple drum part and a layer of keyboards, I stopped for the night.
2526 July: I essentially wrote the plot [for Mythconception] (but not specific lyrics). On this night I developed the plot almost fully, adding a female characted named Sarah.
JuneJuly 2001: Sometime in June 2001 I came up with the general concept that it [Mythconception] would be about the absence of spirituality in a world where people have become science-minded and robot-like. I knew the main character would be a misfit named Krist. The idea came from debates with friends over the value of myth, and from listening to the making of Brain Salad Surgery (the ELP album) and hearing them discuss the theme of man-versus-machine. In June I developed the first few lyrical ieas. One set of lyrics, The Apotheosis of William Harvey, describes a city which sounds like it's in the future, and yet the lyrics also imply it could actually be the present. Another idea was for an instrumental titled Digital Jesus, in which a robot voice would recite the Lords Prayer, but would be drowned out by digital noise. These concepts sat for several weeks with little progress due to work and other distractions, and due to being unsure of the actual plot. Between Digital Jesus and Apotheosis of WH I planned to write a song describing the huge metropolis it's all set in, but later I decided it would probably be unnecessary.
"The magical sound
that I long to express