Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Other Album

A few weeks ago I posted a very weird instrumental track called "My Own."  After a little bit more post-production, mixing, and mastering, I have decided to release "My Own" as a single, and it is now available on digital retailers.

Aside from its length of 3:49, there is very little about "My Own" that warrant its release as a single.  There are no discernible words, and no appealing melody of any kind.  The point of the track is only to express layered electronic textures.  From a compositional standpoint, there is very little material to speak of.  But I guess the track's lack of appropriateness as a single makes me particularly inclined to release it in that form.  I've never been one to do things the conventional way.

Usually a track is released as a single to anticipate the upcoming release of an album.  But as I mentioned earlier, "My Own" does not fit the organic feel I want to have for the upcoming album "Hydrogen."  So I then thought "My Own" could be released as a stand-alone single, not attached to any album.  That is where the tracks stands right now.  However, I think about music in large chunks, and so I am fairly convinced that "My Own" will not remain an orphan for too long.

One day I was thinking about expressionist art.  (Don't you love paragraphs that start off like that)  The movement began started to gain ground in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  There are a number of famous expressionist paintings, and probably the most well-known is "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.  Wikipedia has this to say about expressionism: "Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality."

I had begun to think recently about creating a musical project based around this idea.  Of course, expressionism as a musical style already exists, and it is largely associated with the atonal composer Arnold Schoenberg, and his followers in the Second Viennese School.  Now I don't intend to create an album of atonal classical music, but there is something that can be learned from it.  In the early 20th century time atonality was a new discovery, and it was used to convey certain emotions that previous music could not quite grasp.  Atonal music did not really catch on as it were, except in academic circles, perhaps to its dissonance and rhythmic obscurity.  But atonality as a way to express emotion, often uncomfortable emotion, did filter its way into the popular imagination.  (Seen any horror films lately?  Listen to the soundtrack!)

Just as atonality was a new discovery 100 years ago, I asked myself "What is the new discovery of today that has the potential to change music?"  Of course, the answer is electronics.  To be fair, electronics have been used in music for quite some time, but with the rise of digital recording and editing, the artistic potential of electronic music has really exploded in the last 20 years.

So if you were to mix the artistic goals of expressionism with the electronic technology of today, what would you get?  You might actually end up with something that sounds a little bit like "My Own."  So before long I found myself with the lead single I wanted, but it was the lead single to an entirely different album than the one I was already working on.

But why would this be bad?  "Hydrogen" is mostly written and planned, but very little of it is recorded.  "Expression," on the other hand, is mostly not yet written, but the parts that are written are already completely recorded because they were created spontaneously from the ground up.  Having another album as an outlet is actually quite healthy.  The tracklist for "Hydrogen" is already pretty much locked in, but I also wanted to allow myself to come up with other new music spontaneously, and not have to worry about whether or not it fit with "Hydrogen."  So having "Expression" as a vague parallel project will be a very good thing.  Just don't expect either to be done anytime soon. (At least you get to listen to the single...)

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