2011.03.01

Frenetic Stereoear

It’s done… Once again I’ve completed the RPM Challenge, to record an entire album in just 28 days.

There were a lot of ups and down this year, as usual, but by February 27th, I’d recorded 13 songs, mixed and mastered them and burned a CD.

Once again I feel that the songs may not be that good, but being forced to play, record, use Logic, and actually make something really helped me to learn new things, and have some fun in the process. For me the frustration isn’t in getting it done, but doing it well. Out of the 13 songs, there’s bit and pieces I like, and maybe one or two songs I think are strong, but overall, I’m really starting to feel that trying to make 10 good songs (or 35 minutes of good music) is tough… really tough… and I’m walking away this year not convinced I’ll do it again. Of course I probably think that every March.

New this year is a Fender Stratocaster I picked up used from the one of the guys in ZyFy. Having a good guitar really helped out. My bass is still the old Ibanez I’ve had for about 20 years. I’d love to have a Fender bass someday, but for now, the Ibanez is fine. I’m also running the guitars into a Behringer Xenyx 802, and from there into the Firewire FCA202. This seems to work well, and I now use the 802 for output from my Mac as well, running into an old pair of Bose speakers I’ve not found any other use for. So if nothing else, I’ve now got a kick-ass audio system in my office.

So anyway, the album is called “Frenetic Stereoear” and rather than just post all the songs here, I’m thinking of publishing them one at a time, with some commentary of each one. That should be fun…

Oh, I should also explain how I make these songs. It’s all improvised, and I don’t learn the songs at all, I build them as I go. I will typically find some drum tracks I like (or build them out of individual instruments) and then hit record in Logic and play along to the drums with either the bass or guitar until I find a riff (or bassline) I like. Once I’ve got something in place, I may do a few additional tracks, and maybe drop in some background sounds, then do a basic level mix and move on. I honestly kick these things out in about an hour, give or take a little. Most of these songs have just one or two parts, no distinct changes in percussion, and no vocals. This is part of the problem… I’d like to get beyond these simple songs. I felt I did a bit with Navasio in 2009 since I only did 5 songs, but I’d like to be able to spend more time on less songs and make them better. Maybe I’ll just record 4 or 5 songs next year and not actually do the “RPM” part of the challenge.

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