My new album is finally completed and now available on Bandcamp. This is going to be quite a blog post. So, if you want something to listen to while you read on, then here’s the link to Paradox 🙂
Also please don’t forget to write a review on Bandcamp if you’re enjoying 🙂
It’s been quite a week actually, especially with other things simultaneously happening. I’ve been working hard to get everything right with the album and I didn’t realize just how involved it was going to be. I know, I’ve released albums before and I thought my last release, Zaman, was involved. Paradox took it to a whole new level. The reason being is that I have more than one way to create music now, not just using my Amiga.
In the previous albums, all I really needed to do was connect my Amiga through my stereo separation adjuster, Which you can read about here, into the Focusrite Audio interface to record. At most I had to worry about the cables being decent quality. But then came the Polyend Tracker just as I was completing my album Zaman. ‘Mirrors’ was my first creation using the Polyend Tracker and the only one on the album.
So, I start using the Polyend Tracker a bit more and then get into synthesizers, especially the old-school ones. If they’re not vintage then they’re either remakes of vintage synths, or like my latest addition, the TherapSID, which drives SID Chips.
Here’s a video review/exploration I have done on the TherapSID, if you’ve not watched it already.
Another thing that made the recording of Paradox more of a challenge, was that each track has it’s specific setup or synths. I have done a video showing the recording process of the album and talk about how each track requires a different setup. With the way things are here at the moment, my project room not set up, I have to work in an ad hoc manner. Half the time this mischievous fluffy freak takes over, I know he has a sense of humour for sure.
So, on the album Paradox, I’ve used a Yamaha SY22 & DX7/TX7, a Modal Cobalt 8 and the new Twisted Electron’s TherapSID with 6581 and 8580 SID chips installed. Three tracks were created on the Amiga, one completely with SID and one purely on Polyend Tracker. The rest, despite being created on the Polyend Tracker, use external synthesizers alongside samples. Each track uses different ones, so it kinda makes things a bit more interesting and fun.
Now I have had a few commenters throughout saying things like “Use a sequencer” or “Use Renoise” or “Use Softsynths”. My answer to that is no, not for me. I’m not doing this for practicality’s sake. For me using the actual synths when available, adds some soul to my music. I’m not against software or emulation, it has it’s place and uses. But for me personally it feels like the difference between painting digitally with a stylus and painting with oils on an actual canvas. There’s something special about working with actual hardware, you either recognize it or you don’t.
Speaking of art, I have to thank Rich’s mum, Jan Garbutt, for letting me use her wonderful painting as the album artwork for Paradox.
Jan has the attention to detail which I myself cannot come close to. She’s very talented and has been an artist for decades, her experience and her passion for what she does really shines through her work.
This album itself has a bit more feeling to it and it’s not because of the equipment I used or any other technical aspect. Usually my music is based on feelings and moods, but in the case of this album, I definitely feel I dove deeper into my inner world which has shone through more in my music. I can tell because, when I do listen to most of the tracks on ‘Paradox’ , they each bring out a vivid memory or feeling, a specific time and place, heck even nostalgia for the times before they were created.
One thing I learned while creating this album, particularly on a few key tracks, is that what I create music on and the equipment I use, affects and influences the kind of music I write. I don’t mean in terms of the feelings I’m trying to convey, but more in technical terms. My way of creating changes depending on what I’m using. I’ve written music on the Amiga mostly using Soundtracker Pro 2, in the past I’ve used MODPlug Tracker (now OpenMPT) and finally the Polyend Tracker in recent years alongside Amiga music creation.
After writing the track ‘Dimension’ on the Amiga and after creating the last few tracks on the Polyend Tracker, I noticed it felt like how I used to write music. The tracker I used definitely influenced the way I work and how I approach music creation. This means that my way of writing tracks differs even using different trackers. I have had the few comments on my Polyend Tracker video and Amiga videos saying “I use Renoise and it’s the best” or “I think you should use MODPlug Tracker instead”.
Well firstly, I’ll use what I want to use since I’ve decided what’s best for me :-)). Secondly I’ve learned it’s not as simple as “A tracker is a tracker is a tracker, except the new ones with most features are always the best”…That’s like asking “Why are you using a palette knife to paint oils on canvas when you can buy expensive Davinci brushes with luxurious bristles??”.
That’s because I cannot get the same effect on the canvas with a luxury brush as I can with a palette knife. Maybe that’s the look and texture I’m after. And who says that it makes it less of an art piece? The very fact that I’m still using an Amiga, and now actual SID sound, adds to the art of my music. It adds soul and meaning.
Art and creativity comes from feeling and just like different mediums in painting can influence a piece of art you do, different music making tools influence how you create music. Sometimes the excitement of creating on the Amiga and all the nostalgia tied to it will make me create a certain specific feeling in my music.
Creating music using the SID chips has had the same effect on me, to the point where it almost through Rich off when I first created my track ‘Electronic Tides’ using SID chips within the first 24 hours of receiving the TherapSID. Just as I did when I first created ‘Mirrors’ on the Polyend Tracker, just hours after receiving it. His reaction to the first draft of ‘Electronic Tides’ was interesting. He was quiet and seemed puzzled. He kept saying “I cannot recognize you in the tracks like I can with your other music, I’m not sure how I feel about it”
I understood what he meant, because at this stage, I had only done a single layer of SID using the F5 mode in Paraphonic on TherapSID, which only allows you to use a single voice. So in effect it was just a single “Instrument” doing the bass, chords, lead etc. And without any specific sounds or samples in there nor any effect commands. So other than the main melody, chords, bass etc, the SID was doing the rest of it all. After hearing the final mix, I think Rich is more at ease. I’ve add more of “Me” to it by layering it and creating my own SID sounds.
But again, despite using Polyend tracker to do the tracking for the SIDs, it changed the way I create music. Sometimes the sounds or samples you use really make a difference to how you approach music creation.
I’m going to stop here as I can write all night long about all this, also don’t forget there’s a video upcoming about the album and how I put everything together.
I will leave you to enjoy my album, Paradox.
Edit: Bob from RetroRGB has now posted about Paradox, check out his blog post about it and other stuff on RetroRGB: