Documemted Fragments – synthesizer dreams

Life is made of fragments. Later we try to organize them into some sort of sense. Sometimes this organization is done consciously, but often it is done in REM sleep – or dreams.

To me making a record is very much a record of the time I was working (to borrow from Jackson Browne).

At this time things weren’t making much sense in my life. I did my duties day to day but there didn’t seem much connecting one day to another in that sense of building something. I noticed that my tracks were the same. I would develop some sounds and an idea that seemed interesting but the next day it had no meaning past being just that. I saw no theme. It then hit me that maybe this was the theme after all, that these pieces were simply fragments as I dreamed with my synthesizers.

Once I accepted this I felt happier to keep going this way and let it happen and go where it would. I decided that rather than making the tracks fit a theme I would let chaos create it’s own. This is why there is a little wind noise between each track. This serves two purposes, one is to create some cohesion and transition but it also makes it interesting to play the tracks in a random (shuffled) order. So long as you have a “gapless” player then every transition will be seamless and identical. This lets the album be an un-bound book – like a set of Tarot cards.

The final album is presented very close to the order tracks were written. I only pulled out a few tracks that, while they fitted in some ways, didn’t in others. It is up to you if you want to put them back in or dump them. Here are the tracks in writing order:

  1. Bonus 01 : probably could have kept this one in but it just seemed right to “bonus” it. If nothing else it isn’t the right album opener.
  2. Bonus 02 : this one started out with the second section being a guitar synth, one of those sample devices that try to fool you that you are hearing a real guitarist. Far too canned for my liking so at the last minute I fired the guy and used a square wave instead. I also added the hand claps.
  3. Document 01 : I wanted to re-capture the feel of some of my work from around the Gods of The Desert times, with simple and spacious lines. I think I somewhat managed even though I no longer have the synth that excelled in the role.
  4. Document 02 : I modulated the speed of the Phaser effect to make the pad sound seem to come and go.
  5. Bonus 03 : through a note assignment error with a drum player I ended up with this almost Latin rhythm that amused me greatly. I tried a few work ups including almost Trance but nothing seemed quite right. Track still amuses me so not thrown away completely.
  6. Bonus 04 : started with the drums and I had them really loud so it reminded me of EBM. I then struggled to develop. I actually hate working with loud drums as to me they swallow everything. Using a synthesized power tool was too good to resist so I let it go as an incomplete idea. Later I came back and removed all the drum-loudening-devices and felt much better.
  7. Document 03 : I got to every so slightly re-use the power tool idea here too.
  8. Document 04 : the core of this track is a single note that has so much modulation happening that it could be several sounds; hard to pick out in the final mix.
  9. Document 05 : a bit of a deliberate mismatch with a rigid bassline under a free-flowing Vangelis-style lead.
  10. Document 06 : there is nothing like a synthesized drum line (esp with a cow bell) to make a track seem cool.
  11. Document 07 : there is also nothing like a big distorted guitar. But that is not what you are hearing here. I loved working out how to get the twin-axe attack to work though. Reminds me slightly of early Santana (without the virtuosity).
  12. Document 08 : the longest track here at 6 mins. It is one of the few that really is a complete piece.
  13. Document 09 : this was probably mostly opportunity to show off the ring modulated rising arpeggio sound.
  14. Document 10 : I love making these semi-spooky synth soundscapes. Quite how this one got fused to a chugging “guitar” line I can’t recall. These things jut happen as they want to.
  15. Document 11 : this record was a constant struggle with feeling that the sounds I was making weren’t big and engaging enough. In hindsight I think that was a symptom of my situation at this time. Looking back even a week or so I think how could I be so silly with leads like this one. A totally free form track with every line recorded in one pass like the Series:1:2 album.
  16. Document 12 : another one of those spooky scenes
  17. Document 13 : an odd one as it starts with a punchy Rock sort of pattern but evaporates.
  18. Document 14 : you probably won’t notice but to make the mix work I swap the stereo roles of the synth arpeggio pattern and the big vocal-ish synth half way through.
  19. Document 15 : no, that isn’t a piano, processed piano or even a piano sample. I got lucky with a synth patch.
  20. Document 16 : more free form playing, this time I allowed more unusual note interactions (as if my notes aren’t odd enough already).
  21. Document 17 : by this time I was finally accepting that this was the sound of this record and I might as well revel in it.
  22. Document 18 : these last two tracks were made after I decided which tracks were to be cut and bonused. If nothing else the acoustic “guitar playing” is perhaps unexpected in the synthetic backing.
  23. Document 19 : for the first time since PLACES I wanted to make a really obvious melody line and instrument. That it happened at the end makes me wonder if my next record won’t be melodic again…?

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