Let’s Try That One More Time

2013 was a forgettable year. While there were a few personal high points, for the most part it was either neutral or negative and I’m not all that sad to see it go. I do have some resolutions for the coming year, but they consist more of objectives and goals than planned behavioral changes.

Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.

In a sign of the times, many of them (if not most) are aimed squarely at my social media presence and habits. When I looked back at the year, social media had taken the place of “old media” as the source of much of my unhappiness. As Louis C.K. once said, “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” I’ve been part of that problem, primarily because I provide the audience and demand for it.

So… here are some of the things I’m going to work toward:

 

Publish an album and charge money for it

I’m not sure what will be on it, but I’ve said I was going to do this for years and years. Time to make it happen before CDs go away entirely. It may amount to nothing more than a vanity project, but I’ve heard far worse vanity projects in the past, so I’m not afraid of it any more. I may even do a micro-run of vinyl just because.

 

Significant reduction in Facebook presence

Facebook has kept raising the temperature of the pot… no change is enough to make me just drop it altogether, but I realized that I’ve been spending a lot of my time being unhappy about things. The advertising, the video auto-play, the snooping, the app spam… I’m tired of it. I’ll still check in and post things that I think friends will find interesting or helpful, but this will no longer be a primary platform for me.

 

Significant increase in blog presence

I’ve said this many times in the past, and it goes in fits and starts. I’m not holding myself to any specific metric like “post every week,” but many of the things I want to say now violate some rule or anger the social media etiquette security forces. Am I stealing? Do I need to tip my hat? Did I just cross the picket lines of the “curators” union? We used to call putting a link on your page… uh… putting a link on your page. Now it’s big business and everyone’s out for this ephemeral cred because they shared it from someone else first. So to hell with it – I’ll write about it here. A corollary to this is that I want to write good content , not just the ramblings I’ve ended up with in the past. In this regard, I’ll be working on patience… more editing, less immediate posting.

 

Near-fanatical adherence to my 2013 “No Negative Comments” rule

I’m pretty happy with my performance in this regard during 2013, though I slipped a few times with some irresistible snark or reaction. This year, I’m not even going to start to write a comment and delete it before pressing “submit.”

 

Less overall online consumption

I spend too much time online that I later think of as being wasted. It’s a bad habit, so I’m going to try and drop that, focusing instead on content that helps me do or create something. I can best sum this up with a line from Wayne’s World:

Turn it off, man! Turn it off! It’s sucking my will to live!

There are some specific article types that I’m going out of my way to avoid in the future, notably anything that has a linkbait headline along the lines of “13 Weird Things Robots Do” or “Her husband died in a fire. You won’t believe what she did next!” I’m tired of the manipulation and the story is never as interesting as you hoped it would be.

 

Ruthless dropping, uncircling, defriending and more stringent categorization

A big part of my unhappiness in 2013 came from other people being unhappy and doing little more than venting about it. So why am I so eager to read it? It’s like eating junk food… it’s a quick high, but has bad long-term ramifications. My Google+ circles have gotten a bit wooly, so it’s time for some clean up. I don’t plan on these purges and shifts to be entirely online, either.

Also, anyone using played out phrases in their posts or comments ( ‘Murica! or “curated by” ) are fast tracked to the chopping block. It was funny three years ago (or annoying as in the case of “curated by”) but now it just sets me off and… you know… ain’t nobody got time for that.

 

Make more stuff

I like making things. Mostly music, but other things as well. This year, I want to get myself set up to do more video work, maybe try painting, write some tips & tricks for things I know about, and so on. I did make an attempt at some creative writing this year and while it was more enjoyable to write it than it is to read it, I’m keeping Ira Glass’ “working through the suck” comments in the back of my mind. If you’re curious about that, please see my Walking Long Enough post from back in 2008 (which was an even worse year than 2013).

 

So. Those are the important things… or at least the important things that I could think of before finishing this first cup of coffee. I may come back and add to this post later if I decide something else is worth posting for all the world to see.

I wish everyone, and I mean everyone, a joyous, safe, peaceful, productive, and prosperous 2014.

Integrated Circuit

If Lave Approach was one of the hardest tracks I’ve ever tried to name, this was one of the easiest. I’d been out of town for a while and was really missing my studio. When I got back and fired up the keyboards, the first patch I started messing around with was named “Integratd circut.” It’s the big fat ring-mod pad playing throughout.

 

 

Much of my recent musical output has been focused on this nebulous concept of an electronic album about our electronic world – mostly computers, software, and the benefits and pitfalls we’re up against as we adapt nearly every aspect of life. This track easily fits in. It’s been very helpful to have that guiding theme, even if the tracks bear little resemblance to each other.

While the last few have had a more analog feel, this one is unashamedly digital.

Composition (including noodling and sound selection) took place in fits and starts over a three or four day period, but I didn’t really over think it or tweak too much. After listening to it several times through, I still felt something was missing, which led to the massive boom/snap kick and snare. The kick is straight out of the Fantom with just a touch of EQ, while the snare (also from the Fantom) gets a lot of breath from Valhalla Room.

I hope it all translates to other systems as nicely as it sounds in my room with the sub. I still struggle with compression and mastering, but this one seems ok for an initial version. Gain staging continues to be extremely helpful, but I think I need to spend some hands-on time with someone who knows what they’re doing in this regard. I recently saw an interview with Vince Clarke and was surprised how he really didn’t seem to know or care all that much about the specific synths, he just knew which stuff to tweak to get the sound he wanted. I’d love to have the luxury of an engineer who could translate what I’m going for into reality.

Colophon:

  • MOTU Digital Performer 8 (Sequencing, EQ, compression, other effects)
  • Kurzweil K2600XS (Ring mod pad)
  • Yamaha FS1R (Gate patterned break filter swell)
  • Roland Fantom XR (Kick and Snare)
  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere (All other synths)
  • Spectrasonics Stylus RMX (Glitch loop)
  • Valhalla DSP ÜberMod and Room