Sometimes writing a song like 509 can cause incredible pressure or an unrealistic expectation that because I did that yesterday, I should be able to do it again today. Happily, I actually found it to be a relief. There are only two days left in the month, I’ve written a couple of really solid songs, so I can actually relax a bit and feel like I had more of a “quality over quanitity” kind of experience this time around.
That’s not to say that I didn’t feel pressure when sitting down to start writing, only that it was more the pressure of “what am I going to do today” and not “how the hell am I going to top yesterday?” There was a lot of emotional involvement in yesterday’s writing, so I’m on the drained side of things today. Or maybe “relaxed” is a better word. In any case, I knew I wanted to write something a bit more languid in feel.
- Baryphonic Ray Toler 6:53
Aside from Grains and Jigsawz, I really hadn’t gone as far with experimenting as I had thought I would, so that was kind of my plan for this track, and I was toying with doing something interesting with vocals, but when I came across the flute sound that all took a back seat to the ambient track that popped up. I hadn’t been able to think of any words anyway.
If you’ve ever listened to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2, you’ll know that I’m veering close to pasticheland again, but that’s not my intent. One could argue, for that matter, that his album was pretty close to being a pastiche of Eno. It always seems to come back to Eno in some respect, though.
As I had the flute motif playing on a loop, I kept finding myself sinking deeper into it, sometimes playing along and sometimes just listening. That’s typically a good sign that at least I’ll like it when I’m finished. I considered coming up with a counterpoint line for contrast, but decided instead to put textures and pads in, and use some creative control work to provide those little details that reward careful listening.
When I’m doing these types of pieces, especially when it’s a single motif repeated over and over, the question of track length becomes important. It can be difficult to strike a balance between giving the listener enough time to get into a meditation zone of sorts, but not so much time that they become bored. But the reality is that very few people ever hear my music other than me, my wife, and some close friends, so I’m normally only really worried about my own reaction to it, with some attention being paid to the “what if?” scenario that it somehow becomes relatively popular. As in, maybe more than ten people have heard it…
But during Song-A-Day, there are normally between 20 and 30 people who may be listening, and I have had them more in mind than maybe I should this month. For that reason, I had initially planned to make this a three minute track. Get in, say what you have to say, and get out. That thought lasted for about a minute when I remembered that I would be the one listening to this track for years to come. I’ve found that somewhere between six and eight minutes seems to be the sweet spot for these things, and Baryphonic comes in just shy of seven minutes – the longest track I’ve done this month.
In the end, there wasn’t really much experimenting, though I did get some more practice in with creating interesting volume automation and using different periods for the various ups and downs. There are almost no effects in use beyond the actual synths,although it’s important to note that the synths are doing some insane things all by themselves.
One thing I would consider going back to change is the bassline. I realized about halfway through the production that this is the same bassline I used on Divulsion in 2019. Not a cardinal sin, but annoying. I know I’ve reused sounds, lyrics, little background tricks, etc., but the bassline is so prominent in this one that it’s hard not to make the comparison.
This track will work best in a collection of similar tracks – it’s not really designed to stand on its own, but rather to be part of a larger journey. I think I’ve probably already written some of that journey in past years (or even earlier this month), and maybe there are a few more to write before wrapping it up and putting it out to the world in some fashion. There’s also some polishing to be done, but it’s a good start.
- Synths: Omnisphere, Pigments, Zebra
- Effects: CableGuys FilterShaper 3, Valhalla Delay
- Mastering: Ozone 9