weeks 19+20: folkways and foreign fires + no-one, nowhere
another double effort this week. i'm finally caught up! the first track is a lo-fi folksong. the title is a nod to both the smithsonian record label that puts out a great deal of incredible music from around the world (an amazing archival project that i admire very much), and the theories of reconstructionist judaism, a fresh way of looking at customs and traditions. it's ultimately a song about the different ways of approaching religion, activity vs. passivity, flexibility vs. tradition. i've done a great deal of research in the past week about different religious movements, and i love the ones who allow us the freedom to blend and learn new practices. i don't agree with throwing out the baby with the bathwater, i just think it's good to question why we do the things we do. often this doesn't result in us discarding traditions, on the contrary it reinforces them with new life and meaning other than 'because that's how we do it'. but there's also a risk that goes along with it of completely losing that religion's identity, the 'foreign fire' in the song's title. the lyric 'we can be our own saviours' is a warning about this sort of thing - we can save ourselves from losing our religion, but we shouldn't worship ourselves. it's a fine line to walk.
the second track is a variation on what i was trying to record last week through technical difficulties. they both definitely stand on their own and are probably nothing alike to a listener who doesn't know the story behind them. it's a track about my trip to sweden and how it changed my mentality and outlook on life. it was a sort of heroes' journey, where i had to return a new man to my old home, with all the things i'd learned on my adventures. it's also about making the most of your time on earth, and how sometimes you can just be really frustrated everyday for no reason. it's something i'm yet to work out and don't think i ever will - but it's just a matter of keeping myself busy with being creative, but allowing myself time to rest and contemplate when it's necessary. finally, i've been really loving chorus recently and i'm looking into buying a chorus pedal. for now i'm settling for a nice vst, superflyDSP flying chorus. there's an attempt at some rocketship, alvvays, smiths style vocal melodies in there too. i think it sounds nice.
weeks 17+18: shechinah + sketches of svea
these two tracks are twins: the first was written when i was rehearsing the second. they come in that order because it feels the most natural - the first is a warm-up. they encountered some technical difficulties, but i felt the glitch, the fuzz, was actually endearing. a thoroughly mangled digital rendition of homely analogue peace. it sort of represents the stress i've been feeling recently, that pervades despite my attempts to quell it with rest and relaxation. it permeates, and that's what the crush of these tracks feels like - an attempt to cry out into that bleakness, transformed into the very thing you're trying to escape. the songs are whispers forcibly turned into screams, and i like that about them. it's pointless of me to write about the lyrics, since they're incomprehensible. it's nice for a change.
week 16(?): one last day
this is a sort of sequel to or variation of san marino. it's a tribute to stupid fun, impulsivity, and recklessness. i find myself missing the times when all i needed to make me happy was a can of soop and a can of spray paint but then i remember they were the only things that made me happy. it's a tongue-in-cheek tribute in that sense. this is track 16 of 18 that i should've made up to this point. it's a very stressful point of my life at the moment, coming up to an operation i'm having at the end of this month. i had a few days at the start of may that were the worst i've felt all year, just a return of that despondent feeling i had in my lowest times last year. but overall 2022 has been really good for me, it's been a year of a lot of new beginnings and uncertainties but undoubtedly in a good way. i can only hope that my good luck continues to continue (i'm just not going to mention any of the sports teams i support, who need all the luck they can get and i've seemed to curse by writing about recently)
i'm very, very late, for reasons that are explained in this song. i took a trip to beautiful malmö! it was a real life-changing time, during pesach, and it was my own personal exodus - lots of uncertainty, lots of freedom, lots of change. i got rid of the brutal slavery of my hometown and my boring job and experienced a great city, great gigs, and great people. i wrote a lot while i was over there that i'm going to turn into a zine, and there's possibly some pithiness in there that i can convert into a lyric or two. the title is the name of the park i got lost in (getting lost in a new city where i have a very, very bad grasp of the language and can only order a falafelrulle was scary but also beautiful, it's possibly the best part of malmö to get lost in with its sprawling nature - God's creation is so beautiful) the central lyric of this track i've had ruminating for a while, during manic episodes where i contemplated applying to östra grevie, completely disregarding any legal or financial difficulties that would cause me. it's this kind of reckless romanticism that makes me an artist in the first place, fuelled by this belief that everything will somehow work out in the end if it's what my heart wants. i'm not going to art school in malmö, but i'm going to art school in london, something that's perhaps equally financially stupid but at least i don't have to worry about visas. i'm glad i'm doing stupid things because my life would be totally boring without it. i'm excited to be living in a city where i can go to gigs and parks and galleries and synagogues and see my friends and have a good time.
this song is a tribute to casiotone to the painfully alone and the mountain goats, in terms of its lo-fi balladry alongside its mundane love of escapism. those songs always seem to deal with folk who need to escape their boring towns and boring jobs, and flee only to find in most cases that the problem was themselves. but i'm young enough that the problem isn't myself, and sometimes a new city is all the rejuvenation i need. what makes the difference i think is the motivation to bring what you've learned back home - all too often a place can change you only momentarily, and you can become obsessed with the exterior when what really needs changing is the interior. some people won't be happy anywhere, and some people will be happy everywhere - and at times they're the same people. and it's ironic, it was written on a keyboard i bought in glasgow, a city i have very similar feelings about as malmö, even though i perhaps love malmö more despite the stark difference in my feelings towards their respective football teams. kämpa bajen!
week 14: breathing space
not loads to say about this one, it's a little tune about the delights and dangers of peace and quiet. for so long, quietness was a place for my darkest thoughts to fester and that still is an issue, although i'm a little better now. i can appreciate peace for what it is, i can appreciate evenings on my own sipping herbal tea, sketching and listening to duster. and these mellow moments are my favourite moments because so little of my life is like that - for so long it was all either exciting or devastating. so many of my daily prayers make reference to that word 'peace' and i've come to appreciate how 'peace' is truly the greatest thing in the world.
week 13: compassion
i'm not writing this a week after the last one, as you might've noticed. this song is ROUGH! ds-1 simulator on the master and all that. but thematically it's a lot less harsh than it is sonically, at least i've tried to make it so. i was reading a book by the dalai lama about how to be compassionate - i agreed and disagreed with a lot of it simultaneously. i don't like how disconnected he comes off, how 'above it all', like he's jettisoned anger and instead wishes for his enemies' happiness. i just don't get it.
i also experimented a little with my usual song structure, although it's probably not noticeable. i love songwriting, and this is why this experiment has been (and continues to be) so fun for me. the little evolutions that occur along the way, impacted by whatever's happening to me at the time, whatever music i'm listening to, whatever other art i'm consuming at the time, that make it an interesting body of work to look over. it reflects how i'm feeling, what i'm liking at the time, and so many other factors. this song and last week's are perhaps an active effort to write more positively. i have quite a positive outlook these days, at least i try to. my faith is definitely a huge part of this, and my growing gratitude towards everything around me, even when it all falls apart. i think we were put on this earth to continue the work of creation, and that's why art and expression is so important to me. i hope i can make an impact.
week 12: slow growth
i confess, this isn't a week apart from the last track. it's just how things've worked out! this song felt somewhat taunting - the riff isn't difficult, but i was struggling to make it ring out properly. i worked tirelessly at trying to get it perfect before i realised it was against the whole point of the song to get it down perfect. thus the lyrics became 'meta', suddenly about the song itself - i've been trying to write simple songs that are easy to play for me, a shoddy guitar player despite my years of experience, on a guitar that hasn't been restrung in quite some time (not to blame my tools that have accompanied me steadfastly through my various creative journeys), when really what i wanted was to challenge myself, to write a song like a very slow, very relaxed yvette young. i've always liked math rock but i've also always thought the songs would sound nicer slowed down - it's too many notes! far too hectic! this song is very imperfect, very fuzzy; damaged with a warm smile much like myself. i've been doing a lot of thinking and i'm wondering whether this is just a happy and optimistic period in my life for no reason much like i have negative and pessimistic periods in my life for no reason, and i've been dreading that reversal. but i believe i'm better equipped for it now - i've learned peace, i've learned faith, i've learned a lot. i have a support network around me and i'm not going to drown again. this song i suppose is very much addressing that fear, that gratitude, that uncertainty. it's love for all i've done up to this point and hope for whatever comes next. it's pride, not in a boastful sense, but in the sense that i'm pleased with how i've turned out. it's mother's day today and i think i'm grateful for the way i was raised, the resilience that my life's experiences has brought me and the constant support and understanding that i'm surrounded with. i'm in a very rambly, very appreciative mood and this probably all sounds like hippy nonsense but i hope the song sounds good at the very least. we're all interdependent! we're all children of God!
week 11: sour solution
this track is so named because i couldn't think of a name for it, looked up and saw my skateboard. i bought it off gumtree on new year's day years ago and my parents drove me to northampton to pick it up. the deck is made by sour skateboards and it says sour solution on it in black, contrasted with a baby pink and a deliciously yellow slice of lemon. it sums up how i'm feeling about the current weather, very warm and refreshing. it makes me want to go out and skate and drink lemonade. this guitar tone is very warm and enveloping to me, but more in a winter blanket sense than a sunshine sense. i haven't quite got summer (or spring) music down yet, i think it's difficult for my style despite the fact all my albums have come out in the summer (more due to educational constraints than anything else). i'm a duster obsessive, and the clay parsons side project eiafuawn is very summery to me, a sort of fuzzed out proto-alex g. i guess that was sort of what i was going for here, and chemical swirls that look like rainbows has some shining examples of that kinda style - une saison en enfer in particular. in regards to lyricism, it's very simple but imagery-laden, inspired by duster and elliott smith, who i've been rediscovering heavily recently. he's one of those messianic musicians to me that has a broad and beautiful catalogue - a hole that you can delve into and never escape if you have the motivation. i don't quite, but maybe i will in the future. anyway, i'm pleased with the way this track worked out.
week 10: excelsior
continuing on with the recent theme of very empty, open tracks; it's a song with 2 instruments and 2 lyrics. it's a very different style for me but i love it - it's simple but it's not easy, it proves that sparseness, silence, and repetition has just as much value artistically as the bob dylan-inspired dense lyricism i was working with in the first few weeks. writing, both music and lyrics, is as much about what you don't say as what you do, the negative space, the blackness of void and the whiteness of emptiness. and with that in mind, i have nothing more to say.
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