Track By Track: A Death Over The Radio

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Jonfrid Eliasen Photography

Next from Coldform is A Death Over The Radio.
I started this song while in the backseat of my parents’ car on the way to see my great grandfather who had recently turned 100. It started with the raspy “respirator” synth sound and the various piano melodies, and was left as that for a little while.
I later started sequencing drums, and ended up using a lot of samples from a brush kit because I liked how fluid they felt. Underneath, the rest was essentially basic dance drum patterns.
I tried playing this one live at the release party for my first album World Makers, but it just didn’t seem right; something was missing.
I took the tune to Jesse Manou from Other Families to lay down some electric guitar. He gave me one mean take, and that’s what you can hear in the finished song.

A lot of time passed, and I had moved to Montreal for school. My Great Grandfather died and I started to think about what the song was really about. I got a message one day about the account name for one of my other projects from someone named Súsanna Herálvsdóttir. She wanted to use the name for her own project, Dóttir (pictured). I gave it to her, and discovered that she had the most lovely voice.
I sent her the instrumental to muse over, and after a few months she gave back the recorded vocals. I remember getting really excited upon hearing them for the first time- I immediately called Astrolope and told him to come over and hear them.

A lot of time and small mix revisions later, and the song was finished. For me, this was one of my favourite songs off the album and marked the first time I collaborated with someone I didn’t know in real life.

Listen to A Death Over The Radio: http://bit.ly/1rptc5R

Stay tuned for the process behind the next song; Yourself Open!

Track By Track: A Death Over The Radio

Track By Track: It Turns You On

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The next song on Coldform is It Turns You On.
This song is a bit harder to remember the process behind, but I do know that it started as a solo piano demo.
What changed it was when I ran the piano through a shitload of distortion and realized the lead melody sounded way better that way. I ended up redoing it with a distorted softsynth.
From there I programmed some pretty robotic dance beats and had the skeleton for what became the first chorus.

Once I moved to Montreal, Astrolope (pictured above, around that time) came into the equation and played the pots and pans you can hear in the intro section, as well as made the drums way better overall.
I eked out the bass line with the bass guitar that I would later learn to play, and we ended up with a pretty bare tune.
Izzy came in and did the vocals all in one day. The garbled speech heard toward the beginning is her rapping some of the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard, which was then warped to hell. We wrote the lyrics based on what we thought we heard in the mangled version. Lyrically, we wanted to write a song that was more fun than serious.

This song went through about 10 versions and two years before we were happy with it, and now you can listen to it knowing that Isabella Davis has a rapper alter-ego called Li’l Izzy.

Listen to It Turns You On: http://bit.ly/1RUYYRJ

Next up: A Death Over The Radio!

Track By Track: It Turns You On

Track By Track: Epli

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I’m going to talk about the processes behind each song on my record Coldform as a post series!

The first track Epli (Apple) started with me going into my parents’ yard and recording a myriad of objects with a small handheld recorder.
You can hear apples from the tree in the yard getting hit with walnut sticks, the stretched out and melodically sampled ringing of shackles found on boats, broomsticks bouncing on concrete floors and me drumming on hollow pieces of maple driftwood I gathered in Parry Sound.
I took a standard approach to sampling all of these things and programmed drum patterns with them. From there I ended up with the static beat. I took the ringing shackles, and transposing the samples down a lot, came up with a sub-heavy bass-line.
Once in Montreal for my first year of university, I had Isabella Davis over to jam, and we recorded the vocals in a night. The attached photo is from that recording session.
The song went through a number of revisions before ending up as the first track on Coldform almost two years later.

Listen to Epli:
https://soundcloud.com/waxlimbs/epli-ft-isabella-davis

Next up, I’ll talk about It Turns You On; the second track off the record. Stay tuned!

-Alex

Track By Track: Epli

Blue Hands – A Special Place

My sides hurt.

Yeah I Know It Sucks

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artist: Blue Hands
title: A Special Place (video)
keywords: grimy and dark; blue hands, video
reviewer: Willem van O.

The artistic freedom of ‘Blue Hands’ the band has never been topped by any other project. Take for example their latest state of the art video clip; it’s totally going against the established stream of animation and video productions. Their music video tells it almost like it is, keeping things superbly minimal and yet with enough detail to get a conversation going. Within the send-in music video we are getting visually intrigued by an (probably) depiction of the members of Blue Hands, curiously there is no color blue involved and certainly no sign of a pair of actual Blue Hands too… This will perhaps make you scratch your head for a bit, but does well to come across as intellectually fine material that isn’t giving in to the pressure of high…

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Blue Hands – A Special Place

Born and Buried on a Leap-Year

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Today we buried my Grandfather, Mieczyslaw Czartowski, or Mike. He was born on February 29th, 1924 in a small town in northeast Poland which no longer exists.
Because of his birth on the strange date of February 29th, technically he was only 23. In reality, he was 94.

At the start of the Second World War, him and his family were taken by the invading Russians to a logging/work camp in the forests of Siberia where he laboured until he was liberated and joined the Polish Army in the Soviet Union in 1943. His father (a Polish military officer) was arrested by the Russians and taken to an undisclosed location before they left for Siberia.
He went through a lot during this time; having served in a few countries of Europe and more in Africa. He survived Malaria, a shattered leg from a plane crash, various strange skin conditions and wounds from shrapnel at the Battle of Monte Cassino where he was an ambulance driver.

He once told me how he coincidentally picked up his wounded childhood friend during that battle, and made an attempt to save his life in going through and behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, his friend died before he could reach safety.
Another story told of how he found his father at a rehabilitation camp in the Middle East, and neither of them recognized the other; Mike had grown into a man, and his father was shrunken from malnourishment. They became very emotional when they finally did recognize one another, as it had been 3 years since they were separated.

He loved to tell me of how he managed to turn a truck around by drifting on a narrow, single-lane roadway in the desert without leaving the pavement- much to the surprise of the captain who was evaluating him in his attempt to become an ambulance driver.
They became good friends after that. I managed to interview him extensively about his life a couple years ago, and I recount that he mostly loved to tell stories about cars. He was really proud of his driving chops.

I believe I am at the age where empathy has fully set in. I’ve not felt so sad at a funeral before, though I have fortunately only had to attend a handful so far. This man taught me what a good joke is and how friendly sarcasm works. He taught me a lot about patience. Through his trials and sacrifices, he taught me about appreciating others. He was an example of empathy and how small we really are. I thank him for that.

Happy Birthday Dziadzia, I miss you already.
-Alexander

Born and Buried on a Leap-Year

The First Snowfall In October (Prose)

I’ve started to write a piece of fictional prose, which isn’t something I’ve done in years. I’m trying to take a Hemingway-esque approach, in keeping my descriptions and adjective-use relatively minimal. Here’s my first draft:

David rolled over in his sleep. The moon was out and blue light speckled the forest floor.
I heard a snap and looked past the firepit to the cage across camp, obscured by the gloom; something rustled inside. My eyes fell on Capri, asleep by the coals, rifle rising and falling with his chest.
I quietly woke David, motioned to leave and as silently as we could, we rolled our bedding. I crept over to Capri who was still sound asleep with his arms loosely cradling the rifle. I gently peeled the weapon away from his body and out of his arms. He muttered something about the price of gold.

David and I walked for about four hours in what we assumed was a westward direction, and came to rest in a pine-addled hollow as the sun rose. The air was brisk with autumn and the sunrise peeking through the trees was tinged red. We ate some grits that we stole, and tucked ourselves into a space in the roots of a tree, making beds of pine needles.

David never spoke much, so our conversation was short and mostly about the weather, his face never changing beyond grim and stoic. I looked up from our hiding space to see a lone oak sapling with a few frost-coated leaves, still stubbornly clinging to the stem this late in October. I fell asleep.

***

I must have been dreaming for two hours when I awoke. Snow was falling sparsely; something was wrong. I heard the soft thudding of footsteps nearby and stayed my breathing in a sudden rush of terror. The sound of something heavy nearby- a snarl tore through the hollow. My heart beat deafeningly as the footsteps came to a halt directly above our hiding space. From here, I could smell it, rank as death.

Capri called from the creature’s back, “You boys have really done yourselves in! Not the first time I’ve caught up to runaways.” At this point, I was afraid my heartbeat was audible to the whole forest. I couldn’t see David and I was afraid to make a sound by turning my head to look for him.

Suddenly, Capri was right there peering through the roots at me. “You look lost, Ari. Where’s David?”

I didn’t say anything, only stared into his watery grey eyes. His nose dripped and he inhaled it back in with a snort. He was a disgusting man.

“Have it your way, I’ll find him.” And then he dragged me out by the throat with a grip that surprised me in its strength, especially for a wiry senior. He slugged me down to the base of the hollow and put his foot on my chest. “I’ll take that,” he said as he reached for the rifle- still hanging from my side. I swung my foot up into his face, caught his nose and broke it.  I rolled over in a frenzy, trying to take the weapon in my hands and get a shot off. I felt a dull, hot pain in my leg and lost all orientation of my surroundings, dropping the rifle. The beast had bitten and was dragging and swinging me like a rag-doll. I felt something snap and blacked out.

As of this point in time, I don’t think I really know who the narrator is, or David for that matter. Something to flesh out.

PS: This story idea came from a song of the same title that I wrote back in October.

Cheers!
-Alex

The First Snowfall In October (Prose)

Weight, Structure and Electroacoustic Music

Bad Line Tumult
Bad Line Tumult Artwork.

Hello all.
Today I’ve put out my latest collection of works for my Dóttirhjarta project.
It is an album containing various works made for my electroacoustic studies. If you like the stranger sides of electronic music, this may be for you.

Most of the songs explore weight and its relationship to structure.
For example, I wrote Growth Talk as an exploration of fungi and the formation of neural networks in large populations of such. The opening song Containers uses data from natural disasters around the world over the past 30 years to inform its structure. Repercussions is about the chaotic ripple effect of events over time.

There are many different styles of sound play at work on the record. I tended to focus a lot on an acousmatic approach, but on the flip-side songs like Growth Talk and Sundering use analog synthesis for 90% of their composition. Repercussions was sourced entirely from a virtual synthesizer I built in Max MSP.

Included is a live recording of a song called Seventwenty, written and performed with Matthew Murphy of Look Vibrant and Kevin Cogen of CJ Austin.

The album is free, or you can pay what you want for it. Bonus track comes with a download of the whole album.

Love and Warmth,
-Alex

Weight, Structure and Electroacoustic Music