Nudge You Alive (2004)
this was first envisioned as a mr. sinister project without tyson. i toyed around with using that ethereal female vocal effect on a few songs, but to my surprise it sounded very wrong. maybe that sound only belonged to the brief window in early 2002 in which it barely flourished.
this time i was pursuing a different sound — quasi-electronica, but more concentrated on atmosphere than any kind of “hip” factor. this was music with more importance placed on the bass part, to the extent that it sometimes was the first thing i recorded and it dictated where the song went. in any other setting, the bass is pretty much always something i leave until after the guitar or piano has been recorded, working in sort of a lopsided inversion of the standard build-it-from-the-rhythm-section-up method. a new effects processor also played an important role, allowing me to do things with my voice that built-in digital mixer effects wouldn’t allow with any amount of ease, to say nothing of the huge difference in quality.
this was a pretty radical departure for me. i had been all about keeping things organic for a number of years, and yet here we had the revenge of the synthesizer. only two songs feature live drums and a few brief flashes of guitar; all the other noise came from the neglected yamaha W-5 synth. the music is heavily improvised throughout, though most of the lyrics were written, usually after the music had been recorded. i tried to keep things fairly stark, and i managed to inject some of the weirdness and spontaneity that had been missing from OH YOU THIS, even if the sound quality is a bit inconsistent.
surprise, sunrise, turpentine alone kills just about everything on the last album, and the messed up “organ solo” in the middle of the song is one of my finest moments ever. i’ve always had a thing for that song. i felt like i’d tapped into something completely new and exciting that wasn’t like any other place i’d ever been musically. the song kept changing shape and passing through different scenes, but it always felt like it was right where it needed to be, and there was a claustrophobic feeling that never seemed to leave.
the lyrics for green ribbon hippopotamus came from my attempt at free association writing, where you just put pen to paper and keep writing without giving any thought to what you’re going to write. i’m not sure it was entirely successful, but the loop still stands as one of the more demented things of its kind i’ve concocted, and the lyrics are pretty fucked up. there are quite a few instrumental tracks here, some of which i tried to sing to, but they seemed to open up and gain something when the words were gone. the best of these songs is probably pictures of lillian, which is a lounge-y, long, winding thing that follows the same unchanging bass line for a little over six minutes, while organ, electric guitar and various synth sounds appear and disappear. it’s all about the groove, and i manage a pretty sexy one-handed drum fill on the snare and toms early on.
eggshell embryo has to be just about the closest i’ve ever come to something that sounds like proper idm, with reticent not too far behind (though there’s almost a weird skeletal hip-hop thing going on there, with spoken-word elements creeping in as well). saturday night at my favourite dive is probably the catchiest thing on the cd, and merapi used to fill me with a strong desire to shake my ass, which isn’t something any of my music normally does. i think a lot of it was that moment halfway through when the drum loop suddenly gets a lot thicker and basically becomes the lead instrument.
this album got me some unexpected airplay on CJAM when i decided to give a few cds to some random hosts i didn’t know, and angela desjardins decided she would give it some attention on her show, braille radio. i think she was the only person who gave me any serious airplay back then, when pretty much no one cared about what i was doing and i couldn’t even get most people to listen to one of my songs. she also misread the title as “nudge you to death”, which i found an interesting change and subsequently nodded to in “touch me to death” on GROWING SIDEWAYS. this was the first cd of mine that looked something like a proper album, instead of just a cd-r with my handwriting on it. i was becoming more interested in the visual representation of my noise, and it was surprising to me to learn just how easy it was to get things looking borderline professional.
overall, i felt this was easily the best thing i’d done since BEAUTIFULLY STUPID, though the two albums don’t really have anything common. for tyson, the change in atmosphere was so shocking, he said the music made him picture me “in a goth dance club, playing digital folk tunes for vampires”. i kind of liked that image. still do.
toss it around
surprise, sunrise, turpentine
pictures of lillian
saturday night at my favourite dive
green ribbon hippopotamus