Day: January 24, 2012

Random tandem.

I found out there are still a handful of CDs left at AH Some Records. So if there’s anyone in the city who wants any of that stuff (maybe there’s a pop purist relative you really dislike and you want to give them nightmares?), going to see James is your best bet until I’m able to re-stock the boxes at Dr. Disc and Phog. I should have some more supplies to go around in the next few weeks. There are people I’ve owed mail for a while now, too. Again, once I’ve got more materials to work with, those packages will be sent out. Better late than clever, right?

A few days ago I sat down and made a quick note of all the different projected albums I’m playing around with in my brain while I work on THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE. I was a little surprised to realize there are five of them. Even by my standards, that’s nuts.

What’s happened in the past is, I’ll start to work on one of these projected albums, and then all the progress I’ve made on ANGLE is forgotten. This time that ain’t gonna happen. Even so, it’s good to know I’ve got a pile of ideas and material waiting for me once I’m finished with my big magnum grope-us.

I think I’d like to look at releasing one of those post-ANGLE albums on vinyl. I’ve kicked around the idea before without ever letting it get beyond the brainstorming stage. Maybe this will be the year it really happens. It’ll either have to be a double-record set, or an album short enough to fit onto one record. Right now the idea of me making an album that’s less than an hour long seems almost laughable, but you never know. It’s happened before. There’s always a chance it might happen again.

Can you imagine the uproar there would be from the people who already strongly disagree with my whole “giving away physical albums for free” thing if I gave away vinyl records in addition to CDs? I think it would be hilarious. Heads might explode. If that isn’t motivation enough to pop my vinyl cherry, I don’t know what is.

I also had a bit of an unexpected songwriting revelation recently, when it struck me that silence has become a pivotal part of the way I construct songs. A few people have pointed this out to me over the years, but for some reason it took hearing one of the songs on the first disc of ANGLE to really hammer it home.

With the song in question, there are two points at which everything drops out and it sounds like the song is over, only for the music to start back up again. They work as false endings, though they weren’t designed to be. And in listening to that song, I thought, “I do a lot of that, don’t I?” When a song is about to shift gears or head into a hook, it’s not unusual for me to bring everything to a pretty abrupt halt. It’s almost as if the music needs to catch its breath before moving on. It’s not something I give much thought to. It’s just a thing that happens.

I was trying to figure out where it started. I think the first time I really got into using silence and near-silent passages this way was on BEAUTIFULLY STUPID in 2002. Songs like “I Make Myself Sick” and “Alcohol on an Open Wound” are full of pregnant pauses that are an integral part of the fabric of the music. What’s odd to me is that this was also where I was starting to craft the songs more instead of just improvising them all out of nothing while recording. You would expect there to be more lulls and pauses in situations where there’s no premeditation or safety net. For me it seems to work the other way around.

This was years before I would hear the last two Talk Talk albums. I wasn’t into jazz or ambient music at all. There wasn’t really any music in my collection that used silence in that way. So it wasn’t something I took from anywhere else. It just grew organically out of what I was doing, at a time when I was making a lot of very angry, uninhibited music that wasn’t any kind of conscious breeding ground for that sort of thing.

Maybe I just like space, and without realizing it, it’s become an integral part of my songwriting language. Who can say?