RPM Challenge 2015 submission

It’s that time of year again…four weeks shut away indoors, tied to my keyboard and frantically trying to get ten songs or 35 minutes of sound down to (digital) tape. There are no prizes or awards for this – Record Production Month is open to anyone with the time and tenacity, whether they’re professional musicians/songwriters or enthusiastic amateurs.

I just like the motivation to *do something*, and for some reason find working under a constraint like this to be helpful as well as limiting. For we OCD and perfectionist types, it does mean we don’t really have the option of retakes, extensive planning or laborious ironing-out of bum notes. It’s a bit rough, chaotic and making-it-up-as-you-go-along.

This year I again decided to aim for the 35 minute target instead of the ten song one (the last track is divided into sections for its Soundcloud upload, although the original edit is all in one go).

Going Full Walrus and Goat Beer are straight-up guitar rock numbers, consisting of guitar lines recorded over a bass guitar and electronic drum beat that were run through a distorted valve amp (in the former’s case, the drums and bass were recorded through the amp simultaneously, to give a really messy lo-fi vibe).

Echo Chamber Experiment #1 and Glacial Lake were more experimental, being my first attempt to use an electric piano/keyboard. Velociraptor Waltz in F Major was just a bit of fun, because I wanted to break up the pattern with a song that was arranged in a 3/4 time signature.

Weight of Memory is one of the longest tracks I’ve ever recorded, and is a shameless tribute to Echoes by Pink Floyd because the idea of one song that could fill and entire side of a 12″ vinyl record appeals to me somehow. Most of it’s a patchwork of lengthy guitar lines recorded in one take, and stitched together. The lyrics weren’t a major concern, but I wrote them hurriedly in the space of an afternoon and used Vocaloid 2 for the final arrangement.

The whole thing is on Soundcloud as one playlist, but here’s the individual order:

  1. Going Full Walrus
  2. Echo Chamber Experiment #1
  3. Goat Beer
  4. Velociraptor Waltz in F Major
  5. Glacial Lake
  6. (overture)
  7. Weight of Memory – 1
  8. Weight of Memory – 2
  9. Weight of Memory – coda

Fun fact: all the guitar tracks were recorded through the same four watt Matamp valve head that was connected to a 2×12 speaker cab loaded with a pair of Celestions. I’m still amazed at how a mere four watts are more than loud enough for a home studio!