On the 1st February I started the RPMchallenge, having seen that some of my colleagues were having ago. Briefly the idea is to record an album length of material in the days of February. I saw this as a unique opportunity to try a few things out; namely to abandon all the usual means I use to make compositions (both conventional and electronic) and see what happens and just what I could produce within the timeframe allowed.
In terms of technique I disposed of bars, grids and pre-programmed sequencing in favour of live playing into DAW via midi keyboard, and on one track, using a real piano, where I had a score I removed the bar lines just leaving notes, I settled my structures by purely ear and looking at the waveforms and partly working like a visual artist might- i.e. placing non-played stuff (eg samples) by visual means, putting things where they might look right.
This produced some fast and interesting results, I still subjected them to various tweaking before I was happy to render then master. Its worth also noting that not everything went according to plan; I had an idea in my head that had followed me around all day, when I finally got into my studio in the evening, I found the idea that promised great things actually sounded quite awful! Cheesy and Kitch, much like the sort of music that’s labelled ‘new age’ URGH! However I reconsidered how I was voicing the parts, and the timbres I was using, the piece transformed into something I finally was happy with. I know people believe in inspiration and ideas being ‘sent as a complete work’, that’s fine for them, but I personally think if inspiration happens, it can often be a clue as a direction to take, or a starting point from which one moves forward, because when I tried this idea out I obviously had it wrong as it didnt measure up to what I had in my head.
I did have a place to start with this project, Demolished station, Bedfordshire (see blog here) and I worked outwards from this point- elaborating on a few ideas, taking more field recordings. There is a narrative running through these tracks.
Finally there were three pieces that didn’t make my final selection, mostly because I was running out of time and they required significantly more work that the remaining days would allow- I will finish these in due course as a separate project. One piece is deeply complex and touches on several areas including mellow ambient 70s blues/ jazz rock, as well as electronica (synthesis) and electroacoustic techniques.
As a result of abandoning those tracks for now I was able to complete a few days early and have a more unified sound across the album.
The album is at the bottom of this blog, you set you own price ( a donation in effect) or you can download it for free.