1. Mystery From Space
2. The Clockwork Man
3. Freaked Out Kitty
5. Final Flight
6. Servo Robot
8. Shadow Creature
Each year I try to have a CD ready for Xmas. I was nowhere near having the Circuit Zero album finished by the time November rolled around, so I set out to finish 8 of the most promising songs, and here they are. They're a little more polished than the songs on the Darkdance e.p. I put out last year, and mixed better.
Here's a track-by-track commentary:
Mystery From Space - I came up with the melody with a custom sound on the K-station and a mambo beat from the Whippany Rhythm Master. I recorded a "sketch" of the tune and improvised an ending. The tinkly piano part came later when I was putting the song together. As well as the Rhythm Master I recorded a loop from the Univox SR-95. The drums and extra percussion were sequenced with Fruity Loops from CR-78, Korg Minipops 7, and other various kits. I created a wind effect on the K-Station for the intro and outro, and you can also hear a circuit-bent Speak & Spell in the mix. The vocals were done through the K-Station's vocoder. Inspiration for this song were early Jean-Michel Jarre, and Arthur C. Clarke's book "Rendezvous With Rama."
The Clockwork Man - The original demo was called "bolero" which is a rhythm style on the Optimus keyboard. I programmed it into Fruity Loops using my CR-78 kit. I was fooling around with a clavinet sample from Rick Wakeman's "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" record, and came up with a rhythm using a clavinet-like bass sound on the K-Station. I dropped the sample fairly early in the song's development, in place of something better I came up with myself. It was only when the clock/crank sounds were added that I wrote the lyrics, which I feel are some of my best.
Freaked Out Kitty - About the time I was bidding on some vintage rhythm machines on ebay, I tracked down some samples from the Korg Minipops 7, which is otherwise known as the Univox SR-95. So armed with these, I put together a funky rhythm and set about adding the most retro-sounding patches I could find on the K-Station (within reason), and even came up with some "new" ones, like the cool square wave sound (think "close encounters of the third kind"). The words "freaked out kitty" were what came to mind, and initially referred to my cat Lemur who literally freaks out from time to time. I just typed the phrase into Sayit and had it repeating over and over in the early demos. I eventually wrote more lyrics for it and the concept of a computer in love with a sexy woman came about. I upgraded my computer in-between working on this, and was able to test some VST synthesizers. The simple but effective "Cheeze Machine" provided some string sounds. These, the solo, and some last-minute vocals finished the song off.
Disappear - This was written about the same time as The Clockwork Man, when I was really into those faux clavinet and faux wurlitzer piano sounds. I'd also made this portamento bass sound to emulate the moog bass Gary Wright used on his Dream Weaver album. So that's where the inspiration for the bass came from, but the rest of the song ended up sounding like theme music from an '80's cop show... hmm draw your own conclusions about that, but I really like how this turned out. There are some lyrics but I couldn't get them to work in the mix so maybe they'll turn up in a later version.
Final Flight - Elements of this song were very familiar to me when I was writing it (not least the drum loop which is almost a carbon copy of Gary Numan's "A Subway Called You"). When listening to it again in December, I realized there are subliminal touches of Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine" swimming about in there. The subconscious is quite something, eh? The lyrics are probably the most metaphorical I've written.
Servo Robot - This was written after Freaked Out Kitty blew my ideas about how my music should sound out of the water. At the risk of being formulaic, many of the same sounds were used. As usual though, some new ones sneaked in. This song was in bare-bones form for quite a while, but the new elements came together quickly once I'd done the bridge section.
Robotnot - Now this song was written sometime early 2002, before I bought the K-Station, when I was determined to write a Eurodance album. I came up with the rhythm loop even earlier than that. Listening to the demo in late 2003, however, it sounded pretty dire as a dance song. 90% of it was scrapped. I kept the rhythm loop, the melody, the basic song structure, and recorded all new bass, drums, and synthesizer parts around it. I once again recruited Sayit to "sing" the verses (each syllable had to be rendered as a wave file at the correct pitch, and then assembled in time to the music), and added vocoded backing vocals. Feeling bold, I used my unenhanced voice on the chorus, albeit multi-tracked to give it a fuller sound. I'd always planned to sing the chorus like that anyway. Feeling it lacked something, the funky piano chords were added at the last minute, and became, for me, one of the coolest elements of the song. The same goes for the moogy sounds on the outro.
Shadow Creature - Straight up, this is me pretending to be Gary Numan. The melody sounded like something he'd write so I went all out and used all the early Numan cliches right down to the flanged drums. The dark atmosphere created by the bass drum and the "train" sound (which is actually a clock) are what give it a more original feel. You can't hear it in the clip, but it gets funky at the end :)
|Novation K-Station Synthesizer||main instrument, vocoder|
|Cakewalk Sonar||mixing, recording, sequencing, fx|
|Sound Forge||editing, fx|
|Optimus MD-1200 Keyboard||strings, piano, custom sounds|
|Fruity Loops 3||loops|
|Unidirectional Dynamic mic||vocals, sampling|
|Vintage Rhythm Machines||analogue rhythms|
|GE 3-5375 Microcassette Recorder||sampling|
|various circuit-bent electronic toys||noises|
|VST synthesizers||extra synth sounds|