I was at a small market baseball game last night. Grass and roasted chicken in the air, clouds rolling in across a sunset over left field. Waiting for my friend, I took out my iPad and jotted down a melody to capture the feeling… a tune with touches of Springsteen and Don Henley.
We later won 6-5 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
I wrote a staff blog post about developing as a musician. I link to it here for posterity.
This weekend I have a few extra days to get things done. The weather has warmed considerably so on Friday I made the trek out to the farm where I keep my car over the winter to remove it from cold storage. A couple of leaks had gotten worse, unfortunately, but for the most part she was in fairly good shape.
Now that I’ve caught up on all my old blog entries and fixed the more egregious cases of code rot, I can focus on the future with a clear conscience.
Here is another little song I worked on during my recent month of music making, inspired by last June’s idyllic trip to Valencia, Spain.
A piece I’m working on for a downtempo EP.
I’ve been intentionally avoiding writing lately due to the sensitive nature of what I’ve been working on, which has more or less been the foundation of everything I’ve been working on for the last five months. I started a journey to reinvent myself with a clean break, leaving behind the environment and figures that raised me through adolescence to adulthood. It was scary at first; disconnecting myself from the path I was on with really no idea whatsoever I was going to do was unprecedented for me. But I walked, and I walked, and I thought, and somewhere along the way I found the things that defined me as a professional were the roots I thought I could no longer take strength from.
Art, inspiration, and happiness… I put everything I have into the ideals I’ve carried all the way from youth. I was always afraid that growing up would be the end of what made me who I was, that I’d lose the hopes and dreams that carried me thousands of miles from home. But I now at the threshold of the next fantastic adventure, I find myself just as thrilled and starry-eyed as when I first left America, only now I’m stronger and more focused.
I’ve been writing to a development blog since going independent. I don’t know yet where this is going to fall in my list of priorities in the next chapter of my life, or if Autumn Tactics is going with me to the next continent. Maybe it’s a different blog, maybe part two of the same. Or maybe something just with pictures and captions to bring the taste to your lips.
Anyway it ends up, my period of sequestration is at its end. It’s time to open all the windows and let my song unto the wind.
Brian Eno has been a musician that has guided me through evolution as an engineer and artist ever since I first came across Music for Airports during my golden summer of 2000 in college.
The sweet, melancholy tongue of sound that fits so neatly in the groove of engineering is something I will pursue for the rest of my days. Sometimes I wonder if the frustration fuels my advances as much as it hinders them.
Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to DJ publicly for the first time. A friend of mine in town was organizing a Christmas party and charity event in Daikanyama, and the two of us covered music responsibilities for the night. I purchased an audio controller and a copy of Traktor earlier this year, and to finally be able to use them beyond just playing around at home was rewarding. The event was mainly for socializing, so without the emphasis on music I was relaxed and able to experiment with both technique and dynamic song selection. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to ease into the next phase of my musical evolution. I hope to have a chance to play again soon.
In the meantime I will refine my trance mix while practicing with Ableton Live and hope to get it up on MixCloud before the new year.
From experience there comes a point where lessons are so rote that they become unspoken. You know how hard you can work, how much you can endure before the slide. At that point values and priorities all fall into place unthinkingly. Sometimes though I wonder what part of this is repetition, and what falls into the realm of matters of the heart.
But, regardless of how much doubt and wont murmurs in your soul, the music will always be there to catch you.
Music has a purpose than runs so deep you couldn’t dig it out with a thousand shovels. It leaves marks on your heart so deep you couldn’t scrub them off with a thousand brushes. It can be your companion, or your teacher; your drug or your daily bread. You can alienate those all around you, or bring them together tighter than spun gold. The music can create is well as destroy, die on the radio or live forever in the hearts of the believers.
What will you have it do with you?
As usual, I finished the party strong, but started my sprint a little too late. Last night I spent a good amount of time analyzing recurring patterns in my ability to apply myself to things I deeply love, at least to my standard. So I went to sleep around ten, troubled, and cold. I stayed in the sack until five, three hours before the end of music. But oh what a three hours. Shoot shake shudder and sway. I shared my bottle of Kaga wine and found my groove in front of the speakers for sets from Son Kite and Dai/Yusa. It was a good time and I got to make some more friends before I left. On the way out to hitch back I ran into a guy who apparently had heard my story and offered to give me a lift all the way to the station. He even treated me to an oversized hamburg steak and rice at Coco’s.
So I found myself on a timely departing rapid service train for Maibara a little drunk and dizzy. But I got a seat with an outlet so I could charge my iPod and listen to Chub Du and R.E.M. all the way home.
Recently I’ve been yearning for change. For what I view is elevation of status via earthly goods. This concerns me, for the longest time I wore the same clothes, paid the same rent, did the same kind of travelling for the first seven years I was here. It was essentially an extension of college based living standards-wise. I had student loans and a salary less than what I made as an intern during school, these were acceptable compromises since I had to my mind such a big win in living here. Now the dogma of my elders beings to fill my ears. Time is the most valuable thing you can buy. Eat well. Wear nice clothes that suit you. I’ve got stupid ideas in my head like a darkroom. Damn I will make my own axiom that the tech does not make the artist, because no tool can hide a less than complete understanding of a medium’s essential principles.
Would an office help me concentrate? That’s probably what I’m hoping for most because I’m smart enough to know that willpower can get me through virtually any obstacles even with strikes against me. It got me into Carnegie Mellon, and it got me into Japan. I guess maybe my biggest problem now is just that. I need a clean and worthy goal.
At the beginning of my first serious foray into online presence, I had three things: a portfolio to get a job, a blog, and a Friendster account. The first became largely irrelevant after I was hired and moved out to Tokyo two weeks from graduation, and the latter was fraught with a lack of relevance and style, which quickly led it to obscurity. However, the blog, is something that I’ve more or less kept at faithfully for the better part of eight years. I began writing of my explorations in this fantastic land, and quickly supplemented that with the angst of trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be. If it was one thing you could count on it was my endless stream of diatribes yearning for import.
Over time I began to find my place, through the kindness of others and the occasional burst of learning from my own stubborn demands that the world fit my narrow-minded vision of right and wrong. I moved from writing about stray cats and working on weekends to endless, repeated praise for trance music and what I quaintly cherished as community. Then at some point I decided to start doing something public with my photography, whether people recognized me for it or not, and thus we arrived at end of the decade. In the time since ubiquitous computing (to use a word that was en vogue with SIGCHI when I was in college), the fragmentation of platforms, portals, and people has made it harder and harder to be noticed, with each microtransaction of communication becoming far and far less meaningful, any rare original thought swallowed in a sea of chaff.
Sheepishly I now realize that I’ve probably driven away the three or four actual people I had reading this public journal with the advent of my adoption of that watered-down sinkhole of information exchange Facebook. I say so much more often so much less, that it leads me to wonder in twenty years’ time will my children find interest in reading my journal or my tweets? The answer is probably neither, but just the same I’m glad I took the time to sit down and actually think about what I was doing before six months went by and I was scratching my head why 2011 felt so much more empty than any of the other years in recent past.
It’s most likely not a coincidence that the speed and density of my current background music, The Plateaux of Mirror, is likely nearly half that of the floor-rattling trance I usually have on at this time of night. Thank you Mr. Eno for helping me collect my thoughts and appreciate the last forty minutes a little more.
Now the real irony is I started this entry meaning to write about love… but there we have it, the attention span of mankind pared to a millisecond.
The fat bass, the breakdown, some ethereal chorus over a pad that’s been used over and over for the last twenty years. Snap and it picks back up, analysts would say that the predictability of trance is what makes it so soothing to people. Of course we’re going to like what we know. I never accrue a tolerance to its potent formula.
Thirteen years and it grips me all the more. To the crowds, the cheers, the crackling energy spread across a network of hearts desperately yearning for release.
What we all need now is a little planned chaos, what we all need right now is a rave.
Trance will see me through crisis again.
With time comes change, change for all people. Fads fade and bandwagons break, the angst of youth is obviated by personal success. But although my love of rave culture, of trance will change, it will never wilt and die. It will only grow stronger with age, as will my heart. I will always be a raver, singing the praises of peace, love, unity, and respect woven in the tapestry of electronic music until the day I die.
“Above & Beyond isn’t here just to make something out of music, they’re here to motivate and inspire us to make something of ourselves.“
It’s 11/2/1, or 1/2/11. Whatever format you choose, listen to 1-2, it has been and always will be the dirge for the vacuum created by my hubris.