All Things Ascension

Another year has gone by, and there’s much left to do. Books to read, games to play, lyrics and blog posts to write. But at least I can now, finally, tick my new digital-only EP off my to-do list, as it’s now up and available for purchase over at bandcamp for the reasonable price of 2.5 USD (or more, if you feel your PayPal account has grown too swollen).

Ascension

I had hoped to have the EP done and up by mid-December, but due to various delays – some of my own making, some less so – it was delayed until now. The original idea for and motivation behind the EP was to mainly offer up a few of the other mixes I’ve had laying around on my hard drive of “The Exhilaration Of Spontaneous Ascension”. At one point I was considering if I should just throw all the notably different versions of that song together and call it a day (which would’ve been about six versions in total). Eventually it turned into what it is now, with the very loose theme being that I’m attempting an ascension from lo-fi to hi-fi, as almost all of the tracks have been created with the use of my high quality Zoom H2 digital recorder and multi tracking software. But whether or not I’ll descend again into the murky depths of lo-fi  remains to be seen. (I’m guessing yes.)

Here are some write-ups of the original songs featured on this release.

This Is Not An Awesome Song. A quick throwaway song which I wasn’t sure if I should release or not. The only piece on this release for which I didn’t use my Zoom H2 hi-fi recorder, but instead used my faithful Cowon iAUDIO U2 mp3 player. Recorded when feeling rather annoyed at people’s incessant (and not infrequently incorrect) use of the word awesome. I especially hate it when Norwegians use it, since it’s not a Norwegian word. I generally can’t stand it when I feel people are giving too high praise to a random piece of media; not every album, film, or book that’s enjoyable should be described as awesome, epic, genius, etc. Some are merely good or decent. Though it’s always flattering and nice if people use such exaggeratedly positive adjectives to describe one’s own work, at least if the person seems to be heartfelt.

Jeg Vet Ikke Noe Om Kjærlighet. A short, spontaneous song which sounds way too similar to my “A Very Short Song About Kissing”.

Innumerable. This started out as a cover song of The Mountain Goats“Ezekiel 7 And The Permanent Efficacy Of Grace”, except a lot faster and energetic and with a completely different melody. As I liked the melody I threw out the lyrics to write my own, but a line from the chorus decided to hang around until John Darnielle came to pick it up. (Which he has yet to do.) This final version was slowed down quite a bit from the cover, and I used my grandparents’ piano for it which is slightly more in tune than the piano I normally use. Though this meant I couldn’t really change around the piano recordings and do additional takes, and was stuck with the foundation recording I had from the first session, for better or for worse. And yes, that’s real rain in the background.

Norli Comic Book Blowout. About / inspired by a comic book sale that took place last autumn, which you can read about here.

In relation to the EP, I have also put together a new music video! With Jul (aka. Christmas) coming up, a couple of my fans – it feels both awkward and fun to be talking about “my fans”, hopefully those who’ve enjoyed and bought my music don’t find it insulting to be referred to as such – requested that I make a music video for the song “I Want Action Figures For Christmas” and upload it to YouTube so that they could share it with others. At first I was all like, “No way, that’s stupid, it’d be a lot of work, I won’t give in to fan pressure”. But then I got the idea to try using some of my action figures to film a short silly story, and use that as the music video. I really liked the idea, and started getting psyched. To go with the video I also wanted to try doing a new, slightly less lo-fi version of the song, which you’ll find included on the EP.

The music video was filmed on the evening of December 23rd, and I had a lot of fun getting the footage. It must’ve been a decade or so since I really allowed myself to play with action figures on the floor. I didn’t have much of a script to work from, just a vague idea of the plot: two lovers are interrupted by a bully, the bully is defeated in combat by a third party, the lovers reunite, the end. I had planned on doing hand written notebook-style text cards in between scenes for dialog, but when I found out I could do subtitles with my new video editing software (thanks again, Larry!) I figured I’d try that instead. While I had some great footage to work with, the time restriction imposed on it by the length of the song proved frustrating. Hopefully the end result is sufficiently fun and entertaining. I do wish I had had this finished and up before Christmas as it feels a bit redundant now, but I guess it will become more topical again in another 11 months.

To celebrate the release of the Ascension EP, as well as hopefully attracting some attention from users from The Hype Machine, I’m making available two cover songs.

One is of the classic “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure. This cover is definitely the closest I’ve come to the synth pop genre (at least without aid from others). I was trying to play around with multi track recording, seeing how it worked and what sounds I could manage to make, and experimenting with recreating my lo-fi sound while integrating some hi-fi elements. Not too hard, considering most of what I have at my disposal is pretty lo-fi.

I plugged my old Casio keyboard into the microphone port on my computer from the keyboard’s headphones port, leading to some extra distortion. Had to play the keyboard “blindly” (or should that be deafly?) as I couldn’t hear it when it was plugged into the computer, which posed an extra challenge. Might be some settings on the computer I can change to make it so I can hear the microphone’s input over the speakers, but when you want to make music you don’t want to get bogged down by how to solve technical issues.

I used a cheap microphone for the main vocals, leading to some snaps and pops (and the sound occasionally disappearing altogether when I offended the microphone by singing too loudly), but used my expensive-er microphone to add the occasional backing vocals as overlaying two tracks recorded with the cheap microphone seemed to result in too much noise. Added some slight reverb to the main vocals; I think a different “filter” of some kind would have worked better, but I am not as versed in the ways of Audacity as I would have liked.

The other cover I offer to you is a plain sitting-by-the-piano rendition of “With Whom To Dance” by The Magnetic Fields, one of my favourite songs of theirs. I also did a cover of it on YouTube some years ago, which can be found here.

“Friday I’m In Love”

“With Whom To Dance”

Oh, and happy new year’s everyone!

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