image

Trying something a little different or experimental is fun and rewarding on a creative level, but you always run the risk of alienating those who are invested in your more consistently steady styles. Miracle of Sound has taught me that every time you create something that is exactly what one person wanted, another person will be disappointed by it. I’m learning to accept this and realizing that hey, that’s okay. It’s the same for every artist.

The two songs I’m covering this week were both experimental territory for me in different ways. “DNA” was not only my first foray into movie-themed Miracle of Sound songs (of which there are more to come soon) but structure and genre-wise was unlike anything I have made before, eschewing my usual pop structure for something a little more industrial and mantra-like. “Kalros” was me playing around with crazy poly-rhythms and looping, brain bending math metal time signatures. Both songs had completely polarizing responses – some loved the new territory and some found it too much of a deviation or just not their style. And like I said … that’s ok.

Question Time:

Will you make a Game Of Thrones song?

Game Of Thrones? What’s that? Never heard of it.

How was Comic Con? Did you see anyone famous?

It was amazing! Thank you to all the awesome fans we met there, it was a blast meeting you guys. Special thanks to Drave – without whom we may have been stuck outside the event with no tickets. (Long story).

As for celebrities, fuck no. There’s not a celebrity on this planet I’d queue for 4-5 hours to see. Though we did spot Andrew WK walking down the street saying hi to everyone. That guy rules.

Will you be playing any Battlefield/Counter Strike/Starcraft (insert competitive multiplayer game here) now that you’ve moved to PC?

I just bought a nice new monitor, I’m not ready to demolish it just yet.

What made you originally fall in love with the Mass Effect series?

I think the moment I really fell in love with it was on the Normandy talking to Liara about the Asari species history and realizing just how deep and detailed the lore ran. Also, meeting Sovereign for the first time blew my mind.

What’s a good pick up line?

“Did you fart?”

Would you consider a Metal Gear Solid 4 song?

Nah, I find Metal Gear is too wacky and weird for my taste in stories.

Why is the sky blue?

Because Fallout mod.

Kalros

Doing a metal song is always going to divide opinion as some people just don’t like the genre. This one was even more of a wildcard due to its odd time signature. I’d been listening to a lot of Meshuggah before making this song. I love how with that band you have to listen to the song about 6 or 7 times before your brain starts to latch onto the groove, because when it finally does it’s hugely rewarding. Pay attention down the back, because here comes the technical part:

The song is, for a large part of its runtime, moving in two separate, simultaneous time signatures. The guitars, bass and vocals are using a 5/4 rhythm, which means five beats to a bar. The drums underneath, however, are playing a 4/4. The 5/4 guitar rhythms loop around 4 times, making 20 so on their 16th bar they fit snugly back into the drum rhythm’s 20th bar. If that makes no sense to you, use your ears instead – listen to how the song in each bar starts on a standard groove, pulls itself out of the groove and then back in again before starting over.

So it’s like this:

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5

For example, the verse one lyric “under barren” fits nicely into the drum groove, then the pattern moves out, then on the “CataCOMB” syllable, the drums fit back into the guitar and vocal pattern. It kind of feels like being thrown into the air, wavering for a second, then snapping back down to the ground.

This is why the song takes 3 or 4 listens for a lot of people to really catch its groove and understand the way it moves along. Those familiar with math metal or prog will probably find it quite rudimentary but most casual music listeners will take a while to adjust to it.

Thematically, it’s a very simple song. It’s about a giant freaking worm crushing everything in its path after all, so it was never going to be lyrically very deep. It’s all about the music and the feel in this one – the giant crushing riffs and pounding drums over a dry, harsh guitar tone that was meant to imply the sandy, dirty desert wasteland of Tuchanka.

Criticisms:

This didn’t have the witty lyrics usually associated with the gaming songs genre.

It’s good to stand out from the crowd.

Oh, come on – another Mass Effect song? Really? Don’t you play any other games?

I play Skyrim a bit too …

Detecting a bit of Meshuggah there, nice. Did you listen to Koloss anytime lately by any chance?

Well spotted! I certainly did.

The cognitive dissonance of watching someone else’s Shepard is astonishing.

It certainly is. It’s part of the reason I never do Femshep playthroughs. I like my Shepard.

Remind me again why we DIDN’T try to build a gun that shoots thresher maws?

Um … Blue?

DNA

I loved Prometheus. But then again I also loved The Dark Knight Rises and the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut. I’m a firm believer that “plot holes” and flaws in continuity and logic don’t really matter as long as a story is emotionally/visually/thematically satisfying enough to keep my suspension of disbelief going. It’s been a long time since a movie has given me a sense of mystery and wonder like Prometheus, and that is what I mainly wanted to capture with “DNA”. The song is structured like the movie – beginning slowly and full of mystery, then (minor spoiler-ish sentence ahead) shifting gear into crazy techno-industrial body-horror.

The inspirations for the music were a) Nine Inch Nails and b) the movie’s own soundtrack. Slow building, repeating melodic mantras are something often used by Trent Reznor and it’s something I am a big fan of. The main string melody is meant to sound similar to the various classical pieces in 2001 (a movie that Prometheus reminded me of a lot). I added little discordant notes and weird bending sound effects under it here and there to keep it feeling a bit sinister and unsettling despite being quite pretty.

I equalized the vocals to sound like I was singing from inside a space helmet. Lots of you enjoyed this little touch! The vocals are heavily layered in the “loud” part of the song, and the moments where they break apart, stutter and cut in and out are meant to imply a person being torn apart from the “DNA” outwards and the twisting, contorting pain that might cause.

Criticisms:

It was amazing but way too short.

I didn’t want it to overstay its welcome. People have short attention spans, which I’ll get to again later …

Stupid movie! Rage! Anger! Ridley Scott ruined my life! Etc., etc. …

It was amusing to see how many of the comments that week were shitting on the movie. At least they weren’t shitting on the actual song!

Mediocre movie, mediocre song.

Oh.

Terrible film, great song.

Yay!

Great movie but I’m not a fan of this style of song.

Aw.

One second, doesn’t Miracle Of Sound only do videogames?

One second, doesn’t Metallica only do thrash metal?

The graphics in this game are amazing!

I dunno, think they need more antiscopic aliasing and anti-LOD distance rendering-filtering and … stuff.

The sound didn’t feel natural. I don’t know how much time you spend fixing the audio usually, but this time around the whole show seemed to consist of different kind of artificial alterations to what was a very repetitive and simple song. It reminded me of any of a thousand generic teen pop songs that have a single refrain / chorus that is heard ad nauseam.

The song was meant to be a mantra of sorts. And yes that does mean repeating one theme while adding in different layers to it. Personally I love that style of music, though I can understand it may seem boring or dull to those not gifted with much of an attention span.

Is this song on your Level 2 album, which is out now on Bandcamp, Spotify, Zune and Itunes and costs only 9.99 for 18 high quality, amazing songs? I am a real person!

Why yes, it certainly is!

See you next month folks!

Two Million Sales to Freedom

Previous article

The Book of Unwritten Tales Finally Gets a US Release

Next article

Comments

Leave a reply

You may also like