a sweeping epic of fatherless children,
their fathers marooned at sea
a fleeting moment of martyr-less pilgrims,
in a forest of leafless trees

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That Which Sneaks Under The Skin

I found a note my dad had left me sometime in 2008, about a year before he passed away.


Hi Waleed:

I am very pleased to let you know that your music is much more than excellent; I’ve already downloaded 5 songs. {patience in Love} is actually the best piece of music I heard for a long time and I think this should be on your new professional album. I noticed your voice has ripened to handle the heavy singing. The no 2 song for me is {some kind of Luck}, no 3 {Lady in Dreams}, no 4 {Dreaming of time travel} and no 5 {this way comes}. They’re all very good but some how {patience in Love} is the one that from the first moment I heard it, it sneaked under the skin and lived there. The violin is so gooood. You make me very happy to day, I will put your music now on my favorite list and on my Ipod. Good Luck, my best wishes and a great Future, habiby.


Thanks baba – could really use one of your adorable notes right about now

🙁

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Here Lies Everything

The transformation is nearly complete.

Late in 2016 (and invariably, early 2017), I tried one last time to salvage my facade as a normalized member of society and as a member of the self-aware counterculture “geek” community. I had spent most of my life craving inclusion into what I perceived as shared conscience and felt that, by wading into its river, I’d never have to feel alone again. I strove to be amiable, approachable, less anxious, more forgiving, less esoteric, more predictable. I tried hard to maintain a level of compassion for loved one and stranger alike even despite consistently finding myself overwhelmed with the stimulation. I even took up doctor prescribed medication to mitigate my humors rather than my self-regulatory efforts of years past. I thought I was going to fit in.

And then in a boisterous, chilling culmination to the eerie dissonant crescendo that had plagued the past few years of my life, I realized what had resulted: I had become jaded, apathetic and, ultimately, alone. I hadn’t written music in months, pushed away my closest friends, burned bridges, and let my health deteriorate to a point where I could hardly even recognize myself any longer. I have no compunction in admitting that I’ve become a frustratingly hurtful, offensive, destructive force in the lives of those I professed to love most. I have only an immense sadness that it has become so since my intentions were always purely out of love.

Love. Ha! The single most overrated corporeal invention of humankind beyond its invention of a proactive God. But I digress.

There had been a sneaking suspicion over the past several years that the world I was trying to fit into as an artist and as a man was one I had fundamental incongruence with. It had, sadly, led me to believe that the disconnect was within me, that somehow I was an irredeemable lost cause and wasted opportunity when in reality none of that was truly ever so. Like all matter, I exist most comfortably in a state of rest and it is the contrast of that pristine rest state with my environment that I had to analyze, not my yearning for a life I never was meant to have, one I was forcing myself to.

Love be damned. Family be damned. Community be damned. Here lies everything I ever wanted at my feet, broken and bleeding out.


I’m finally getting back into working on SMOAR after several months of avoidance of and incompatibility with the project.

I’ve been battling a frustrating ear malfunction of sorts, very likely just another manifestation of the limitless fractitious stress I’ve been living in, and as a result have been partially deaf in my right ear for nearing a month now. Yes, I should have gone to a doctor but like so many other things, that was something I simply didn’t do. Thus working in the studio has been nearly impossible and my disconnect with myself above all else made even aimlessly doodling on a guitar unrewarding. My projects and collaborations are still on hold as they actually require my hearing which I assume will come back soon (I am taking some homeopathic measures for it; not entirely ignoring the issue) but at least I’ve found a new way to contribute to SMOAR by skipping ahead in the process and forging its lyrics in my frustratingly buzzy, pitchy catatonia. I clearly have much to say right now so I took the opportunity to make some progress.

Like I’ve intended and stated in years past without fail, 2017 will be a year of great change. Hopefully it will also be the year I finally finish SMOAR, a project that has become a parody sketch of itself, a stark contrast to every original compilation I had produced to date. Whereas I rushed through past offerings and delivered new music nearly yearly, this has become a deliberate process of growth and enlightenment and has gone now onto its seventh year. But it will be worth it. I truly believe that. I’ve learned so much about myself during its synthesis and I hope that it doesn’t only help others learn more about me but far more importantly, learn something about themselves because that is ultimately what its goal is; to inspire the clarity it has brought me in others.


See, that’s just it. I understand who I am, now.

I understand that I’m not capable of connecting with people in any traditional social capacity. I cannot sympathize with others no matter how close or far without watching my cup overflow with boiling human bean juice. I am not capable of that level of interaction. My path to enlightenment isn’t through a crowd. It is alone into a dank cave in the mountains where I can safely and quietly commune with an infallible, nonjudgmental muse. If I’m able to help bring love and happiness into the lives of others by revealing myself, revealing my worst fears, weaknesses and mistakes, then I can finally accept my rest state free of the imbalance that has plagued my villainous existence thus far.

Simply put, SMOAR isn’t just for me. It’s for you, too.


The nightmare is very real and I’m not escaping it, anymore. I’m embracing it, letting it consume me, letting it define me, letting it become me without any fear of my humanity, of my “madness.”

And I feel fine.

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Ok, so a 2017 release it is then…

Hey, I’m back!

Yeah, the site was down, thus so was the blog and that’s alright because I wasn’t working on any music to begin with.

It happens, you know; my muse and I disagree on the time I devote to her and so she’ll pout and storm off while I spend my evenings watching sports and playing Civilization VI. I’m sure on the outside it looks like I’m being neglectful or dismissive of my obligations (after all, I do have about half a dozen unfinished tracks for project directors waiting on me) but if there’s anything I’ve learned through this whole process, it is to not force things.

In fact, there has been quite a lot going on around here in the time between the last flurry of activity in the studio and now and most of it has to do with my coming to terms with several personal conflicts and challenges. Like my ongoing battle with anxiety. Granted, I don’t have as much anxiety as others who suffer from routine panic attacks but I’ve come to understand my limitations in particular environments and situations and this enlightenment has manifested itself in letting go of the wheel more often and letting things take their course. After years of white knuckling all the way down the rabbit hole, I think I’m on to something!

More importantly, it released some of the tension of worrying about when I was going to release Sad Man On A Rock. Honestly, I don’t even particularly think anybody outside of four or five people are even aware of the album’s existence. And while I’ve been intending for the slew of videogame arrangements that are slowly trickling out to boost my exposure ahead of the album, I can’t say that I’ve boosted anything beyond my workload and in doing so riddled the process with distractions I could honestly do without.

So with that, I regret to inform all four of you that Sad Man On A Rock will be released sometime in 2017.
(I promise to start working on it full time as soon as football season is over.)

Dig it.

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SMOAR Tracklist UPDATE

Roster cuts!
Here’s the new tracklist:
Disc 1

  1. Day
  2. Truthsayer…
  3. … And the Art of Coming Clean
  4. Sad Man On a Rock Pt 1
  5. The Girl With the Om Tattoo
  6. Man Without an Ocean
  7. Old Hangtown
  8. Brave
  9. Locks Drive
  10. Alone Beneath The Light

Disc 2

  1. Night
  2. Forever Gone
  3. The Imperfect Man
  4. Our Roots Run Deep Into the Earth
  5. Bent Out of Shape
  6. Knee Deep
  7. America!
  8. New Helvetia
  9. Fog and Rain (on Apple Hill)
  10. Sad Man on a Rock Pt 2

 

Front and Center and Panhandler have both been cut from the album. Knee Deep has been bumped to the sixth position on the second disc in a resulting move.

These moves serve a couple purposes, chiefly maintaining the overall tone of the album. As both cut songs were written nearly a decade ago, they were compositionally out of place. I had intended for them to be a part of a trilogy of tunes starting with America! where I would spend a few songs discussing the current charged political climate but while I had in fact arranged them in the present style, neither song’s tone fit within the overarching theme of self-discovery through one’s mental health… even where America!, dealing with social injustice, still was able to do so.

In the case of Front and Center, the new version juxtaposed the original heavily distorted metal/hard rock track with a more deliberate, slower-tempo’d acoustic treatment. The original version led off with a particularly moving quote from President Obama in 2008 in regards to race tensions in America while the new version featured insightful commentary from the venerable Dr. Cornel West. The hooks in both tunes remained unaltered but the verses have evolved to demonstrate the changing times. In the end, however, I wasn’t able to arrange the tune in a way (satisfactory to me) that streamlines into SMOAR. That said, I am particularly happy with how the song itself is coming along lol and considering the fervor surrounding the BLM movement and our presidential election right around the corner, I still intend on releasing the track; possibly soon here before the election or shortly after.

Panhandler is an interesting case as well. Another song that was written and recorded nearly a decade ago, Panhandler first developed as a psychedelic groove tune commenting on our nationwide yearning for social change (in one direction or another) presented through the perspective of a homeless person disenfranchised from the American Dream. This notion is most clearly illustrated through the lyric “Tell me, Stranger, can you spare some change? Or will we simply save it for another day?” The original tune, like Front and Center, was written a long time ago between albums and really never fit on any of the releases since.

But that’s just it; I felt as though these songs were being shoehorned into the album, forcing the issue and while America! is going to miss its angsty politically-charged tracklist buddies, I think the album will benefit from having a more homogeneous tone. Knee Deep gets separated from its grimy swamp buddy Locks Drive but its aggressive tone still fits in nicely behind that of Bent Out of Shape. After all, the two songs were penned during the same writing session and thus share the same characteristic energy.

(i totally realize that, since nobody but me has heard any of this shit yet, you have no idea what i’m talking about haha in due time, my pretties. in due time)

These tracklist moves also allow me to trim a bit off the album since I was already biting off quite a bit with a whopping 22 track, two and a half hour acoustic riverside opera.

That’s it for now… but more updates coming soon!
DIG IT.

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SMOAR Demo Run #2

Quick SMOAR update!

First off, I’ve finally conquered my studio technical difficulties by shifting my entire operation to my new MacBook. That process took quite some time as I needed to reinstall all my audio toys, rebuild my stack in some instances and whatever else was necessary to get a fully operational studio machine up and running. I am happy to say, the switch is complete and I couldn’t be happier.

Since then, I’ve put in some much needed work on various other projects to knock off the rust before hitting the album with some much needed attention/TLC over the past week. I’ve scratched quite a few things off the to-do list so it’s clearing up pretty fast. Hence this update!

I’m running the album through another mix-test now that I’ve moved on to writing Bass for the tracks… although, due to technical difficulties (whaddya know) with my primary bass itself (it has active pickups and the wiring for the 9 volt battery ripped requiring me to do some solder work), recording has been indefinitely delayed. Fortunately, I have my old four string bass to write with but I don’t anticipate recording for another couple weeks realistically.

Around 90% of all the vocal melodies have been written. Some lyrics have been finalized. I’d like to, ideally, start recording vocals by the end of September.

Off to the (dreaded) car mix test!

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el viejito

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my father’s passing.

Unsurprisingly, it isn’t any easier for me today than it was seven years ago. Thankfully despite my mind relentlessly sabotaging my efforts to quiet it, I’ve learned to cope with my emotions when the calendar turns to the 24th day of my birth month and one of those ways is, also unsurprisingly, through music.

My father’s legacy as an artist is certainly as a curator of oils, charcoal, and pastels. Fine Art predominated his creative expression and afforded him an opportunity of measured success and the comforts that came with it that very few artists get to achieve. However, his passion for music almost matched his passion for Fine Art as he was also an accomplished oudist and vocalist and, to many, an even more talented musician than he was a painter. His taste in music ultimately shaped my own whether directly or otherwise and as a result, I often sought his approval for my own work… though, for years, it was so hard to come by because, well, I wasn’t very good lol

I’ve written many songs either directly inspired by my father or very explicitly about him at different stages of my own career so I figured I’d celebrate his life today with a selection of zykomazika that hold significance …

 

 

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, pieces written explicitly about him, “heavy” from the Bipolar Me album is certainly the eeriest, most unsettling one for me. I initially wrote the tune when I was still in high school while my father’s life hung in the balance following a complicated and nearly fatal heart transplant. He had initially suffered his heart attacks when I was 10 but by the time he finally found a compatible heart four years later, three quarters of his heart had blackened over and were barely functional if at all. Story has it that when the doctors pulled it out, three quarters of it fell apart like a pile of ashes shaped like a heart. I was a particularly brooding teen to begin with but having to spend most of high school without a traditionally “present” father figure sure had its effect. I grew increasingly prone to writing dark, twisted lyrics and sketching troubling, horrifying images so “heavy”s vibe is, well, kinda heavy.

I recorded it about four years later while I was in college but it wouldn’t find its way onto an album until about another four years after that when I had already graduated. I was home for the holidays and was showing my dad how to use Cool Edit Pro (riiiight?) since he had been bugging me about wanting to record some tunes. We sat in the dining room one night, I fired up the program and I gave him some basic recording tutorials. The result? We recorded some soundbites of him being his typical goofy self. “Wait til I get my brushes; let me paint a nude air.” Right, dad 🙂

Of course, leave it to young zyko to ultimately use these lighthearted, silly quotes in a song that is about as dreary as the 39th night of flooding rains. Lyrically, it centers on my anxious fear of losing my father in the midst of my self-guided (and thus erratic and dodgy) adventure through puberty and all the confusing terror that goes with it. Compositionally, it is standard zyko-fare; a loud, delayed high-gain electric lead crooning over somber clean tone arpeggios. The vocals are subdued and bland. The song is unapologetically simple and repetitive, demonstrating the insanity of despair over what we cannot change; in this case the certainty that regardless of what I wanted as a troubled adolescent, my father would eventually have to leave me to deal with the world on my own.

And of course, hearing his voice on a tune I wrote about my fear of losing him two decades ago is just the sort of thing I’d seek out today.

 

 

“Rime of the Wandering Seafarer” is an arrangement of the “Dragon Roost Island” theme from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker videogame and was my entry for the October 2008 DoD competition. Earlier that month, my father had started becoming deathly ill, getting progressively worse as the month wore on culminating with an emergency visit to the ICU due to a cardiac arrest. This was the most serious complication since his transplant nearly 14 years prior. The outlook wasn’t good. Somehow (as had been the case with him throughout his life) he pulled through against the odds and would survive until the following August.

I had already finished this tune by the time he was hospitalized late October and so much of the emotional energy behind it was due to his deteriorating health and as such the song is calm and subdued. The tune was originally going to be an uptempo drunken bard’s tale type of tavern jig but instead ended up a more intimate portrayal of the protagonist’s journey to save a submerged world. It also signaled a progressive change from uptempo, rockin distorted guitaring that would eventually result in the sound I predominantly write in today as will be evidenced by the upcoming Sad Man On A Rock. The track moves through a simple verse-chorus dance before entering a mysterious refrain much like Link would enter a dungeon in between sailing on the open sea. The track ultimately builds into a climax driven by timpani, tribal drum and a cheesy flute sample before bidding goodnight. Lyrically, the tune is actually sung by the boat (SPOILER: it’s the King of Hyrule, Princess Zelda’s papa) to Link, urging our silent reluctant hero to dig deep and soar for he is the world’s only hope in defeating evil. The lyrics certainly highlight a few Wind Waker specific references but they speak very generally to the franchise as a whole and the episodic nature of its conflict between good and evil.

The song’s significance was, however, that it became an instant favorite for him which for me was just wonderful because most of my music just didn’t appeal to him at all. Not “Rime of the Wandering Seafarer” though; over the course of the final ten months of his life, he would occasionally leave me a voicemail or send me an email telling me how much he loved the song, how moving he found it, how I had “finally found [my] way” as an artist, urging me to “etch, not write” my art into the walls of the world so that it could survive the test of time. I had received one of these messages the week before he was hospitalized for the last time.

When he passed away on August 24th, 2009, I found his iPod by his recliner seat next to a pen and pad where he had been sketching a battered and grizzled old man with hastily frantic strokes and tense shading. I claimed his iPod and spent the next several weeks listening to only it on what seemed like an eternal repeat of his musical effigy. Amidst the Bartok and the Chopin, the Mohamed Abdul Wahab and the Beatles, I found a few of my songs on there (only a few heh) but “Rime” showed up there several times.

This song means more to me than maybe anything I’ve ever recorded.

 

 

I wrote a lot of emotionally charged music following my father’s passing but none captured how I felt more poignantly than the final two tracks of my tenth full length original release, A Mild Suggestive Moment. “B-43” is the first of those two songs and one of the first songs I recorded after his death.

The title specifically refers to the plot number in which he is buried. I vividly recall the evening I recorded it; I was voluntarily closed up in my Long Beach apartment and the sun was low, sneaking through the windows like a welcomed friend stopping by to say goodbye. My voice had been shot for nearly a month probably due to a combination of malnutrition and unaddressed depression so while the piece was initially going to have vocals, it ended up an instrumental. The recording itself went rather quickly as nearly every part of this was a one-shot take starting with the simple chord progression and then the slathering of lazy afternoon lead guitar and keyboard noodling. I caught a wave of emotional mojo that evening and produced this tune as a result. It’s a strange combination of the organic texture of the acoustic juxtaposed to the “space jam” tone of the Monologue synth sine lead as was the norm for 2009-2010 zyko.

I’ve found that this song always sounds best fitted when driving along a country road during a sunset. Perhaps it’s the timing of its birth. Perhaps it’s my father’s love of the country roads surrounding my family’s home in Northern Californian ag country. Either way, I usually start my sets with this tune… and end with this one:

 

 

“El Viejito” (or “The Old Man”), like “B43,” was written shortly after his passing and closes out my sets the way it did A Mild Suggestive Moment. This specific recording is from the live album, Live at Rebel Bite… although this is one of the tracks that got utterly mangled in the recording process as my laptop crapped out on me mid-tune. Still, despite sounding like it was shot out of a Nerf gun into a meatgrinder, I prefer this version to the album version as the latter is an especially painful performance (voice was shot as I had mentioned before with “B43” but I still forced myself to sing it) and a very poorly recorded endeavor.

The song itself is a dichotomous expose on both my father and myself, paralleling his disenfranchisement with his muse to my own. The later years of his life were hard on my father for a variety of reasons but at the forefront, for him naturally, was his inability to paint or sing. His vocal chords had been mangled over the years due to all the hospital stays so he grew frustrated with his inability to sing with the range and voracity he used to. Even more concerning for him was how hard it was to lift his arm to paint which, coupled with his fatigue and fading vision, made him feel detached from the muse that had guided him for the entirety of his life. He began to sketch more often than paint with the stubborn proclamation that he was keeping sharp so that once he was better, he’d get back to the canvas and paint proper.

His disenchantment with his artform was for entirely different reasons than my own but mine mirrored his at the same time. I felt disconnected from the early zyko body of work and felt that I was no longer as creative, as bold or as prolific as I had been and felt that I, too, had lost the magic that had defined my youthful artistic exuberance and eager curiosity. Like him, I felt like I just wanted another chance to make it right, to paint another mural on another wall. He may have literally been an old man but I sure felt like one.

I took these two notions and combined them as an exchange between my father and I, pleading that we mend ourselves through our art and through our love. In my mind, it is the last conversation he and I would have had were I able to rewrite history. As it stands, it’s just a song.

 


 

There are certainly plenty of other tracks that were either indirectly inspired by him or that he enjoyed but these four were the most fitting given today. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t miss him but I also know he’s still with me. I see, hear and feel proof of it all the time.

I owe a lot of what I am today to my father but I also owe my lifelong relationship with music to him. After all, it was when he’d play the oud when I was a small child, that I’d sit at his feet wide-eyed and dumbfounded by it all, falling in love with music and its creation. He’d tried to sit me down in his studio and teach me the color wheel despite his frustration with my color-blindness but he knew that, though I caught on with charcoals, I was destined for music, not painting. I often posit how he’d react to a track when I am testing a mix, wondering if he’d approve of my latest creation. I try to hear it through his ears knowing that I’ll never truly know how that man saw, heard or felt the world.

But I reckon it’s probably not a whole lot different than how I do.

Love ya, Dad.

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A New Set of Eyes

Eleven years ago today, my best friend was born.

I vividly remember the morning that my daughter was born. I remember the exact moment it all came together in a thundering (quite literally) crescendo of understanding. I remember it like it was a mere handful of moons past.


Although we knew her due date was April 20th (much to my delight, of course), a couple buddies were traveling to The Netherlands for that week and I had arranged to join. I was young and naive and didn’t understand that due dates can often times be rather accurate so my gamble was probably not going to work out for me but the hope was to have one last crazy adventure before serious life set in. The passport was in effect, the bags packed, and the ticket booked. On the evening of April 18th, however, I wisely came to my senses and hesitated; she was coming.

That night, a few friends came by the pad with goodies and we celebrated my imminent fatherhood. It also marks the final time I embarked on a spiritual journey via mushroom. At some point during the ethereal systemic process of letting go of my whims and flightiness, I made my way out to the balcony to watch the stars. It was about 10 or 11 at night and the sky was clear, the air crisp. My apartment was dimly lit and save for subtle whispers and the buzz of the refrigerator, there was not another sound… so when Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” came on I, naturally, was beside myself with introspection and inspiration.

The night sky began to transform, subtly at first but eventually with quite the urgency as the song moved forward through time and space. Before I could even make sense of it, the Vista, CA sky had become overcast and thick and by the time the first epic guitar lead had completed its ascent, the sky had opened up and started dumping buckets of rain out of nowhere. In shock, I rose to my feet, the crescendo of rain and the blaring song playing inside guiding me towards the only logical conclusion to be gleaned from such an epic moment. As the song came to a close, so did the impromptu storm and I was left standing in my balcony, soaked from head to toe, head back, eyes shut and in a trance.

But one thing was absolutely certain: my daughter had arrived.

It was no more than a couple hours later that I received a text message that her mother had gone into labor. By that point, I had returned to reality and with that, made my way up to LA to witness what is still to this day the most exhilarating observation any of my senses has ever known. Exhausted and anxious, trembling with anticipation and excitement for the unknown path that lay ahead of me, I stood there at the base of the bed at half past 10am and watched as Eileen’s head popped out, eyes wide open, inquisitive and wild. All the anxiety almost immediately subsided. As the doctor and I snipped the cord and she was handed to me, I became as calm as the Vista night sky before and after the storm the night before.

She was a tiny pink alien creature to be sure but her familiarity to me was undeniable. I could tell beyond any shadow of a doubt that this was not only my progeny but an extension of my soul, of my inner voice, looking back up to me, vocalizing some part of my own fascination with life back to me. Her eyes tracked me as I washed her miniature gummy worm body in the sink; what she was looking for, I’ll never quite know but I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing at her doing it. “What are you lookin at, little stinkee?”

Eleven years later, I know what she would have said. “You, big stink”

 


In anticipation of her birth, I had started writing and recording my fourth original album under the pen name zyko. In many ways, 2005 was the peak of my humble musical life. “A New Set of Eyes,” an album dedicated to Eileen’s birth, was already the THIRD album I had released that year (the other two, “zombo” and “zombo II” were not half-bad neither lol). I was playing in a couple of local bands in San Diego during this era and was releasing a new videogame arrangement a week. It was no surprise that, despite my tendency for rushing projects and having no sense of mixing/mastering to speak of, I was able to get “A New Set of Eyes” done within a month and released on her day of birth.

Every artist seeks inspiration like fuel to their muse. I didn’t really have to look far and wide for this one, I’ll admit. In a swirling fit of wonder, I was presented with the only source of inspiration I’d ever need again. The concept behind the album is simply that I had gained another set of eyes (in this case both literally and figuratively) through her birth. Most of the songs on the album (including obvious numbers such as “Fatherhood” lol) are either directly about her or in some way indirectly so.

Its “critical response” was that it was my most polished (haha) and radio-friendly effort to date. “Perch” would become a sort of single and a tune with which I’d attempt to introduce the uninitiated into the chaotic world of zykomazika. “The Cynic” became a sort of personal anthem for my general curmudgeoness while “Breakable Boy” is a window straight into my childhood feels.

In a lot of ways and even now, “A New Set of Eyes” is my favorite record.

 


I became a parent earlier than most if not nearly all of my close friends and as a result got to experience the noted transformation from unabashed puerility to the ratcheted seriousness of adulthood before I knew hardly anybody with shared experiences. While 25 is hardly “early” to have a first born, this is a matter of relativity; so while the itch of the bohemian life occasionally calls to me even now, the measured response of “I have my daughter” has long become a rote part of the lexicon.

And yet, as I have come to learn over the years as the rest of the pack finally caught up and now many of my friends have children of their own, the experiences we gathered in those fleeting, numbered juvenile years of our lives have been dwarfed and paled and all but relegated to photographs and Facebook memories.

The greatest adventure was undoubtedly this one.

20140719_190656

Happy Birthday, Stinkee. May you be blessed with a hundred more.

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SMOAR Session Notes: Technical Difficulties and Other Horribles

Quick check-in.

Loads of unexpected “deathing” was the theme for the past couple of months on a variety of fronts (physically, emotionally, virtually, internally, externally, etc); though most pertinently to the album, it was my studio setup that had taken the most significant hit. Those who are familiar with my constant quipping over my machine turning off mid-project for the better part of the past few years will know that nothing drives me into a rage like technical difficulties interrupting my creative flow… especially when I’m in the midst of a gargantuan album project and a slew of other tracks I’ve committed to for other people.

I like to think of it like Pixar’s Ratatouille; a whole restaurant full of patrons and no kitchen staff. Just a silly ol rat.

Well, the computer finally croaked. Powered on but refused to post. Chip and mobo, 6 years old, no longer relevant and no longer churning. So in a fit of frustration, I decided to build a new 8 core, 4.2ghz machine and in the process have now successfully brought my studio system up to date across the board (including finally upgrading from Cubase 5 to 8.5! woot).

A bunch of other horrible shit that I don’t want to talk about is also going on and it’s sad because I can’t seem to ever catch a break in what is becoming a sort of recurring nightmare masquerading as Waleed’s Life. But as some would tell you, out of the bad, comes the good, out of ugliness and darkness, beauty and light. Let’s see whether or not they’re full of shit; stay tuned.

So the good news now is that I can finally get on with SMOAR and I have loads of “material” to write lyrics for about five SMOARs let alone just the one. I recently busted out the bass and have been re-familiarizing myself with her nuances and by the looks of it, it would appear the best is still yet to come for this album. I’ve also decided to record all my vocals in the calm and peace of my father’s old art studio out in the middle of an almond orchard in the good ol’ Northern Cali countryside, away from the bustle and overwrought anxiety of city life and stress of apartment musicing. I also figured working in that space would expose me to precisely the type of feels I need to execute this album’s core vision.

There’s more good news on the horizon for both SMOAR and for other projects but I don’t want to jump the gun and start talkin’ bout chickens.

For now, just rest assured the machine is back up and running and that means I’m getting back to work.

DIG IT.

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SMOAR Tracklist !!

Disc 1

  1. Day
  2. Truthsayer…
  3. … And the Art of Coming Clean
  4. Sad Man On a Rock Pt 1
  5. The Girl With the Om Tattoo
  6. Man Without an Ocean
  7. Old Hangtown
  8. Brave
  9. Locks Drive
  10. Knee Deep
  11. Alone Beneath The Light

Disc 2

  1. Night
  2. Forever Gone
  3. The Imperfect Man
  4. Our Roots Run Deep Into the Earth
  5. Bent Out of Shape
  6. America!
  7. Front and Center
  8. Panhandler
  9. New Helvetia
  10. Fog and Rain (on Apple Hill)
  11. Sad Man on a Rock Pt 2

 

And there it is.

I take great care with the order I place songs. For me, every compilation is a top down run of concentric, ever-spiraling circles that, like a rabbit hole, leads to one, as-yet-undetermined place or theme. In order to do that, every individual beat has to be related to the far wider, large picture view of the album core. Think of it as a self-sustained solar system with said theme serving as the brightly burning sun. It cannot deviate from this or the listener, even casually, can tell that it isn’t cohesive.

Which is why even though I’m fairly certain this very track listing could work… I won’t know the correct order of the songs until I do lol
(but this is pretty much it hahaha)

 

DIG IT.

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