For a Limited Time…

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In February, I participated in The RPM Challenge, but I only managed to complete 3 of the required 10 songs. These were recorded during the last weekend of the challenge.

I was planning to just release them as bonus tracks when I released my next “album”, but my music software is currently not working, and I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to fix the problem, so I’m just releasing them now. Then I can start fresh on a new album once I figure out the software problem.

Adventure Time
Long Way
Twistin’

NaSoAlMo 2016

rustingwillpower is a f*cking loser album art

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Download Link: Zip file of album (32.67 MB)

I started off the month fairly optimistic about NaSoAlMo, even though I wasn’t prepared for it. I spent the first week mostly trying to declutter my room and free up space on my computer. I had two ideas for an album theme, and I even considered attempting to finish two albums. I had a schedule written out and everything. And then the election sucked all the wind out of my sails.

I came up with the title and album art the night before Thanksgiving as a way to set the bar a little lower since I just wasn’t feeling up to the challenge. (But, really, it just fits.)

Notes:

Frustrated – After the election, I wasn’t feeling very inspired to work on music. Actually, I was consumed with anxiety. I recorded this track in an attempt to break the tension and clear my head. Originally, it was just going to be a track of screaming layered over discordant music. Armed with my trusty Tascam DR-05 handheld recorder, I drove out to the country, intending to record some screams along the way. I figured if I was a moving target, someone was less likely to hear me and call the police. Unfortunately, after a couple of screams, my gag reflex was triggered, and I puked all over myself and my steering wheel. It was a long drive back.

Avocado – This song was inspired by a picture of a protest sign that read “Put avocado on racism so white people pay attention” and by random internet comments. I didn’t do such a good job with the mixing (on any of the songs really.) However, I did finally get to use my avocado shaker, which I bought a couple of years ago after seeing this adorable Tegan and Sara video.

Sweet Sweet Poison – This is probably the track I like the least. The weekend after Thanksgiving, I was getting over a stomach virus, and I still only had 3 songs completed and lyrics written for half of another one. I had the first few lines written in my lyrical scrap pile and also the phrase “the devil’s picture show”, so I decided to go for a Jekyll & Hyde kind of song. I forgot, however, that Jekyll & Hyde type stories generally freak me out a little because I don’t like it when people transform into other things. I really didn’t like pretending to be this character, and while I’ve done songs before where I’ve pitch-shifted my voice, there’s something extra creepy about this one to me.

Neverland – I recorded the music for this on the same night as “Sweet Sweet Poison”, but I didn’t finish the lyrics and record vocals until the last day of the challenge. Normally, what happens on the last few days is that I’ll try to match up my scraps of lyrics with my scraps of music, but this time around I didn’t have much of either. I had written the lyrics for the chorus early on in the month, and luckily, they fit. I just tried to throw together some Peter Pan-themed lines for the verses without worrying too much about metaphors, and they actually turned out better than I expected.

Wiggle – This was the last thing I recorded. The instrumental I was working on just wasn’t coming together at all, and I was running out of time. I decided to scrap it and try to bang out a quick techno something-or-other. The name comes from the first synth sound I used: “Powerwiggle”

The Beach Girls and the Monster – One of the themes Dan suggested was to write songs based on the titles of horror movies, not necessarily about the movies themselves, but what the titles conjured up. So I asked him to name a song and give me a style of music. He gave me several to pick from, and I liked the idea of trying to do a surf tune. The jack on my main guitar broke just before I started recording. I didn’t have a soldering iron, nor do I know how to use one, so I was forced to switch to my cheap strat that I can’t keep in tune. Did I mention that I can’t play guitar? I sampled some audio from an episode of Podcastmania. I envision Dan as the monster with a charming growl and Charlie asking the monster for advice to get girls. I don’t think Monster Dan would eat swimsuits though. I think those girls were just hysterical. Also, do check out Dan’s blog Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things and his podcasts. He’s awesome.

Hold On To Love – I started with a sample of someone singing the line “Hold on to love” and built the song around that. I tried to use Melodyne to vary the melody, but I really didn’t know what I was doing, so I moved it to the intro and added the old record effect.

Autopsy Love Song – Inspired by the short story Autopsy Love Story by the very cool and talented Christin Haws. Seriously, go read it. I came up with the chorus lyrics by the middle of the month, I think, but I didn’t finish the music and the rest of the lyrics until the night before the challenge ended. This is actually one of my favorite tracks.

Whatever – This was the second to last thing I recorded. I needed about 5 more minutes of audio to finish the challenge. I had about 4 hours left. Originally, I was just going to do a couple of instrumentals, but I decided to add some lyrics to this one. Pretty much the only scraps of lyrics I had left were the lines “I’ve got a heart full of holy water…I’ve got a head full of hellfire” and “Are you my temptation? Are you my salvation?” I just started singing nonsense words until I had enough lyrics. I did the vocal all in one take (except for the ending). This was the second take. I threw in some samples and the David Bowie clip at the end.

Runaway (Super Lo-Fi Mix)

rustingwillpower - Runaway (Super Lo-Fi Mix) album art - navy blue background with light blue lettering, stylized colored lights and wires

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Alright, I’m finally getting back to recording music after the forced Windows 10 update blindsided me and forced me to update some equipment. This recording session didn’t go all that smoothly, but hopefully, I can iron out some of the issues before NaSoAlMo starts in a month and a half.

I misplaced my audio cables, so I had to record all the synth parts in mono, and I didn’t take the time to properly mix everthing. Then I started picking up hum from somewhere when I recorded the vocals. I did my best to clean it up with some noise reduction, but it still sounds crummy, so I decided to just go with it. I don’t like whatever reverb effect I used on the verses. Or maybe I just hate my voice.

I also downloaded KeroVee, a PitchCorrection plugin that works as a VST effect. I’ve used it previously, and this updated version is even more fun to play with.

The song is inspired by the 1984 sci-fi action film Runaway, written and directed by Michael Crichton and starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons and Kirstie Alley.

Lyrics:

Spiders crawling, under my skin
Got me calling, spinning some silk again
Blind confessions, what a tangled web they weave
Unanswered questions, I only wanted to believe

Don’t wanna get too high, Afraid that I might fall
Don’t wanna win your heart ’cause I might lose it all
I’m running blind, but I’ll see you in my dreams

That’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)
But that’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)

Circuits bending, humming at a fever pitch
Unrelenting, and my body starts to twitch
Insistent resistance, I can’t override this code
All my wires twisted, a system overload

Don’t wanna get too high, Afraid that I might fall
Don’t wanna win your heart ’cause I might lose it all
I’m running blind, but I’ll see you in my dreams

That’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)
But that’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)

Don’t try to tamper, I’ll self destruct
Don’t push my buttons, Don’t you press your luck
Your eyes electric, My heart is struck
Your eyes electric, Your eyes electric

That’s not the way it is (Runaway, Runaway)
But that’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)
That’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)
But that’s not the way it is (Runaway, runaway)

[Soundbyte from Runaway (1984)]

Download Link: rustingwillpower – Runaway (Super Lo-Fi Mix) (3.83 MB)

ETA: I re-recorded the verse vocals and instrument tracks and remixed the song. I can’t tell if it’s much of an improvement…

Download Link: rustingwillpower – Runaway (re-recorded) (5.82 MB)

Archives (2016)

rustingwillpower ARCHIVES album cover, chives/green onions, green on blue

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Well, here it is, folks… the crème de la crème! Okay, maybe not crème. More like that foamy stuff on the top of a root beer float. Anyway, I’ve gone through my “back catalog of songs”, removed some of the more embarrassing ones, along with a few that don’t mix and match well and put together this little collection. I haven’t heard some of these songs in years, so it was interesting to hear them again.

I got my first computer in 1999. If I remember correctly, it had a 350 MHz processor and 15GB of disk space. I then acquired a Yamaha keyboard, computer microphone, Cakewalk Home Studio software and Roland Virtual Sound Canvas. The first song in this collection was likely recorded in 2001 (or possibly 2000) using that setup.

Tracks 1-3 were recorded sometime between 2000 and 2002.
Track 4 is 2002, probably.
Tracks 5-6 are likely from 2003.
Tracks 7-8 are likely from 2004 or 2005.
Tracks 9-10 are 2006, I think.
Tracks 11-20 are from 2007.
Tracks 21-23 are from 2008. (Track 22 is a cover.)
Track 24 is from 2009.
Tracks 25-27 are from my 2009 NaSoAlMo album Pandora. (So proud of my “guitar solo” on Track 26 because, y’know, I don’t play guitar and stuff.)
Tracks 28-31 are from my 2010 NaSoAlMo album Wholeheartedly Half-Assed (aka The Autotune Album).
Tracks 32-35 are from my unfinished 2012 NaSoAlMo album Jaws of Victory.
Tracks 36 & 37 are from NaSoAlMo 2011, which I also did not finish.

I don’t know how much I’ve improved over the years, but I keep plugging away, upgrading and replacing broken equipment as necessary. It’s been a fun albeit expensive hobby.

Download link: rustingwillpower – Archives (135.41MB)

The Medley of Unfinished Songs

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rustingwillpower - the medley of unfinished songs

This is probably the worst thing ever.

I had a lot of audio clips of unfinished songs. I decided to combine them together into one track. So I guess you could say this thing was about 15 years in the making.

By my count, there are 50 unfinished songs here, and the majority of them should probably stay unfinished. I suppose this goes to show that I’ve been writing the same crap for over a decade. It’s kinda embarrassing, actually.

The clips are not in chronological order. They’re just kind of haphazardly slapped together. The majority of them are from the 00s, back when I was in the habit of recording little demos of what I was working on.

Three of these were collaborations with other people:

28:50 – “Just What You Wanted” (techno version) – lyrics by Lanie, music by me

31:20 – “Threadbare” – lyrics partially adapted from writings by Heather Paul

36:27 – “Shygrrl” – collaboration with my sister Kelly

Download (58.70MB)

Unspooling (RPM Challenge 2016)

Unspooling album cover (hand holding unraveling cassette tape)

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I recorded this “album” for The RPM Challenge. Similar to NaSoAlMo, the goal is to write and record 10 songs or 35 minutes of music during the month of February.

I really struggled to come up with music for some reason, and I couldn’t really commit to a theme. I also misplaced most of the notes I’d written myself throughout the month, so the bulk of writing and recording happened during the last 3 days.

As a result, I don’t know if it really feels like a complete album, and there are some pretty cringeworthy moments if you ask me, but I learned a few things in the process as well.

I give it 2 out of 5 spools, no knock.

Next project, please…

http://www.rustingwillpower.net/music/rpm2016/rustingwillpower-unspooling.zip

P.S. Shout out to the awesome folks at the Made for TV Mayhem Podcast for the encouragement.

Hybrid (NaSoAlMo 2015)

rustingwillpower Hybrid album cover

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Looking for out-of-tune, badly recorded pop songs inspired by The X-Files? Then you’ve come to the right place. This year’s NaSoAlMo offering fits that description pretty well.

I decided to stick with last year’s theme and write songs inspired by one episode from each season, except this time I made a conscious effort to find something in the episode I could relate to my own experiences, hence, the album title: Hybrid.

There is no Track 5, as the track numbers were to correspond to the season numbers, and I ran out of time before I could get a song written for season five. Track 9 also became an unintentional instrumental.

Download album: rwpwr-hybrid.zip (42.6 MB)

I have to say, though, I’m proud of this year’s tracks.

Dedicated to philes and unicorrots everywhere.

File Under X: A Tribute To The X-Files (NaSoAlMo 2014)

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WARNING: UNEVEN VOLUME LEVELS

DOWNLOAD .ZIP File of entire album:

http://www.rustingwillpower.net/music/rustingwillpower-FileUnderX.zip (56.5 MB)

This year’s NaSoAlMo album File Under X is a tribute to The X-Files.

I started out drawing inspiration from episodes picked at random before deciding to select one episode from each season and also include a cover of the theme music.

Despite suffering from a slough of technical difficulties and audio shortcomings, I think I would consider this my most successful NaSoAlMo venture to date.

On the morning of November 30th, I had only two songs recorded (Badlaa & Hell Money), though I had MIDI sequences and some lyrics written for several others. So, I spent that Sunday filling in the gaps and recording vocals and instrument tracks for five songs and three instrumentals. I finished the last song just a few minutes before midnight, and had time to record the little 1013 thingy.

While the mixes could use a lot of work to make them easier on the ears, I’ve left them as is, except for adding a second or two of silence to the last track.

Some of the lyrics were lifted directly from the dialogue, and at least one song (Badlaa) borrows a musical phrase from Mark Snow’s score.

DISCLAIMER: The X-Files is the property of Chris Carter, 20th Century Fox, and 1013 Productions. Everything used without permission. Don’t sue me, guys. I’m just a fan.

00 – X-Files Theme Variation – Semi-cover of” The X-Files – Main Titles” by Mark Snow

Samples used:

Slightly modified version of “Old Radio Frequency Slide” by Jillis Molenaar (http://www.freesound.org/people/jillismolenaar/)
under Creative Commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Clip from The X-Files: Fight the Future featuring David Duchovny

01 – Born Again – This was one of the episodes picked at random, and I’m glad it was because I would never have picked this episode on my own. It is also one of the songs where I had to finish writing the lyrics just minutes before I started recording the vocals.

Episode Credits: Written by Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa ; Directed by Jerrold Freedman

02 – Die Hand, Die Verletz (Instrumental) – Originally, I was going to record vocals of the chanting at the beginning of the episode, but I ran out of time.

Episode Credits: Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong; Directed by Kim Manners

03 – Hell Money – This was the second song I recorded. I actually goofed up the lyrics a little when I recorded the vocal. I also had tried to pick a melodic phrase from Mark Snow’s score, but I couldn’t really pick one out.

Episode Credits: Written by Jeffrey Vlaming; Directed by Tucker Gates

04 – Paper Hearts – I remember coming up with the chorus late one night on the way to and from the convenience store to get some snacks.

Episode Credits: Written by Vince Gilligan; Directed by Rob Bowman

05 – Kill Switch (Instrumental) – I think I actually started this instrumental before I came up with the X-Files theme, so it was more of a “Which episode can I associate this with?” kind of thing.

Episode Credits: Written by William Gibson & Tom Maddox; Directed by Rob Bowman

06 – The Rain King – I came up with the idea of the chorus and first verse early on. The second verse was written just before recording, I think.

Episode Credits: Written by Jeffrey Bell; Directed by Kim Manners

07 – Hollywood A.D. – The lyrics were mostly lifted from a transcript of the episode. Originally, the music was supposed to fade out, but I forgot when I was mixing the tracks.

Episode Credits: Written by David Duchovny; Directed by David Duchovny

08 – Badlaa – This was the first song that was written and recorded. I wrote down all of the episodes (for another project, actually) and put them in a container. I then drew a random epidsode. I borrowed a musical phrase from Mark Snow’s score (or at least as best as I could recreate it) and took most of the lyrics from the episode’s dialogue.

Episode Credits: Written by John Shiban; Directed by Tony Wharmby

Sample Used:
Moaning Chair.aif by House1J (http://www.freesound.org/people/Housed1J/sounds/175410/)

09 – Lord of the Flies – I had started this song before I decided on the X-Files theme. I had partial lyrics to the chorus and pre-chorus and a melody in my head. Near the end of the month I decided to try to adapt it to this episode. I wish I had changed the “yeah”s to “uh huh”s. There was a slight delay when I recorded the vocals, and I didn’t have time to line all the tracks up properly, so it’s sounds a little draggy.

Episode Credits: Written by Thomas Schnauz; Directed by Kim Manners

10 – I made this

Dedicated to philes and carrots everywhere.

Originally posted on December 2, 2014