Melopoeia – Tolkien – Valaquenta

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Melopoeia – Tolkien – Valaquenta

melopoeia.bandcamp.com

Here is an unusual project for which I am playing drums. It falls under the classification of scriptophonic microtonal black metal.

For anyone unfamiliar, in scriptophonic music, the artist designs an algorithm which converts text into musical notes.

Again for anyone unfamiliar, microtonal music utilizes pitches that fall outside of the standard twelve tone equal divisions of the octave musical system (12edo). In this case, we are dividing the octave into 26 equal parts (26edo), one for each letter of the alphabet.

We are converting the entirety of Tolkien’s Valaquenta into music via an algorithm that Dave Tremblay programmed using Python. The algorithm generates the guitar parts from the text, which are played by Dave on a real 26edo guitar and bass. I am then given free rein to write and record drum parts that support those guitar parts. Finally, Brian Leong is providing the vocals, placing the words that were used to generate the guitar parts on top of each section.

There are 29 pieces total and we are recording and releasing them one at a time. The scope of this project is very large and so it will probably take a long time to finish!

01 – Title Sequence (Released April 11, 2021)
02 – Introduction: Part 1 – In The Beginning (Released July 17th, 2021)

 

27 more to come.

 

 

[syzygy] – [loiterer]

loiterer cover

[syzygy] – [loiterer]

syzygywa.bandcamp.com

In 2017, I was experimenting with algorithmic composition using Pure Data. I made two songs, Key West and Adrift. I intended to make many more and to eventually put the collection on Bandcamp but other projects took precedence. I have finally decided to rectify their absence on the page.

More information about Key West (a brief writeup):
jonlervold.com/loiterer-key-west/

More information about Adrift (a thorough writeup, with video of the exact playthrough found on this release):
jonlervold.com/loiterer-adrift/

Yaeth – MMXX

yaeth-mmxx-cover

Yaeth – MMXX

yaeth.bandcamp.com

This album is a look back at the hellish year behind us with its attempted authoritarian takeover of the US government, mass death brought about by a bungled federal government response to a deadly global pandemic, crushing misery and isolation brought about by that same pandemic, severe civil unrest due to deep-seated racial inequities, and massive natural disasters fueled by the poor environmental choices collectively made by humanity. It is a prayer for a better world ahead.

Like my album [xendeavor one] from February 2020, this album explores ways of dividing the octave other than the standard 12 equally spaced notes, which is the system that the vast majority of music in the world utilizes. These alternate systems can result in strange and otherworldly tonalities. I had been wanting to make a microtonal black metal album for a few years, and I began this album in early March. As we all know, this is right when the year’s events really kicked off, and so the creation of this album is intimately tied to and influenced by these world events.

Yaeth is the pseudonym I use in my band Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze. This album turned out stylistically and thematically similar in many ways to that project. Once I finished work composing the album I realized that, due to those ties, Yaeth was the only fitting name for this project.

Cover art by Laura Lervold.

Available on cassette via Bandcamp – BNR2020.

Destiny Theft – My Life With Closed Eyes

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Destiny Theft – My Life With Closed Eyes

destinytheft.bandcamp.com

 

My Life With Closed Eyes is an EP long in the making. As many people who have followed my releases over the years know, I like to invent a set of musical rules and then see what compositions come about when following those rules. For years my good friend Mike Thompson and I had joked about starting a project called “Basses Loaded,” which would feature every member of the band except the drummer playing bass.

In January 2018 I decided to play around with that formula. These songs were the result. Once I had the bass parts all written, I was struck by how video-game-music inspired it sounded, and decided that it made sense to use my v-drum kit for the kick, snare, and toms, to further lean into that sound. (The cymbals are real.)

Originally, I planned to sing on this release, but only bits and pieces of lyrics and melodies were coming to me. I had a mental block. I knew exactly why: every time I listened to the instrumental recordings, I imagined the voice of my old bandmate Buddy Hale. Buddy was the singer for my first reasonably-successful band, Phantom Float, way back in 2008. I have always been a fan of his work, and I felt like this EP would only be what it was supposed to be if I could get him to sing on it.

I was elated when he agreed to participate! I sent him the instrumentals and waited for a while. He would send me bits and pieces… an isolated vocal harmony here, the sound of scissors clipping there. I had no idea what to expect. Then one day, unexpectedly, a bounce with completed vocals appeared in my inbox. And I loved how it had all come together.

Then we spent a long time working on the mix, art, and release details. And here we are today. I could not be more excited to finally share this with the world.

Cover art by Laura Lervold.

 

Liminal Veil

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Liminal Veil

liminalveil.bandcamp.com

My 2014 release Bird Surgeon – Vanishings is a math rock album that was heavily influenced by screamo. Ever since putting that out, I’ve wanted to do the inverse and write some music that is primarily skramz but heavily influenced by math rock. This is that.

This EP was inspired by the corruption and ineptitude of the Trump administration, the smoke-filled-room political dealings that took down the Sanders campaigns in the 2016 and 2020 primaries, and the bungled pandemic response which has resulted in millions losing work while the billionaires continue to rake in unconscionable profits. Our representation in this country is bought by the mega wealthy and the big corporations to protect profits for shareholders above all else. This is an indictment – not only against the cartoonish evil of the Republican party leadership but also against the complicity of the Democrats in maintaining this system. It is a call to fight, to do what you can with what you have in order to make change to this broken system.

Available on cassette via Bandcamp – BNR2001

 

Planetary Scale

theplanetaryscale

Planetary Scale

jonlervold.bandcamp.com/track/planetary-scale

This musical sketch utilizes Dave Tremblay’s The Planetary Scale, which takes the planets’ relative distances from the sun and converts them into (you guessed it) a scale.

0.00 ¢: Sun
11.77 ¢: Mercury
21.98 ¢: Venus
30.40 ¢: Earth
46.31 ¢: Mars
158.18 ¢: Jupiter
291.36 ¢: Saturn
583.34 ¢: Uranus
913.31 ¢: Neptune
1200.00 ¢: Pluto

[syzygy] – [xendeavor one]

xendeavor one cover

[syzygy] – [xendeavor one]

syzygywa.bandcamp.com

Once again, I present a [syzygy] album. Once again, it has an entirely different sound than anything that has come from the project before.

What ties [syzygy]’s albums together is an approach of minimalistic experimentation and a musical atmosphere of unease. In the case of [visitor], the experiment was to see what I could do with just my untuned piano and a fretless bass. In the case of [ouroboros], it was to see what could be done with only a mixing board plugged into itself. With [xendeavor one], the experiment was to delve headfirst into the world of microtonal* electronic music.

The vast majority of Western music uses the 12 equal divisions of the octave tuning system (12edo). These songs use 7 other possible EDOs (10, 11, 15, 19, 31, 37, and 85), an overtone scale, and an undertone scale.

The term “microtonal” tends to conjure expectations of extremely dissonant, noisy, and/or unstructured music for some people because a lot of music labeled “microtonal” fits those descriptions. But it doesn’t have to! There is plenty of melody and harmony available to utilize within these systems. And you get the bonus of unique intervals and chords that are impossible in 12edo.

Since I discovered microtonality a few years ago I have really wanted to make this album. I tried to start a couple of times and was never happy with my results but this time it all clicked. I am very excited to share this with the world.

* If after reading this you have no idea what I’m talking about here, see the “Microtonality” section of my Loiterer – Adrift writeup for some further explanation. Or check out the Wikipedia article.

 

Listen gapless on YouTube

syzygyx1tape

Cassettes were made in the print shop and are available via Big Name Records and through the Bandcamp.

Yoga Fire! – San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing: A Tribute Album

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Yoga Fire! – San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing: A Tribute Album

yogafirewa.bandcamp.com

***This album specifically covers the N64 version. Sorry PS1 and arcade fans. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯***

Rush is a classic game. When it was released on the N64, reviewers said that it was brilliant – one of the top three games available on the system. Today it seems to be mostly forgotten. In my opinion it’s still an incredibly fun game whether you have never played before or if you’re someone who has been refining their skills on the game’s tracks for years.

The style here is a departure from my earlier Street Fighter 2 cover album. This album is more straightforward, and at times significantly more absurd. That’s a function of the source material. As with the previous album, I kept the melodic content mostly spot on to the game while altering the percussion to my own taste. I hope there are a few people out there who have the same kind of nostalgia for this game and its music that I do.

In the rare bits of spare time I’ve gotten this year I’ve been playing the heck out of Rush again trying to master the tracks. One day last April I picked up my guitar and plunked out a few of these songs absentmindedly. Turns out they’re pretty fun to play. Fast forward 6 months and this album exists.

Thanks to my wife Laura for the awesome watercolor replication of the game’s cover art.

Next up (without a 6 year gap between) will be the N64 classic Goldeneye, which will return more to the vein of the Street Fighter 2 album.

Listen gapless on YouTube

 

Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze – Offerings of Flesh and Gold

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Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze – Offerings of Flesh and Gold

bullofapisbullofbronze.bandcamp.com

I made a pseudonymous appearance on drums for this album and later ended up mixing and mastering it as well. We worked on this album throughout the last year. A little about the project:

Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze is a collective against hierarchies, and the power structures that divide and separate humanity. The power that you feel inside you should be focused as a knife point into the hearts of those that only know how to consume, and those that live off the backs of the downtrodden… We aim to use the frustration, anger, and horror of our time to pursue meaningful change. Black metal is about power. That fire in your belly can be harnessed. It can be pointed in a direction that moves us forward. That is what we hope to accomplish.

Guitar, bass, vocals, synths, and hand drums recorded by their Achaierai and Athshean at their respective studios. Drums were tracked and the album was mixed and mastered at Big Name Recording Studio.

Digital released on A Moment of Clarity Recordings. Cassettes will be available shortly via Tridroid Records.