1 track (4 minutes) of bedroom pop. Mastered at Big Name.
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
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
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.
Cassettes were made in the print shop and are available via Big Name Records and through the Bandcamp.
Tonally Inverted Version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s Title Screen
What is tonal inversion? Basically, every melody, chord progression, or complete song has a “mirror reality” version hidden beneath itself. In order to discover this alternate version, you take the notes of the composition and flip them upside down, so that every interval becomes inverted. For example, if the melody goes up two full steps and then down a half step, you make the melody go down two full steps and then up a half step. When you apply this process to a major chord, it becomes a minor chord. Ionian (major) scales become phrygian scales. Aeolian (minor) scales become mixolydian scales. And so on and so forth.
The part I find most interesting is that if the original composition is musically coherent, the negative version will always be musically coherent as well. It may not be as moving as the original, or it might be a totally bizarre piece of music overall, but it will always at least work musically.
So what does the Nintendo 64 have to do with this? It turns out N64 games are great for applying this concept because you can directly rip the MIDI files and soundfonts from the games. What this means is that you can create tonally inverted versions that are extremely accurate to the original compositions. The timbres, timing, and note velocities are identical; the only difference is that the notes are upside down. The other benefit to applying this process to songs from N64 games is that, at least for millennials, these songs are fairly universally known and beloved. These types of transformations are much more intriguing than when you hear the concept applied to an unfamiliar piece of music.
More to come.
***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.
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.
- Statement of Intent (Read Here)
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.