04 December 2012

Damage Decade - "Lifted High" Release

Track list:
01. Temporary Survival Covenant
02. Fever Dream
03. Expensive Mistakes
04. Song For Gravity
05. Be Still
06. Judgement Day Stomp
07. The Year Of
08. The Poltergeist In Wait

Lifted High started in an apartment in Downtown Raleigh, NC last summer (2011). I started experimenting with meshing the Ambient and Pop styles of songwriting I'd been working on, and "Judgement Day Stomp" was born. Over the next year and a half, my vision of the album's direction and themes changed time and time again. For the first time in my work on a collection of music, I changed songs lyrically and instrumentally right up until the mastering stage; some songs went unfinished for over a year before they finally fit into the puzzle I was creating.

I originally envisioned Lifted High as a louder, more aggressive sequel to On the Way Down with more songs like "The Violence+" and "Infect." What I ended up making is probably the closest thing to the exact opposite of that vision that I could have come up with. From the very beginning of the writing process for this album, the songs came out quiet and somber. My taste in music matured and changed dramatically so that instead of the Metal and Industrial music I was listening to before, I couldn't bring myself to listen to anything that wasn't incredibly slow and melodic. I dropped the angry yelling in favor of a more soft-spoken style of singing that makes the music sound more like a whisper than a battle cry.

I focused on writing lyrics from the perspective of someone else who might have gone through something similar to things I'd been through, and I imagined how their stories might have turned out differently. Lifted High could be an album about losing your girlfriend, or it could be about the end of the world.

The common theme is desolation; being so far removed from everyone and everything that you once cared about that you don't know how to return. It's an album about physical and emotional desperation, death, and decay. It's about problems that can't be solved, relationships that can't be fixed, and wounds that never stop reopening. It is the musical embodiment of the feeling that the entire world is crumbling around you. It is a comforting hymnal of sad anthems for the lonely.

During the period of time it took me to complete this recording, I grew a remarkable distaste for bands and musicians who constantly tried to convince themselves that they "don't fit into any genre." So much so, in fact, that I made it a point early on to define exactly what the album would sound like, exactly what sort of genre cliches to indulge during production, and I went to great lengths to make each song exist in the same sonic space. Lyrically and instrumentally, this is the closest thing to a fully realized, cohesive concept album that I could have made from these songs.

As for the mix, you probably won't like it the first time you hear it (or you may love it from the first second). It's not a comfortable mix. Almost all of the instruments are panned to the extremes. It is best to listen to this on a set of high-quality headphones or large speakers in order to hear the many things going on in each song, otherwise you'll probably miss a lot. I also recommend a subwoofer.

Structurally, the album is a 180ยบ turn from the way that On the Way Down was written. Many of the tracks actually have a more conventional structure with a proper chorus and multiple verses. It's still one big "sound collage" of admittedly short songs like the last record, but Lifted High is a much smoother ride from start to finish.

I've been talking up this album for almost an entire year to anyone who would listen. Now, I'm finally releasing it into the world. Hopefully this collection of songs will find its way into your winter soundtrack; that's what it was made for. If you enjoy what you hear, I want to hear from you about it. If you don't, that's fine, too (trust me, I understand). Thank you for listening. The next time you're in need of music for companionship when you feel like life is going to hell in a hand-basket, hopefully you'll put on Lifted High.

24 November 2012

New Single This Week

To familiarize you a bit with the sound of the new album, I will be releasing a song from it for the first time this Tuesday (11/27/12). "Expensive Mistakes" will be available for streaming from Soundcloud for the week leading up to the release of "Lifted High," and should give you a pretty decent idea of what to expect from the rest of the album.

"Lifted High" will be available to download in multiple high-quality digital audio formats on 12/4/2012, along with a collection of acoustic demos from the album's beginning stages.

06 September 2012

Progress Report: 6 September 2012

For the past few months, I have been making progress on "Lifted High" in leaps and bounds. I have a finished track list, production on every song is nearly complete, and the only thing left to record is vocal tracks on a few songs. I'm almost ready to enter the final mixing stage of the album and begin mastering it.

Against my fears that the album's Pop appeal will be shattered by the outlandish mix, I'm sticking to it. There's a lot of distortion, everything sounds very warm and spacious, and every instrument has been digitally processed to Hell and back. About 80% of the album is made up of digital synthesizers, but there's plenty of Moog bass lines and it all (surprisingly) sounds very organic and lively — that is, about as organic and lively as you can get with digital synthesis.

Over the next few weeks, the album will likely be completed. There are eight tracks overall and most of them actually have a proper verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, which is something I've never been very good at until now. From start to finish, it sort of sounds like one long drone piece that morphs and changes from one song to the next, which is exactly what I had envisioned for the album from the very beginning. Words cannot describe just how excited I am for folks to hear this music, or how proud I am of these songs.

I've been drawing lots of influence from musicians like John Maus, Tim Hecker, John Darnielle, and some others who changed my perception of what an album should be over the past few years. The end result is going to be a chilling, yet calming journey from beginning to end. The lyrics are the best I've ever written; the album has a very distinct narrative that sets a mood unlike most music you've probably ever heard. I'm aware it's an ambitious statement, but "Lifted High" is going to be a very unique piece of work.

Along the way, I've created a few songs that didn't really fit into what I was working on for the album. I plan to release these separately sometime shortly after the album comes out.

I also plan to release a collection of the original acoustic demos that were created before I began production on the album. It's a very lo-fi affair that will give you some insight into what these songs were like in their early stages.

Finally, if you didn't see it when it was posted, I released three outtakes from "On The Way Down" a few days ago. You can listen to them (or download them) at the Damage Decade Soundcloud page.

"Lifted High" will be released into the world on 4 December 2012.

26 June 2012

Progress Report: 26 June 2012

It's been a couple of months since I wrote anything here. I almost forgot this page existed since I've actually been using the Damage Decade Twitter and Facebook pages more frequently. Anyhow, I'm going to summarize as best as I can all the things that I've posted elsewhere (and some new stuff).

I'm very hard at work again on the second Damage Decade record which, if you didn't already know, will be titled "Lifted High" and is coming out sometime at the end of this year, probably in December.

So far, I've completed somewhere around six of the nine tracks I'm planning for the album. All nine tracks have been written, but a few need some additional production and recording to finish them up. Within the next month or so, I'll be completely finished recording the album and will move on to the final mixing stage.

I tend to release things as quickly as possible after I've finished recording them, but this time is going to be a bit different. The mix on this record is very unconventional — in my humble opinion — and it will either make or break the album, so I'm going to give the mix a bit of an incubation period this time around. I'll check the sound of the album on as many types of listening setups as possible to make sure it sounds right, and I'm going to be very thorough with the mastering stage this time around. I don't dislike the sound of "On the Way Down," but this record is very important to me, and the way it will be heard is more important.

Below is the cover art for the digital version of the album.

Lifted High (digital cover)

"Lifted High" is the most complex and most fully-realized musical project I've ever taken on and I am extremely proud of what it is shaping up to be. It's dark, it's chock-full of synthesizers and drum machines, it's very lyrically intense, and it's an almost dizzying listen. It's probably not the most accessible music I've ever made, and it's not "Pop" music in the conventional sense, but I believe it's got enough substance to it that the more discerning listener will give it a second or third chance, and enough melody that someone who doesn't care much for its experimental nature might still find some redeeming qualities.

If you haven't yet, please "Like" Damage Decade on Facebook to get (infrequent) updates on the progress of the album. Also, please please share the page (and the music) with any and all of your friends who might be interested in this sort of music. There is a good possibility that I will want to perform this album live someday, and I'd really like to have an audience.

The album will be a free download when it is released, so please check it out if you have a little time to spare this December. Thanks for reading.

Edit: The preferred place for you to get the album will be the Damage Decade page at Bandcamp, which is a wonderful site that allows me to present the music to you in a clean and simple fashion. If you aren't aware yet, Bandcamp forces artists to upload their music in a lossless format (which is awesome, by the way) so the listener can choose what format they receive their digital copy in, as it is converted on-the-fly for delivery.

The formats currently supported at Bandcamp for you to download are mp3 (both 320 and V0), FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, and AAC. I recommend you download the 320 mp3s if you don't know what any of that means. If you do know what it means, I don't have to tell you it'd be best for you to get a lossless copy.

iTunes+iPod users: please do not download the AAC version provided by Bandcamp! I will be bouncing a separate "Mastered for iTunes" version of the album that will sound much better than the AACs Bandcamp can provide from the original masters.

That's all.

24 April 2012

An Update on Damage Decade

Wow. I did not realize that it's been so long since I last posted here. I've had a lot going on lately. Little of it has been musical, and less of that has been worth writing about.

I'm still working on the album. I spend small amounts of time every now and then piecing together little bits of the album, moving things around, adding sounds, taking sounds away, developing the concept a bit more, et cetera. Today I finished writing a new track for the album that I started writing sometime last year. The song is called "Expensive Mistakes," and the idea behind the song is what fuels the concept for the next album.

Again, I don't want to try to say much more about the style or sound of the album until it's complete, but I want to let you know that it is very much an "album" and must be listened to as such. It's a lot like "On the Way Down" in that it doesn't lend itself well to passive listening, and there isn't really an obvious single. It's very much a musical collage like OtWD, but it sounds completely different. It's more mature, more sparse, more quiet. I am so excited to finish this album, but the more time I spend with the material, the better it gets, and the better I'm able to write new material that fits it. I know it seems like it's taking forever for me to finish this, and apparently people want more music since the last one was only 20 minutes long, and I'm very sorry. Well, for your wait anyhow. I'm not making any promises on the length of "Lifted High," but there's always a possibility that it will be another short-running LP. I'm not putting any real effort into making it short, but I'm also not a progressive songwriter and I like my musical ideas for Damage Decade to be concise and hard-hitting.

The best I can do to give you an idea of what the album might sound like is to give you a list of the records I've been listening to lately for "inspiration" or whatever.

Get Lonely by The Mountain Goats
C'mon by Low
Epic by Sharon Van Etten
Boxer by The National
Still by Nine Inch Nails
Have One On Me by Joanna Newsom
A Throne Without A King by Pyramids and Horseback
Wasting Light by Foo Fighters
Goblin by Tyler, The Creator
The Knot by Wye Oak
Stars of the Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline by Stars of the Lid
Ssss by VCMG
For Lack of a Better Name by deadmau5

The new music doesn't necessarily sound like any one of these records, nor does it sound much like a meshing of all these records, but there are bits and pieces of those records that probably come through in certain parts of the music.

Anyhow, please continue being patient with me as I make this record the best that it can be. I can't promise that if you liked "On the Way Down" that you'll like "Lifted High," but if you connected with "On the Way Down" and spent the time since that record was released doing some growing and maturing, you'll probably connect with "Lifted High."

27 November 2011

Minefields - "Decreaser" Release

I've been sort of glossing over and ignoring Minefields in most of my recent musical updates, mainly because it's a very minor project of mine and Damage Decade has been taking up almost all of my time. However, I do still enjoy spending time creating drone music and I'm finally comfortable with releasing my first collection of songs as Minefields.

"Decreaser" is a short, 4-song mini-album that I've spent quite a bit of time on over the past few months, mainly when I've become frustrated or bored with the other music I've been working on. By association, it's a very relaxing and approachable listen. Each of the album's four tracks drone on in a very electronic fashion. Many of the sounds used to create the drones are modulated in various ways throughout the track to create motion and a subtle atmosphere of change. Random number generators and such are heavily involved in the sound of some elements on the album.

Track list:
1. Transience
2. Worship
3. Distances
4. Offset

Each of the four songs are made to compliment each other, but be listenable on their own as well. The sonic palate is overbearing across the entire album, with most all of the same sounds being present in each song. Much like a typical rock album uses the same drums, bass, guitar, and vocals throughout, "Decreaser" is composed in large part with the same synthesizer patches from track to track to make the album as cohesive as possible.

Apart from a few other very specific and technical details, there's not much more to say about this album. It's simply a short collection of drone songs created exclusively with synthesizers. I feel obligated to say that this album sounds best on a good pair of speakers. If you listen to it on cheap headphones or laptop speakers, you won't just be missing out on small parts of the music, you'll be unable to hear most of it altogether.

If you want to know what I'm working on when I'm not making the agressive, noisy music of Damage Decade, check this out. There will be more from Minefields.

18 July 2011

Strange Days

Well, despite any previous outrageous claims I might have made about the upcoming Damage Decade and/or Creative Control. releases, I have come here to tell you that neither of them are nearing completion (both are a little less than halfway done).

For the past few months, I've been listening and re-listening to tracks for both projects' upcoming releases, and I've finally begun to settle into a very specific style for each. Again, I've gotta say that the new CC. material is sounding really neat, and it's still by far some of the most intricate material I've ever written (although it's still very 4x4 and accessible for the most part).

As for Damage Decade, I've had to slow down quite a bit with the production of the next album. After completing a few tracks in the style I'm working within for the album, I feel like I've stumbled on something very big. Though "On The Way Down" was hardly rushed in any way, I'm going to be taking the production of "Lifted High" as slowly as possible. This album is too important to me for it to just be a thrown-together assortment of unrelated tracks with an underdeveloped concept. When this thing is finished, it's going to be huge (regardless of the running time). In fact, I'm not even going to talk any more about the style or the sound until you can hear it for yourself. Just know that it's going to be unlike anything I've ever written or released until now.

And I guess I should probably mention Minefields, since it does exist. The first release is very close to completion, but I haven't had much time or energy lately to put into completing the production and mixing/mastering. This is another album/mini-album/EP whatever that I don't want to put out with imperfections. For you drone enthusiasts, it's going to be a sweet little composition with a warm and inviting sound. I've just got to find the time to finish it.