Message for moderators: If this is seen as an annoying attempt at self-promotion, feel free to delete the thread without prior warning.
Some of you are already aware of this, but the parcel finally arrived today and I am able to share it with the community.
I released “an album”. Well, a total of 17 minutes long improvisations pressed on vinyl. Reasons for 17 minutes are mainly due to the physical limitations of the vinyl record and the fact that I am lacking songs that are stylistically coherent to put together on an album. I know we are mainly a bunch of guitar players, but this is piano/synth driven music.
(I removed all the logos, titles, etc. so you get to enjoy the artwork as much as possible.)
Side A - click to listen
I was collaborating with a choir few years ago and one day, I arrived to the venue about half an hour early. While waiting, I sat down at the piano, pressed record and this improvisation happened. I saved it immediately under the name of a certain river that I saw in my head while playing (this is relevant later in the post). Afterwards, it was collecting digital dust for 2 or 3 years, but somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew it has something special in it. I tried rearranging it for orchestra, rewriting it for piano and even cutting it down to a 3 minute piece for a dance choreography for my friend. But everything I did, made it sound worse. In mid 2022, I gave it another listen and realised that literally one or two seconds after the last note was played, one of the singers entered and slammed the doors behind him. I took this funny coincidence as a “sign” (yeah, I know it sounds a bit esoteric) and finally accepted that it’s the best in its original, purest form.
Side B - click to listen
This one also has a funny story. When my friend and I were preparing for the community open mic, my friend pointed at a synth I received just days before as a gift from another friend. I’ve never used it before properly (with the exception of putting batteries in and checking if it works). I started playing a motif, motioned at my friend (more like annoyingly snap my fingers at him haha) to join in with a guitar part and off we went. I find it fascinating, how we locked on rhythm and “section” changes without any communication or prior arrangement. On the other hand, you can hear that I am not a competent user of a synth, because sometimes turning the knobs randomly caused the sound to disappear.
There is also a bonus track on the B side, which I did not include in this forum post. It is a live version of the song that was performed at the Justinguitar Community Open Mic #10. But if you did not attend the open mic, you will have to purchase the record to experience it . It even includes some lyrics (not me singing)! Lyrics also dictated the title of the song. (Again, it becomes relevant later in the post.)
I must thank my friend for not getting too excited and remembering to record the jam on his phone. I must also thank another producer friend, who managed to salvage the phone and Zoom recordings and get them to a decent enough level to be put on vinyl without any (severe) sound issues.
When I was recruiting artists for the artwork, I decided it to run an experiment (warning: we are getting in the esoteric stuff again). I was curious if themes and ideas can be "channeled " through music. So I removed the titles and sent the songs (without the bonus track) out to artists but not providing any context. I just said: “Here’s a tune I need an artwork for Do whatever you want.”
My sister (who I knew is a great painter) got the side A music and she came up with a painting of a river. My friend, who painted the back-cover related to side B also came back with something water related, but this time a bit darker. If you look closely, you will see a figure sitting next to the “river” and the main motif of this song is being lost.
Experiment result: Success. It is possible to channel ideas through music. However, this also brings a level of responsibility on the artist but this is a debate/theme for an essay for another time.
My sister admitted that she had a bit of “painters block” while trying to come up with the artwork. She didn’t like anything she came up with (funnily everything was related to water), until she stumbled upon a painting she did years ago and thought it was a perfect fit. So a song I was sitting on for years got an artwork that was shelved somewhere for years.
On the other hand, my friend listened to the Side B track and got to work straight away and came back with the painting in about a week (she spent an additional week or two afterwards doing the flowers and other tiny details). A fresh song got a fresh painting.
Now, that’s what I call a “meant to be”!
In case anyone was wondering what is in the actual package:
- One numbered black LP (12", 45 RPM) with both songs and a bonus live performance, so 3 tracks in total.
- One numbered 12" album colour printed sleeve
- One numbered 12" silk coated colour printed insert with photos of original paintings, additional credits and an essay.
- Sealed certificate of authenticity.
I have spent years trying to figure out where exactly I sit on this whole music business thing. And the conclusion was that I do not mind being a hired gun either as a musician or a producer. Or if I am part of the band, of course there are ticket sales, royalties, etc.
But when I am releasing music and performing as me (“the artist”), I’ll do it on my own terms. And this means that everyone can listen to/download my music digitally for free. If someone wants a physical copy, the cost is exactly as much as it costs me to make it + delivery (with complete transperency and breakdown of the costs). Whoever wants to donate can always reach out. For the purposes of this post, I host it on Soundcloud, but eventually I will move to my own website exclusively.
Apart from the classic credits, there is a special thanks to Justin Sandercoe, Rick Beato and Justinguitar community . Some of you contributed to my musical journey more directly than others, but all of you make this place whati it really is, a special corner of the internet.