Persistentmidnight has put up a new mix in honor of our current season, enjoy. I do have a downloadable version too, just reach out if you're interested. This time it's not so much a mix of tracks playing around the PM office, so much as it is a soundtrack to darker, cooler nights of the season.
So, I'm going to post a couple "round ups" of my production jobs this year, each post will be collecting a different aspect of my work here at Persistentmidnight.
The Dark Ones:
Outer GodsDismal Rift
A pretty unique transitional record, Dismal Rift straddles several music making approaches while maintaining a unified aesthetic. It took about a year and a half to finish Dismal Rift, which isn't too long for some bands, but seemed to be an eternity in Outer Gods time. The tracks have a certain quilt-like element, which gives the album an eclecticism that probably wasn't present on earlier OG recordings. It's an album of deep, open spaces and dark low frequencies. But it's a genre defying piece, certainly not metal in its sonics like the three other OG albums. It is the longest OG album, certainly the most diverse, and the only time I've done promotional edits for drone music. It's possibly the most non-metal metal album I've produced yet.
Released June 24th on Stickfigure Recordings.
Sareth DenInto the Glacial Unknown
As Dismal came together, I slowly took note of Into the Glacial Unknown, from some raw alchemical inspiration in the mists of the mind that I didn't completely understand. Unknown is certainly the sister-record, a different type of exploration of similar sonics. There are a lot of wide open spaces on this album as well, but the overall palette is a strange one, with little claustrophobic moments to break up too much placidity. The B-side takes a long dark ambient turn, which is meant to bring the listener down after the noisy strangeness of the A-side. If Outer Gods exist as ex-communicated monks living solitarily in an ancient library, toiling away in their research of dark unfathomable forces, Sareth Den exists as a mournful woodland witch who has left society to wander the darker reaches of her desolate forest domain forever.
Warning Light is many things/styles/genres I suppose, but as a person (not a "project") I will always think of myself as an experimental musician. To me, even with melodies or dance beats, they are still experimental songs that all imbedded with their own idiosyncrasies. Through my EPs I've always explored different aspects of what I do sonically, my albums are all like giant puzzles that I fit together with themes and concepts in my head. So the EPs can be a little more freewheeling in some ways, and I suppose I like that. Here is a bit of "director's cut" of these releases, and for the month of October I put them up for free download if you'd like to take a couple home with you.
Life/Death Suite is something different for me, I finally the original outro I meant for Oftenchance and decided to make an endless loop experience. The original long outro, just called Oftenchance, was meant to make the album a true double LP experience. Putting out an album nearly 79 minutes long seemed a little too much, so I decided to split the releases. Basically, the cassette was designed to be played in an endless, mantra style loop, withdifferent sections representing different times in a person's life. Oftenchance was meant to be a kind of commentary on the place "chance" plays in a person's life, the subtle ways those different avenues of chance can alter a person's life forever. I thought of Life/Death Suite as being a kind of a sister release, it acknowledges those concepts and refines them into a half hour-plus experimental song cycle.
Ambient Summer came out of a series of recordings at my father's lake house. My girlfriend Rachel and I took several vacations up there and I decided every week I would try to make a short, ambient house leaning jam and post it to Soundcloud. It was a fun project for the summer, but I ended up liking several of the songs so much I decided to do a little one off release. These are some of the most immediate tracks I've recorded since the early days when I would mostly jam and do a little editing after the fact.
Largely recorded at the same lake house over several months with the idea of making another album to release on the same day as Oftenchance (craziness!!!), these tracks were sunbaked psychedelic moments, capture for posterity in a very blissful part of my life. My life soundtrack at the time was just pure Krautrock, Progressive Rock, and Psychedelia, so I definitely think of this is being one of my most spacious recordings.
A Vast Moment collects a series of tracks I originally wanted to be paired with some of the material for the Lost Patterns album and Night Time tracks for a much longer, crazier version of Heavens Above, Heavens Below. The material took a long time to get settled (I started working on Heavens Above, Heavens Below as a follow up to Wild Silver in 2011) and these tracks finally started to gel as their own little collection. The title is in reference to my idea that each moment in a person's life can be vast and expansive if you choose to see it that way.
Night Time collects one extremely heavy synthesizer session and several of my tape loop experiments from this "in-between" era from Wild Silver to Heavens Above, Heavens Below and the Lost Patterns. At the time, I felt pretty directionless in this project so this EP brings up a lot of mixed feelings in my heart. But honestly, I'm quite proud of these songs; this and A Vast Moment probably should have just been a whole album.
Blacked Out was something completely unique for me, a political "single" I put out to stand in protest of the SOPA/PIPA movement. In my catalogue, it stands as something unique and found me trying to create something more approachable and minimalist at the same time. Of course, seventeen minute singles exist solely as art (not for radios surely), but my heart was in the right place. Blacked Out was also used in a friend's student film, which definitely jump started my interest in soundtracking.
Before the release of Wild Silver on Stickfigure, I decided to release two EPs that would dissect my own recording process at the time. New Pilgrimage represented how I worked about half the time during that era: multi-track recordings that layer on various effects and samples. I decided this would be the darker of the two EPs, and there would be more thematic tie-in with that album that came out just after its release. New Pilgrimage feels like a "sneak preview" in that sense, of what was to come.
Starry Way manifested my other approach, live recordings subjected to repeated cuts and obsessive editing. These tracks were recorded very quickly and then mixed down with live effects in a very rapid fire way, when I worked in that style I set time limits on each track to stop myself from over thinking. The content was definitely space-drone centered I was at the height of my Tangerine Dream obsession in this era of my life.
Early Birds was a one-off experiment recording with my friend Allen. There was a pretty informal element to it, I just wanted to jam with my friend and the jams sounded good live. At the time we were both playing synths in Roman Photos, so these recordings were just kind of fun vacations from our main outlet. This EP came out right around the same time as my first album Further On.
After I made Eternity Drones, it took me over three years to write Further On and find a direction for the band. In that time, I did a little bit of soul searching, and Unknown Clearing was definitely a part of that. I had yet to figure out a lot of the production elements I would use on Further On, but some of my ideas were starting to move in that direction. I wanted very badly to be Eno at this point, but who doesn't? There have been times I want to remove this from my band camp, but "In a Silent Trench" reminds me I probably had more future for this project than I realized at the time.
Each one of these represents a little moment in the sounds as they evolved around me. Nothing remains but the moment, the sounds move ever forward across uncharted mysterious terrains.
Small Town Synthetics is the new album by my other band Snowbride. Rachel and I produced these songs over the course of a couple years, it's the end of our "Southern Quadrilogy." These tracks were recorded at an old lake cabin in North Georgia over the course of several years, and they are the last things we recorded in this style. Originally, we wanted to do a zine project to come with the album but that got shelved, there was a lot that went into finishing these tracks. Maybe more than I bargained for. Anyhow, I'm quite proud of this album, it's really spacey while still having some pretty groovin' beats, which was kind of the core of this era of the band. It's been fun, but our "Southern" era is over. Neither Rachel nor I know what's next for Snowbride, I suppose only time will tell.
Inland Empires Disregard the Sea is finally here, pressed on a limited number of compact discs from Stickfigure Recordings. Nine songs in just shy of an hour, the album also features a couple tracks I recorded with synthwork from Rachel M from Snowbride.
I'm excited to say this is my most eclectic and complex work to date, following in a lineage of the electronic loop concepts from Oftenchance and XXXI. The past couple years have been a time of tremendous change in the life of this project and I hope to always maintain an adventurous spirit with my recordings under this name. Cheers to my friends and allies who helped me along the long, twisty path of creation, I appreciate you all.
Born in the 1980s, I have a strange relationship with vinyl. My father had a (what seemed like) large vinyl collection, but they were all filed away in some arcane order I was too neurotic to mess up. He had several large boxes of vinyl that sat unlistened to for years as well. I'm not sure what he ever planned to do with it. I do remember being resentful that he gave/sold a huge chunk of his vinyl to some dumb college kid just as I was starting to get into music, but I suppose that's another story.
My primary memory of "getting my first stereo" really was me getting a cool boom box with dual tape decks (and no CD player, HA). I bought cassingles and a couple long playing albums at Turtles' Records and Tapes*, but the allure of the album hadn't really hit me yet. I was by and large a radio man. I made so many of my own tapes: mini radio shows where I did most if not all of the voices, funny commercial snips, interesting sounds I heard out my bedroom window. I liked being able to make things even then.
*My original tape "collection" was just:
1. Jurassic Park: the Original Soundtrack
2. A poorly curated Fox97 summertime mixtape they gave away at some event I went to with my dad.
3. Spin Doctors "Pocket Full of Kryptonite" single
4. A dinosaur radio play where the dinos lived in a big city together.
5. An untranslatable cassette of Greek music we purchased to listen to as we drove around when we lived in Athens.
But for a long while there I mostly just made my own cassettes off the radio. I could somehow always talk my parents into buying me C90s (or failing that, the far inferior C60s) that I could fill with music I actually liked. By the early 90s I had a box of cassettes filled with "oldies," mostly of the 50s/early 60s pre-psychedelic variety. So I probably made tapes for eight years or so before I ever bought a CD. I kept making tapes for years later too, I still have some of my alternative mixes pirated from late night listening to 99X and 88.5 as everyone else at my house slept.
By the late 80s, my parents had bought some CDs (a handful that maintained a pretty fascist, constant rotation), but we only had two CD players: one expensive one at home connected to the home entertainment system and one in our car. I got a CD player fairly late in the game, but once I started collecting CDs (I used to call it collecting "albums" because the music bug had finally hit me) my collection rapidly expanded away from my parents taste in more Alternative stuff.
I will always have a special place in my heart for CDs because becoming a "music person" in the late 90s really imbued you with a sense that CDs were still special. I stood in line with dozens of other people outside Blockbuster Music on new release Tuesday. By the time I was in high school, my friend Devin and I would leave school early to go to Blockbuster, then MediaPlay, or Sea of Timeless Records to hunt for albums we wanted to collect. I would scour through the $5 and under bins of Blockbuster Music, looking for gems in the piles of rubbish. Some of the best things I got from those bins were only $1 or $2.* The real treat for me in high school was the rare times I could convince my mom to take me to Buckhead so I could shop at the mammoth Tower Records, which seemed to have everything I was ever looking for.
By the time I had gotten the ability to drive, I started driving over to Marietta to buy cheap albums (by that point, I had started buying my own vinyl and more tapes, they were cheaper than CDs) from Rowan's, Book Nook and Sounds Good Records. Rowan's had a $5 CD wall, so I could always afford to shop there. Rowan's will always hold a special place in my heart because it was there I found the Suicide "Suicide" collection of the first and second albums, something that has become wildly influential on my life path.
*The Top 5 Cheap $5 and under CDs I ever got at Blockbuster Music:
1. Pulsars "Pulsars"
2. Mission of Burma "Signals, Calls and Marches"
3. The Velvet Underground "Live MCMXCIII"
4. Silver Apples "Silver Apples"
5. Tom Verlaine "Dreamtime"
I loved CDs so much that the first time I went to Criminal Records in Atlanta, I skipped the (relatively smaller) vinyl entirely and picked through the CDs. I ended up getting Holiday by Magnetic Fields and a couple other cheap sundries. I felt very cool having a Merge Records CD finally, most of my haunts didn't really stock anything like that. I remember being quite amazed that Criminal had more than ONE Magnetic Fields album.
It's incredibly cheesy, but I miss the culture of album hunting and collecting. There were definitely drawbacks (the pretentiousness/mean clerks/not finding stuff), but it was part of growing up in a time when everything was changing, but before everything really CHANGED. I appreciate having my own little version of it, it has kept albums special for me. I'm an album boy still, after all these years.
I had the good fortune to be a part of the Mango Heist compilation, curated through the Clandestine Ritual label to drum up interest/funds for the upcoming, independent experimental music festival AntiFest in Atlanta.
My track "The Mystery Letter" is a spacey dub version of an electro-leaning song I've been working on for a long while (the first version I messed withwas almost the opening track on Oftenchance), so I'm glad to finally get this groovy joint out there. This is the second comp I've been on this year.
Much love to those involved, especially Verge Bliss, whose Dendera Bloodbath project can be found below the compilation!
Back in June I meant to post about this compilation featuring some great electronic artists from the southeast US, benefitting MURMUR Media and the ATL Zinefest. Both are very important DIY resources for Atlanta, so if you're interested in helping, check out the compilation and get in touch with MURMUR post haste. There are several volumes that have been curated by the fine people at Wussy Magazine, but my track is on VOL II: Yuki Joro.
The Warning Light track "The Vast Empty Parts of Me" actually came from some of the "Ambient Summer" sessions last year, but I had intended to save it for a forthcoming album. It never really fit on the record, but I kept the sound because I liked the airy textures so much. Plans change, music changes, and perhaps most importantly people change, so I'm glad the song found a home.
Presenting an experimental EP, featuring some material left over from the Oftenchance sessions, further whirl-winded together into two epic suites, "Often Chance" and "Dream Lovers Never Dream Alone." I made a small cassette edition with handmade art cards and released them on Babylon cassettes, a small imprint of my Persistentmidnight label.
I should have copies at my upcoming show, opening for the Nomen Novum album release show on March 26th in Atlanta at the 529, with Fiat Nil, Anticipation, and Pamela_and her sons. I'll be opening!