bye lai mar, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
I’ve been pretty obsessed with this NMH cover. Imitera is the 2 track album from bye lai mar over at Bandcamp that this damn gorgeous cover is a part of. I am sure many NMH fans will not like this one iota but I just dig this one so much. I hope others do too. I’m really in a complete state of awe of how splendid this version is. It’s really 6 minutes plus of pure bliss and bye lai mar says this summer is all about covering a ton of songs. I hope this is so true because if Imitera (which also includes a gorgeous cover of Bon Iver’s “For Emma”) is any indication of covering talent well then we are in store for so much more greatness. If you want to download this cover for free head over to Bandcamp!
[notice: I don’t feel like editing all of the embed code, so you’ll just have to deal with wonky youtube videos]
First, a rundown of the past week.
The entire weekend was full of MLG shenanigans. It’s amazing how far it’s come even in the past year. I remember the good old times, when SC2 was just a fledgling little corner of the venue. Ah, those were the days.
Here’s a video I threw together of the adventures of Sam and Mike at MLG’s 50th event in Raleigh. I am perfectly fine if I never have another sip of Dr. Pepper or even a single Dorito for the rest of my life.
Last weekend also marked the midseason finale of Doctor Who. There was much squeeing. It’s so sad that I have finally met two other Whovians, and I’ll never again get to watch another new episode with them.
^ that’s how I feel inside.
Speaking of one of the Whovians, turns out that she has met David Tennant, and her family was friends with Doctor Three, Jon Pertwee. Needless to say, I geeked the fuck out.
I swear that something happened during the week, but I cannot remember… I started my research, and that may be about it.
Oh yeah, TORO Y FUCKING MOI. In a month. In Columbia. His hometown. Fuck. Yes.
This past weekend, I started to get sickly Friday night. Slept 12 hours. Still was a little bleh on Saturday. Read all day. Slept 12 hours. Spent all day Sunday musicing.
Okay, now onto the good stuff.
So you want to listen to good rap music?
I’ve become a sort of underground/hipster rap/hiphop aficionado over the past few months or so, and you can too!
I started thinking there may be something better out there than Kanye and Soulja Boy, so I started a journey. First, I discovered some Mos Def and Blu & Exile.
I enjoyed both, more so Blu & Exile, but I wanted to dive deeper. I didn’t find anything particularly good until I stumbled upon Odd Future on Jimmy Fallon. Not only do they have the Roots as a backing band, but Mos Def is there and Felicia Day participates (can she do anything but be adorable?). This performance kind of opened up the floodgates for me. I’ve found five(ish) artists that I listen to regularly now—two fairly well known, one rising, two quite underground.
First off, let’s continue with Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All.
They’ve come to be defined by Tyler. His first solo album, Bastard, is quite good. It’s a concept album (which is continued on Goblin, with one more album due next year). The opening two tracks pretty much sum up the album.
He’s quite well spoken (and understandably a tad arrogant). I also must confess that feel a connection to him because we share a birthday.
The other members of Odd Future are starting to get some attention as well. In fact, Mellowhype (Hodgy Beats) just released a video for a new song.
I won’t dwell on the next artist too long. I apparently have an “unhealthy obsession” with Donald Glover, though clearly no such thing exists. What you need to know about Childish Gambino is he’s Troy Barnes, and he’s fucking swag as hell. Definitely check out Culdesac and I am Just a Rapper 1 & 2 (let’s hope for a third). Some highlights include his rapping over Neon Indian’s Deadbeat Summer and Sleigh Bells’ Crown on the Ground.
He has a few mixtapes and EPs, so he’s quite a prolific artist. I absolutely love his retro sound, which leads me into my last artist.
Cities Aviv. Fucking amazing. The only bit of popularity he’s had is Float On, which uses Blackbird Blackbird’s cover of the Modest Mouse song as a backing track.
His debut Digital Lows is available on his bandcamp. I implore you to download and listen.
Death Grips. Fucking brutal. Definitely an acquired taste.
The entire mixtape has this overall sound, so if you’re turned off by the above song, you won’t like the rest of it. If you do want to give it a shot, head over to http://thirdworlds.net/ for some SoundCloudage and a download.
BONUS! The Weeknd. My fucking jam.
House of Balloons is one of my top albums of the year. And he has a second mixtape just waiting to be released.
The most amazing thing about this list, is all of the music is available for download from the artist for free… with the possible exception of OFWKTA/Tyler… I think they’ve taken the downloads down, and I know that Goblin was never offered for free.
Well, that’s it. For now at least. I never exactly expected to start listening to any type of hip hop, but when you get away from all popular stuff, there are some good acts to be found. Like Lil B.
Day 7 of being sick. Day 7 of not shaving. I’m fairly scruffy. So it goes.
Thankfully, I’ve had a steady flow of cupcakes (thank you, Lois).
I’ve really been into SALEM lately. Here’s their remix/coverthing of Brittney’s Till the World Ends. The beginning of the video is a tad nsfw, but that only lasts 30 seconds or so. As a top youtube comment says, “The effect created by juxtaposing Brittany’s flippant apocalyptic reference with military footage is frightening.”
Before throwing it completely away, I should probably explain the name Clever Advisor. Thing is, I don’t really have an explanation. I didn’t come up with it, and neither did any of my friends. I was playing a game online, ant that was someone’s character name. I took a liking to it, and it seemed like he hadn’t build an online persona around that particular alias (i.e. no Google results), so I saw no harm in adopting it.
As I was compiling the work of my current project, I decided that Clever Advisor was no longer an appropriate namesake. It’s fairly quirky, and I feel that it doesn’t really represent the music that I am currently writing.
The name that I have currently settled on is Byé Lai Mar. I took it from the following passage from China Miéville’s novel “The City & the City.”
It was an obvious, and elegantly punning, pseudonym. Byela is a unisex Besź name; Mar is at least plausible as a surname. Together their phonemes approximate the phrase byé lai mar, literally “only the baitfish,” a fishing phrase to say “nothing worth noting.”
I chose this for a few reasons. First, I just like how it sounds. Second, “nothing worth noting” is kind of how I’ve come to feel about my music. I am not looking for pity—please let me explain.
I am not an exceptional musician, guitarist, or songwriter. I don’t expect anyone to want to pay for my music, and I would refuse payment if they did. I write music for myself. No one else. If you also enjoy my music, then I couldn’t be happier. But this is not my goal. By having the mindset of what I write is “nothing worth noting,” I have something to work towards. I will never truly be satisfied with any piece of music I write. I will always find fault in some aspect of my work. I have so much time to grow and develop as a musician. I have only really been writing songs of any substance for six months, and to think that I have written anything worth noting in this short time frame would be nothing short of hubristic. I am not saying that I am not satisfied with my accomplishments—far from it. Not having any formal instrumental or theoretical training, I think the volume of work that I have created, recorded, and produced (about an hour and a half) is quite impressive. I am proud of my work, but I still have so much room for improvement. Byé lai mar.
If you have made it past all the self loathing posted above, it’s time to actually listen to some music… and to discuss the finer points of album covers.
I have two other completed tracks, but I have yet to add vocals. That won’t be happening for a while considering I haven’t had a voice for close to a week. One of those songs is going to be the absolute geekiest thing I have ever done in my life. I am quite looking forward to completing it.
Back to the song. First, thanks to my new roommate, Matt. This is the first song I have ever recorded that features an actual bass guitar. This song was something that developed over this past week. I feel bad for Lo because she got to hear portions of this song on seemingly infinite repeat with some interspersed raspy fucks and dammits when I was having issues recording some sections. On the album, I think this is going to come before my For Emma cover (which I just tweaked a little bit). I plan on keeping this instrumental, and it probably won’t be the only track with a similar feel.
Now the album art!
1) Go to flikr.com
2) Search for something and sort by recent
I had a few other images in mind, namely this one and this one, but I absolutely fell in love with everything about the one I chose. The colors, contrast, framing—everything is perfect. To think all I did was search “summer.”
Fun fact: I used the same font as Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin. I’m kind of obsessed with that album.
If you have made it this far, thank you. Sorry for that rant in the middle, but I don’t have a way with words. It all makes sense to me, and that’s what matters, right?
So I decided to make my second project into a short EP, mainly because I have moved on to better software for this type of music. I have a lot of unfinished ideas that will probably never be fully realized, but I must leave these behind if I truly want to embrace Ableton.
I can’t get the embed to work, so click the pic to listen.
I almost forgot to mention that the album art is me as an awesome little boy. The title doesn’t really mean much, just a phrase I came up with to help guide my way through the project.
Now rundowns of each track.
Pebbles and Sand This was the first song that I finished. Not much to say, but this is certainly the most chiptune-y song of them all.
Cities and the Sky This was actually one of my first ideas that never fully developed until very recently. The first minute or so was all that I had for the longest time, and I couldn’t figure out where to go. I ended up taking it in a direction very similar to how I would write a typical instrumental post-rock-y song. I took the initial idea, repeated it for a while, slowly adding layers, and then transitioned into something else. Had this been a post-post rock song, I would have written a few more sections and tripled the length. The second section is in my favorite time signature, 7/8, and the ending is just a fun little sequence I threw together.
I am Here, I am Here, I am Here It was Trout’s fantasy that somebody would be outraged by the footprints. This would give him the opportunity to reply grandly, ‘What is it that offends you so? I am simply using man’s first printing press. You are reading a bold and universal headline which says, “I am here, I am here, I am here.” ‘ An excellent quote, from an excellent book, written by an excellent author. Once again, my formulaic song writing can be heard, but this has a tad bit more repetition than usual.
What Lies Ahead This track also brewed for a long while before coming together. This is the only one of the bunch that not only got its start on guitar, but also contains some guitar at the end. I was trying to accomplish some sense of journey through this song. It starts out kind of somber and alone, and it slowly builds. The short middle section serves as a transition. The the drums drop out, instruments change, and the chord progression is a tad more happy. The last section with the guitar is a fairly peppy I-IV progression.
Well, there’s project number two. I’ve already began project three. In fact, since it only has 4 listens, I present my newest song. A cover of Bon Iver’s “For Emma.” If you are not familiar with Justin Vernon, for shame! Here is the original album version of the song. And here is my interpretation:
After about two months and four incarnations, this popped out. This probably tops the list of my favorite songs that I have done. I had so much fun with ever aspect of this, with the exception of singing. And that’s because I can’t. I suppose Sam will have to teach me this coming year.
At this very moment, I have a full one hour and twenty-one minutes of music. Not bad for five months of work.
This post was kind of sidetracked by brownies. In the idle time that passed, I decided to not focus on the album just yet, but my cover songs. I feel that they will help illustrate how my familiarity with my software and hardware improves over time.
Because I don’t want to do homework for my joke of a stat mech class, I shall tumbl!
Before I go into detail about each of my songs and the album, I’ll discuss the album in general my covers and my recording equipment.
This picture gives an excellent overview of my home recording studio.
In the front is my Gibson Les Paul Studio. Hiding are my Fender FB-54 banjo and Fender Dreadnaught acoustic guitar. Not pictured are a few other guitars and my really cheap mandolin. Components of my brother’s old drum are strewn around, but I only used them in the bluegrass breakdown of “Empire State of Mind.” The devices that do the actual recording are a Blue Snowball microphone and a Line 6 POD Studio GX. Both run USB into my laptop running the digital audio workstation Reaper with various VST’s and VSTi’s including PodFarm 2.
Since I used the original vocal tracks (speed up a tad), I was forced into a general chord progression. One thing you’ll discover about me if you continue to read this (and I continue to post things) it that I love to confine myself when I write music. If I have to work within constraints, I am forced to be creative. If my music doesn’t have some sort of creativity, I won’t like it. These are nothing special. Pretty standard metalcore. Actually, a tad bit softer than metalcore.
For these two, I used a really cheap Digitech guitar effects petal, line in to my computer. Not exactly the best way to get good tones.
My next idea was to take a mostly electronic song and folk it up.
Kids just seemed like the best choice. Something you should take note of on this track is the presence of my (then brand new) banjo and (gasp!) vocals. This was before I really understood the auto-tune software I was using. So instead of telling the VST what note I wanted, I used the automatic setting. This can cause some issues.
A pretty elementary example: Say we’re in the key of C. It contains both of the notes E and F. Say I want to hit an F, but I am just slightly flat. Depending on the settings of the software, it could round me down to an E rather than bring me up to the F that I really want. As you could imagine, this could cause some not so pretty sounds.
Overall, I really like how this one turned out. My vocals could sound better, but I just don’t like my voice.
These three songs were recorded before I got all of the equipment I detailed above. My first song with all of the fancy shit was another mostly electronic song. But this time I didn’t go full on Townes Van Zandt.
With this song, I went crazy with my newly acquired PodFarm. All of the synth-like noises were my guitar going through a ton of software processing. Once again, my vocals are quite poor, but that never stopped Passion Pit, so why should it stop me? I layered quite a number of vocal tracks with various effects to help it sound a little more bearable.
I had high ambitions with my most recent finished cover. I arranged and recorded this one shortly after Sleepyhead, so there isn’t much improvement production-wise.
Yes. I covered a Jay-Z song. I absolutely hate the chorus. My voice just doesn’t sound right, and I could do nothing to remedy it. I got to the end of the song, and though “I can’t finish this with the chorus… What can I do?” And then it hit me. Mother fucking banjo. I am really proud of how the bluegrass breakdown came out.
After this song, I started work on my album. If you have yet to hear it, you can listen and download it on my BandCamp page. I promise that the next post will be, in some capacity, about the album. I have a lot to say about it, with no one to listen to me.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on my second album. I’ve posted two songs on my SoundCloud. They’re quite a departure from the post-rock on my first. I also have another cover that I’m working on. It’s gone through a number of different iterations, but it never felt right until now. It deserves its own post, so I’ll only say that it has the potential to be baller as hell.
Sitting in my room on a dreary Thursday evening (the best type of evening), listening to the freshly leaked Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues while sipping on chai tea yet to reach the perfect temperature situated somewhere between barely sip-able and something slightly metaphorically colder, with unfinished copies of American Gods and a Game of Thrones placed sadly idle on my desk, and hearing the characteristic sounds of the all too familiar war between the Protoss and the Zerg coming from the other room, I begin to think that this endeavor is a complete waste of my time. I’m not exactly expecting anyone to read this, and I could certainly be more productive with the openings in my schedule. But alas, I am on the tumblrs attempting to pass off as a better writer than I actually am.
The purpose of this blog is simply to explain my music. I plan on creating individual posts on each of the songs on my album, deconstructing my methodology concerning its composition and the techniques used in recording. I actually wanted to provide some sort of digital document with every download of the album, but I’m settling with a more flexible blog format. After I get through each of the songs appearing on the release, I’ll move on to some ideas that didn’t make the final cut, usually for the reason of poor execution, eventually discussing some of my newer projects.
Before I dive into this adventure, I thought it would be interesting to examine my current taste in music. (At some point, I’d like to write a short history of the failed bands I have been involved in, but that will be saved for a later date). Alright chums, let’s do this.
Within the past year or so, I have (lovingly) been labeled as the token hipster of pretty much each of my friend groups. I imagine that it’s for a number of reasons—I wear cardigans, own a pair of Toms, and am too politically liberal to care anymore; but a bit of it certainly has to do with my taste in music. The best way to examine my preferences is to take a gander at my last.fm profile. I have over 20,000 plays, so I believe that it gives a fair assessment. I’m only going to look at my top artists within the past six months, so some of my absolute favorites (my shortlist includes the Tallest Man on Earth, the Morning Benders, the Head and the Heart, Starfucker, Mayer Hawthorne) will be left out. Because this entry seems to be dragging on for no reason, I won’t go into much detail.
First up is Lovers. I think this is an excellent place to begin, as the band is an excellent example of indie-electronica with soft female vocals that I love so much.
I love every single song that Murder by Death has ever created. They have done just enough evolving from album to the next, so they retain their modern-Cash style whilst avoiding becoming stale.
Believe it or not, I love me some progressive metal (even venturing into some more death/core like the Faceless, Black Dahlia). My two favorites have to be Between the Buried and Me (I’ve seen them live twice) and The Human Abstract. What I love about THA is that their guitarist is classically trained. I won’t linger on the metal, as my audience probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
The National, according to Last.fm, is my most listened-to band. With good reason.
This is where things get interesting. My top three:
Falling for a Square is my biggest influence for my new project. This is some of my favorite music to play as I read and work. Plus, almost all of his music is free.
Everything Everything is where I see “modern” music moving. This direction just seems like the next logical step in a post-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix world. They have the ability to write both catchy songs and compelling slower pieces. In fact, they made a video that accomplishes exactly the goal of this blog. Look out for these guys, along with Morning Teleportation.
Well, that was a lot more time consuming than I initially anticipated. I hope that I have been (and will stay) entertaining. I thought I would share a little insight into what makes me musically tick before dissecting my own creations. Plus, this serves as an excellent introduction to me.
All this talk of music has made me want to compose, so I am about to make about four hours disappear.
Just a blog dedicated to my music making adventures.