February 25, 2007 11:59 PM

Beep beep beep. The main keyboard line in this song and much of the chord structure started life as a guitar part. This is the first thing I wrote that uses nothing but my laptop. I was watching it snow, and the basic idea(s) for the song just sort of ... popped in there.

posted by sparkletone (8 comments total)

Beep Beep! This may sound dumb, but I like this song because it sounds so innocent. Very nice!
posted by snsranch at 4:25 PM on February 26, 2007

This is fine and all, I guess, but I'm of the firm opinion that you and your guitar should never be separated.

As I've said in other posts, I really, really like your guitar style. It seems obvious from your recent posts that you are working on your vocal stylings, and that's great, but it is easy to get sidetracked musically.

Always explore, always reach, always try to grow. But, don't do that at the expense of your core talents.

You and that guitar. Rock it. Everyday.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:01 PM on February 26, 2007

To M. snsranch:

"Innocent" is an... interesting descriptor, but there is a certain innocence in the words. But they're also more than a bit dire. I find it kind of romantic in a desperate-teenager way ("Things are bad now, but we'll make it. Us against the world, baby!").
posted by sparkletone at 12:16 AM on February 27, 2007

To M. Ynoxas:

You get a separate post because the reply to your comment got a bit DFW (ie: Long, and there's a footnote!)

I don't see it as getting side-tracked or distracted.

I mentioned to someone who's seen me play at a lot of open mics and really likes me that I was working on fleshing out another old song that was 99% instrumental and he was all, "No, man! Your voice! You gotta sing! You can't not sing!"

He really digs the voice, you really dig the guitar... I kind of ... see it all as parts of the same whole. The thing that I have the most fun with is fitting all the pieces together in a way that "works."

Laptop stuff has gotten, over the last 6-8 months, added to the box of tools at my disposal. I don't really see it as a distraction. In fact, this song was written basically the same way I've written every other song I've ever written. I don't think I'd ever really abandon playing guitar any more than I'd abandon singing. I think of everything I can do as a "core talent." I think I'm better at somethings than others, but what's fun for me is taking an idea from .

You've maybe got kind of a ... compressed and out-of-order view of what's actually been something like 8 months of recording, and getting used to using my laptop for more than just recording simple two-track voice+guitar demos.

The recordings I've posted, minus this song and the BASSFIGHT remix, are all 3+ months old. And with the exception of this song, and Haunted Houses, the songs themselves are much older than that. The recording of Dissent was actually made last July. The simple version of Burn Bright is actually more like a year old. The order I've posted things in is the order the songs appear on the demo CDs I started burning to give to people at open mics and stuff back in, like, October or November, rather than any chronological order.

There is more pure-laptop stuff coming. There is more guitar-bass-drums stuff coming (actually, tonight, I nearly finished the mostly-instrumental thing I mentioned. It's almost nothing but guitars! Much more ornate layering than I usually do).

Do not worry, I am not going haring off down the road to Techno Land, never to return!
posted by sparkletone at 1:30 AM on February 27, 2007

To both: Thanks for the feedback!
posted by sparkletone at 1:30 AM on February 27, 2007

*cough* there was a footnote. I promise.
posted by sparkletone at 1:39 AM on February 27, 2007

sparkletone: Thanks for the reply, and understand bro, you CERTAINLY don't have to explain yourself to me.

I enjoy your music, and I think you are good at what you do. I'm throwing out things I think/hope might be helpful, but that's all. Everything I say is simply my opinion and offered in a spirit of constructive commentary. Notice I didn't say constructive criticism. It's not my job to critique you. This is friendly discussion, not aggressive assessment. You are free to disregard some or all of it completely, just please take it in the spirit it is intended.

As you allude to, my *preference* is for your guitar work.

I see your guitar work as really the backbone of you as a performing artist. From what I've heard previously, I am hearing the beginnings of a distinct style and sound.

As far as the laptop beep boop stuff, it can be a fun diversion, but just like the violin teacher who catches the student playing video games, I want to snap the stick on the music stand and say "Achtung! Practice! NOW!" (Understand that is just an analogy, I would never presume to teach you anything.)

Based on the latest statistics, there are approximately 1 hundred billion people making electronic music, and some of them, like MeMu's own ageispolis, are simply astoundingly good.

But, man, I just hear it in your guitar work. There is a great guitarist begging to be let out. Is there a great vocalist begging to be let out? I don't know, I think it's too soon to tell. Is there a great electronica artist begging to be let out? Doubtful, but hey, what do I know?

Basically, don't take it as criticism of your electronic work... take it as strong praise for your guitar work.

I'll put it this way. Given musicians I have known in the past, I feel that you are right on the cusp of really going to the next level with your guitar work. You're pressing on that paper wall, about to bust through and really make sudden strides. If you feel that your guitar work has "stagnated", then that is another good indicator you are up against this paper wall. Happens to everybody. But, if you keep on working at it, that's when you suddenly burst through.

I don't think that you are nearly as close on your vocals to that "next level". That doesn't mean I think you suck. It means I think you have further to go, and *OF COURSE*, working it and practicing is how you improve.

Most of your vocals are all concentrated in a very narrow band, at what sounds like the upper quadrant of your range, you're always singing about the same 4 or 5 notes, and with no variation in timbre, and little variation in pitch, it approaches the point of almost monotone. Which may very well be a stylistic choice, and one I wouldn't quarrel with.

I think you would greatly benefit from doing work on your lower and middle registers. It may not be as comfortable to sing there, but that's sorta the point.

Lastly, I'm not trying to be a critic, I'm a supporter! I'm a sparkletone fan! I wish great things for you.

And you should take everything I say with a gigantic salt block like you feed cattle. It doesn't matter what I think, really. It matters what you think, and what you feel your art needs to be.

In summary: you rawk. Rawk out. Cawk out strictly optional.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:59 AM on February 27, 2007

General response: Of the things I can do, I've been playing guitar and bass the longest. The singing came a couple years after I'd started playing guitar. And the laptop stuff is super recent relative to the other things...

So, uh. I'm a fumbling, clumsy child when it comes to the laptop stuff. Right now that all feels basic and simplistic. Like playing guitar back when I first started and the only sort of chord I knew was power chords.

But (of course) the only way to get better any of it is to work, work, work at it!

I'm not sure if my guitar playing's currently in a plateau or not. It's sometimes hard to tell when it's just something I do every day. Every six months or so, I'll play something and stop and think, "Hmm. I couldn't have played that before. Neat."

This is friendly discussion, not aggressive assessment. You are free to disregard some or all of it completely, just please take it in the spirit it is intended.

Oh, totally! At no point have I thought otherwise. Even if you were sticking to Zoidbergian, "Your music's bad and you should feel bad!" I'd just kind of shrug and move on. There's things I know I need to work on, and I'm working on them. You have picked out some of them!

Most of your vocals are all concentrated in a very narrow band ... it approaches the point of almost monotone.

Indeed! This was something I wasn't really aware of until about a year ago... I'm starting to try and ... wriggle out of that a little bit sometimes. It's something that'll come with time and more work. (Lessons would probably help rather a lot, but I've not been able to pursue that. Yet.)

Cawk out strictly optional.

That's not what the police keep telling me...

(Thanks again for the feedback!)
posted by sparkletone at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2007

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