Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The New Moody "Release"

Okay, by popular demand, I'll post some sample tracks from my newly-completed homegrown CD. I was actually planning to wait until after I had sent copies to certain people, meanwhile giving some more samples of my earlier work. Indeed, those CDs are going into the mail as we speak. However, since people are saying they're more interested in hearing my latest work (and the whole idea of getting requests is going straight to my head ;-) ), I'll go ahead and post this now.

taste of the truth

The new album is called A Taste of the Truth. I knew Open Halls would be a very hard act to follow, and it was. My guitar playing was at a sort of peak when I made that latter album, and I was worried what effect both the half-year "vacation" that followed and the much slower pace of songwriting and recording after that would have on it. As it turned out, I became pretty rusty. Listening to the 16 tracks on A Taste of the Truth you can probably hear my playing ability coming and going. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's only sort of there..and that's after the many retakes that certain parts in certain songs required. I was getting pretty frustrated for a while until I started putting some quality time into practicing. I had far worse luck with my voice. For a number of reasons, my throat tends to be raw and sore a lot...and the doctor says there's not a whole lot I can do about it. It seems to be getting progressively worse, too. Sometimes I waited till my voice was in good shape before recording vocal tracks. Sometimes I got tired of waiting and just did it anyway, letting the occasional huskiness and shakiness stick. The good side is that I gave a bit more attention to other instruments in my collection, such as my harmonicas. I also put a lot more effort into the songwriting.

Open Halls was unusual in that, unlike most of my albums, it didn't really have any kind of underlying theme (other than the focus on the guitar playing). A Taste of the Truth goes back to my usual conceptual thinking, this time dealing with the dual and sometimes contradictory realities of my "real life" and my "cyberlife" and significant events (and people) in both.


"A Taste of the Truth" - The title track is the second song on the album. I was reading (former Rolling Stones bassist) Bill Wyman's autobiography when I made this. I went back to my "Purple Era" technique of a guitar-based tune with sequencer loop rhythmical backing, but I was using mainly vintage amp models. It all starts with the "Yamacaster" going through a 1960s Fender Bassman, which is what Keith Richards used on a lot of the early Stones tunes that were recorded in the U.S.. (If I'd only had my new Telecaster then...ARRRGH...) The lyrics are based on one current and one former coworker at Ye Olde AcademyTM, both of whom are in dire need of a good dose of reality.


"Stand Our Ground" - Here's one of the acoustic-based tunes. I used a Fishman clip-on pickup on my acoustic guitar. (Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull uses one of those. I wonder if he has the same trouble I do with that crappy built-in cable...) I'm not sure exactly what inspired this, but it seems to be the blows to and changes in my ideals that happened as a result of my expanding blogging.


"Hero of the Masses" - Dedicated with love to Mr. O (the English teacher...not to be confused with Mr. Ogawa the music teacher). If you think I'm exaggerating, at least a third of the lyrics are actual quotes (sometimes translated from the Japanese), and much if not most of the rest is paraphrased from things he actually said. I wrote this tune on the piano and practiced it like crazy, but I didn't have a lot of faith in my ability to play it consistently, so I cheated and programmed it. (The other voice you hear is a characterization of Mr. U, the chief of our English department. Those two men loathe each other.)

"Day Whatever" - I once read that Bill Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins used a Mesa Boogie quad recto amp boosted with a Big Muff fuzzbox on the Siamese Dream album. Well, I had a Boogie dual recto and Big Muff in my PODxt, so I dialed them up, and voila! There was that really intense, aggressive sound. I recorded the rhythm guitar and bass lines, and that's when I realized it actually reminded me a lot of My Bloody Valentine during their You Made Me Realise / Feed Me With Your Kiss era. Naturally, I immediately imagined an MBV-style wailing guitar over the top, so I immediately added one (though with quite a different sound and style from what Kevin Shields/Belinda Butcher used...a lot of which was actually samplers anyway). I also modeled my vocal style a bit after Kevin Shields', though you can actually understand what I'm saying. Also, unlike MBV, I'm not singing about sex, drugs, or suicide; rather, my topic is an all too typical day in the life...

"This Breath of Life" - Well, if you can get past that loooonnnng introduction, this tune is a nice bit of electronica. However, believe it or not, it's not programmed. I started programming it on three different occasions and just couldn't keep my mind on it, so I gave up and played all the parts manually. That naturally means there are some human imperfections here and there. The drums were the only part that I tweaked; I recorded them in real time on the synth and quantized the track to make sure they stayed on beat. The lyrics were "ghost written", a technique I hadn't used since the Spinning Flow album. That means that I meditated for a while and then quickly sketched down the lyrics without really thinking about them. The words just came from the little voice in the back of my mind. (I sometimes come up with the most interesting stuff that way. I'm just thankful that they've all been reasonably coherent thus far; I don't yet have songs about "muffin mix on your thirteenth pantleg", or something like that.)

Okay, that's five sample tracks out of sixteen on the album. Enjoy (if possible), and give me your feedback. If you'd like a copy of the album, let me know!

(All songs on this and my other albums are protected by copyright. Listen if you like, but please don't steal my music!)

17 Comments:

  • LOL
    "muffin mix on your thirteenth pantleg"
    That jumped out at me though I haven't read this yet - will come back this evening if my roomie and I don't rent DVDs.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 12:13 AM  

  • Snabby & I can't wait to hear it!

    Thanks for all the bio info on the music too, I really enjoy hearing about the technical, mental & emotional stuff behind the songs.

    Conversely, I hate it when artists say stuff like "It means whatever you want it to mean", "Yea, I just pumped it out while I was on tour and the caterers didn't give me my usual morning bagel w/caviar.."

    By Blogger Hypatia, at 1:58 AM  

  • Huh. I couldn't get onto Blogger for a couple of evenings.

    I really like Stand Our Ground! I like the minor key and way you sing up the scale and the purity of it. Also the ...um...riff in the middle. Hehe :)
    (How has blogging changed your ideals?)

    Hero of the Masses sounds a bit like a modern musical number :)
    or like when a theatre troupe bursts into song.

    Day Whatever was so well done. I don't know most of those names, but I do know what you're aiming for with it!

    I've noticed in many of your songs you like the haunting sound of the (Celtic?) flute.

    Some of your more atmospheric pieces remind me a bit of the music composed for the Globe Trekker/Lonely Planet travel series of the 90s. Did you ever see any? maybe you can listen to some online.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing. Hope you don't mind my inept comparisons and struggles to describe :P

    By Blogger Olivia, at 12:46 AM  

  • I tried several times to down load your songs to listen, still failed.
    Perhaps my home computer works very slowly or doesn’t have enough memory. :-(
    Anyway, I like your new CD cover. I saw your face reflected on the magnifying glass. Good work! How did you made it?

    By Anonymous PinkPanther, at 5:28 PM  

  • Hypatia
    Thanks!
    And here I was worried I was droning on and on too much with the technical stuff...

    Olivia
    Thanks for the comments!

    How has blogging changed my ideals? Mainly by expanding my world view even more. Of course, working with international students in my college days, majoring in foreign languages, and then going to live and work in a foreign country helped. However, what was really eye-opening was talking to people who were able to tell me first hand about things I normally would only be able to hear on the news. Then there were the people telling me "the other side of the story", so to speak. I started understanding points of views that, as a Christian-raised American, I'm probably not even supposed to think about.

    I haven't gone unpunished, either. In 2002 I wrote a mass e-mail comment (before Snabulus or I had blogs going) criticizing something really stupid done by members of the U.S. government, and next thing I knew I had old school buddies and relatives of mine calling me a traitor, saying I'd obviously lived overseas too long and was no longer American, and telling me I should stay in Japan since I was no longer welcome. They didn't seem to be joking, either.

    Face it: blogging has made me think too much for my own good.

    I'm surprised you aren't familiar with The Smashing Pumpkins. They were sooooo ubiquitous throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. (Did I just say "ubiquitous"?!?) My Bloody Valentine was an indy Britpop band that was really big back in the late 80s and early 90s. Their album Loveless is widely considered one of the best rock albums of all time. Their late 80s material was very loud and dissonant (and I love it!), but Loveless and the Tremolo EP are beautiful.

    I've always considered flutes to have a very natural, organic sound, one that is closely tied to the spirit, so I tend to use them a lot. My influences in that regard include mainly Celtic, Native American, and Japanese flute music. In this album I used Irish tinwhistles, an alto recorder, a (regular) flute, and an end-blown bamboo flute. (No skin flute jokes, please!)

    I really appreciate your comments. I am always eager for suggestions, too.

    Pink Panther
    I don't know what the problem would be. It might have something to do with your connection speed. It could also simply be that Fileden is too busy when you are trying to access the files. Wait a little while and try again.

    BTW: do you have QuickTime installed on your computer?

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:54 AM  

  • Minstrel - shocking about the small-mindedness of people, and I can definitely understand how that would crumple a few ideals of yours.

    Indeed, blogging is a self-thought revolution. Not restricted to national media news, we are now open to more than one or two biases.

    I *am* familiar with Smashing Pumpkins! Otherwise I have been living under I rock :P I just wasn't being specific on my first comment.

    Oh there you go! I wasn't sure whether to say Celtic, Native American or Japanese flute. They are quite similar and all haunting.

    And "skin flute jokes" passed right over my head, so no worries there...

    :)

    By Blogger Olivia, at 2:46 AM  

  • Gone Public Eh? About friggin time! I wish I had a faster connection so I could listen to the tunes. And if you are worried about anyone stealing them, well, what can you do? However, that should be seen as a sign of high praise.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 3:00 AM  

  • Pa've
    You're the third person I've heard complain about the download time. It's strange...every time I've tested it the songs have downloaded very quickly (and I'm actually on the slowest ADSL connection my provider offers). I wonder if perhaps Fileden bogs down from getting busy at certain times. Maybe I should check the download stats. If it gets to be too much of a problem I'll pay the not so large fee for more bandwidth and a faster download speed.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 5:01 PM  

  • In general I like your early work better. I think its my age (old), having grown up listening to and conditioning my tastes with folk singers rather than rock bands. The further things drift from acoustic guitar, the more it loses me. (So please re-record all these and let me try them again).

    I like your lyrics, especially in The Breath of Life, but they all come across as very heartfelt.

    Your musicianship is really good and I love the flute work (tinwhistle, etc). It adds a lot of feeling.

    I had no trouble downloading these five. The first batch took forever. I think because our ADSL connection speed varies alot - I've measured a four to five fold difference from one day to another.

    Thanks again for sharing these. Years from now we can all say, "Oh, Moody? Yeah, I listened to him way back when he was still putting up with Mr. O and hadn't even done one international tour".

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:21 PM  

  • Stuck for 4 days already because of the flood *sigh*

    The internet connection is really slow.. I even had to refresh several times to open your blog and your comment box, I just tried to put a comment in here.. but it disappeared, for sure can not listen to your songs :(

    I would like to hear it! So how can I get a copy of your album?

    By Blogger Selba, at 5:06 PM  

  • Selba
    (or anybody else here...)

    I'm really sorry about the connection problem...and I'm really sorry to hear about the ongoing flooding in Jakarta! :-(
    If you want a copy of the CD, e-mail me at maxfield@sopia.or.jp and give me a mailing address. If I have a copy available I'll send it to you.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:03 PM  

  • Selba - I don't think it's just the floods. I've had a few problems loading Blogger, too. It's been intermittent.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 10:46 PM  

  • MM, Ok... thanks! :)

    Olivia, Oh.. so you are also experienced it. Yeah.. sometimes bloggers got problems :(

    By Blogger Selba, at 12:32 AM  

  • For a while I wasn't able to open any blogs that were on the new Blogger. I kept getting an error code. I sent it in to Blogger tech support, and they cleared it up in a jiffy. However, though I rarely have trouble logging on using my computer at home (running Firefox), things tend to be iffy with the machine I use at work (running Internet Exploder). Judging by the dialogs that pop up from time to time, it may be a java script issue.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 4:01 PM  

  • I have my new laptop and Firefox is still a winner. Blogger aside, I still get booted off Exploder, it still freezes. One Error message after another has been sent to Microsoft when I am on IE.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 3:50 AM  

  • If you'd like a copy of the album, let me know!

    *putting up both hands* ;o)
    Lucky me had no problems with the downloading. Wonderful stuff! Thanks for putting them up for us to listen.

    By Blogger FH2o, at 5:13 PM  

  • Moody, its not your fault. I am tied to a 56k Modem for the time being!

    By Blogger Pa've, at 5:30 AM  

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