Category Archives: still echoes


66/55 for 07/04

66/55 at the free music archive

66/55 at bandcamp

Among my thirty tracks at the Free Music Archive as of this post, 66/55 is the most downloaded. The track was written in a backseat down Interstate 55 from Chicago to Peoria, Illinois, on a 1995 trip to say goodbye to my wife’s grandmother. The song looks back and around at 20th century America. Shirley and Normal are towns along the way, and “Normal: Next Exit” is just a perfect highway sign.

shirley got electricity back in 1939
kept the milk from spoiling and rotting right there on the vine
just so happened when i drove through
shirley said she didn’t but i knew that she knew
all that power wasn’t flowing through the lines

normal had its heyday back in 1945
almost ½ the town had made it back ½ alive
and there was a house or two for every boy and girl
they had all just beaten back the enemy of that world
and all that government money made it easy to survive

the straightest shot became a straighter line
when 66 became 55
you can see it every time you go for a drive
66 became 55

mclean didn’t care for kennedy back in 1959
still, they circled chicago with a highway and called it the dan ryan
shirley & normal thought they’d never need another road
‘cause they said that 6 lane highway could carry any load
and shirley and normal forgot what it meant to stop at a light

66 became 55

they put a cyclone in the center of town
they fought for all those parking spots from miles around
seventy-five feet high and a mile and a quarter around
all that light, all that color, all that sound

now shirley went all l.a. and normal wants to be las vegas
so jackpot boats float down the river where huck finn said “big jim saved us.”
and there is a coin or two for every girl and boy
if you think you earned it, it could not have been a ploy
you know that story. it’s old. ’cause history never changed it.

the straightest shot became a straighter line
when 66 became 55
you can see it every time you go for a drive
hey, 66 became 55

66 is off to the side
because it’s the service road of 55
½ the town
is ½ alive


still echoes

26 january 2013

crystal never hurts
manhattan bridge train
she still echoes
tweed square
66/55
flying time
like these chords
sliver of sky
the 12th step
the rime of the ancient…
i must have love

bandcamp | free music archive


the 12th step

The music was co-written in 2001 with Bill Kollar, a brilliant New York-area engineer and producer, who coaxed out the glorious rhythm guitar verse progression and overall tempo.

I hear noises outside my door.
They’re the kinds of noises you can’t always ignore.
Drunken lovers stumblin’ to their floor.
Ain’t it funny when the everyday becomes such a chore…

The stairwell speaks of their arrival,
creaking slowly up they spiral,
held up by one another’s lurch.
Mr. Christ himself never had such a church

They’re openin’ up that side door again,
and they’re crawlin’ up those side stairs again.
It’s just funny, until one of us walks in
to find them trippin’ up that 12th step again.

I hear the wandering echo of a gull
Misjudgin’ the water, scrapin’ itself on a shell.
I close my window to cut out its calls,
and listen to the drunks as they knock into my walls.

They’re openin’ up that side door again,
and they’re crawlin’ up those side stairs again.
It’s just funny, until one of us walks in
to find them trippin’ up that 12th step again.

I light one up and splinter the match in three.
And with that window closed, the smoke is all I breathe.


like these chords

this one’s for lovers forced to live apart b/c of distance and/or time. not sad, tho. it’s in that moment when one knows the other’s coming home.

we’re stronger than this day – that’s all I know all along
and your distant night flight voice – is just the prettiest song

you left this life for the myth – you’ve been gone a while
fall into a trance with me – travel the stars

we’re like chords that ache to play
and open doors on sunny days
we’re like these chords

we’re the keepers of the truth – we never tired of the world
and now you’re coming back to me – with everything that you’ve learned

got the sun on your back – heading east racing clouds
fall into a trance with me – under night flight stars

we’re like chords that ache to play
and open doors on sunny days
they’re all I got, when you’re far away
we’re like these chords

we’re like chords when you’re far away
and open doors on sunny days
they’re all I got and they ache to play
but we’re like these chords
we’re like these chords


i must have love

This track materialized one night after a friend of mine off-handed challenged, “Westy, I bet you can’t write something unabashedly happy.”

:^D

(downtune guitar 1/2 step, play in open C form. B=C, F#=G, E=F)

B Bsus4 B Bsus4
Walk down the street, it’s easy to see
B Bsus4 F# E
All those lonely people looking at me
B E
With envy in their eyes. I’ve ruined their day,
G#m C#7sus2 F# (walkdown)
But I think I know why they stare and feel this way.

B Bsus4 B Bsus4
Walk down the street, clear my head,
B Bsus4 F# E
just as those hollow people rise from bed.
B E
Off to face their groundhog days,
G#m C#7sus2 F# (walkdown)
they won’t see me starin’, ’cause i’m always wearin’ shades.

B F# C#m E
They want what I got.
B F# C#m E
They fear what I got.
B F# [break] C#m E
They want what I got.
E Em
Don’t turn it on its ear – it’s perfectly clear,
B B/A# B/G# G#m
They would die for what I got.
C#7sus2 Emaj7 B Bsus4
I must have love!

G#m D#7 G#m D#7
I must have love – don’t know what else this could be
G#m D#7 G#m C#7sus2 F# (walkdown)
I must have love – that’s why they all stare at me!

Walk down the streets of the living dead,
Surrounded by loneliness for blocks ahead.
But I don’t worry – I just while away
‘Cos my baby’s at home & she sings to me every day!

They want what I got.
They fear what I got.
They want what I got.
Don’t turn it on its ear – it’s perfectly clear,
They would die for what I got.
I must have love!

Let’s go!


crystal never hurts

a rock/pop song sneaks out from behind an ambient intro. what you never know never hurts.
– :^D

crystal, I was truly blessed by that
necklace prism rainbow
splashed across your breast.

now look at the sky we made
and all the stars we named
they’re just goodbye songs.

what you never know never hurts
if we never meet again, rest assured.
don’t waste time between the lines
of everything you learned.
what you never know never hurts.

that was the best of me
back in two thousand three.
shelter + safety.
i believed we’d have

a life beyond the rave.
we could curtain the world away.
but nothing works that way.

what you never know never hurts
if we never meet again, rest assured.
don’t waste time between the lines
of everything you learned.
what you never know never hurts.


[vid] manhattan bridge train [disquiet0011-motoring]

manhattan bridge train [disquiet0011-motoring].

click thru for description
Continue reading


66/55

wrote this in 1996 on a chicago to peoria drive.

shirley got electricity back in 1939
kept the milk from spoiling and rotting right there on the vine
just so happened when i drove through
shirley said she didn’t but i knew that she knew
all that power wasn’t flowing through the lines

normal had its heyday back in 1945
almost ½ the town had made it back ½ alive
and there was a house or two for every boy and girl
they had all just beaten back the enemy of that world
and all that government money made it easy to survive

the straightest shot became a straighter line
when 66 became 55
you can see it every time you go for a drive
66 became 55

mclean didn’t care for kennedy back in 1959
still, they circled chicago with a highway and called it the dan ryan
shirley & normal thought they’d never need another road
‘cause they said that 6 lane highway could carry any load
and shirley and normal forgot what it meant to stop at a light

66 became 55

they put a cyclone in the center of town
they fought for all those parking spots from miles around
seventy-five feet high and a mile and a quarter around
all that light, all that color, all that sound

now shirley went all l.a. and normal wants to be las vegas
so jackpot boats float down the river where huck finn said “big jim saved us.”
and there is a coin or two for every girl and boy
if you think you earned it, it could not have been a ploy
you know that story. it’s old. ’cause history never changed it

the straightest shot became a straighter line
when 66 became 55
you can see it every time you go for a drive
hey, 66 became 55

66 is off to the side
because it’s the service road of 55
½ the town
is ½ alive


Summer Echoes [2012]

highlights of this summer’s recordings…


direct soundcloud link


the rime of the ancient pacific garbage patch [disquiet0026-compos(t)ing]

The theme of this week’s disquiet junto project was creative reuse — call it recycling, or unconsumption, or upcycling, or compos(t)ing. Four objects from garbage pails at work or home were developed into an original musical track that would be used as background music for a PSA about recycling.

We were allowed to transform the sounds of these elements, but only lightly, so as to respect their inherent sonic properties. In my track, all objects are represented in their native state, either alone or interacting with each other, as loops or one-shots with minimal processing. The soundscape underneath the raw sounds is a layering of each live recording in a processed state. I tried to keep processing to a minimum. Each processed sound was only either time stretched or resonant filtered, with 0 or 1 more effects applied on top (harmonics, pitch shift, or wah-wah). In this way, I think the processed sounds retain their sonic signatures, though some of them got blissfully strange (e.g., the eerie trash-wailing ~2:00 is a time-stretched, pitch-shifted bendy straw being pulled open).

The four objects used:
wine bottle (napa valley, ca, beringer pinot grigio, via ‘prime time wine and liquor,’ brooklyn, ny)
cracked sea shell (rockport, ma)
snipped guitar string ends (ernie ball heavy-bottom/light-top custom set, via peekamoose guitars, 30th st, nyc, ny)
bendy straw (china, via freshdirect dot com)

The live sounds recorded:
wine bottle dropped into bathtub w/ sea shell
wine bottle submerging
blowing into empty wine bottle (long blow, two-puff, one-puff)
spinning-in-air guitar string ends
low-e guitar string scraped across sea shell
pieces of sea shell tapped on each other (a one-shot and an 8 bar live loop)
blowing into straw while opening its bendy accordion joint
clean open of the bendy straw accordion joint

22 tracks (11 live w/ compression and reverb, 11 processed)

rig: sony acid 7.0, paulstretch (windows), condenser mic, motu interface, lexicon reverb

the earth’s just slowing down, and it’s just about to stop. the only question is, “where will it be noon?”

peace,
westy

————————————————————–
more details on the disquiet junto


tweed square [disquiet0020-nodebeat]

The 20th disquiet.com junto project in May 2012 explored the inherent creative limits of a mobile app. All participants employed the same app to complete the project.

Everyone working on this project used two instruments. One of those instruments was NodeBeat, an app available for iOS (iPhone, Touch, iPad), for Android, for Blackberry, and as a cross-platform (Flash) implementation. The other was an instrument of our choice; this second instrument was to fall into the broadly defined category of “traditional” — i.e., a keyboard, a guitar, woodwind, percussion, etc.

The project employed three steps:
Step 1: Create a piece of music in NodeBeat.
Step 2: Record a segment of that music no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than four minutes.
Step 3: Use that segment as the basis for a track employing one additional instrument.

I wrestled with the app’s ability to free-form soundscapes, so in the end, I chose to keep the the nodes and beat generators stationary. The app makes some classic electronica sounds and the keyboard’s square wave brought me back into a new wave head. Once programmed, I “played” the app for about 2:40, with no particular structure, just turning things on and off while playing the keyboard (in major pentatonic) that runs across the screen behind the nodes. Took me a few takes to find something I liked, and this is still a bit messy, but it was truly fun and i think i got a pretty big sound, in a way, for doing something totally on the fly.

Didn’t record in the app, though, but rather into Sony Acid from an iPad plugged direct into a MOTU interface. Then I played Jolie, my Gibson ES-335 Dot Reissue, over the NodeBeat track in an open D# tuning through a 1961 Fender Tweed Champ emulator with the drive set at 8 and a bit of presence. Three guitar takes in all. Each was live, no punch in and everything got minimal processing (compression, enhancement, EQ). A “demo” in all senses, but also a window. And as always, the junto took me down a road I would never find on my own.

————————————————————————
This track employs the app NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle, and Laurence Muller.
More information on NodeBeat

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info
twitter.com/djunto


sliver of sky [disquiet0019-rojiura]

sliver of sky
where planes streak
birds fly
guide me to my dreams
hvac hum
rainfall drum
basement guitar practice strum
white noise cardboard pillow

face flashes in windows,
light strobes and mortar shadows
in an updown walldance
as homework ends,
as bills are paid,
as security makes rounds,
as embraces lead to encounters.

orion’s belt appears in winter
three hours into the night
his rodeo champion buckle
scrapes across the fire escapes
clanks against the risers
says farewell disappearing
behind the southern cornice.

3rd floor cigarette smoker
7th floor cool down
5th floor dinner burn,
crack the window.

2nd floor she always looks down
to make make sure i’m safe.
she knows i would save her
if i did not need saving.

dawn crawls

to leave me to the light,
to fall from the darkness
of my offgrid alleyhome unrooftop

white noise
sliver of sky.

This project explored the concept of graphic notation. We were challenged to treat the provided photograph as if it were a musical score.

bricks = guitar
mortar = synth pad
windows = bass
pipes & sky = white noise
fire escapes = guitar plucked behind its bridge

the beautiful photograph inspired poetry. i imagined a transient man, a regular in the alleyway, who often calls it home. i wrote the words first, then put sound to them. words are below.

the ratio of the full size image on my macbook was ~23 x ~18, so the track is right around 2 min 30 sec. used the vertical length as a frequency range.

the guitar is “squared,” using a fender twin opto-tremolo emulator, to mimic bricks. an ibanez screamer was layered on top and 3 live takes run simultaneously. i always think of heavy tremolo as a square or rectangular sound, but sometimes “i go about things the wrong way…”

a synth pad moves in and around the guitar to act like mortar between bricks, creating the 2 “walls.”

the pipes were white, so i took them literally to represent white noise. the frequency of the white noise sample follows the pipes’ descent in the left part of the photo. the proportions of the photograph gave me a loose vertical range of 0-1800hz. the white noise runs through a high-pass resonant filter and drops from 1800 until it hits the sky. there are 2 bursts of full noise as the horizontal pipes are crossed at ~70sec. the noise again blows out full in the middle sky section and then recedes to reflect the scattered white artifacts on the right half of the picture disappearing into shadow.

the bass was timed with the windows as you move across the photo.

i wanted a metallic sound to represent the fire escapes so i plucked my guitar behind the bridge through the opto-trem and screamer and got a sound i liked.

as always, junto opens up an absolutely fascinating creative journey.

peace,
westy

—————————————————–
This track treats a photo by Yojiro Imasaka as its score. More on Imasaka at yojiroimasaka.com.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


manhattan bridge train [disquiet0011-motoring]

The 11th disquiet.com Junto project in March 2012 required me to make an original field recording, and to then make something of it. It focused on rhythm. I captured audio of an N train (from inside the train) going over the Manhattan Bridge as well as sounds from the Canal Street and Atlantic/Pacific Street stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively.

video

The assignment allowed that “to [your recording] you can add whatever sounds you like, but the rhythm should be central and prominent in the finished track.” I added some drums and cymbals for drama, but did not bury the train in the kit.

Certain newer model R142 subway cars have propulsion mechanisms that emit tones as they accelerate and excite the steel rails with electrical current. Many people swear the trains sound out the first three notes of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. I caught the tones coming off a J Train leaving Canal Street and so couldn’t resist manipulating them to finish the 1st phrase of the song (“there’s a place for us…”). At that point, the phrase demanded to open the piece. The first three notes are as the train sings them. From those, I created the last two notes of the “Somewhere” phrase and a couple more notes to resolve to the root note. I have a terrible habit of ending phrases on roots; couldn’t break it here.

NYTimes story about the “Somewhere” subway sound.

My raw capture of the acceleration tones for this project.

The ringing synth-like sounds are the subway door chimes chopped, extended and pitch manipulated, and the general calliope is reworkings of the propulsion mechanism sounds that made up the “Somewhere” phrase. Vamping over the beats and noises with my cherry es335, Jolie, turned it into a “track.”

More details on the Disquiet Junto


Dowsabel: One Dream To Another (remix of Flying Time)

Dowsabel (chris wells, Columbus, US) loves obsolete words, and he took his musical name from the Latin for sweet and beautiful. His music lives up to the promise in his name, and his remix of my remix of a collision of bird sounds and acoustic guitars provides exponential entertainment and purpose to my track (which is below his track notes).

DOWSABEL’S NOTES:

This is a remix of the beautiful “flying time” posted by Westy Reflector for Disquiet0009-avian. I took it in some slightly different directions with reverb, distortion, reversals and playrate changes, and accentuated the subtle two-partedness that I heard in the original. It is recognizably the same piece (I think).

The original:
Thereflectors – Flying-time

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto


flying time [disquiet0009-avian]

a thrush and an acoustic guitar. like a supercalafragalistic cartoon on your shoulder.

The source material for the 9th disquiet.com Junto project from March 2012 was provided from these two samples:

guitar:
“Chord progression on mic’d acoustic guitar. A Major, c# minor, b minor, E Major.”

avian:
“Song thrush on a spring evening, 17th of march 2007 in a forest north of Cologne, Germany.”

More details on the Disquiet Junto


she still echoes (like a summer)

my wife often leaves for months to work on film projects, and her absence always gets me wistful. this track’s more about this feeling than anyone in particular.

summer songs endless skies
a lifetime in each other’s eyes,
but that wave crashed on a midnight drive.

time never meditates
rivers never hesitate,
every choice tempts the fates
and opens up a door.

she still echoes thru my world
but she’s an echo of that girl
who still echoes thru my world

faded paper photographs
washed up on the beach we laughed
as we ripped them all in half,
and traded them for days.

i’ve carried one for all these years
the image’s all but disappeared
faces are just empty spheres
and all those shades of gray.

she still echoes thru my world
but she’s an echo of that girl
who still echoes thru my world

she said, “with you i’d never live a quiet life.”
but she just couldn’t sleep over the marquee light.

time never meditates
rivers never hesitate,
every choice tempts the fates
and opens up a door.

she still echoes thru my world
but she’s an echo of that girl
who still echoes thru my world