Tag Archives: almost x


[aired] a song for a coat

Charlotte & George, an online British-French children’s fashion boutique based in Paris, opened its virtual doors in mid-2016. This past October, C&G’s owner Sarah wrote me seeking to use my track Since I Heard The Sun off Almost X (bandcamp | freemusicarchive) in a video showcasing a new “magic raincoat” they carry. Designed by British fashion house Holly & Beau, the coats change color in the rain (the “magic”). Sarah found my track via a Creative Commons license search (all of my music is licensed cc-by-nc-sa), requested permission for commercial use and made a lovely gesture asking whether I wanted compensation.

So what’s it worth?

I’ve been asked more than once, “Why aren’t you famous?” All I can do is shrug. Sometimes I answer “Because I’d rather you pick up the next round”; other times “It’s a punishment for refusing to use google as a verb.” The question I most get, though, is “What do you do?” I’m on the more weightless end of the what-you-want-is-in-the-limo success scale.

I’m obscure, not unknown is a fave affirmation. I’ve seen my tracks travel the world, and the simple release of a song has seen positivity and stories come back at me from strangers in random wonderful ways. But obscurity also means anyone’s finding my music, let alone spinning it, still isn’t a rational event.

So when people take time to let me know why or where or when they connect with a track, I’m always a bit mystified; not because someone thinks the track is supercalafradulous, but because my track must have been so supercalafradulous and the timing so right that, for a few minutes, all the clutter of this life faded away for someone listening. When that happens, I am allowed to know someone felt what I felt as I wrote and recorded. I am allowed a crystalline connection between a perfect-something I wrote and a perfect-someone-else. For un-perfect flawed me, that’s the songwriting drug right there.

But what’s it worth?

Now, Almost X was my 10th record, and the last few years have been good. I’d been interviewed on NPR, made some best-of lists and connected with a slew of wonderful people who found meaning in my songs. That said, any indie self-released-one-horse-town knows your value is only as high as your last work. And let’s just say my 2015 record Sunrise Highway, well… underperformed. Whether that was fair or not, I’ll leave that to you, but it was loose, fun, full of crashing guitars and contained a few favorite songs that I finally recorded correct. But for some unknown reason(s), the record didn’t take as well as its predecessor, 2014’s sprawling clawing-at-the-world paean to justice, rights, escape, and love Particle Theory, which all my other records will always be judged against (a happy admittance). Sunrise Highway song There Goes The Sky ended up on some compilations and got a bit of airplay, but still, when Sarah’s note arrived, I had just released Almost X amid thoughts that maybe my recent successes were not a launch pad, but rather the world giving me the signal to stop — to go out on top, with my boots on.

Needless to say, my music almost never buys dinner. On the one hand, this is a liberation — I get to make whatever music I want. On the other hand, however, I’m hungry. The most difficult aspect of creativity is to keep any judgment on your art’s value to the world at arm’s length from any value you assign to yourself as a person. Asking me what my work is worth always ripples waves of confusion through me. It’s worth everything and nothing at the same time.

The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. 
Alan Watts, The Wisdom Of Insecurity (1968)

In any case, my insecurities notwithstanding (or perhaps with them overarching), I needed to name my price since Sarah actually contacted me about the track’s CC license restriction — most producers don’t. In the last few years, concurrent with my increased (albeit limited) exposure, my music’s popped up on random commercial youtube channels resulting in hundreds of thousands of views for which I’ve gained no ad revenue.

Now, the unauthorized uses do result in other views, more visits to official sites, word of mouth, and search-on-engine action. And every once in a while, a gilded soul will send real money my way via Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, or the “Tip The Artist” link at my freemusicarchive.org artist page. So I let it go. And direct record sales are a unicorn now, anyway. Through recent years most of the hard currency generated by my songs has come from streaming sites like Spotify, Rhapsody and Deezer(!?), in $0.0067 per-stream drips. (Yes, I receive regular accounting statements with line items in fractional cents). As a musician you achieve intimate acute awareness of the concept of a loss-leader, even if you never studied consumer-goods pricing strategies.

Sarah’s honorable request to use the track proved her integrity in this dirty-robot world. I thought about asking for cash, and if she’d offered whatever she believed it was worth to her, I would’ve given her my bitcoin address and left it at that. But, she left the assignation of value up to me, and sometimes there’s more value in being a conduit than a receiver. The coat looked genius.

“I don’t need cash,” I wrote her. “How about one of those magic coats for my nephew, Austin. His birthday’s coming up.”

“A song for a coat,” she chimed back. “That sounds perfect.” 

So there we netted out — she was free to use the song and I would receive a “monster magic raincoat,” size 5–6, to give to my nephew Austin for his birthday.

Charlotte & George’s video went out, garnered thousands of views on a couple of platforms for them, and a couple weeks later, a wonderful air-mail stamped package arrived from Paris in time for Austin’s party.

Rain was not falling on the day, but we tested the magic of the coat on Austin in my parents’ living room using a spray bottle, and he loved every second. Now, after wearing it a few times for real, he can’t wait for the next rain. The true magic in the coats, upstream, is in alleviating kids’ fears of inclement weather.

Win-win-win.

In the Internet’s highwire infancy (often in a 3-page business plan with one positive-linear-sloped graph on page 3), the World Wild-West Web promised infinite direct connections among people outside traditional entertainment, commerce and journalism channels. For artists, this environment promised a new economy around creativity, in which they would gain ever-increasing control of how their work is used and valued. 

“Are we there yet?” asked the musician and writer from the backseat in the way-back-when.

“Almost,” said the driver in the now. “But the future present won’t look much different. The old world was not displaced — just given blind spots. We’ll have to get even smarter. Open our eyes and ears a bit wider.”

In this story, I wrote a song and then a few months later the stars aligned to give my nephew a coat. My track became a future present. A fractal of a 21st century creative economy? Maybe, the future’s still here, lying in wait for a watershed. Or maybe just waiting on a magic coat to change your perceptions of the rain.

All the luck and fortune to Charlotte & George. If you’re looking for a well curated collection of kids clothing and a means to support a still-fragile, vital new relationship between art and commerce, they’re one click away.

story mirrored on medium.com

Source Track


[aired] chasing an acting dream

Sandro Intervju from Oliver der Nederlanden on Vimeo.

Chasing Flight soundtracks an introspective interview with Swedish actor Sandro Khafor, shot by Oliver der Nederlanden and Magnus Lindkvist. Wish I knew Swedish, but the word for actor, skådespelare, is a sharp looking one.

source track:


Almost X

Ten more dice rolls. Records don’t so much freeze as liquify time. I’ve lost years to music. Time is the price you pay, however, to alleviate dreams.

Almost X where X = whom, where, what or even why you want to be. Let’s fly this town, through the looking glass, riding our 99th dream into the stars, towards X.

“Nothing means anything.” – Kurt Vonnegut

:^D

released January 15, 2016

Written, performed and produced by Westy Reflector

Cover photo: “Drew’s Spare”
Dave Westreich, 17 July 2010, 04:02

Lead guitar on That Old Guitar:
Jason Perkel | switchfactory.com

Samples on Sedimentronic Figures
courtesy of:
Rupert Lally | rupertlally.bandcamp.com
and
Ahornberg | ahornberg.bandcamp.com


[track] King Jack’s 99th Dream

This track started out life as a disquiet junto challenge a couple years ago:

Assignment: re-tell a single-page comic strip, 99 Ways To Tell A Story [Panel 1], by Matt Madden:

Background (via disquiet.com): “Matt Madden’s single-page comic is the template for a book he created titled 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. In the book, Madden told that same story 99 different ways, each in a different comic-book style. For example, he told it as a superhero comic, he told it as a manga, he told it as experienced from upstairs, and he told it as if it were overheard at a bar. Madden did this in homage to the French writer Raymond Queneau’s own Exercises in Style, which is a key text of the literary movement known as Oulipo. Oulipo approaches the act of writing with intentional constraints, and the movement’s approach to creativity was a strong influence on the development of the Disquiet Junto. Oubapo is the name of the comics version of Oulipo. What we’re up to is the musical version: Oumupo.”

Original track is here.

Time to make up your mind
Time never falls behind
Time to make up your mind and close the door

She drew you in, black and white
From her studio in the sky
She drew you eight times ninety-nine…

Frames in time
And you will never escape that night
Until you make up your mind
And close the door

Should’ve paid off those bills
Should’ve laid off those pills
Should’ve written one more word
Before you put your machine to sleep

What the hell were you looking for
when you opened up that door?
What the hell were you looking for,
if not time?

It’s just like Jack once said
“Bittersweet life is at best.”
It’s just like King Jack once said

You’re framed in time
And you will never escape that night
If you never make up your mind
Yeah, you’re framed in time
And you’ll never escape that night
Until you make up your mind
And close the door


[track] Nothing / Anything

“Nothing means anything.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

LYRICS
There’s no right and wrong or light and dark
There are only in-betweens
When this world gives you no end
And you know nothing but your means

Nothing means anything

I crossed state lines and changed my name
Twenty years down that way
Still lost in song; still don’t belong
Nothing’s changed nothing’s changed

Nothing means anything

It’s how you end,
not where you start
Life is easy –
it’s living that’s hard

Dispossession, constant rejection
A world designed to keep you low
So the smartest thing you can ever do
Is let go

Nothing means anything


[track] Since I Heard The Sun

processing darkness with the sun works wonders. may your futures be full of light.

It’s been so long
since I heard the sun
call my name.
It’s been so long
since I had the power to
light my way.

Dreams left me high
and lovely,
(but) in darkness
with life undone.

It’s been so long
since I heard the sun.

It’s been so long
since I became
a forgotten one.
It’s been so long
since I started spinning
into oblivion.

You can still be a refugee
in a place you can’t escape,
running ahead as lights turn red,
trying to duck fate.

It’s been so long
since I had faith
in future plans.
It’s been so long
since I had faith
in a promised land.

Dreams left me high
and lovely,
(but) in darkness
with life undone.

It’s been so long
since I heard the sun.

track was developed from a piece of expository writing from this past october.
http://westyreflector.net/2015/10/words-since-i-heard-the-sun/


[track] chasing flight

ambient.drone.guitar

CHAIN
Pigtronix Infinity Looper –> Small Sound / Big Sound Sparkle Motion –> SS/BS Mini F*ck –> Electro-Faustus EF107 Regurgitator (send/receive: tc electronic flashback –> Earthquaker Grand Orbiter) –> electro-harmonix SuperEgo (send/receive: EQD Arpanoid –> Diamond Tremolo) –> EQD Afterneath –> Strymon blueSky –> Line6 Fender Blackface emulator


[track] That Old Guitar

Country-fried me.
special lead guitar guest star: Jason Perkel (switchfactory.com | soundcloud.com/switch-factory | soundcloud.com/halfofsf)

My wife comes from the South Side of Chicago,
and when she first brought me back in ‘ninety four,
down in the basement of her childhood home
I found an old guitar.

She said “That was my great uncle Bill’s,
“I guess he left it to my dad.
“I remember after Bill lost his Kentucky farm,
that Gibson was all he had.”

“But he said ‘I’m not scared of a changing world
Or losing anything we are
‘Cos I wave hi to distant good times
every time I play that guitar.’ “

For eleven quiet years after Bill passed on,
that L-1, I guess, had waited for me
‘Cos it rang one brilliant chord before the bridge caved in
Just to let me hear what it could be

You got to draw lines
Back through time
To know who you really are
Every note Bill played
Rang again that day
When we picked up that old guitar

So it returned with us to New York.
In the hands of The ‘Moose returned to life.
And the sound that it made again
returned Bill to my angel wife

He said, “I’m not scared of a changing world
or losing anything we are.
I just wave hi to distant good times
every time I play that guitar.”

So I’m not scared of a changing world.
We’ve lost nothing that we are.
‘Cos I hear echoes of distant good times
every time I play that old guitar.


[track] Through The Looking Glass

This track grew out of a poem written in August.
Man, sometimes this world…
:^D

We’re surrounded by people
Who can’t think for themselves
They fear loneliness more than they feel hell
Then take comfort that they can’t even tell
Say goodbye to the world it’s just as well

We’ve gone through the looking glass
Nothing’s left up ahead we haven’t already passed
Now we’re so alone
We don’t need to turn our backs
We’ve gone through the looking glass

We’re surrounded by people
Who don’t learn for themselves
They buy into the bullshit they turn around and sell
Then take comfort in the lies they tell
Say goodbye to the world it’s just as well

We’ve gone through the looking glass

But you and me
come from a place beyond time
in the company of love
we live outside the lines

We’re surrounded by people
Who only live for themselves
They drink all the water but can’t dig a well
They say they make love but it’s just a shell
Say goodbye to the world it’s just as well


[track] sedimentronic figures [disquiet0190-missedconnections]

PROCESS
20 bars of Rupert Lally‘s “Sediment Layers

8 bars of Ahornberg‘s “Digital Frippertronics

Loads of flying, fluttery harmonics and shifting undertones as these loops cycled together. Rupert Lally’s track loop is 30% right and ahornberg’s is 30% left in the mix and they’re both blended (smeared?) together by a slight (27% wet) band-pass (1500Hz) resonance filter and a bit of room reverb. They’re both in related keys (G and D, it seemed) so their ensuing conversation took some pretty turns. Put my guitar down this week in favor of Propellerhead’s Figure app for iPad (the latest update’s “arpeggiator” has become a tiny addiction). I programmed 8 bar synth and bass loops in the key of G at 96bpm and played the percussion pad live as the track streamed along with the sources on my Acid timeline. Figure ran via Audiobus into Flux:FX’s “Multi-Verb” preset located in the app’s stock Ambient bank.

RIG
Propellerhead Figure: “Sonny” drum kit (4/4 kick, 6/4 snareclap, 12/4 hats, 10/4 toms), “Bassguitar” bass (5/4 rhythm, 7 scale steps), “Super Poly” synth (5/4 rhythm, 7 scale steps)
Noiise Flux:FX for iPad (ver 1.01): Ambience “Multi-Verb” preset
Audiobus for iPad (2.1.17), Sony Acid 7.0, Win 8.1

PROJECT
“Set two out-of-sync loops atop each other, and then add sonic glue”

More on this 190th Disquiet Junto project

More on the Disquiet Junto

Join the Disquiet Junto

Disquiet Junto general discussion


[track] c swells [disquiet0189-tonelayer]

PROCESS

Single notes in the key of C, staggered and stacked to move through different chords. “Attack” was eliminated using a combination of my trusted E-bow fed through an EHX POG2 with its attack setting jacked all the way up for max swell. Tape Delay, Phaser, Reverb added for space travel (or ocean travel as the case may be here).

RIG

Fabien (Peekamoose Custom Guitars M2), EHX POG2, Small Sound / Big Sound Sparkle Motion, tc electronic flashback delay, EQD Grand Orbiter, EQD Afterneath, Strymon blueSky, Line6 POD-XT (Vox AC-30 emulation), RECORDING DAW: Sony Acid 7.0 (Win 8.1), MASTERING DAW: Harrison Mixbus 2.5 (Mac OS 10.7.5)

PROJECT

Create a dense stack of attack-free tonal material from one audio source.

Step 1: Choose an instrument that can create extended tones.

Step 2: Record a short loop of a single held tone on that instrument. Use a volume pedal or other tool to eliminate the attack at the start of the tone.

Step 3: Create many more such loops, all with the same instrument, and layer them atop the original loop.

Step 4: Record a document of these layered loops lasting approximately 1 minute.

Step 5: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

————————————————
More on this 189th Disquiet Junto project (“Create a dense stack of attack-free tonal material from one audio source”) at:
disquiet.com/2015/08/13/disquiet0189-tonelayer/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:
disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:
disquiet.com/forums/


[track] Elena’s Stars

Dusted off some twang for a story of beauty in sadness. Some days, whiskey over absinthe…

Elena lived on Avenue X,
next to a trestle
all her life.

She dreamed of distant places
and of jumping random trains
a thousand times.

She craved a sky that let her know she was home.
An endless sky that left the stars alone
to shine.
Beyond her life,
that sky showed her some way home.

Counting the trains
to and from Coney Island
every night,

searching in vain
for salvation, in a city
full of lies.

[ch.]

I’m still here, amidst the fallout of our life.
I’m still here, living with her dreams.

She found a sky that let her know she was home.
An endless sky that left the stars alone
to shine.
Beyond her life,
that sky showed her some way home.


[track] fly this town

alan watts reflected in a disco ball

there’s a rip in the galaxy
sounds like wind through a door
it’s headed for us full speed ahead
we’ve got nothing to lose anymore

so no more running from the past
running from the dark
searching through the void
chasing love

let’s fly this town tonight
dance away from these city lights
take our cues from distant satellites
let’s fly this town

over the horizon lies
a ring of endless light
made of the dreams we carried
through our coldest nights

there’s no more falling out of time
falling for the cons
calling out in vain
waiting on love

let’s fly this town tonight
dance away from these city lights
take our cues from distant satellites
let’s fly this town