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I figured since I'm posting things, might as well post this. I started to write the songs back in 2016 but there are a couple from 2014-2015. This is the second indie-rock-??? album I've done and it was a huge challenge, but I had a lot more fun making this than I did the first one. I played every instrument except the drums which I programmed (I don't have access to a drum kit nor can I actually mic it up properly ATM.) I also did all the necessary production and everything else really. There is only one track that has a guest artist, since I couldn't sing those lines myself cuz it sounded stupid.

 

As for the album itself as a whole, it's divided into four different song groups. Since I like albums that have a "reason to be" albums, I felt like I had to have some sort of structure. Each group is separated by a intermezzo of sorts. It's pretty obvious if you hear it, but towards the end of the album the intermezzo and the "actual songs" start getting mixed.

I'll do a little breakdown on each of the tracks:

 

1) Saint:

This wasn't supposed to be the first track at the beginning, but slowly as the overall album took shape I thought having the first track be pretty "heavy" was kind of something I wanted to do. It's also probably the simplest thing I've ever composed and published in some form, but that's not a bad thing imo.

 

2) E.L.F. Panic

So one time I was going through the types of wave frequencies, as you do, and I stumbled onto the idea of Extreme Low Frequency waves, stuff that goes through planets and stuff. I found that kind of horrifying and fascinating, so the lyrics and the song just kind of happened out of that. Still think it's creepy.

 

3) Deep Dive

The only instance I've ever actually found guitar tapping to be actually musically useful. Otherwise, I always found this track had a very "ocean" vibe to it, but the kind of ocean you see in, like, those really terrifying deep dives people do (like Mariana's trench, etc.)

 

4) Another Shore

This song is very hard for me to sing, obviously. The song is kind of a little inspired on Chrono Cross, hence the title, but it's more of a feel thing than a direct reference thing. It does follow a little in the "ocean" vibe from the previous song.

 

5) 40s

Sometimes when I'm writing lyrics I don't actually think too much about what I'm writing as long as it "sounds cool" when I'm singing it, but in this case I think I'm clearly making some kind of statement. Maybe. This song went through two entire re-dos, as before this version it was super surfy. It also probably has my most favourite guitar work in the album.

 

6) Flower

This is a great example of text I didn't think too much about, but I really like it. The inspiration for this came from a scene in Saint Seiya where Shiryu is being told by his master during training that he has to basically be a mountain or some stuff, it's all very deep for a 80s Shonen anime I'm sure you realize. Also this ended up being the surfy song and it was a great challenge to get that Twin reverb surfy tone, but I think it went alright. The acoustic song when I composed it is actually like 1 minute long, so I was very curious how I would make it longer without just repeating things ad nauseum.

 

7) Sandra

I don't actually know many Sandras, and this song isn't about any of them. I wouldn't actually wanna be around the titular Sandra either, honestly. Interestingly, I did actually give more thought to the lyrics in this song, and boy there's a lot of lyrics here (which I have a hard time remembering, specially during recording.) I also have no idea what kind of genre this song actually is. Is it blues? I always wanted to write a blues song, it sounds like a cool thing to do, but I'm uncool so maybe this doesn't count at all.

 

8 ) Intermezzo

This was a mockup of how I wanted the actual track to sound like. When I went and "worked on it for realsies", I ended up hating the thing I made so I reverted back to the much superior mockup. Honestly this track is a homage to Kenji Kawai, of Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor, etc fame. I'm a huge fan of his work and I tried to capture a little of the vibe here, specifically the Patlabor 2 Movie soundtrack. That thing is so amazing. I also really like 80s gated drums, but I didn't know where to put them in the album that wouldn't be just awkward.

 

9) Introspective Heavyweight

When I was making the song list for the album, I really had no faith in this song in particular since it was kind of generic and not that exciting. I really liked singing it tho, and much to my surprise once I started the actual production I had a lot of fun and I think it's one of the stronger tracks in the album as a whole. The honest to god proper solo is also a first for me, since I'm usually too shy to "make room" for me just wanking around on the guitar.

 

10) Dangermind

This song was an accident, I just made the main riff by accident on another track as I was coming up with some of the backing parts and I ended up really liking it. As for the text and everything else, I don't know. I thought it would be cool to be a little more violent and aggressive in my rock music considering how that's one of the main things I do in the classical/modern stuff I make.

 

11) The Dark

Another intermezzo piece that's an accidental homage to a Japanese composer. In this case it's more of a homage to the Vagrant Story soundtrack by Hitoshi Sakimoto. I think Sakimoto's use of harmonies are instantly recognizable, so I lifted a couple of those progressions for this track.

 

12) Stars

I didn't know I liked funk until I actually started writing funk out of nowhere. But it's also not really funk sometimes, so obviously I have no idea what I'm doing. Either way, another guitar solo as centerpiece, but this time it's less "Oh whatever sounds cool" and more thought out.

 

13) Xtra Space

More gated drums this time submerged in that stereotypical retro-cliché from the supposed 80s. I don't know of any music from the 80s that sounded like this, only music that claims to sound like the 80s (which it obviously doesn't.) It was also refreshing to sing without caring too much about, well, anything really. It's not so much a song as a "mood," and I feel it could as well go for hours if I wanted.

 

14) Gold

I wrote this song a week before finishing the final mix of the album. It's one of those things that just happens, but really had fun singing and writing it, specially knowing that it was going to be the last track. It's got a similar vibe to Stars, but I think it's much more straight forward and it has no guitar solos or anything really fancy. Playing the bass on this was probably the most fun I had in all the album's production, but I really just like playing bass.

 

If you like my work and want to support me you can buy the thing on bandcamp: https://ytmh.bandcamp.com/album/nightwave

So there.

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  • 2 months later...
1 hour ago, SwiggitySwewgity said:

Wow, there's a lot of great songs in here! A lot of the songs sounded a lot like The Offspring with a few having tinges of Panic! At The Disco vibes. Overall, this is a great album! Awesome job!

 

Thanks! My influences are mostly 90s with a dash of 80s stuff, but stuff like Bad Religion and Foo Fighters, which is really obvious I think. Anyway glad you liked it!

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Hey @SSC, I'm glad I found this. This is exactly the kind of music I would've been into in my high school days. It's solid rock with a good deal of intelligence and skill behind the writing. You've got some chops on the guitar and your voice sounds good. Everything about the recording sounds solid as far as I can tell. If anything, I might boost the voice track up a bit, but it's probably fine.

I'm particularly interested in the pre-programmed drum track, which sounds great to my ear. Honestly I probably wouldn't have been able to tell it was synthesized if you hadn't mentioned it. How did you accomplish this? And can you explain a bit about your home recording process in general? I'm hoping to do something similar someday soon.

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@Noah Brode Thanks for the kind comments. I'll share some of the workflow.

4 hours ago, Noah Brode said:

Honestly I probably wouldn't have been able to tell it was synthesized if you hadn't mentioned it. How did you accomplish this?

I used EZ drummer 2 for my samples, and the rest was just straight GM drums programming. I mean it'd be good if you could actually play drums for real, then you'll have a good idea of what "sounds right" when you write it down in a sequencer. However, if you don't, the trick is to actually see how drummers play drums. I know that sounds stupid, but seriously look at how drummers play. See what's actually possible with the limitations of how many arms/legs a person has and match that to a sound. You can start to get a good idea of what kind of "typical" patterns show up. Also good is to watch youtube drumming lessons, even if you don't play drums, so that you get an idea of the physicality of it. If you can understand that, you'll write much more natural sounding drums than if you didn't. As for how to write drums in principle, the way I do it is to start with the kick and snare basically on their own and then I work on the toms and eventually on cymbals and hi-hats. Then I work on fills and ornaments as I deem necessary to add them.

 

The other thing is actually the production of the drum "sound" in the mix, so in this case I basically made the drum "sound" from scratch on each track (since I'm not working with an actual drumset, why limit myself to a single drum sound?) That way I could pick and choose what I thought sounded best for the track. I would then run each "microphone" from EZ drummer through its own effects chain, but mostly that meant a compressor and EQ, which I would use to shape things so they "pop" in the mix to my liking. And of course you don't need to use EZ Drummer or somesuch, there's plenty of other drum VST out there. I tend to use Reason's redrum a lot too, but it depends on what kind of music I'm doing.

4 hours ago, Noah Brode said:

And can you explain a bit about your home recording process in general?

As for the timeline, it took about a year to put together the actual album. Form October 2019 to release. I had many of the songs already so this wasn't so much a "songwriting" process as a production process. However, I did allow myself a bunch of experimentation time during production to come up with new ideas or to mess around with things and out of that came many ideas that did make it on the album, so it's not just strictly a production process either.

 

On the hardware/software side, I used Cubase 10.5 for all of the production. Guitars and bass were done mostly on Guitar Rig 5 and occasionally using Helix Native (which sometimes has better sounds for some specific things.) As for EQ and mastering tools, I used the stuff that comes with Cubase which is pretty great (as are most included VSTs in the major DAWs like Logic and Protools, etc,) but also Melda Productions' VSTs, which are also really good (And a bunch of them are free!) Synths and any other thing was done using Cubase's own synth VSTs which are alright. I much rather prefer Reason, but I didn't want to complicate things too much since Reason is its own beast (even as VST inside cubase it can be cumbersome to work with.) Like I said before, drums I did using EZ Drummer and a couple of expansions, but even just the default kit is pretty good.

 

On the hardware side, I used like 8 different guitars throughout the album, depending on the song. 40s was played entirely on my MiM Fender Telecaster which I absolutely adore. All the bass lines were played on a Fender Jazzbass, which is pretty standard. You can get just about any bass sound out of that thing, it's incredibly versatile. On the computer side, I work on Windows and I used a MOTU Ultralite MK3 Hybrid (USB then, using firewire now) interface along with a SE2200aII Condenser Microphone.  On the voice side, I ran the signal from the SE2200 into guitar rig 5 (lol) because, for some reason, I found it much easier to work with guitar pedals to tweak out the way my voice was sounding in the mix. Like I would with a guitar, let's say. This also made the workflow easier since I could store presets in GR5 without having to save the entire effect chain on a track.

 

However the voice was probably the hardest part to record altogether. I practiced singing the entire album back to back for about 3 months before starting to record the tracks. So that means I made most of the tracks as karaoke and sung to that, as to get the timing and everything right with my own mix. Also it's important to memorize the lyrics so you can focus on the performance, so I did that too. Maybe this is super obvious, but it wasn't to me!

 

Once the tracks were mixed, I made a Cubase project to master the entire album where I would import all the exported songs and then arrange them so that each track had a song. That way I can listen to the entire thing through and manage transitions and silence between songs. This is also important so you can bring all the levels and relative loudness levels together. In this case I used EQ and a multiband compressor going into a limiter for each song as necessary. Again, I wanted to bring each song into a single relative loudness level. Note I'm saying loudness, not volume. This is pretty standard now, so make sure you do that as well. Get a "Loudness" measurement VST so you can check that.

 

Then I would just export the whole master as a single track, which is what the youtube video is, and then cut each individual song for the bandcamp album. So yeah, that's about it for the production in broad strokes. If you have more questions just ask.

 

Oh yeah, my room is not acoustically treated in the slightest (I have an upright piano right behind me lol.) The only thing I did was to arrange my room so that it's cramped enough that there is no audible reverberation. I don't use studio monitors but instead a pair of sony mdr 7056 studio monitor headphones for most of the "studio work," and then when I'm mastering I'll use all sorts of different speakers and headphones to get an idea of how the final result will sound across many devices. So, y'know.

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