Sounds for Enlightenment(and other things)

audrey artworkHi. Yeah, I’ve been a little absent as of late. This week has been a long one, for sure. I haven’t felt much like writing, what with late nights, after work busyness, and just a general malaise. But like someone once told me in a dream, “Time to buck up, Skippy. There’s stars to lasso and peanut butter to spread so get to it.” There were Little Rascals, talking bananas, and a chimp possessed by God in that dream as well but those are matters for another day(and therapy session.) Right now I want to talk about my little ambient, atmospheric, film score-sounding musical project called dream district.

Since late last year I’ve been going down into my studio on Sunday mornings and improvising these little experimental guitar soundscapes. I start with some sort of riff, chord progression, or even just a melodic pulse and build on top of it. Ever since I’d gotten Kim Gordon’s Body/Head album back in December of 2013 I’ve been excited/invigorated about the electric guitar and what can be done with nothing more than a guitar, some pedals, a looper, and an amp. I loved the minimalist and lo fi approach of that record. That album was essentially two guitars and a voice. I wanted to go a little further with that concept and create noises and beauty with feedback, delay, loops, and the occasional vocal. I wanted to create these sounds that evoked longing and sadness, but never being morose. Melancholy, but with no regret. I love the stuff Cliff Martinez does for his film scores. They’re anything but cookie cutter. Johnny Greenwood as well. These are my attempts at scoring film. Just films that have never been made.

I’m currently at six pieces of music. I plan on continuing this recording process till April and see where I am. It feels like one of those journeys I can’t predict the end of. Each time I go downstairs and put a cassette in the Tascam 414 Portastudio I never know what conclusion I’m going to reach. That’s because I never really know the question I’m asking myself. This is as close to writing from my subconscious as I think I could ever come to. This music is about as close as a representation of my mind creating in-the-moment as I could ever get. No preconceived notions going in. Just a main line into what’s happening in my heart and mind at that very moment. The art of improvisation. I quite love creating like this. I’m not an artist in the paint and canvas style, but I feel this sort of musical creation is as close as I can get to a paintbrush in my hand and a blank canvas in front of me. It’s also, to my ears, pure emotional expression. Even with a beautiful two minute pop song there’s an agenda. You know you want to write a pop song. You know you want a minor key change in the chorus and you want to pull on the listener’s heartstrings somehow. It’s just the way it is. But with these songs I’ve been creating as dream district, the song can go anywhere. I have no idea where it will lead. I let it write itself and I simply follow along and help color it in a bit. It could be 15 minutes of ambient soundscapes like some lost 80s Tangerine Dream soundtrack; or it could be a wall of dissonant noise that will blister your eardrums. I don’t know till I’m halfway through and see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what I love about this sort of direction.

This will probably be the last time I write about this project until there’s an album to listen to. I feel like I’ve yapped on about this thing long enough. Enjoy your Friday. Below, take a listen to “ringing in my ears/her light”. Follow dream district’s Soundcloud page and you can keep up with the process. Or don’t. See if I care.

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