Tag Archives: inside baseball

Hmmm…

Perhaps someday I should do a concept album about the crazy cult I grew up in. It isn’t as exciting as it sounds. Anybody who is familiar with the whole “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist” scene will know all of it by heart. Of course, it seems batshit insane to normal people.

Truth is, most of my passion, anger and bitterness about the whole thing has blown over. Most of that time seems like a barely remembered dream. Or maybe somebody else’s dream.

About once a year my dad will invite me to the yearly Christmas party. I politely decline and the night of the event he’ll say something manipulative like “I missed you at the party tonight,” but that’s about as far as it goes.

Sometimes I’ll run into one of the pastors or teachers of the school/church I was forced to go to. I try to hide, but if they see me I’ll say something. They usually sneer at me like I just put a cat turd in their hand. But at least they don’t scream and rant and rave about how I’m going to Hell anymore.

Because I’m lazy

I was really excited a few months ago about a new project I started that I’m calling Sarkeesian. But I’ve yet to make any new music for it. I have a song or two planned, but it’s been moth balled for a few months now and I’m finding it hard to find the energy to make it.

But have no fear, for I’m getting new ideas. The ep in question is a “pludnerphonics” experiment. But sometimes it’s not so easy to take other people’s sounds and make them sound totally different. And then find a way to make them fit together with a bunch of other sounds.

Plunderphonics is not as easy as you think! Or not as as easy as I thought, rather.

Back with new music

A little over 3 years ago the hard drive died in my old iMac and I successfully replaced it. I wasn’t so lucky this time. Something bad happened to the power supply and yada yada, I have a new iMac. Its pretty swanky. I bought a refurbished unit, which might come back to haunt me. Hope not.

macOS Sierra is… well, I’m not hating it, but it’s still not as great as Snow Leopard was. But I gotta stop living in the past.

Anyway, today I was finally able to upload two new releases, only a few weeks late.

Animal Drone by Abandoned Shorelines and Intercrural Love E.P. by XR1300.

I have tons of stuff in the queue. Full length albums from both bands. And some experiments from Sarkeesian. And more “ambient revisions” from Abandoned Shorelines. So the next few months should be good…

Computer update

I’ve made a decision on what to do. I ordered a new 2 TB hard drive and it should be here by Monday. It’s going to be a bit of a pain to install, but I’ve done it before and I can do it again. Given my current financial situation I cannot afford to buy a brand new iMac. So spending about $75 on a hard drive and doing the work myself was the most economical and sensible solution.

I hate to admit it, but I almost thought of building my own PC.  I was kind of envious of the “battle station” threads I see on /g/ and used some of their sources like Logical Increments, but the machine I had picked out was just as expensive as an iMac. And I quickly realized that I didn’t want to run Windows for a DAW, and neither Windows nor Xubuntu is any kind of substitute for OS X.

I’m still muddling around on my iMac, but I can’t do any lasting work on it. I do not trust the dying hard drive, so I still can’t make any music. Also, this iMac is pretty old (over 7 years) and El Capitan will be the last OS I can run. But I am on Mavericks right now, so I’ll take the time to download and install EC on the new drive later.

So, this isn’t the end of Ratan X. Just a new(isn) beginning.  When I installed a new drive back in Dec 2013, I told people I’d be happy if I got another year out of my drive. And I ended up getting nearly 3. Again, I’ll be happy if I get a year out of this new drive (and for nothing else to fail). Hopefully by then I’ll be on better financial footing and be able to get a totally new machine. Whether that is an iMac or not is anybody’s guess. Depends how I like El Capitan and the reviews Sierra (and beyond) get.

And then I hit a wall.

OK guys, bad news. My computer is on its last leg. For the longest time it was humming along just fine, but in the past few days it’s gotten pretty bad. I’m having hard drive problem (bad sectors).

The good news is I was able to make a good backup of everything. The bad news is that I’m not really sure if I want to replace the drive in my 7 year old iMac or buy new. I’ve been amazed that my  machine has lated this long so far. But the downside of that is I might spend money on something futile. My computer could develop another problem and go kaput after I spent all the work on replacing the drive. It’s a real pain in the ass to replace a hard drive in an iMac. Or any Apple product. This is the one downside to owning an Apple product.

Buying a brand new computer isn’t really an option. I’m not that rich and while spending $2000 on a computer in 2009 was a bit of a gamble, it’s an even bigger gamble today than it was then, financially speaking. Also, the new iMacs are literally impossible to upgrade or replace hardware in. I had a hard drive crash back in November of 2013 and was able to put in a new drive and hum along for nearly 3 more years. But I’m not sure that would happen again. And I don’t want to spend nearly $2000 on a machine that might die after 3 years.

Thinking of an iPad, since it has Garage Band on it. But I think it would be a pain to use compared to a desktop. I want an iPad anyway.

While I far prefer OS X to anything else out there, the only thing that is really tying me to a Mac is GarageBand. And I’m almost thinking of ditching it for something new because it’s made me lazy. But there aren’t any good DAWs for Linux that I’m aware of. And switching to Linux full time isn’t really something I can seriously consider. Despite the fact that i mostly use my computer for music creation and watching anime (and browsing 4chana and 8chan).

All of this means that I have back ups of my sites and GarageBand files (and the exported .aiff files from those projects) both in the cloud and on a local hard drive. But how long it takes me to release them is anybody’s guess. Depends on what I decide to do with my computer.

New releases by Sarkeesian, Abandoned Shorelines and XR1300 when? Was supposed to be October 13th 2016. But now, not so sure.

A brief history of music by Ratan X.

Not that anybody asked, but here goes nothing…

Rural Citizens Band (late Dec 2006 to August 2015). — Officially broken up in early 2016, but for all intents and purposes this project came to an end once I moved. There are some crusty releases early on (especially the first one), but once I got the hang of things and found my voice, things improved a lot. This is still the project I compare everything else to.

XR1300 (June 2013 to present) — This was started around the time I was taking a vacation from RCB. I was going to end things with the 8th album then do everything under this monikor. That changed when I started doing drone music and I wanted this to be more beat driven. Again, the first album is kind of crusty, but the second album (and everything afterwards) was a huge leap forward. Still making music for this. Still lots to come out in the near future. Yes, I’m still flooding the market!

Akibare (March – April 2013) — Noise annoys. This was actually the first side project I did after taking a hiatus from RCB. It was a chore to make this album, because I was trying to make each track more obnoxious than the last. And I took the easy way out of making “noise” music, by mostly taking sound samples and amplifying them to distortion. That isn’t to say a new noise project isn’t coming out soon.

Brother Curtis (February 2015) — I have made only one EP under this moniker, and it was released to a hidden subdomain on the ahoy-hoy.net domain. Then I took it down a few days later. Mainly because the album cover was an esoteric symbol that may have been used by a gang of human traffickers. I really don’t want my music associated with such people. This project is a drone metal/dark ambient project and I really liked the synth sound I got out of it. Kind of sounds like live Sunn 0))). Some day I might re-issue it with a new album cover. And maybe re-relase it under a new moniker that would encompass more experimental/noise stuff. We shall see…

Abandoned Shorelines (February 2016 – present) — The current ambient project. A lot like RCB, only beatless. And with more emphasis on beach life and culture. So far I’ve only released drone tracks and ambient revisions of XR1300 songs, but I have a full-length album of new material in the works. That should be out very soon.

And now you know the rest of the story. Good day!

An RCB sabbatical

But not a sabbatical from making new music.

The first music I ever released was released under the name of “Rural Citizens Band.” I’m not 100% sure where the name came from. Part of it is based on citizen’s band radio, but not really. I almost went with “Angelina’s Pet Orphan” but thank God I didn’t. It would no longer make sense today, and might have political meanings I didn’t intend.

That was back in December of 2006. At first I thought of it as fun, maybe even a bit of a joke. The first album reflects this as it’s not too good and it’s too sloppy and amateurish in its execution.

For a while there I only put out a new album every nine months or so. There were times I thought “Uh oh, it’s been nine months, better throw some tracks together and put out a new album.”

Then something funny happened. I put out one of those albums. Then I recorded an entirely new album a few weeks later. Then another. VIII was originally going to be my final RCB album because I thought it was the pinnacle. Then I started making drone tracks and drone albums.

Eventually I started a “side project” named XR1300 that somehow became my main project.

I kept putting out more RCB albums and the last two, Travelogue of the 80s and XXII were probably my two best. At least two strongest.

For that reason and more, I plan on putting the RCB project on permanent sabbatical. See, all of those songs were recorded in a previous time and place I literally cannot go back to.

I still want to make drone music and ambient music, but I feel it’s best to seal the time capsule of RCB and go forward with something new.

I will release an album of all new material by XR1300 very soon (and a remix album), but henceforth, all ambient and drone music will be released under a different name.

I already have two drone tracks (two totally different versions of the same song) ready to go. I just need to come up with a new name.

Really, nothing much is changing other than the name. When I get things online, I will post here about them.

This is a good thing.

The importance of good mastering

I’ll let you in on a secret. There will be a new XR1300 album in the new year. No more remixes or anything, but 13 brand new tracks!

As I was recording and mixing it, thoughts went back to two years ago when I released the second album, Surrender Is Not The Answer.  At the time I was creating it, I was really looking for a noisy and gnarled sound. I was having some issues at the time (moving, unrequited love, “the real world,” etc) and was in a pretty bad mood. The sound of the first version was a reflection of how I was feeling inside. Unfortunately, things got a lot worse after that, but that’s for another post.

At the time I thought the album sounded good. I was pleased with it and its ultra compressed and ultra loud mix. It wasn’t until a few months later that I tried to listen to it again and thought it was an abomination. It had far too much high end and the results sounded like a mess.  And not even a good mess. It literally hurt my ears.

A year later I remastered the album (which basically just involved me mixing the tracks and songs at much saner levels). And while the results no longer sound like the sonic annihilation I was originally going for, I thought it made for an infinitely better album. I was no longer embarrassed by the results and could actually listen to the songs again without killing my ears.

I would imagine some people think that mixing sounds too low sound wimpy and weak. And they might not be completely wrong. Though there is always the volume knob…

To show the difference between the original and remastered versions of Surrender Is Not The Answer, I present the waveforms of the song “Hiding On Planet Yuri” which was one of the more painful songs to listen to in its original incarnation. Obviously the one at top is the original version.

Screen Shot 2015 12 23 at 6 11 09 PM

While the waveforms can never tell the entire story of a song, there is absolutely no reason why a song should be mixed that way. It’s a literal brick wall of noise that allows for no dynamics and is exhausting to listen to.

Also, it needs to be pointed out, when you mix that loud, you have no real peaks. All you get is clipping. Look at the image on the bottom and you’ll see actual peak points. The one on top is just a smooth level all the way across. That’s digital clipping. That’s what you want to avoid at all costs.

Of course, one could make a middle ground between the two. I could have made the remaster a few decibels louder and still had better dynamics. But I’d rather mix and master a song so the listener can make the song as quiet or loud as he or she desires. That, and I wanted the remaster job to sound completely different without actually changing the music.

And that is why mastering is an important part of your final product.

Far too much music is mastered hot these days. I’ve talked about the loudness war before. Most products out there is nowhere near as loud as I mixed my album (which was louder in spots than Iggy Pop’s dismal remix of Raw Power), but few if any sound like the way I master things now. Hopefully things will change now that most online music services normalize sound levels.

To remaster or not to remaster, that is the question

Lately I’ve been playing around with the idea of remixing some of my old RCB material. Not in the traditional sense of adding different drum loops or whatever (I have XR1300 to do that!), but mostly to increase sound fidelity and dynamic range.

Most of the tracks I’ve released, even before I knew to care about such a thing, sound pretty good. But some of them are downright crusty and embarrassing.

I fixed some of these problems for the Best of RCB and Rest of RCB compilations.  I had no problem remixing them for a new album, since I could release them as new versions of old songs. But I have a problem with revisiting the past and changing it.

All the albums I have released were snapshots of where I was at the moment I created them. Going back and changing them would be like changing part of the past, in a vain attempt to improve them, when in their own imperfect way they’re already perfect. It would be like a painter going back and “fixing” old paintings because he learned a new technique in the meantime.

On the other hand, I can also see an upside. The albums themselves would flow better and sound better. The sound would be more normalized. The quieter sound levels would be more appropriate for ambient music. La Teodicea di Odio especially had some problems with these regards. Three of its tracks rank 1 and 2 out of 20 on the DR chart, and are mix loud enough to fit on an Akibare album. I’m still not sure what I was thinking about when I recorded and mixed those songs…

Earlier this year I remixed the first two XR1300 albums, Love Won’t Get Us Where We’re Going and Surrender Is Not the Answer. Both of them were in dire need of a remaster, much more-so than the entire of the RCB discography. I had no real problem doing that, since I have both versions of the albums available. But at the same time, I don’t really think the sound of most songs are bad enough to remix in total.

In the end, I’ll probably split the difference and release another “Rest of” compilation, made up entirely of songs that needed remixed and remastered. That way the old albums are as they were when created, and the new versions can be on a separate release, released as the Definitive Versions.

Getting back in the swing of things

It’s been too long since I posted something. Though I have released a new album and have another one on the way.

I’m still planning on doing a guitar ambient project soon. Something totally separate from Rural Citizens Band. This video I found tonight has kind of reignited the desire to do something like that:

I’m really impressed with that Jazzmaster copy. I’ve wanted a Jazzmaster since the early 90s when I noticed the guys in Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Curve, Dinosaur Jr, Television, Placebo and Swervedriver used them. I’m not usually one to buy a guitar because Gitah Player X used them. And in some ways I avoided using one because they’re so ubiquitous in the indie rock scene (especially among the louder bands), but damn it, I really want one. And those copies can be had for around $250 (whereas a Mexican JM will run you about $800). I just wish that company also made Jaguar (in both single coil and HH configs) because I could buy all 3 for less than the cost of one Fender Mexican JM.

Anyway, I plan on blogging more here. I can’t excuse my laziness. Not that anybody is reading this anyway.

Tone chasing

I’m always interested in finding new sounds, new pedals, whatnot. Experimenting with stacking pedals and effects and the different sounds you can get from them. One day I plan to get a Tascam and start recording some of these experiments. Right now they sound like shit, to be honest, but someday I might get something worth recording.

One problem with YouTube videos dealing with echo, delay and reverb pedals is the style of music featured. You rarely, if ever, see ambient, space rock or drone music featured. It’s always some guy with a douchey sense of humor, playing the same boring blues and rockabilly riffs to the same slapback reverb setting. It almost seems like there is a factory producing SRV clones with the same playing style.

Don’t get me wrong, there a couple of channels dedicated to ambient music (a lot of electronic, which is cool, too), but they get lost in the avalanche of bad blues impersonators.

Of course, the same problem applies to your average guitar teacher, or music store personnel.  If you’re gonna go pedal shopping, they’ll always tell you the pedals and settings that Page or Clapton or Hendrix used on whatever song. Again, I don’t really fault them, as the great majority of buyers are going for that sound. I’m an oddball, and that’s fine with me.

There used to be an online community, but I never joined because of busy life stuff, but it’s now defunct. Which is just me always be late to the party.

But at the same time I plan to do more experiments and get my own sound. For one thing, most ambient guitar guys use insanely expensive pedals. Stuff that costs $500 a pedal. The four pedals I will use cost about that much combined. Yes, I use stuff by MXR, TC Electronics and Line 6. That’s just what I can afford. Or justify paying. Maybe if I made thousands of dollars a month at Bandcamp I would put the money towards a Strymon, or a Death by Audio pedal. Some of those Death by Audio pedals are tempting. And they’re made by Oliver Ackermann of A Place To Bury Strangers (one of my favorite bands), but I still can’t really justify or afford the cost at the moment.

Also, when people use the same boutique pedals, often times their sound is too similar. I won’t fool myself into thinking I’m getting a revolutionary sound out of my four, moderately priced pedals. But I like to try. And I like to go for something different.

I’ll be honest for a second and say that if I had a pedal that gave me an instant Windy & Carl sound, I’d be happy. At least for a few minutes, until I realized I was simply poorly replicating music that came about 15 years ago.

For now, I’ll simply experiment and go from there. Most of the fun of ambient music is finding new sounds, and ways of making sounds in different ways. And sometimes that kind of thing is best done alone.

Oh so close…

I’ve been working on an XR1300 album lately. It’s strange in that it’s less dancey than the last two, but also more ambient. Yet it’s too dancey to be a Rural Citizens Band album. I’m using a lot of fuzz bass on this one, and as I play around different effect pedals (mostly delay, reverb, echo, etc) I’d love to make a sort of space rock album and release it under the XR1300 name later in the year.

But first I need to complete this one. And that is proving to be kind of a chore. I have 11 of 13 songs done and finished. Baring any unforeseen difficulties, I will leave them as is. Another song is damn near done, I just need to add a few touches here and there. I’d say it’s 80% done. The last one isn’t even started yet. I’ve tried three different songs, but none of them are past the planning stages. One I used my trusted Fender Precision bass (named Marceline) and had a pretty good bass line. Sadly, I thought the song was in C, when it’s really in B. So the bass line clashed in a really bad way with the rest of the song, changing the pitch in Audacity made it sound like shit. But I’m not too bugged, because the rest of the song was shit, TBH.

This always happens, then at the last minute I pull out a winner. Something completely different. It just comes to me. I have a couple of muses, as it were, for this album, so I will continue until the battle is done. The nice thing is that I have no real set release date. I also know that I’m most likely the only person who will ever hear any of this, so I really do end up in the shitter, it won’t matter that much. Except it’s my album and I want this track to be perfect. There has to be 13 songs on it, otherwise it won’t be right.

A new blog, fresh and exciting

It’s been nearly two years since I updated the Lazarus blog. This is what I’m putting in its stead.

I’ll still keep up the Harem of Gamines tumblr, but I enjoy having a blog that isn’t dependent on another service. And tumblr is pretty bad at the moment. I don’t really like an associating them too closely. There are many lovely people there, but the fascistic groupthink is really scary.

This blog will focus a lot on music, the creation of music, images (scenic, beauty, musical, whatever) and anything that pops into my mind. Perhaps it will be updated often, but given my history of such things, I doubt it.

Welcome aboard. I hope you can enjoy.

Also, the title of this blog is taken from an ambient/post-rock blog I followed circa 2009. It’s tacky to steal a title wholesale, but the blog was deleted for numerous DMCA violations about five years ago. Sad to say it’s not coming back, no matter how much I wish it would. Five years is an eternity in internet time, so I’m using it now.