Tag Archives: music

Introducing my new project… Sarkeesian!

As I hinted at last week, I have re-released the Brother Curtis ep under the name Sarkeesian.

This is a brand new project that I plan to use for more experimental/noise type stuff. Including guitar ambient music. The name is an homage to Whitehouse. You can look up why that is. But we are our own people and not associated in any way shape or form with any moralistic, puritanical dullards who might share our name.

There is no set schedule for releases under this moniker. If I want to release a single song at any time, I will. Much like the music, this will be a free-form endeavor.  Enjoy if you can…

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.

Two new XR1300 releases

I’ve been a bit busy lately, mostly with the XR1300 project.

First off, on 13 August 2015, I released Rose Fioriscono Di Nuovo, a remix album that consists of five remixed songs from La Giardino di Gigli Rosa, a remix of Yuri Trib Dub called Rubfuckhouse and a new song called Fun With A Tomboy.

Today, 13 September 2015, I released another remix project called Xambient — The RCB Remixes. I remixed 13 classic Rural Citizens Band songs in a more dance oriented manner.

Depending on your outlook, you will either be pleased, or upset, to know that I have sequel volumes coming up in the next few months. The second volume of Rose Fioriscono Di Nuovo, is already completed and ready to go (minus the artwork). I will start working on the second Xambient volume later in the week.

As always, these albums are released under a CreativeCommons license and are free to download and distribute, provided you credit me, Ratan X.

Album covers below the cut.

Continue reading Two new XR1300 releases

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.

So much gear, so little time

I already have more than enough pedals, especially reverb and delay pedals, that I don’t need more.

But damn it, I really, really, really want the Boss RV-6 and DD-500. It seems that when I really shouldn’t get more gear, I want gear the most. I’m not even saying these pedals will inspire me to write more and better music, but I can see both being very useful. I’d even trade in my beloved RV-5 for the RV-6.

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.

Good grief, more recommended music!

The Living Sleep released a new album this week entitled Remnants.  I’ve given it a few listens and I’m really enjoying it. It’s more of a piano based work, kind of like the “Into The Blue” single they released a few years ago.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Into the Blue at first. I thought it was pretty, but the lack of guitars put me off. Also, to release one single song after a three year silence was disappointing. But mainly because Losing Today is one of my favorite Bandcamp discoveries and “We Were Infinite” is an ambient guitar classic to me.

But this full-length album is really great. It is a massive leap forward for the band and something I highly recommend. Not only that, but Losing Today was released in 2010, and you can’t expect them to be the same band they were half a decade ago.

A4090728359 10

While I’m recommending new music…

The new Swervedriver (!!!) is out and it’s amazing! First album of new material in almost 17 years.

Swervedriver I Wasn t Born to Lose You

 

Called “I Wasn’t Born To Lose You” and it can be downloaded at the usual suspects.

Always loved the Swervies, even though I prefer their earlier works. This album sounds like it could have come between Raise and Mezcal Head and that’s a very good thing.