'exploring.the.space' is tyler's official personal blog, which exists outside the band / record label platform. it is mirrored on livejournal

it mostly consists of incremental progress updates on various art and music projects. it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other people that he collaborates with.

Sunday
Dec292013

the mission is terminated.

its been a while since i updated here. this will be the last entry for the foreseeable future. 

when i started, in two thousand nine, it was an experiment to try and annotate my experience (and admittedly, basically copy the eno blueprint). the idea was to write something every day, no matter what. obviously that didn't happen, but i tried to stick to it as much as possible. lots of crazy occurrences were discussed, for better or worse, and eventually it became a good place to reflexively analyze current works in progress as they inched nearer to completion.

unfortunately during this time, TL;DR culture took over. no one has the attention span necessary to read more than one hundred forty characters any more. long-form readership drops to basically zero, and it just becomes more yelling into a void. it's become one more nagging sensation of "something i need to deal with", which is more or less antithetical to the original concept. so, enough.

with my time becoming increasingly less 'free', things that aren't central to the core mission (making records) have to be stripped out. it's certainly possible that i may make important announcements here from time to time, routine updates are done.

two thousand fourteen is scheduled to be a bit of a different year. redesigning the room and changing workflow in the studio to freshen things up creatively. less emphasis on "making records" and more emphasis on sound design and sampling. most of the year will be taken up with backcatalogue releases and collaborations, and less work on upcoming new releases. probably there will be more film work coming, in both the audio and visual departments.

for more recent updates: 

https://www.facebook.com/solidgreysky
https://www.facebook.com/solidgreyskyrecordings
http://solidgreysky.com/

well, like the pig says, that's all folks.

(that'll do, pig. that'll do.)

Sunday
Sep152013

- well, zonekiller is officially complete and on the air. happy to be done with it, in hopes that the next piece of film music will come out significantly better than this did. or i suppose, different is the word i'm really looking for, not better. definitely looking forward to something a little more pastoral, less urban. in any case, sending out some copies for review. my hopes, as always, are not high, but it would be nice to see some reviews. which reminds me i should really consider archiving those on the site in a more meaningful way. external pages die, after all.

- the new one horse town record is now finished and mastered. got really one more test pass to see how it comes out. it's tough working on these long form pieces, since you have to listen to it in it's entirety to really know it works. which is more or less fine if your record is forty-five minutes long, but at two and a half hours, that's a different prospect. gotta focus.

- spend today on administrative tasks, which is frustrating, but has to be done from time to time. record keeping, etc. then i wonder where my entire weekend went. too much television, i think. but at the end of the day a nice new piece, it sounds like a wolves piece so i think it's destined. trying not to think about that record in any linear way, just try to let it happen very organically. in the end i'll either have some usable bits or i won't. not focusing too much on it helps keep the pressure to "DO SOMETHING" on a low burner.

- focusing a lot of time money and attention on this camera situation. i feel like i have literally every accessory other than the actual camera body, which is backordered. it's making me tear my hair out. i would really like to get my hands on it before we leave for spain. i feel like i will need a bit of test time to really get used to it, so it would be better to figure that out before i have to go out and try to shoot something decent in a foreign country.

- gearing up for spain after a total rewrite. a vacation in reverse, at this point. but, all flights and hotels rebooked, and we're out. going to have to figure out what camera equipment is a must pack and what i can leave. again, it would be helpful if i had the actual camera here to make these decisions. very frustrating.

- new negative_crush material starting to coalesce into something. not sure exactly what i have, but i'm figuring an ep by the end of the year isn't inconceivable. one song in particular is quite a standout...better not ruin it somehow (easier said than done). happy with it so far, but starting to give into the pressure of "but what does it all mean?", mostly vocally/lyrically. not loving that vibe at all. also the drumkit seems to be out of service, which is actually getting very frustrating. as irritating as it can be to work with that, i feel like i'm really ready to start using real performances for a change. last time it ended in disaster, but that was because i was on someone else's clock. i could take my time here and try to really nail it. we'll see if that goes anywhere or not.

Tuesday
Aug132013

- been nigh upon six weeks since i had any motivation to continue posting. my doctor warned me that i've hit the age when laziness becomes a mortal threat. and i am feeling it. there is just no time for anything. it is a serious drag.

- zonekiller is done, mastered, and just waiting on the artwork, which from what i've seen looks really hot. first time using an artist other than ruth, so that is a big change, but i am happy with the results so far. it will be nice to get that out there again, and it will certainly be interesting to see how it's received, assuming it is received at all. considering it's more of a 'back to the roots' type of sound (for me), i would hope it will generate at least some interest. i'm definitely happy that it's done, although i guess i have already gotten disappointed in certain aspects of the sound. but i think i will definitely be trying some more film scoring in the future.

- once that's done then it will be on to getting the rest of the backcatalogue finished up and released. i am definitely looking forward to getting all of that stuff off my plate, although really it's simply a transfer from one plate (releasing it) to another (promoting it). neither of which is really my favorite activity, but so be it.

- spent the past weekend in hardcore mixing mode for the monorail album, which is definitely sounding pretty good. we got about six songs near to a final mix, so that is good. i'll be happy to finish that album up. going to try a different mastering engineer for that, because why not? 

- going to try to focus more on promoting the label and the releases. no one else is going to, after all. and speaking of promotion, the new c_xxx_e album is out and it landed with a big thud, which is a drag considering we sold out of the first one. dunno what the hell. one of the distros owes us money and won't return calls (nice), and some of the sites where we got very nice reviews, this time they're not responding either. dunno what the hell that is about.

- getting ready for the summer of many trips. maybe i will finish writing all the rap songs for the next ninja's album while on vacation. that seems like a worthwhile pursuit. i should study up on balearic beats, so my time in spain can be spent drinking champagne poolside while making tracks. i can get into it.

- i made a new one horse town video, and it looks like this:

Thursday
May162013

- serious consideration to the idea of completely stopping. the weight is just breaking me. when i'm constantly asking myself "what is the point of all this?", then it's a consideration to be taken seriously. the industry is dead, and it's killed my spirit along with it. i put so much time and energy into the work that i do, and to what end? i am not entirely comfortable being forced into a space of "be creative in the two hours per night that are the only two hours you have to do anything creative in"...it's not really enjoyable trying to force the magic to happen; sometimes it takes me many hours or days to really get things to gel in a meaningful way. and to extrapolate things further, who's even listening anyway? the short answer is: no one. so all the sweat and blood and tears are for what? for me? i could live without it. but can i? i think the stress of this question is starting to hack away at both my sanity and my physical wellbeing. i am pretty sure i've had a constant headache for the past four days. thinking that i will try to finish up the projects that i'm working on and see where things end up. maybe that'll just be the end of it.

- zonekiller is getting closer to finished. most of the shorter pieces are in the final mix stage, so it's really just about pressing forward with the rest of the longer songs, and then sending it to mastering (i'm not going to do this one myself...if i have to go out entirely, better to go out as professionally as possible). will be sending tracks out for review soonish, as they get finished. i think the songs are mostly pretty good, and it all seems to work conceptually. will probably issue this one on compact disc as well as digital.

- i did actually buy some lighting equipment to experiment with, in the hopes of seeing if it would be possible to put together some kind of meaningful live performance for negative_crush. i've got things setup, though not completely, and need to spend some time programming the lights to see if it's worth pursuing. if it worked, it could be kind of cool, but again the overarching futility of the whole thing is crushing me. i mean, who would want to see such a thing? do i really want to get back into live performance? booking shows? busting my balls for such a limited outcome seems sort of epically pointless. but i'll give it a fair chance. if the programming seems to work, i'll push forward. but, it's a huge time suck...programming lights is kind of insanely hard. on top of which, i've been giving a lot of consideration to the video programming. what it would look like, how i'd design the effects, how i'd be able to project it, etc. the whole thing is an expensive time sucking venture. i'm losing a lot of sleep over it and i have only barely started. update: well i just threw a pile of more money at this fucking thing. at least i should be able to get some cool video projects out of it.

- going to spend the whole weekend in the killing shack. instead of killing, i'll be putting together new cd packaging for the upcoming c_xxx_e release. i'm sure it will only take a thousand hours. good thing i will be sniffing glue the whole time (seriously i am gluing this thing together, piece by piece).

Tuesday
Apr302013

- well, where are we? there has been much going on lately. keith was in town visiting for a week, involving a trip to napa/sonoma for a decadent and depraved weekend. saw tim robbins reading hunter thompsons 'kentucky derby' conducted by bill frisell. it was great. ate many expensive meals at great restaurants. all in all, i have no regrets. or egrets. too pay for the over consumption, i purchased a rowing machine. it's great, but painful and vaguely discouraging. they say it will get easier in time, we'll just see about that. in somewhat related news, it gets harder and harder to keep this thing updated...i feel like i have less time than ever before. it hasn't escaped my notice that i'm working on less music than i have in quite a while. combined with an approximate readership of zero, i am not that motivated to press onward in my documentation.

- i have been seriously considering developing a live show for negative_crush. been thinking about what that might consist of, and how i'd put it together. the base idea is doing it by myself, or at least, not having anyone else on stage. to keep things interesting, the show would consist mostly of backing video and motion synchronized lighting. i haven't figured out if i would try to do guitars or just vocals. doing both might be beyond the realm of the possible, but i suppose i could do guitar if i don't have much singing to do at that time. so the idea is to spend the rest of the year (or forseeable future) programming the lightshow and editing the video. making the show basically watchable so that people aren't distracted by the fact that there's no band up there. the big place i'm running into problems is the weight of a rig that would be designed to handle all of that, in physical terms. use trusses? how do you transport it? how many lights can i run on stage power? how long would it take to build a rig the night of a show. when you're the opening act, it makes it very difficult to calculate how much stage floor you can take up. the headliners won't get out of your way. so working around all of that can be extremely problematic. i remember that when we did the battery cage tours with the screen, that usually only took a few minutes to put together. but there were four people working setup, minimum. and now we're back to needing other people. on top of all of that, there's also the cost (financial and temporal) of all the equipment you'd need to pull this off right. it's easy to talk me out of things. but now it's in there nagging at me. so. it might happen yet. i'll admit i am not averse to spending time getting the voice back in shape. as if more effort will convince me.

- still making incremental progress on two more big projects, namely the white.light.monorail and zonekiller albums. zonekiller is actually getting pretty great. i think i have most of the songs done, though there are still more interstitial pieces that need to be completed. but i think i have "an album" here. the big challenge as usual will be the artwork. if ruth is really retiring, i need a new designer. as for the monorail record, well i think all of the songs are basically finished. it's up to me to start tracking everything and getting it ready to mix. hopefully i could be done with that by mid summer. and maybe zonekiller will be done around the same time. if i do bother pursuing the negative_crush thing, i will definitely need to finish these records by then.

- we are basically steps away from issuing the second c_xxx_e album, which is very cool. got the cd cases to assemble, and the discs should be back from replication in two days. should be a ton of work, but once they're assembled, i'm sure they will look even better than 'brightness'. then there is the cassette release of the piano stuff that we recorded in vietnam, which is going to be tres hipster, but should be super awesome. i have wanted to release a real cassette edition of something, basically my whole life...so it is something i am definitely looking forward to. once that is all done and out of the way, then we can start planning on our edits to the double album...which, if i'm honest, will almost definitely not come out until next year at the earliest.

- speaking of double albums, it would be great to finish off that autio release. but the big holdup is the designer. gonna have to figure something out for that one. 

- ongoing concerns about whether or not to even bothering to continue with any of this. i mean, is there really any point. as recent times have shown, i could fill my time with a million things that aren't making music. but. that basically puts me in the same boat with all the other normies out there. don't know if i could live with myself in that regard.

Sunday
Apr142013

- finally got the new studio in place and looking good. it sounds amazing, i have to say. i made the switch from auralex to primacoustics, and they are a night and day difference. the room is a lot tighter sounding, and more control. its a ten by ten room, so space is at a premium, but i think we did a nice job getting everything in place. i don't want to think about how much work i'm gonna have to do to take these things down. hopefully we can put up with two years out here, and it'll be worth it on the back end. we repositioned the speakers and just a few subtle adjustments make a big difference. there are a few standing waves in the room, i'm hoping we can use the arc system to clean that up a bit more. 

- injured myself pretty nicely the other day. doing the dishes and broke a glass, which then sliced open the middle of my right ring finger. there was a lot of blood. spent over three hours in the emergency room, only to be told...its not so deep that we need to stitch it, we'll just glue it together and splint it up. i guess you can never be too careful with these things, but shit. it's pretty inconvenient.

- working on a bunch of new c_xxx_e releases. i'm prepping to ship out the second album to the replicator this week, finally. i think we recorded it back in two thousand ten. kind of unbelievable. but we also have the piano stuff getting released on cassette, which is hilarious and cool. purple cassette i think. been waiting on the artwork for a long time here, but the important thing is that it's done and we'll be moving on to c_xxx_e three, which is a double album of stuff we recorded last year. hopefully we'll get it finished before three years pass.

- new one horse possibly in the pipeline. started feeling a little creatively spent, so i just started assembling some new source materials. might be a good idea to try and actually finish the previous set of pieces first. hmm. now that i've actually moved and gotten the room sounding good, i could probably start thinking about committing to finish up all the projects i'd been working on at the last place. i was hesitant to do much in the way of 'final mixes' over there, because the room just sounded fucked up to me. i think i'll have better luck in the new space.

- finally followed through on the rowing machine. now i just have to be sure to use it every day and i should be fine. spent a bit of time weeding the yard and garden today. my limbs are gelatin at this point. hopefully there is a noticeable result at some point.

Tuesday
Mar192013

- well the move has completed, and most operations are resuming at normal pace. there is still a lot left to do, particularly in the studio, where i am still awaiting new room treatments and curtains before i can finally move the desk in place. on a positive note, the machines are all wired in and i'm actually able to be working again, which is really great. although i'm still using paul's genelecs, which i do not really love. my dynaudios will be back a week from today, which puts me one step closer to completion. definitely looking forward to that.

- things proceed apace with regards to the new album i've been working on. it's definitely unusual. i think all the songs will wrap up in the next month or so, and then it'll be on to mixing and mastering. i will probably have da5id do the mastering this time, since i think the material is pretty strong (basically film composition material). i'll likely do a cd and digital release for this. 

- reminds me that i really need to get back to working on the white.light.monorail record as well. and get the news announced about the opium disc and the new compilation. that will come soon, hopefully this week. i have some theoretical downtime (not really) in which i could be making some noise about it. still vaguely interested in a site refresh, but sweet jesus that is so low priority. for the seven people who visit per month, it's almost not worth my time on any level...i could say that about my whole career, in a sense.

- now that i have actual dedicated space to large scale art projects, i really need to get focusing on the top secret release for later this year. there is just so much manufacturing to do. i feel like i am basically hemorrhaging money, and to what end? lots of stuff on the house and equipment lately. i guess that improving the quality of the living space (not only the work space, though that is getting a nice upgrade) is an improvement whose impact should be felt on the work as well. time will tell.

Monday
Feb252013

- moving proceeds apace. though it's getting tiresome living amongst these boxes. i will be happier when we get out of here finally. i've got the studio broken down almost completely, but since there's a few days left, i'll keep the machine running for a bit longer. sending the monitors off to get repaired on wednesday. i can only imagine what that's going to cost me in shipping.

- this week i will get the compilation and the opium disc online, so there's that at least.

- had a long and depressing dose of real talk with dave, regarding so many things. effectively, my relationship with metropolis is over. we had a good run, i guess. i suppose this suits me fine...though it's unfortunate that we never achieved greater sales or recognition. to be fair, it's not like they did a lot for me. i suppose just releasing the records with their branding was about the most we ever really got. we should have toured more, back when that sort of thing still counted for something. oh well.

Monday
Feb112013

- obviously i wasn't going to get that opium disc out without some kind of problem. there was an issue with the artwork, of course. tomorrow i will fix that and should finally have copies in by the end of next week. such a problem child. then of course, there is the issue with mastering the compilation. ugh. on the fifth pass of that one. i really hate mastering. it's one of those jobs i should never do, but i also can't just go throwing thousands of dollars a year away on this stuff. hopefully this will be the last pass, it'll finally be done, and then i can just move on with my life. it will be nice to get these archival releases done. then there is always more to be unearthed.

- and speaking of archival materials, there is some confusion in my mind at this point with regards to this "solo album" thing that i have been working on. i am having all kinds of ideas that may be muddling things up. is it an aec record? i wasn't planning to do vocals on this record, and surely stacey will be unavailable or disinterested. but, some of the songs do seem to ask for vocals. do i just cut them from the album? what about the song that clearly seems to be an electronic negative_crush song? should it make the cut simply because it was created with the intent of appearing on this record? some of the pieces are clearly cut from the same cloth. they tend to be the shorter tracks. the "song songs" are harder to sustain without a vocal, but who knows. maybe i'm losing focus on this one. that would be a real shame since things have been going so well so far.

- did get a new place to live. back in the east bay, which is less than ideal. but, the place itself is nice and close to da5id, so theoretically working together will be easier than at any time since we did 'beyond'. the studio will get a tiny bit smaller, but i think the room acoustics will be a bit easier to mix in. i've had nothing but heartache here, in that regard. and i still have to send my monitors back. i guess that can wait until just before the actual move date. it'll take a while to dig my way out and even need speakers again. the good news is that my desk will fit and that makes life so much easier.

- been having some extremely "big picture" thoughts of late. i guess it's nothing new. about the value of the work, and whether it's worth it to me personally to bother any more. i've been considering whether taking a full year off would be of value to me. obviously i don't think i could go a year without working...but maybe focusing more on sound research and development, maybe learn some new tools. i've considered various ways to seriously disrupt my workflow, like changing DAW's altogether. but what is the value of doing something so drastic? would being able to approach songwriting from a new perspective be worth the dramatic slowdown in my ability to get things done? isn't mastery of a piece of software only a means to the particular end of making the technology as transparent as possible, so that i can spend more time focusing on (arguably the most important aspect of the entire process) writing the best actual song? pursuing that notion further; isn't the idea that i've been toying with of making another entirely sample based record (like the first k-ninja's album) better done if i spend more time on actual sound design and processing...sort of building the blocks from which a song is likely to spring? or is it better to just find those materials in real-time, ie sampling and processing during an initial 'writing' session? many years ago, jeremy and i had a policy: "no presets". well, i'm old now and although i know presets are a crutch (and to be fair, i do what i can in the sound programming department), i've spent the past few years taking the long view: get the song written and destroy the presets in production...if the end result is that it's no longer recognizable, then the job is done. but is that merely the easy, lazy way of excusing myself from thepotential idea that i could express myself more accurately if i'd actually spent thirty minutes dialing in a sound from scratch? shouldn't i be spending more time playing the guitar? the drums? building up my vocals through rehearsals like i did back in the nineties? i can program basically anything i can't play, and that includes correcting the vocals. i have probably created seventy hours (i haven't checked) of finished work. has anyone ever listened to more than sixty minutes or so? i have answers to exactly zero of these questions. a year off. it sounds amazing. it sounds like torture.

Tuesday
Feb052013

- the opium record has finally been put to bed. it will be available on all digital stores and via compact disc. such an incredible pain in the ass that was. i mastered that record nine times! getting it to replication was a struggle, but not as much as getting it onto itunes. the company i use for that stuff is an incredible ballbuster. their site basically doesn't work, so i spent literally all night tonight getting that stuff uploaded. an incredibly frustrating experience that i don't think i can do too many more times. still it feels good to finally be done with it. twelve years to go from start to finish is definitely too long, for any project. i may never be happy with the way this particular record sounds, but i'm happy that it's done.

- this 'solo record' thing is going well. so well that it too may have to be available as a compact disc, which i wasn't expecting. while i have confidence in the overall mission, and a great deal of the material, i am starting to creep into the valley of the shadow of doubt. when i start questioning which of the material is good enough to make the cut, and whether it really matters, and whether i am staying true to the initial intent of the album (short, completely electronic, no vocals, etc). for example, i started working on a new piece and before i knew it, i had a very very obvious negative_crush track. even though that song doesn't sound to me much like the last album, it would be easy enough to integrate it into the material i've collected for that eventual record. 

- so what's next then? first, finish the mastering on the damn compilation. that has been a pain, but once it's done a few other things can kick into higher gears. the solo record needs to get finished. i think i have the momentum to do this quickly enough. mix the white.light.monorail album. continue working on my tape archive project (i really need to get back on that). work on the c_xxx_e record(s) when the universe aligns. hopefully we'll get that cassette release out there asap.

- two more problems: gotta move, which means breaking down the studio and building a new one somewhere. which means retuning and relearning a new room sound. ugh. that's probably not gonna derail anything. also, need to send the studio monitors back for repair. apparently they have a genetic defect. can't wait to see how long they'll be out of my studio. probably gonna have to pick up some shitty ones in the interim. double ugh.

- funny to hear the new my bloody valentine album. i feel for the guy, trapped under 22 years of mystery and success. also funny to pay sixteen dollars for an mp3 album. pricey, these days for sure. note to self: listen to more jazz.

- also of note: my goddamned crown is coming off. dental emergency seems imminent. i do not condone this.