I wrote this song recently in the living room, just improvising the melody and singing about things in the room. Once I added some drums cut up from Phantasy Star IV (1993 for Sega Genesis) it quickly became clear that this should be a 90s Britpop-style shoegazey dance track. So that's sort of what I was going for here. I did mean to do a lot more to this recording but I always over-produce things so listened to it today and it sounded good enough to want to put on the album. So hope you enjoy it! Remember, new Dust Bunnies (2xLP) coming out Halloween!
A long time ago I was in a chiptune band called Super Madrigal Brothers, started in 2001 by Scottish musician/author Momus. I made a really cool website called www.supermadrigalbros.com, which you can still see via the web archive. It's a pretty amazing trip back in time for me. Includes lots of graphics cribbed from Castlevania and other games, plus an omnichord-powered minigame thing where you can sweep some Super Mario Bros. 3 stars to play a minor key electronic thing.
You won't believe this one weird trick and it's 2005 again!
I recorded a cover of The Beatles "I'm So Tired" years and years ago, and I uploaded it to Mediafire years and years ago. The White Album is probably my favorite all-time rock/pop album. It raised me. I remember hearing my parents' original vinyl record spinning while I was playing with action figures as a little kid. My mom used to sing me to sleep as a baby to "Goodnight". When I was a teenager I bought a copy on 2xCD. In my 20s I was able to track down an original vinyl for purchase, and later, a vinyl re-release. How many times must we pay for the same music, over and over again?
My main music project, Dust Bunnies, originated nearly 10 years ago as a personal expression of how much I love classic rock music, and I shared my recordings ALWAYS free of charge. Eventually I started getting DMCA takedown notices. I tried to fight them but the burden of proof is always on the accused, the little guy, to justify his/her voice in the face of copyright lawyers. This is not copyrighted music, this is not ripped from a CD! This is my own performance! My own instrumentation and arrangements! Apparently the long tradition of folk music, of reinterpreting and rediscovering, has no place in the IP economy.
So I'm shutting down my Mediafire account for good. It's served me well, as well as others. It hosted the first two Back Pockets albums I recorded. It hosted the video collage I made for Deerhunter's "Rainwater Cassette Exchange" EP. It hosted a number of albums and singles and EPs and demos and in-works tracks from a number of bands that I have played in, recorded with, and/or produced. Me deleting my Mediafire account will result in hundreds of broken links on this blog, so I apologize if you are trying to download something. I'm just sick of these notices, and I don't want to end up in any legal trouble. I just want to state that AT NO TIME DID I EVER HOST MUSIC DIRECTLY RIPPED FROM COMMERCIAL DISC. I know copyright lawyers are reading this (they are one of my few regular readers) so let me restate that, and underline it in bold:
AT NO TIME DID I EVER HOST MUSIC DIRECTLY RIPPED FROM COMMERCIAL DISC.
If you need to purchase the Beatles "White Album" please go to Amazon and buy it. Like your parents did and maybe your grandparents as well. Because whoever is making money off music recorded 44 years ago REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY needs the money. So do the right thing and buy it again.
Good morning! Here's a new song I finished the other day, one I am super proud of! Is It Real Love You're Looking For? has a '60s psychedelic pop thing going for it. It actually sort of sounds like the Dust Bunnies stuff of old, lots of distorted keyboard orchestration and stuff. But it's a 100% original song. There are several other new songs I need to finish up and they will be online soon.
"The ladies of VGM", taken from Beautiful Music Beautiful Lady: an interview with Kinuyo Yamashita
One of my lifelong passions has been video games, and as a child of the 80s I grew up with 8-bit and 16-bit consoles before putting them aside for music, college, and the social life of my 20s. In the past few years I have grown more introspective and with the purchase of a digital projector have rediscovered those old video games. What was once a flickering, beeping toy on a tiny CRT television is now projected life-size on the wall. Beautiful and surreal 2d landscapes scroll by like a moving tapestry or an ephemeral mosaic. The animation and art design of these games is incredible, and have only gained in stature for me. When I was a kid playing these games I had no idea about art history, I knew nothing of experimental film, or surrealism, or avant garde animation, performance art, music theory, etc. One day I would like to put all of my new knowledge to work on reinterpreting these games but at the moment I simply enjoy experiencing them again, as if for the first time.
Despite one anybody says, video games are art, just an extremely post modern version of art that collapses and deconstructs all previous forms of art into a vision of a future virtual existence that we are only on the cusp of. They are the ultimate in mixed media. Today, I would like to write about the music.
Many things strike me when encountering the soundtracks of NES-era games. First of all is the fact that this is largely Japanese-composed music, and as an American my exposure to Japanese music is highly limited. Yoko Ono is the only popular Japanese composer that most Americans have heard of, and she has been a target of endless amounts of hatred and scorn in the West ever since entering the public consciousness. When considering that an entire generation across the globe was raised through the NES, listening to music by these Japanese composers, it is important to place it in musical/historical context. Another rather interesting fact to consider is that many of those composers were women. In fact there seems to have been a much larger ratio of female-to-male composers in 80s Japanese videogames than in any western music tradition. This is including video games, rock music, classical music, film scores, etc. All of this is unprecedented in the history of western music.
At a time when most popular American music was performed by men from LA addicted to coke and hairspray, millions of kids were listening to music by Japanese women. Millions of us were getting schooled in electro, dance, Deep Purple, bossa nova, and speed metal all synthesized through a minimal 4-channel sound chip and played through the warm tube of a CRT television.
Currently my favorite VGM composer is Kinuyo Yamashita, a young woman who graduated from college and took a job composing music for Konami. Konami was one of the top (an arguably the best) game companies of the '80s. Kinuyo had never composed music before, and never played video games, and yet wrote the iconic score for Castlevania. The game series now spans nearly 3 decades and dozens of titles, and her original score is constantly being re-arranged and reconfigured for new presentations. She would come up with a melody and then perform it on a keyboard for her boss, demoing different ideas until they would approve of one. Then she went into code and programmed the music, using the scant 4 tracks of monophonic sound that was the NES sound chip. Much of the iconic nature of these songs are due to this limitation, because restraints tend to force an artist to become more creatively engaged in a project.
Listening to the Castlevania score nowadays is quite an engaging experience, and if you use your imagination you can hear all kinds of influences behind the abstract square and triangle wave arrangements. Classic horror films meld with silent film-era dramatic stings. Jazz fusion meet Bach's spooky organ works. 70's-era Miles Davis drone funk meets surf rock guitar runs. Speed metal arpeggios seem to herald the future of 21st century southern rap. It's all brilliant, forward-thinking stuff. Unfortunately for the artists, video game companies were slow to give credit to composers and artists, much less royalties. Kinuyo's music was often released on LPs without her knowledge, and in Castlevania the music was credited to "James Banana". Kinuyo worked for Konami for 2 1/2 years before leaving (likely due to the aforementioned issues) to pursue a successful freelance career composing music, which she continues to this day.
Here are some great interviews if you would like to know more:
It's not in that famous Dust Bunnies string-gaze style, no. I've seen too many copyright notices and DMCA stuff to want to put any serious effort into recording covers of songs that just are going to get taken down and possibly get me into trouble. So this is just me and an acoustic guitar doing it off-the-cuff. CCR is one of those bands that you always hear their hit singles on the radio as a kid and then eventually you get the albums and each song you hear you go "Holy crap they did this song too???" Just amazingly prolific. As much as I love noise and alt records a large part of me will always be a Classic Rock kid. Z93 in Atlanta was a great classic rock station. Whatever radio they have now (I think it's "The River") is sort of decent but classic rock radio these days is all corporately watered down (like everything else) with soft rock and yacht rock and a weird avoidance of anything truly crazy and out there from the '60s.
If you'd like to hear some of my original music check out http://thedustbunnies.bandcamp.com/
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