I’ve tried my hand at doing music as far back as I can pretty much remember. My first musical “instrument” was Scream Tracker 2 on an old 386 with no sound card, back in the early 90’s when I was 12-13 years old. Later, when I got a sound card, I went to Scream Tracker 3 and finally settled on Impulse Tracker as my software of choice.
The tracker was my main method of creating music up until the early 2000’s. Then I started dabbling in sequencing using my Roland Sound Canvas daughterboard, which plugged in on top of my Sound Blaster 16 like a parasite, and tried combining the sound of General MIDI with the tracker.
Then I went on to using Propellerheads Reason and finally Ableton Live, picking up a guitar along the way that only has two strings tuned in drop-D and trying, somewhat reluctantly, to add vocals to the songs.
These are the albums I did before the “proper” ones with real instruments and vocals:
A Minute Burst of Energy (EP) (2009)
Just before doing Practically Sentient, I had a couple of musical ideas lying around that didn’t really fit into that album. One of them was a tune I’d written years and years ago, back in 2001, which David Warmind had written lyrics for.
A relatively quiet, mostly synth-driven instrumental album, made while I was at university. Going through my Reason folder on a warm sunny afternoon, I realized I had a bunch of tunes lying around that, when put together, actually sounded like they belonged together. The last tune was the first time David Warmind added vocals to a song of mine — he sang this one through a microphone with an old sock for a pop filter in my cramped university dorm.
Download Soma (zip)
I had just switched to using Reason and wanted to flex my skills, so I intentionally left some parts “blank” to fill in with real instruments. You’ll notice these “blank” bits are played with just plain General MIDI instruments, most noticeably in tracks like “A Difficult Balance” where an entire section just turns into MIDI. That was supposed to have been played with a real band. I was in a terribly shitty mood when I made this record, so it never got finished, and now I’m kind of embarrassed about it, despite it having one or two interesting ideas on it. (I quite like the vocal track, “A Voice Amongst Thousands,” for instance.)
Stream and download Docile from alonetone.com
My first attempts at combining the tracker with my General MIDI sequencer amounted to basically seeing how much I could distort the “distorted guitar” MIDI patch using CoolEdit’s tube distortion, and then adding a bunch of glitchy beats in the tracker. Cliché became a collection of those tunes, with two vocal tunes (me whispering into a microphone, then distorting that track using, again, CoolEdit’s tube distortion). Originally, I only put out the first 4 tracks, but in 2008 I decided to re-release it with 3 extra tunes I had written during the same time. Not sure why I left them out to begin with, actually.
Download Cliché (zip)
Unwanted Side-Effect (2001)
My second tracker album, where I experimented with adding more and more noise into tracks. When I discovered you could import pretty much any file into Impulse Tracker and it’d try to play it as audio, I was ecstatic. The second track, “Never the Same”, uses my computer’s config.sys as a hihat and has a bunch of jpg-files at the end, creating an unholy soundscape of noise that got so terrible, it woke up my dad late at night. Achievement unlocked.
It was also the first time I experimented with adding real instruments. I had a beat-up old drum kit sitting in my room (this was done back when I was still living with my parents), and using a single vocal mic hanging from the ceiling, I recorded drums for the song “Wonderful Nightmare.” Then I decided they sounded like ass (which they did), and I promptly buried them in the mix. Another, much more successful, addition was the guitar solo at the end of “Sweet,” which was performed by my friend Thorbjørn Larsen.
“Wonderful Nightmare” wasn’t originally part of the tracklist, though, so that’s technically a b-side. A very long one.
Stream and download Unwanted Side-Effect from alonetone.com
The Human Alien (2000)
My first ever “album.” I was so proud of this, even though in retrospect I really shouldn’t have been. All the tunes were done in Impulse Tracker and then sequenced so they flowed into each other (for the most part) using a nifty little piece of software called CD Architect. I made a single CD-R with an album cover using H.R. Giger images I obviously didn’t have permission to use and a sticker on the front of the CD itself. And then I botched writing the actual data onto the CD, but man, still, having my first CD album sitting on my shelf was one of those “ah, this is kinda awesome” feelings.
Stream and download The Human Alien from alonetone.com