"Technology Monster (Razno's Ghost)"
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Track count: 25 Tracks
Instrumentation: Korg Radias, human voice, Fender Stratocaster, Chainsaw Sample, Peak Pro, Reason, Ableton Live.
The piece description from the show program: "Technology Monster" plays with our current state of stimulation, fed through technology. Technology as mirror, confidant, combatant, instigator, vortex, enabler, conduit, quagmire. The ghost is in the machine, and it wants out!"
The concept "Technology Monster" was Tracy's, and she told me she'd been working with a driving techno beat, so I started there. I figured 150 BPM would be about right.
"Razno's Ghost" is the name of one of the sounds that I used when I started creating the music. It's a slowed down piano sample that I reversed, echoed, slowed down, reversed again, and did some other stuff too. After all that, I saved a copy and did some more mutations. After while, the very tail of the sound had this odd unexpected artifact that sounded like a ghost voice. So I extracted that and did some more to it. You don't even really hear it in the final piece of music, it's buried in the mix, but I know it's there.
This led me to the monster voices and biting sounds I did in my vocal booth. I took my own voice and lowered and distorted it to make a scary and sacred monster character.
I started with two layered electronic kick drums at 150, then added a bass track. I kept searching my archives, as well as Reason's and Live's sound banks, and I couldn't find the completely over-the-top dirty hard loud kick I wanted, so I made my own by playing a kick sample, bringing it into Peak and distorting the holy hell put of it. Also, one of the snare/hat sounds, a huge slashing hiss, is really a super-processed sample of the hiss made by my soda machine. There's also a jittery segment I made out of chopped up voice samples that sounds like rhythmic static. I accidentally put reverb on it, and liked it a lot better.
I planned to play guitar all through the song, and worked out a whole skank rhythm (on the 2 and 4, like a reggae guitar part) with a little flourish at the end of each figure, as a nod to the song "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads. But pretty early on I ended up taking the whole guitar part out except for the accents I'd made on the first pass - whammy bar swoops and power chords I'd put in as scratch (demo) tracks. The first take is the only one that made it into the final song, and the guitar only appears twice in the song, before the first quiet section, and at the end. Even distorted, it felt too humanfor the piece, and playing it live, as I'd originally planned to do, would have taken the performance in a direction I didn't want it to go.
I also took looped a couple bars of a drum break from the song "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" by Ash (prominently featured in the closing credits of the fine film "Shaun of the Dead") and distorted the holy hell out of it, as well as running it through some timed gates and stutter effects. It beefs up the drum parts in a couple of places near the end, and gives a punk flavor. That, some mechanical noises, as well as some tasteful chainsaw samples.
I layered in more techno drums from Reason, and played in some arpeggiated synth nastiness from the Radias, as well as using it and some of Live's synths some of the ghostly parts in the quite sections in the middle and end.
Tracy's work on he piece was amazing, and our collaboration was both rich, and almost effortless. This wouldn't have happened without her concept, generous collaborative spirit and inspiring work. Thanks, Tracy!