A personal note on the making of “Chapters”
February 25th 2014 marks the day my 2nd full ambient/electronic music album was released. Thanks to Apptronica .
Marius C Hammerich Kikai Kikagu
I had intended to have this prepared in time for the release. Unfortunately I didn’t prepare well for just how many uncomfortable memories it would dig up. Coping with the memories over a longer period of time during the production, one at a time, was a little challenging but to confront them all at once proved to be more.
I have written this “Album Description” several different ways in recent weeks. Each time I ended up deleting what I wrote. I’m honestly not sure why? Maybe it was too personal, too painful, too long? I don’t know.
I wanted to be completely honest, sharing every detail. Too many details I guess. Then I felt finally that I could still share details honestly but without putting too much of myself in full view. So by personal right I choose to convey the honest meanings without extremely personal details. Those are mine, and I lack the skill to properly place every single piece in the light avoiding where it could not be misunderstood. So you still get the descriptions but not necessarily every single detail. Besides, it would end up prohibitively lengthy.
To start off I’ll repeat the general concept that is “Chapters”. This album is a collection of songs that each have a special meaning to me. They were created based on memories of people I’ve known, the times and places I’ve known them, and how they affected my personal growth. Each track is placed in chronological order. Some spanning years. Some overlap. An “Audio-Biography” of sorts. Far from being a full and complete biography as it begins at age 13.
Track One – Lie Of The Cook
When I was a child of 13 years, on April Fools day I experienced the most traumatic event of my life. I was accused of something I did not do, something terrible. I was punished in ways that would drive most to suicide or worse. “Cook” is the name of the person who invented the false accusation. All for reasons I’ve never known or understood. It was a horrifying event for me. It did in many ways lead to how I see and trust people throughout my entire life. It is why I will guard my word with ferocity. To this day I have zero tolerance for false accusations, or distorting the good truth for some feeble minded twit’s personal gain or desire for attention. It is why when I give my word to a truth I state, it is nothing more or less than the truth. I am only as good as my word. I never received justice for the lie Cook told. Only a very harsh lesson on the cruelty of some.
Track Two – Canyon De Chelly
I was 21 and on a road trip with my then-best friend Dean. It was a whirlwind tour of some of the most amazing natural wonders found in Arizona and Utah. My first real road trip ever. We drove around listening to music from one cassette tape to another picked from plastic bags full of tapes.
My friend and I were having a grand time exploring canyon rims, unusual rock formations, arches, monuments and local towns.
It was all very memorable, but one day in particular was special.
We found ourselves at the visitor center for Canyon De Chelly. That visitor center was where we first learned how to pronounce the canyon name. “Canyon Da Shay” would be the way. Not Dee Chellee, or Shelly. We laughed.
We visited a spot called “Spider Rock” a huge towering stone column hundreds of feet high but at eye level from our vantage point. Dean burned incense and we smoked some… Um… Natural botanical.
Listening to some music I’d never before heard at the time by Bernd Kistenmacher. I think that’s how to spell his name? It was perfect. Dean was constantly roaming around and demanding I share his experience the same way. He wouldn’t leave me be until after I said, “This experience is mine and not subject to your approval or satisfaction. You enjoy yours where you are, and I’ll enjoy mine where I am”. Or something like that.
It pretty much summed up our friendship. Me always trying to follow along with whatever he said, and he always passing judgement on me for things he utterly failed to understand. I loved my friend, I learned a great many things thanks to him, but one day not long ago he just abandoned me. There were one too many of his absences, and failures to follow through on promises for me to tolerate anyway. I don’t hate him. I miss him in fact. But he only lives for himself leaving nothing but broken promises in his wake as he passes irrational arrogant judgements on others he has no right or real understanding of. Nevertheless, I hope he lives well and long.
Track Three – Cecelia Ran Away
Not her real name. She was Hilda. She was unimaginably beautiful like something from a dream. My first great love. My first wife. My first loss. We met at a bowling alley shortly after my 18th birthday and were together from that day until shortly after and to the very same day exactly 9 years later. We were young and in love. Later proving me more than her.
We ran away together. We lived and shared things only she and I will ever understand. Then one day she ran away from me. My own fault. I was young and stupid taking her for granted. It was inevitable. She refuses friendship today no matter how I try. Something I don’t understand. I’ve only heard through others how she is today and the things she thinks of me. Many incorrect. Oddly the most bothersome thing she thinks is that I like Rush Limbaugh. Absurd. I’ve never “liked” him or anything he stood for. Dislike intensely is more accurate. I did say to her once that I thought he was “funny”. Far from a liking notion. Anyway, she’s always had a penchant for deleting people from her life without hesitation. A form if cruelty maybe? Or a form of mercy perhaps? I’ll never know.
Track Four – Once Had The Will
This track more than anything is about a time and collection of people. It’s the time after “Cecelia Ran Away” where I was utterly lost and hopelessly alone. I lived off of misery, beer, and fast food. I had no will to live, and less courage to die. I nearly did die on purpose several times. I had some fun too. I met a pretty blonde girl with a figure putting swimsuit models to shame in the earliest months of this despairing time. Carey was her name. She dumped me of course, but it was the single thing that gave me a tiny shred of hope. The hope I might one day come out of the hole I dug and find happiness. It wouldn’t be with her, and probably for the best. Through all those months of drink, self pity, self loathing and death wishing, having met her was the only evidence I had that I might not forever be alone. She did save my life, and she has no idea.
Track Five – Chapters
The title track marking the beginning of hope. This is the chapter for my wife Tina. After a couple years of heavy drinking and drug abuse I met her. My pretty green eyed lady. Her powers of seduction were very quickly understood from the start. If only I could share that. Let’s just say when we were dating her strategically placed bed sheet in some mornings were responsible for numerous late arrivals to work.
We married quick by eloping to Reno. It was bumpy as all hell at first. Very very bumpy. I was nearly thrown a few times.
Together we have experienced trials and tribulations not uncommon, but still uniquely ours. The good and the bad has brought and kept us together 14 years and counting. I’ve seen her change a radiator while 8 months pregnant. That’s my kind of gal. We aren’t rich, but we care for each other and complement each other. I do love my wife. Truly to death do us part.
Track Six – Colors Of Choices
It would seem that so far this has all centered somehow on a woman and or tragedy. This next track is again about a woman, but much different. This is for Grace. Tina’s child from before we met, but my daughter. Grace was 5 when I met her. She might be why Tina kept me around? I say that in jest, but also because she told her mother once “I like him because he is crazy”.
Too true. Grace is 19 now and in college. I wasn’t always there for her, and that damaged our relationship. It doesn’t make me love her any less. She is right for the most part, and where it matters. I should’ve done better. I’m sure she will. Her voice is what you hear speaking in French on this track.
Its about the choices I’ve made and the many ways to color them. We can focus on the good, or live in the past. It all depends on your favorite color when painting your memories.
Track Seven – Orbiting The Son
No this isn’t a spelling error. This is for our son Jacob. Much has and does revolve around him. When he was still in his mother, I would make up silly songs to sing to him from the world outside. I can still feel his strong kicks on my hand. I called him shaky Jakey because he was so restless in there. I was the first to hold him when taken from the womb. A perfect baby that slept through the night. A gleam in his little eyes all the time. He grew and grew from adorable toddler to the big boy he is today. Still growing I might add.
A funny, silly and smart boy of age 10 now, he remains the center of my existence. My funny son.
Track Eight – The Park Of Things
Here is another that is more about a collective experience. This marks the time when I began to find my way into music. Not just hearing, but making.
This was one of the first tracks I ever made on my old iPod Touch.
I was at a local park with my then 5 year old son Jacob.
Oh what gorgeous day it was. Jacob can be heard playing some large wooden percussion instruments in the background. It may sound like a glitch, but there is a ball being lazily bounced on the concrete that begins close by, and moves further away. I recorded that and the laughter of the children having a grand day at the park. Of all things it was the day at park that made it memorable. It reminded me to cherish moments and not take them for granted. It also was when I discovered the joy of making music anywhere.
Track Nine – No Longer Normal
The title may sound less than encouraging, but it does mean something positive. For a long time “normal” for me was popping pills and drinking. I would easily swallow 15 vicodins during any given day. I popped pain pills like they were M&Ms. I shouldn’t be alive. I didn’t want to eat so many pills so often. It is my chronic pains that led to the addiction. It was my lack of strength that kept me on them.
On March 18 2010 I had enough. I decided I needed my liver and kidneys.
I quit everything. Well except cigarettes. Lungs be damned I guess.
I went and got treatment for my addiction and since that day I’ve not once cheated or broken the continuous string of days, months and years completely sober. No drugs or drink. No pot even. Not even a single beer or glass of wine despite a stupid, careless, and entirely imagined rumor by some tiny man bent on harming my name. I am completely sober and committed to remaining so. Remember, my word is absolute.
Today I’m pretty boring, compared to some friends memories of me. Just routine medications I need are all I ingest. What was once normal is no longer and I’m better for it.
Track Ten – Phantomhive
A ghostly title. It’s not about ghosts though. Not really. This is about you. All the people I’ve met, but not really met. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everyone I meet no matter how. The point is this is about all the amazing people I’ve met online via Twitter, Facebook and the likes. Most I’ve never seen face to face as though they are phantoms in some far off place. All of the same growing hive. Not hive minded, but in spirit sharing the same passions. This is for all the people who supported, encouraged and became friends. Not just with me, but with each other. All very real and except for maybe a couple rotten apples, all very good.
Track Eleven – And Then It Was
Today. This ends the album with some music inspired by a lifetime of memories. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the joy, the sadness and everything in every combination. All for today and all days we are fortunate enough to see come.
Less about memory or even a person, this is for the future. Every step forward comes with every sunrise. We don’t know what tomorrow will be, or where we will be. I do know that speaking at least for myself, I’m looking forward to it.
To conclude this album description I will offer some brief insight about what and how I made this album.
All the music was made using only iPads (3,4, and the last track on my Air)and iOS. Music apps.
Most work was done in Auria and Cubasis. All were touched by AudioMastering App.
I used Audiobus a lot to bridge the apps. I also used Inter-App Audio a lot in the more recent ones.
I worked on each only while having the relative memories they were based on in mind. This album would’ve been finished about 6-8 months ago were it not for a tragic data loss disaster. That disaster led to the destruction of 7 tracks I had been working on for this album. Talk about having a do over.
I used so many different apps. I made so many sounds from scratch. I tried to make it a point to not reuse any one sound outside the one track is was designed for.
The iOS music apps I used to make Chapters and in no particular order will follow. This doesn’t include the already mentioned apps above.
DM1 The Drum Machine
Additional things I used at some point. All fits into one bag and can be used anywhere I go.
Buffalo 500 GB Mass Storage
…..and that’s about it.
I hope this was worth your time reading and makes more sense out of my concept album Chapters.
More to come.