ES Waves – Parasol Stars – a short explanation

I thought I’d put some thoughts down about the second album that came out a couple of months ago as a casual browse of this blog, or any other, wouldn’t express the blood sweat and tears that went into putting it together.

Following the release of the first ES Waves album Nakatomi Plaza the computer I used to put that album together was almost instantly stolen in a burglary.  This meant that I lost a lot of sketches for want of a better description from which I work from.  My working method is to create many ‘sketches’, simple incomplete motifs or rhythms, when I’m in a creative mood, which I can then subsequently rediscover with a view to putting in the hard work to move the sketch forward towards ‘finishing’ it.  For me there is no completion of an artistic endeavour, there is no finish line, there is only an end point where you walk away from a project and move onto the next.  The amount of time spent on getting to that point is at the creator’s discretion and it doesn’t necessarily follow that the shorter the time the less complete a project.  That is of course subjective to both the artist and the subsequent listener (whose tastes you can’t second guess).

As I had my up to date projects taken away from me (they were backed up but on an mp3 player which was also taken at the time) I thought I’d explore some older projects which I’d created and left behind on an older computer.  I spent the summer of 2004 getting to know Ableton Live and in doing so creative about a 90 mins live set in the arrangement window.  This is basically one long track which ebbs and flows but is effectively many sketches run together.  I created it sequentially blending one sketch with the last and moving forward.  This was a really creative summer and many of the sketches made up the basis some of the tracks which made it to Nakatomi but also now onto Parasol.  Picking up Live for the first time opened up many musical avenues which I’d previously thought were beyond my reach.  As a program it truly opened my eyes and musical horizons / ambitions.  I’ve thought about putting this long live set up on my soundcloud but there’s still several sketches which I’d like to work up and it wouldn’t really represent my technical skills as they stand today to do so.

Of the tracks on Parasol Connectionist and October Bird of Death are put together from this live set.  Connectionism is a philosophical theory which attempts to explain how the neurological pathways in the brain behave http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectionism and is something I studied at university.  October Bird of Death is a phrase with a beautiful lyrical sound to it.  It’s taken from the Charles Bukowski book Ham on Rye http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ham_on_Rye http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski Bukowski has a style which for me is really really easy to read.  I think I read all his novels in a month or so.

If you didn’t already know Parasol Star’s itself is a computer game.  Continuing my cultural magpie approach I appropriated the title in the same way that I used Nakatomi Plaza for the first album.  There are eight levels, worlds, in the actual game which has some nice symmetry as I settled on eight tracks for the album.  This was a coincidence and only one which struck me when I was naming each track for the album.  I created what became World Eight first.  I wanted to create an intro to that track so removed what was there at the time and started a new project with it.  That new project became World One and acts as an introduction to the album itself.
Playtime

The second track ‘Playtime’ started life as a remix of the last track off the first album ‘Candles’.  I initially wanted to have a continuity between the albums with the first track being an extension of the last track of the last album but it grew into another beast.  The initial idea was to really show the progression in my skills etc from one album to the next.  I called it Playtime after the Jacques Tati film of the same name http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playtime Tati basically bankrupted himself (and several other members of his family who’d invested in his vision) making this grandiose serious production, which he intended to be the centrepiece of his artistic career, building what he thought to be a ‘studio lot’ in the style of those in Hollywood (which he’d just visited) just outside Paris only for it to fall flat and for the French government to pull all the support they’d given to him to set up the project.  He subsequently had to revert to his trademark slapstick for the rest of his career to put bread on the table.  It struck a chord with the amount of time that it was taking me to work the track up and the difficulty I was having due to the fact that the computer that I was initially creating the track on was pretty underpowered.  I’m still not 100% on the balance of the track.

The third track VSL started life as 10mins house track which I had mastered.  That track is pretty leggy but has some great melodies and sounds many of which made it into VSL.  The melody in the fade out, when it resolves itself, is the main melody from the final section of the house track.

Elastic Reality is a track an early version of which I gave to an artist friend to use in an exhibition of his work.  Powerdrome is a track I’d walked away from some time before the album but perhaps, whisper it, is my favourite from those which I presented here.

All in all it took the three years or so from release of Nakatomi to get to this point.  That’s mainly due to the fact that I like most people have a day job which keeps the wolf from the door.  It really does represent a large chunk of my free time and I hope it’s appreciated by a few people.  I may amend this blog post as this version represents a stream of consciousness.

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