Personal Musings: (Writing on) The Page

So a weird thing happened to me… With my new laptop being all new it needed to be filled with Stuff. Most of my installers for programs I keep on my external hard-drive as there is nothing worse than needing a program and not having internet access! So while transferring the essentials I notice this interesting looking folder called “Darren’s Recordings”… Did I make that? I think to myself before the rational part of my brain booted me to the face saying Of Course You Did! It’s On Your Drive And It’s Your Name, Fool!!

The rational part of my brain was not wrong. Almost every recording I made between 2001 and 2009 are there. Unfortunately a lot of it is… Frankly crap. A lot of me just messing around. There’s the occasional hint of a song in there but not much. However for every 10 songs there’s actually one really good song. And for every 5 good songs there is one outstanding. Considering my long hair, beard and generally angry demeanour people are usually surprised by the pieces of music I write for myself. When I write something for the band it’s always Teh Metalz \../ but when I write for my own enjoyment they’re usually semi-acoustic numbers. Of course my lead tone is usually my standard Head tone which is all of the distortion!

My best I feel is a piece called (Writing on) The Page. This is a massively personal piece that was written October 2009, 2 years after my little sister had passed away. I was starting to deal with it by this stage but I was still… Well. Not good so I turned to what I could do which was healthy to get some of the emotion out. Thus I wrote this song and -for the first time- had my voice on there. Five tracks of my voice actually. Five different things I needed to say. I managed to find the original files so I know what each of the five things say but I shall be keeping these to myself as they are very personal!

It’s interesting hearing things that are so old. I can still remember writing the majority of the pieces, the feelings and emotions that went into them. I am super proud of (Writing on) The Page but listening to it causes a knot in my stomach, I remember sitting there with my guitar playing this piece and crying. Every take is a single shot, every mistake is left in and there is only a basic mix. No EQ or effects added. It is probably the most raw track I have ever created but also probably the most perfect. I think it captures my emotion of the time perfectly and you can -I think at least- feel the tears. I write music as an emotional response and I really think I nailed it.

This track as well as several more recent tracks are on my Soundcloud over at https://soundcloud.com/justicefornone I’d welcome any comments or thoughts or even shares 😉

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That’s the emotional response done so here’s a quick thing I wanted to add onto the end about the technical side of the song. I am so proud of how it came out and it’s the track that made me realise that doing things properly and taking the time to record things properly straight out of the game makes for a much more beautiful song overall. I still have a bad habit of using too many effects but I am a phaser/chorus/reverb lover! The distorted guitar sounds I am especially impressed with. My Digitech GSP1101 has Lexicon reverbs built in and I used that with volume swells and my amp distortion to create that beautiful violining tone that is kind of mystical and almost has a pad-sound tone to it. I could not have made this song without my PRS. To me all the sounds are Very Mike Oldfield, which works especially accurately as I play a Custom 24 in Orange like Mike for the Tubular Bells 2 debut!

Anyway, I wish I could replicate all of these tones again but everything just came together and worked perfectly for this one song. I would say that it is my ‘masterpiece’ for my young self. Now-a-days I create things that are more orchestral but I think this was kind of the start of that because it really has a dynamic and texture that until this point I’d never created…

A Trio of Reviews!

Took longer than planned but here’s a trio of reviews. Starting with Delain:

I am a rather large Delain fan. Seen ’em four times now and they’ve been good or great everytime. Last week was no exception. While I am not a big fan of their last two albums they are still excellent live. The later songs still sound really good live and between Charlotte (vocals) and Otto (bass) they always put on a great performance. A really varied set with something off every album and Charlotte especially was on fire! Very strange seeing them in a supporting set role rather than headliners!

Within Temptation was the second time seeing them but the first time actually getting to SEE them! Last time we were stuck far away from the stage and because of how the Academy in Brum works could barely see anything the whole night. This time (went seated!) got to see the whole show. Bloody hell they are good! Really impressive set and really cool how they worked the duet songs into the set. And We Run is absolutely brilliant!It shouldn’t work but DAMN it’s great! Both bands put on a brilliant set and I am hoping to see both bands again as soon as possible.

Now to bring some geek on! My new laptop is an Asus X552C and frankly it is impressive. A Core i5 backed up by 6gb of memory with an nVidia GeForce 710M to finish off the specs. Doesn’t sound amazing but the whole lot work together really well with Windows 8… Now, bare with me here… When I started I had the bog standard Windows 8. I hated it, it was terrible and useless as I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. All in all I felt I’d made a mistake going for W8… I then decided I had nothing to lose going for W8.1… This was a nightmare as in order to get 8.1 I had to fully update 8 which refused to update! Cue lots of swearing! When it finally updated and installed 8.1 -which took 4 hours!!- I could actually find things… Not only that just I could set things up how I like them! While there are some things I still don’t like -I really miss having the old style Start menu- I am much happier as I can actually use the laptop now and not swear at it. Oh, also the sound is Amazing!!

It’s A Landmark!! Coming of Age!

Yay! Party ‘n stuff! My blog is 21… By that I mean has 21 posts! Thus this will be a more upbeat waffle rather than my usual waffley waffle. Pretty surprised managed to keep this semi-going as far as I have. I get sidetracked or bogged down by other stuff, however, this has been really nice to just write. I don’t get to anymore. Used to write absolutely loads, hell I did NaNoWriMo for 5 years which was hella fun. I miss getting to full on write. Closest I’ve got is when I am writing for a game of which I have a few in the pipeline, both story driven and emergent storytelling which I’ve really enjoyed creating but they take a lot of time and I seriously lack in that right now!

Anyway, glad to have you folks around who have been reading, it’s nice to have a few peeps reading along. It’s nice to see what other blog-land people are up to as well, it’s nice to see the world from a little further than my own little bubble. Especially being an ITT, seem to spend my whole life working as I don’t even get to see the news anymore!

All in all heres to many more blog posts. Expect one on Thursday from my shiney new (Windows 8…) Laptop! There will be a review of both the lappy and of Within Temptation/Delain whom will be seeing tomorrow evening. METAAAAL \../

Keep it Awesome people!

Personal Musings: Through the Sands of Time…

This could get quite philosophical and –likely- not especially structured nor with many conclusions. I just have words to say and so here they are, written down for all to see… Also, I couldn’t resist the tag… Turns out I can’t stop being silly even when I am soul-searching!

What is it that we are left with in the end? A lifetime of moments drawn into a singularity of time with every second passing too quickly, with far too few and with the majority being wasted. Maybe not on purpose but so much time passes us by. I am almost always busy and put a lot of time and effort into my work, regardless of what it is or whom it is for. I spend a very large proportion of my time working for other people, sometimes small things that take a few minutes; other times things that can take an hour… In one case a project that took several months of pretty hard work. Is this time wasted? Once upon a time I thought no because it helped people, it made their lives easier and it was worth the effort and my time.

Now as I get older and have really needed the support back I have learned a very valuable lesson. It doesn’t matter how far you go, not everyone will support you when you need it. Those who have spent more than 10 minutes with me likely know the sheer level of insecurities and supreme lack of self esteem I have. I have absolutely zero confidence in almost every aspect of my life, I guess I am lucky that I have a few “talents” which I know that I am good at so I can at the very least fake confidence with them. Long story short the last 7 days have been the second worse 7 days of my entire life. The fragile balance of my mental state came crashing down and I know I was in a spiral that I couldn’t control. I did a rare thing and reached out hoping that I could be supported in my time of need…

I learned that not everyone will support you in the same way you have supported them. I am happy to say that most people whom I reached out to have offered wonderful support and really helped keep me going when I really, really just wanted to give up. These people I am Proud of the time I’ve devoted to them and their lives. However, those who refused to help or who were just cold with me I have still learned something of value from. If my time is not good enough then I shall keep it for myself and use it for those people who are worth my time. The few people who have proved to me that we support each other through thick and thin, no matter the circumstances or even the context.

So what is left in the end?  What will be my legacy? Happily my own legacy is shared between several very wonderful people whom I love very greatly. We share our lives and our legacies. I hope one day I will have children to carry on this legacy, to continue a shared existence with a few special people… 

Simulated Simulators!

Something has really gotten my Goat (1) recently. A genre very close to my heart being Milked (2) massively. I feel it is Haemorrhaging (3) the qualities and Mechanical (4) soundness that created such a wide reaching and interesting genre.

Right, enough with the puns! I am of course talking about the influx of current “simulator” games that Bear (5) no resemblance to the term Simulator (okay, NOW I am done with the puns!). The genre pretty much came into being back in 1989 with Will Wright and the seminal SimCity (one word Dammit!). Yes Utopia predates this by 7 or so years but it was SimCity that made the Genre explode. Since then you’ve had games like Flight Simulator, Train Sims and the old F1 Simulators that tried to replicate the experiences as closely as possible while still being possible to do for us mere untrained mortals. In the same way the FPS games have moved away from super-hard skill based tension to regenerating health and masses of ammo, and Platformers moved away from 3 lives to complete the whole game, so have simulators. They have become watered down and a casual like the rest of the market.

This saddens me greatly. I have no problems with them being made more fun, this is perfectly acceptable -I love Euro Truck Sim 2 because it is fun but still a simulation of trucking and business- but by the Gods what has happened with this last lot of “sims”. Don’t get me wrong I think Surgeon Simulator 2013 is one of the most hilarious games to play with other people since Wii Sports but it isn’t a Sim, and Goat Simulator is hilarious fun but it Isn’t A Sim! So what’s my beef (seriously, this isn’t an intentional pun!) with this influx of non-sim sims? Well it means that actual proper simulators get buried underneath these bombastic gimmicky games that just aren’t simulators. I have no problem with their existence, in fact, I applaud their focused scope and general levels of silliness but dammit why can’t they be called something else?

One bright thing on the horizon is the companies who are mixing the “silly” and the “simulation” and putting out something that is accessible but still hardcore. Naturally I am talking about Kerbal Space Program which mixes hard science and the “cute” little Kerbals. It’s a fantastic mix and –importantly- nowhere does it say Simulator in the title, it is its own thing that exists as part of the Simulator genre but doesn’t pretend that it is here to be serious.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get back to simulating being a Robot Farmer in a 2d pixel universe (Starbound is still amazing folks!)

(1)    Goat Simulator
(2)    Farming Simulator 2013 Titanium Edition
(3)    Surgeon Simulator 2013
(4)    Car Mechanic Simulator 2014
(5)    Bear Simulator (currently on Kickstarter!)