Blitch Bango

Broken World Song Notes

As has become typical for any of my releases, I present to you some notes, anecdotes, and background behind the songs recorded for the Broken World collection. Granted, this is not a typical release - if you call anything that I've done typical - but I believe that an informed listener is a happy listener. Perhaps it would behoove you to take a listen before reading this (so as not to taint your mind with song construction mechanics), then maybe listen again after reading to gain a different understanding.

Before I get on with the information about the songs themselves, however, I want to address the choice to release this purely over the internet, essentially as an experiment in musical shareware, and with a "Some Rights Reserved" copyright tag. Regarding the present state and future of the music business, I am a firm believer in many things, and not so sure about many other things. But rather than present a whole written diatribe on music and copyright philosophy, I wanted to figuratively "put my money where my mouth is" and try releasing a set of music in line with some of my beliefs about music and copyrights. Broken World is this set.

Now, about the music.

I came up with the idea for the Broken World collection during work on the followup to Twilight, due out TBD 2005-ish (whenever I complete it). I consciously made the decision to write five songs to be distributed over the internet as a special release before the CD. All five of the songs were written essentially over the course of a few hours on the evening of 6/1/2005. Yeah, I know I risk the negative comments and connotations associated with this, such as "...yeah, and it sure sounds like it...", but, hey, I'm just reporting the facts. I came up with the ideas while driving home from work that evening - I pounded out most of the lyrics in the car on the drive home, and came up with some basic chord progressions once I got to my guitar. In reality, some of the lyrics and chords stuck as originally conceived, and some (lyrics and/or music) were reworked to some degree, a couple almost in their entirety. Over the course of June and into early July, I recorded some song studies, individual instrument parts were written, arranged, scrapped, rewritten, unscrapped, etc. Some lyrics were modifed to fit music and vise versa.

The original idea included lyrics that were thematically linked together, and they remained that way. Once again, in keeping with tradition, I leave it up to you, the listener, to determine the lyrical theme. Oh yeah, and once again, though all the songs are written in the first person perspective, they are not necessarily about me or collaborator M. Tailor, or anyone we know personally.

I wanted to take a somewhat different approach with the music creation/arrangement, and start the process with drums on all the songs - normally, I write/arrange songs around a guitar part or chords. While I did have basic chord progressions written, individual instrument parts were written to fit drum pieces. All of the songs were started with a basic drum pattern sample that was looped (mostly from royalty-free loops obtained from the internet). On top of this were layered the other parts. I found this approach, along with using 3rd party rhythms, to yield some fresh ideas - things I would not normally have thought of when following my traditional creative process. And, as always, I tried to keep away from things too formulaic, and challenge myself both technically, and creatively, and tried to utilize "first takes" of instrument recordings to keep creative and performance energy high.

By song, chronogically as recorded, and also (not coincidentally) as originally conceived:

"Broken World" - I started out the arrangement with a short drum sample I recorded and looped, and layered additional instruments on top of that. I had been toying with an acoustic guitar phrase I came up with during some sessions of recording musical ideas - this was used in the musical breaks. Otherwise, the chord progressions and lyrics pretty much ended up as originally conceived. Some parts recorded (such as organ, synth, and additional guitars) were cut from the final mix - as part of the process of arranging, I find that recording many instrument parts, and selecting only some of them, helps better define a song. Originally, this was the only song in the collection without samples from other artists. However, I ended up putting a couple drum samples in late in the arrangement, to spice things up a bit. Structure-wise, I think this song is the most traditional sounding, and most like the upcoming CD release - ehhh, perhaps not. The idea for this song spawned the ideas for the four songs that followed, and the idea to release a five song "EP" on the internet.

"Innocent Bystander" - Once I got in the mode to sample and loop drum parts, and arrange around drum parts, I made the decision to find royalty-free drum loops on line, and use them as the rhythmic basis for the rest of the songs. This song includes two such drum loops, along with my own drumming. Also, I wanted to experiment more with looping other instruments, so many of the guitar parts in this song were recorded as small bits and looped (only the 12-string acoustic, lead, and bass parts are not).

"Mama's Little Secret" - The chords for this song changed completely from the original conception, once the drum loop sample was chosen. The lyrics didn't really fit the original chord progression anyway, but they ended up fitting the new chord progression even worse. So, the lyrics were modified somewhat to fit the music - none of the original ideas were cut, only re-phrased to fit. This song includes the most royalty-free samples - the initial drum part, plus two other samples (a woman breathing heavily, and some odd, clock-like clicking noises) used during the instrumental break segueway. It also includes the most simultaneous guitar parts I've used in a final song - 15.

"Messed Up" - The music for this song was rewritten 3 times after initial studies of previous versions went in wrong directions. For this final version, I started with a fresh drum loop, and settled for a chordal compromise from two of the previous versions (yet still close to the initial idea). Next, the idea for the picked guitar part came - after tracking that, I wanted to highlight the "high-tech hillbilly" direction the song headed in, and added the harmonica and acoustic guitar solo to fit the feel.

"Black Sheep" - This was another song that underwent multiple studies - the result was combinations of things from all three studies, yet maintaining the feel of none of them. The early studies were more brooding and ominous, but I felt that direction to be too contrived, and wanted something else. I stumbled onto a bossa-nova drum loop that I liked, and used that as the rhythmic basis to move away from the dark, slow, straight-ahead beat. The new beat helped define the guitar parts, which I wanted to keep sparse to accentuate the rhythm. I then augmented the drum loop with additional percussion, and finally added the electric piano part for a touch of drama. This is probably the most sparse arrangement of mine to date (in contrast to the most dense, in "Mama's Little Secret").

General notes: In this collection, as on Twilight, I found myself once again gravitating towards acoustic guitars for foundation guitar tracks. I also found myself gravitating towards fretless bass on these songs - it is used for bass parts exclusively in all five. And while many of my previous arrangements tended to have at least some keyboards in them, I found myself scaling back on these songs - two of the songs feature no keyboard parts whatsoever, the other three have minimalist keys. The song order I present on this website, while unnecessary for downloadable songs, was chosen to be basically the way I would have presented it on a CD.

Enjoy!


Liner Notes:

All songs written by B. Mathis, M. A. Tailor
Recorded and mastered at The Spare Room
Artowork and design by Cartoonman
Produced by B. Mathis

"Mama's Little Secret" contains elements from LaLupa: "Painting Wasp.mp3" (open source - Bateau Lavoir website http://www.imal.org/bateaulavoir/bateaulavoiropen.html, covered by a Creative Commons license); (Unknown): "1612sam3.mp3" (open source - Bateau Lavoir website http://www.imal.org/bateaulavoir/Resources/, covered by a Creative Commons license); (unknown): "d_ir_98_43" (Free loop from 51 Indie Retro Drums Breaks on Proloops website http://www.proloops.com/1104_2.asp).

"Innocent Bystander" contains elements from (unknown): "rimmer90o.wav" (free sample - from Breakbeatsonly.com http://www.breakbeatsonly.com/preview1.htm), and (unknown): "sffly100z.wav" (free sample - from Breakbeatsonly.com http://www.breakbeatsonly.com/preview1.htm).

"Messed Up" contains elements from (unknown): "tight100t.wav" (free sample - from Breakbeatsonly.com http://www.breakbeatsonly.com/preview1.htm).

"Black Sheep" contains elements from (unknown): "bossa110i.wav" (free sample - from Platinumloops.com http://www.platinumloops.co.uk/audio/catalog/drums/acoustic_drums/latin_grooves/).

"Broken World" contains elements from (unknown): "cleangroove100e3.wav" (free sample - from Breakbeatsonly.com http://www.breakbeatsonly.com/preview1.htm), and (unknown): "d_ir_98_43" (Free loop from 51 Indie Retro Drums Breaks on Proloops website http://www.proloops.com/1104_2.asp).

For Mick