UPDATE 3/31/08: iTunes Link! | Band Camp Link!

As many of you know, for a little over a year I’ve been writing a novel, and after a while I decided that it might be fun to make a soundtrack for it too, under the “Low Tide” name of my old late ’90s side project. As of March 11, the Weapon of Young Gods album was up for sale on CD Baby, and will soon be on iTunes. Since it’s kind of a low-profile holding pattern release, and as an all-instrumental background music album it’s not exactly chart-busting material, I decided to make it a limited edition of about 10-20 hard copies. Once on iTunes, though, it’s out for the whole universe, so the CDs will be a rarity.

The recording process was pretty quick; I thought it would be more fun if I didn’t worry too much about making everything “perfect,” so I didn’t spend too much time on any given song. If it sounded “done” after 3-4 hours of work, then it was done. The cover is actually similar to the book cover I made, but the big blue mess is actually a painting I did for a work-sponsored art project in December where we had a limited time to make something fantastic. That worked well with my ideas for making this album, so I went with it.

I’ve written a little more about this album before, but I want to go into deeper details about the songs. You don’t have to know the story to like the music (and the story’s not finished anyway), but if there are chapters posted, I linked to them in each song’s description. If you like, you can preview some audio below, and even listen or buy on Low Tide’s CD Baby page.

So, the songs:

“Calaveras Desagradables” is the soundtrack for Roy’s nightmare that begins the story. It has his theme in it, the same one that shows up later in “The Morbid Frieze” and other songs. The drums are Billy playing from a session at the gallery where Brian and I recorded samples of him that we could use later for demos (and so we have), but I filtered Billy’s drum part through quite a few effects processors to make it sound bigger and scarier. This song is also sort of based on a mix I did of some Mermen songs, back when I would listen to them all the time while writing. For whatever reason, the Mermen’s music makes me think of Dana Point, so they are the perfect soundtrack when writing scenes taking place there.

“Last Train Leaving The Abyss” is based on a loop from my echo pedal, with some overdubs and other effects. The ambient noise in the back is actually Brian’s guitar part for the mellow live version of “Lighting Rod” that Honey White played in ’05/’06. “Last Train” was the third piece I worked on for this album, and it isn’t as strong as some of the others, but it sounds great for a train song, so I set it to Derek’s Amtrak scene.

“The Morbid Frieze”
and “Artificial Archaeology” are variations on the same theme, one that is basically “Roy’s theme” and the main musical phrase on this album. It pops up in many of the other songs (“Calaveras” for example) but here it’s just the fuzzy echo-bass adorned with a few other processors. The riff is a mutated version of something Bryn played during a Honey White jam from the Seville St. practice room, in 2004. In the book, “Morbid Frieze” goes with a scene where Roy and Nadia are up on the Niguel Hill trail at night, and “Archaeology” is set later on in the dorms when two characters tell each other their stories.

“It’s Quiet Up Here” is attached to a scene where Derek retreats to the calm of his grandparents’ backyard. The music is originally from a jam with Brian, Billy, and me on 7/3/05 at the Milpas gallery, but I sent it through so many filters that it melted into the keyboard/pad chord you hear in the background. It’s one of my favorites on this album. There’s a theme in it that could be for the Derek character, I guess, but it also has a fuzzy bass riff that matches the Arroyo sisters’ theme (Lisa & Olivia) too.

“Fending Off Implosion” is one of the songs where Brian and Billy’s parts are indispensable. Like some of the other stuff on this album, it’s based on a weird abstract jam we made in July 2005 at the Milpas gallery. Whenever Honey White would practice there, Billy’s mom’s paintings would be up on the walls, and they were all beautiful seascapes to which our big, echoey music fit very well. For the 7/3/05 session without Bryn, though, there was an abstract exhibit on display in the gallery, and so Brian and I went nuts with our effects pedals, creating with Bill an obtusely moody, mellow, drum-circle-ish piece. I overdubbed a few things on it later. In the story, this song is part of a scene where Roy and his friends wander the UCSB campus at night, hopelessly stoned.

“Concussions” and “Leave The Rest In Ruins” are two variations on a song I wrote for Honey White in 2007 called “Tempting Fate.” My goal is still to get it recorded by the band, since that would be better than either of these versions, but for now I thought I’d use it for this soundtrack. The drums are built from samples of Billy playing at the gallery, but everything else is me. “Concussions” goes with a scene of Derek playing soccer, and “Ruins” is attached to one of his party-gone-wrong scene later in the story. The effects loop percussion in “Ruins” is something that I had to struggle with, and it was the only bit of music that violated my “don’t work on things too much” rule for this disc. The song’s title comes from a line in the “Tempting Fate” lyrics, just to show its lineage.

I made “Backwards Fear” back in November ’07, before I even thought about doing a WOYG soundtrack project. It set the tone though- being finished quickly and without too much fuss, which is not my usual working method at all. As the first song finished before the album had any direction, maybe it doesn’t fit as well with the others, but I still like it a lot. It’s based on an abstract bit of music called “The Fear” that Brian made in 2005 with his friend Luke, and I took that and reversed it, grafting onto a jazzy drumbeat from Bill (recorded at Seville St. in ’04) and overdubbing my own bass part onto everything. This one and “Fending Off Implosion” are the most “band”-sounding songs on the album. It’s set to the scenes in the book where Roy and Francesca get together.

“Accidental Recon” and “Immortals On The Loose” are based on a killer guitar riff of Brian’s from about 2006(?) that I thought would be a great 12-bar blues riff, but he immediately made it into something even better that perhaps he or Honey White will record in the future. For now, though, I gave it the Low Tide treatment, both mellow for “Recon” (a scene in which Derek drives around Dana Point at night) and loud for “Immortals” (where he is confronted by the menacing Addison brothers). “Recon” is another of my favorites from this disc. “Immortals” isn’t as grand as the title implies, since the percussion doesn’t quite bash as much as I wanted to, but more about that later (see entry below for “This Won’t Hurt A Bit”).

“Starting Fires” and “They Always Run” are two different takes of the same song, which is pretty much a slowed-down, octave-pedal-enhanced version of the Arroyo sisters’ theme riff (which first appears in “Quiet Up Here”). It’s all me, except for Billy’s gallery-drums, which are shot through a sort of chaos-filter that shatters them like glass. The tunes are deep, dark, late-night music. “Fires” is set to a scene where Roy is ambushed by Olivia Arroyo, and “Run” is set to the quick downhill rush of the story’s end.

“First Set At Strands” is my favorite song on this album, but ironically it’s the shortest one at about 1:30. It was the second song I worked on for this project, but the first after I’d decided to make it a soundtrack for the book. It’s all echo-bass, the most similar to the previous Low Tide material from 1999, and was originally simply named “First Set” before I attached it to a scene in the novel with Roy and Francesca at Strands beach in Dana Point.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit” is, like “Concussions” and “Leave The Rest In Ruins,” based on a song written with Honey White in mind, called “Hold Still” (a combination of my lyric plus Bryn’s great slide-guitar riff). The title for “This Won’t Hurt” comes from a lyric in that song. However, unlike “Tempting Fate,” HW had practiced “Hold Still” on several occasions since its inception in 2005 (you can hear a version of it at the end of this post about our practice recordings). The demo for “Hold Still” was based on a jam we actually did in the studio while recording How Far Is The Fall in 2004, and “This Won’t Hurt” actually has vestiges of that demo in it, albeit crunched beyond recognition into the gravelly percussion track used here (and on “Immortals”). For the novel, I would use this song anytime there is violence. Two characters are the victims of brutal assaults in this story, and I always felt that the slinky, malicious quality of “Hold Still” would work in scenes like that.

“The Weapon And The Witness” is the soundtrack for a scene in which Roy and Olivia walk the Niguel Hill trail during a hot, quiet July day, so it has both of their themes in it. I tried to give it a sense of sparseness and of altitude, so those two themes are sort of light and airy, but I grounded the song with some more of Billy’s drum tracks from July 2005.

So, that’s that. You can listen to a few of the songs in full using the player below, or you can check out short audio previews on Low Tide’s CD Baby page. Thanks for the indulgence.