Thursday, 22 September 2016

#76. Mexicalia

Matt Neal: programming

Recorded at Holly Court in 2006 (possibly?)
Produced and mixed by Matt Neal
Guitar samples performed and recorded by Brendan Hoffmann




While running a songwriting workshop last month (which was great fun and inadvertantly led to me writing a song - usually it's just the participants who end up writing a song), I started trying to explain this blog and its purpose (for reasons I can't recall).

Obviously a fair part of it is just pure ego - “Gather round, kiddies, Papa Doc’s gonna tell you a story about a song he wrote and recorded that one time” - and another big piece is the instructional side of it, like a sporadic dose of my songwriting workshops but in internet form with bonus pictures.

But another element to it all is finding a home for the songs that never had one. In between the tunes that peppered the setlists, EPs and albums of 21st Century Ox, The Extreme Sprinklers, The 80 Aces, and Doctor & The Apologies are the tracks that slipped through the cracks, as well as the tracks that never even made it to a place that had cracks they could slip through.

I look like I'm about to slip through a crack in this couch.

The above song and the bonus one down below were never for any particular project, nor were they made with any particular endgame in mind. It was just an experiment - ‘let’s see what happens if I do this’, so to speak.

Quite a few of the songs that have been and will be on this blog were experiments, where myself and usually my co-writer Jade McLaren would set out the rules or aims of the song before we started writing as a way of challenging ourselves and to push our songwriting brains to come up with something different.

For example, there’s a song that will come up on this blog waaaaay down the track that was an attempt to write an upbeat and happy song while predominantly using minor chords. Jamaica was another one - the challenge there was to write an anti-drug reggae song. Disco In Borneo was an experiment to see if we could create a faux Michael Jackson song. Hackysack was a personal challenge to see if I could write a song about playing hackysack.

Mexicalia came about when Brendan Hoffmann from 21st Century Ox gave me a huge bunch of samples to use with a program called FruityLoops.

This guy. You can check out his rad tunes here.

Most of the samples were of drums, bass guitars, synths and a few odds and ends (including a large amount of noises from the game Myst for some reason), but among them was a folder filled with acoustic guitar riffs and licks that Hoffa had recorded. They sounded pretty cool, so I set myself a challenge to see if I could turn them into a song.

The result is Mexicalia. A second attempt yielded the below track Ken Kesey Goes Sailing. Neither is particularly good (Mexicalia is the better of the two) and neither were ever intended to be heard. They were just experiments - little fun musical challenges to see what would happen.

As a side note, the below track got its title for no other reason than I was reading Kesey’s ‘92 novel Sailor Song at the time (which I enjoyed).

BONUS TRACK: Ken Kesey Goes Sailing

Matt Neal: programming

Recorded at Holly Court in 2006 (possibly?)
Produced and mixed by Matt Neal
Guitar samples performed and recorded by Brendan Hoffmann



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