During an atmospheric rainy evening a few months ago Alex Strain messaged me saying he was in the mood for jamming melody. He sent me a little snippet of reflective notes, moving freely through quiet and dark introspection. It got suggested immediately that we should stay up late swapping the tune, each taking a turn to write more of it in collaboration. So for the following five hours we did exactly that.
After about 8 swaps we had formed a little structure that worked on it’s own. Throughout I added some bass and background synths to swirl around Alex’s Wurlitzer jam. No drums were needed, we just kept it as free flowing as possible. Alex added the first spoken sample, a noisey gltiched transmission of a dark dream, so I decided to mirror a similar contribution at the end of the bridge which is equally dreamy. Introspections of a character in a film that doesn’t exist, this is the uneasy moment.
I’m particularly fond of the end build, which was derived out of repeating Alex’s last phrase over and over, ramping the dynamics. It came time to retire the swapping, and in the following days a few edits were done to tidy up (including some rendering-down tricks with the reversal sound in the bridge). And then for a long time it sat on our hard drives, forgotten as we got on with other projects. Until now.
This masted version is one of a series of songs in collaboration with Alex. This began with Phoebe, and will continue with other tracks like ‘The 4th’. We’re aiming for a body of work, much like an album, that documents these sonic meeting places which neither of us can achieve just on our own. Many of the synths and techniques are similar across all this work. Uneasy serves as a possible transition piece.
I’ve mastered this track as a dark cinematic piece, so it requires slightly different listening to regular pop or beat-driven music. Again you may need to bring the volume up to dive into the ripples and eddies of the listening experience.
that’s Dharawal State Recrecreation area in the picture, an amazing unspoilt piece of bushland just south of Sydney, which is something of a spiritual home for me and a good friend Pete; we try and get out there whenever the rain is thick and fast to see the waterfalls surge and the tiny trickle of streams turn into rushing torrents.
Pete took the photo, that was over a year ago now.
Good ambient is hard to pull off, but Foo and Alex, you’ve pulled it off here. That repeating melodic phrase acts almost like a mantra, and I like the care put into all the subtle variants of that phrase.
It doesn’t quite grab me the way some of my favorite ambient pieces do, but this is still quite good. 8 out of 10.
really wow, a brilliant manifest of less is more
I can understand you leave the impression last
for so short, but I don’t think the world would mind
this developing further… there’s a monster lurking inside
Thanks for the feedback guys, get to get some attention to some ‘non-beat’ music.
I’ve had a few people suggest a remix, especially to add drums. I’m leaving the piece as is, but a private request for a good remix idea could receive due attention . Personally if I were to monsterize it, I’d be doing it live.
Actually, I found the short length of the song to be rather refreshing. Too many people today think that they need to sprawl out into 7- or 8-minute song lengths, but they only put in 3- or 4-minues worth of good music and pad it out with lots of filler segments in between the worthwhile bits. And there, see? I’m so avant garde, my song is 8 minutes long, so you HAVE to take it seriously because it’s so long!
No. No I don’t. Take ME seriously as a listener and don’t waste my time with filler. If there’s a section that’s not adding to the song, it’s subtracting. Take it out.
So yeah, Foo, “Uneasy” is perfect in this regard. Even though it’s ambient and is so sparse, every SECOND of this song still feels like it has something to “say.” There’s nothing I would cut, and it sounds fine on its own, so why add on to it and risk diluting the effect?
Besides, if the listener wants to hear more of the song, all they have to do is hit Play again at the end.
And oh, great, I’m turning into grumpy, judgemental old Novus again. Goodie.
I hear you, I just think this specific track has more impact with a more widespread composition.
Some tracks are meant to be long, others are meant to be short. Personally, I feel this track is
still scratching the surface of the possible. The track ends the moment I think it is about to dive
deeper into the concept.
Tracklength and avant-gardism have as much to do with eachother as yoghurt and ducktape.
The comparison, in whatever mood you bring it, is rather off. It’s all about exploring the musical
concept and sometimes that exploration requires more time for the composition to develop.
Ofcourse it’s personal taste when it comes to WHAT you would want to explore, but hitting play
again doesn’t suit my needs. It feels a bit unfinished, rather than a fully exploited concept, however
spot on it is at the moment. Why ignore and undermine the potential of your own work?
Ah nice discussion. Sometimes as a writer I’ll consider the ‘potential song’ as a meal:
Some songs are like appetizers: small and savory to wet the appetite. It begs you to go back and play it again like reaching for another vegetarian curry puff.
Some songs are a banquette: rich and wholesome experiences ending with the appropriate desert. These are deeply satisfying experiences that fill you up not requiring you to come back for more.
When collaborating with Alex, it’s delicate work to communicate effectively to make sure we’re both making the same piece of art. This is a mood thing between us, something that we’re simultaneously reaching for as a form, and thusly hopefully write it down. I have to get in his head and he in mine. And we’re capable of it, and we’ve done so here with THIS song. The common vision is what you have, and it demanded that it be this length. Neither of us were presented with the nagging feeling that it should be more.
But that never ever rules out other people’s feelings with music. This excellently grants the right to remixes. BotBee is hearing something new, something more that pertains to HOW he listens. This is honorable, but you’re not obliged to ‘get it’. I like to support decent artistic work. He’s capable of it, so the remix offer is there. Why squander a potentially good idea, let along another person’s idea? Judge after the creative act, not before.
If you’re making good use of all 10 of those minutes, sure.
Some songs need to be long; I’ve got quite a few in my favorites playlist that crack the 6-minute mark, so no argument there.
But there’s no shame in doing a 2-minute song if you only have enough material to fill 2 minutes. Too many people come up with a good musical idea, work on it for a bit, stand back, look at it, and decide it should be longer just for the sake of being longer.
If you’re making it longer because you’ve got more musical ideas that require the song to be longer, go for it! You’re doing it for the right reasons.
If you’re making it longer just because you arbitrarily want your song to be 9 minutes long, that’s just dumb. What are you, a musician, or a stopwatch?
Just work on your song until it’s done. You’ll know when that is.
Of course, it’s different if you’re working on some sort of a musical project that requires a song of a particular length, in which case feel free to ignore me. Or hell, feel free to ignore me anyway. I take myself way too seriously; no need for you to make the same mistake.
And for the record, I would be interested to hear BotB or Kaneel work on a super 9-minute remix of this song, because I have a feeling you guys would get it “right,” whatever the hell that means.
I reject the assertion that this was a foo? decision and not an mmd_as pty ltd one. All collaborative works remain under the creative licence of a decision-making process undertaken by mmd_as directors.