Batch 3, Track 6 – Failure

Last modified: ‎Saturday, ‎11 ‎October, ‎2008, ‏‎3:38:34 PM.

‘Failure’ is the sixth track from Batch 3, an exercise in creating music within the framework of an album (one can dream, yes?). The track was inspired by, well, failures; more specifically, I worked on the track as a way of venting out my disappointment for not being able to cope with my studies at the time, as well as my frustrations for not being presented with an opportunity to pursue other avenues of interest. As I have hinted in a previous post, having to work on something you’ve lost interest in on a daily basis is futile; nothing you work on is any good, and the only outcome is an overwhelming sense of failure (or at least, a sense of gradually underperforming to the point of failing). For some odd reason, the track often brings to my mind the image of Usher kneeling on top of a crumbling mountain. I don’t know if it’s because I had been subconsciously exposed to his song too often at the time I worked on ‘Failure’, but it’s definitely an odd image to pair with the track.

Batch 3, Track 5 – Circus Mirror

Last modified: ‎Saturday, ‎27 ‎September, ‎2008, ‏‎2:20:54 AM.

Batch 3 was an attempt at creating within the framework of an album, with emphasis on the listening flow from one track to the next; whether I had achieved this or not is obviously up for debate (which I highly welcome). ‘Circus Mirror’ is the fifth track from the batch. The track’s title is a reference to those weird mirrors you would find at the fair or in fun houses: a regular person standing in front of a circus mirror would see him or herself stretched or squashed out of proportions (you could say that it makes wrong what’s right, and vice versa). Growing up, I suffered from really terrible acne, and I still do. There were many, many times where I find myself not wanting to leave the house because of how hideous I looked, and instead wanting for some version of the mirror that will allow me to see myself in a positive light. I guess that sense of wanting to escape the world and its (occasionally) frustrating norms are quite apparent in the track’s arrangement.

Batch 3, Track 4 – Untitled

Last modified: ‎Wednesday, ‎29 ‎April, ‎2009, ‏‎11:08:07 PM.

Batch 3 was an attempt at creating within the framework of an album, with emphasis on the listening flow from one track to the next; whether I had achieved this or not is obviously up for debate (which I highly welcome). ‘Untitled’ is the fourth track from the batch. The absence of a track title was probably because the track came about pretty much simply as a collection of musical ideas, as opposed to it being inspired by a book I had read or a film I had watched. However, I remember that I did attempt to include lyrics to the arrangement, which vaguely tells a story of my deceased younger sister (who passed away a few days after her birth, though due to what, I can’t recall). I remember typing the words out in a Notepad document, but I must’ve deleted it back when I was transferring my files to this three-year-old laptop I’m using. I could’ve named the track after her, or some quality of hers, but leaving it untitled essentially allows the track to be whatever one wants it to be.

Batch 3, Track 3 – Whenever You’re Ready

Last modified: ‎Saturday, ‎27 ‎September, ‎2008, ‏‎2:20:18 AM.

Batch 3 was an attempt at creating within the framework of an album, with emphasis on the listening flow from one track to the next; whether I had achieved this or not is obviously up for debate (which I highly welcome). ‘Whenever You’re Ready’ is the third track from the batch. I don’t remember how the track’s title came about, but it basically references the preparation that takes place prior to any demanding act or endeavour. Musically, it was influenced by some of the more prominent indie bands of the early 2000s: take, for example, the alternating, percussion-like guitars and drumming taken straight out of Bloc Party‘s song-writing book. Additionally, the arrangement also saw a middle-eight (for a lack of a better term) section that could have been inspired by the sci-fi television series ‘Stargate’, and a stereo-panning outro section that slightly heightens the “spacey feels” of the track (the melody of which was actually a rework of an older idea that I had).

Batch 3, Track 2 – First Days

Last modified: ‎Saturday, ‎27 ‎September, ‎2008, ‏‎2:20:10 AM.

Batch 3 was an attempt at creating within the framework of an album, with emphasis on the listening flow from one track to the next; whether I had achieved this or not is obviously up for debate (which I highly welcome). ‘First Days’ is the second track from the batch. Initially, it was inspired by a scene in the first (chronology-wise) of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia novels, ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, where readers witness the first few hours within the magical land as Aslan sings it into existence (which would’ve made for great cinema had Disney not mess up the franchise). In the years after I’d completed the track, the title took on a more realistic sense. ‘First Days’ felt more suited as a reference to the early stages of any lengthy process (like life, for example), as loosely represented through the arrangement. A pursuit of something often starts out slow and calculated, but eventually a rhythm is gained and, before you know it, you’ll find yourself right in the thick of it.

Batch 3, Track 1 – Hello There

Last modified: ‎Saturday, ‎27 ‎September, ‎2008, ‏‎2:20:00 AM.

I am starting to realize that 2008 was a rather productive year for me, at least when it comes to indulging in my musical pursuits. Not only did I completed work on three-fourths of Batch 1, I had also apparently started work on the songs for Batch 2 whilst finishing up on tracks that would later form Batch 3. This third batch, with an assigned working name of ‘Past, Present, Repeat’, originally consisted of ten tracks (a track was later regrouped to complete what would later be referred to as Batch 5). If Batch 2 was an attempt at creating tracks that are based on a single item as a point of reference, Batch 3 was an attempt at creating tracks within the framework of an album, specifically emphasising on the listening flow from one track to the next. Of course, whether I had achieved that or not is obviously up for debate (which I highly welcome). Inspiration-wise, Batch 3 saw a return to roots and pulls in influences from many different places as opposed to just one.

‘Hello There’ served as the opening track for Batch 3, welcoming listeners to the landscape (or soundscape) that they will reside in over the course of several tracks. Though it is not necessary for an album to have one, some of my favourite records do start with an introduction of sorts (such as Interpol‘s ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’), so I figured I should include one. In the first few listens after ‘Hello There’ was completed, I kept imagining it to be accompanied by a scene where a character, sound asleep, is greeted by the morning sun; she wakes up and dismisses the alarm on her mobile phone, before struggling out of bed to get ready for the long day ahead. Somewhere in the process, she pulls the curtains aside, revealing a view of city life already in full swing so early in the day. As this scene repeats itself, it felt to me that the scene must be set in Manhattan (does the track feel like New York City to you?), hence the photo of a sunrise over a bustling 42nd Street.

Batch 2, Track 5 – Moments

Last modified: ‎Monday, ‎12 ‎January, ‎2009, ‏‎3:59:37 AM.

Keeping in line with the idea of utilizing a single item as a point of reference or influence for the tracks of Batch 2, ‘Moments’ was based on the 2007 drama fantasy film Bridge to Terabithia, specifically as a loose reference to the stages of grieving that lead character Jesse goes through following the passing of his close friend, Leslie. The track’s arrangement is an attempt at reinterpreting the progress of each stage in aural form: Jesse’s immediate denial of Leslie’s death, his brief bout of suppressed anger (one can argue that he was angry with Leslie for wanting to cross the creek even when the water level had risen, though it may not be the case), his brief bout of mild depression where he blamed himself for her death (which, he reasoned, could have been avoided had he asked Leslie to come along with him and Miss Edmunds to the art museum) and ultimately his acceptance of the unfortunate event.

Writing about the tracks of Batch 2 over the past week has given me the urge to revisit Terabithia, so a few nights ago, I managed to squeeze in a viewing of the film. As has been pointed out in many positive reviews of the film, despite the rather straightforward plot that revolves around the friendship of two ten-year-old kids, you can’t help but be pulled into the story due to the commendable performance of the child actors. AnnaSophia Robb’s acting, in particular, had really given life to the character of Leslie, making it easy for viewers to emotionally invest in the character (and thus be utterly in tears when the plot reaches its peak), regardless of whether they had read the novel or not. Having said that, I belong squarely in the have-not-read-the-novel camp, so I definitely need to be getting a copy to bury my nose in. On that note, we have now reached the end of Batch 2; Batch 3 will start this Monday. Thank you!

Batch 2, Track 4 – Drown

Last modified: ‎Saturday, ‎11 ‎October, ‎2008, ‏‎1:27:05 AM.

Keeping in line with the idea of utilizing a single item as a point of reference or influence for the tracks of Batch 2, ‘Drown’ was based on the 2007 drama fantasy film Bridge to Terabithia, specifically as a reference to the death of the lead character Leslie. The character’s death was not portrayed in the film, but it was alluded to during a critical point in Jesse’s character development. Jesse had been asked out by his music teacher and secret crush, Miss Edmunds, to spend the Saturday at an art museum. Having gotten a nodded approval from his mum (who was sleeping in), Jesse accepted the invitation. For a brief moment, he wondered if he should ask Leslie to come along, but decided against it. When he got back home, he learned from his distraught family that Leslie had knocked her head on a rock in her attempt to swing across the nearby creek and drowned. What happened after was essentially Jesse going through the five stages of grieve.

‘Drown’ was not originally intended as a Batch 2 track, and it certainly was not originally informed by the film. Completed a few months after I had finished working on ‘Curious Cat‘, the track was an emotional outpouring (of sorts) that resulted from me having to do something that I have lost interest for on a daily basis. I felt like I did not have an outlet to express or share my thoughts without being put at risk of being overruled or feeling patronized; naturally, I coped with the pressure the only way I knew how, and that is to keep everything bottled up in hopes that it will soon pass. ‘Drown’ was later included as a Batch 2 track as I felt that, within the context of the film, it can be a reference to Leslie’s death; additionally, it can also be related to Jesse’s coping with the sudden loss of a friend. I figured that Jesse must have struggled with the confusing wave of emotions and thoughts, only surfacing back to reality through the comforts of his father’s consoling words.

Batch 2, Track 3 – Running Away

Last modified: ‎Sunday, ‎11 ‎January, ‎2009, ‏‎5:02:34 AM.

Keeping in line with the idea of utilizing a single item as a point of reference or influence for the tracks of Batch 2, ‘Running Away’ was based on the 2007 drama fantasy film Bridge to Terabithia, specifically the scenes in which lead characters Jesse and Leslie are running away from a giant tree troll they encountered (or rather, imagined to have encountered) in the woods before being humorously saved by Leslie’s new pet dog / troll hunter, Prince Terrien. The track’s arrangement is an attempt at reinterpreting the aforementioned sequence of events into the context of your typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus form, and it is probably the closest reinterpretation of the original material emotionally as opposed to the previous two tracks. Amusingly, a friend of mine once remarked that the off-sounding shift in key from the verse section to the chorus section really lived up to the track’s name; ‘off-key’ is often referred to in Malay as ‘lari key’, with ‘lari’ being the Malay word for ‘run’.