albums
Underway
2006 Wonday
Compilations
1993 Songs to Sleep By
1997 Songs to Sleep By 2
2002 Sunday Sampler
2002 Dad's Picks
1999 Mix 1 (sy55)
2010 Mix 2 (triton vocal)
2010 Mix 3 (triton instr.)
SY55
1991 Archives
1992 College Collection
1993 College Collage
1994 The Hermit
1997 Where's My Muse
1999 South or Southeast
Triton
2001 In the Margins
2002 Renewal
2002 Re-treat
2002 Convenience
2002 Back Up
2003 So So
2003 So On
2003 So Long
2003 Baby Steps
2003 Baby Talk
2004 Schmocial
2004 Brroom
2004 Chuckadee
2004 Disco Hike
2004 Extra Extra
2005 Coma Pill
2005 Ourboretum
2005 Jaminy
2005 Padden Drift
2005 Gorilla Love
2005 Aminals
2005 Vegibles
2006 Fruitine
2006 Dignored
2006 Miner
2006 Mouseculine
2006 Yata
2007 Zipit
2007 Sixawon
2007 Halfdosin
2007 Whatcom Home
2008 What Roses
2008 Pho Kit
2008 Composed Pile
2009 Decomposed Pie
2009 Swaddlicious
2010 Lost Train
Soft Synths
2011 Out the Margins
2011 Redebut
2011 Reprogression
2012 Working Progress
2013 Tripico
2014 Aerosol Concrete
2015 Reduced to Clear
2016 Motions
2017 The Walking Dad
  • Title: Lost Train
  • Artist: Tripecac
  • Timespan: 2010
  • Theme: engineering
  • Length: 76:41
  • Tracks: 13
  • Lyrics: 6
  • MP3s: 13 play all locally
  • Rating: (none) rate this album

Track List

# title lyrics time download listen started recorded rating
1 Dust Castles lyrics 5:00 download listen locally 2010-05-27 2010-07-01
2 Dirt Necks lyrics 6:51 download listen locally 2010-07-06 2010-07-08
3 Cacqua lyrics 7:34 download listen locally 2010-07-17 2010-07-26 (none)
4 Dadi lyrics 4:53 download listen locally 2010-07-28 2010-08-07 (none)
5 Dida lyrics 5:19 download listen locally 2010-07-28 2010-08-07 (none)
6 Chew Thoroughly - 4:29 download listen locally 2010-08-12 2010-08-17 (none)
7 Gone Jah - 6:03 download listen locally 2010-08-20 2010-09-04 (none)
8 Goop - 4:51 download listen locally 2010-09-06 2010-09-10 (none)
9 Avenew - 9:18 download listen locally 2010-09-14 2010-09-16
10 Gemaker - 4:09 download listen locally 2010-09-17 2010-09-20
11 Feleven lyrics 5:47 download listen locally 2010-09-21 2010-09-23 (none)
12 Don't Blame the Racket - 6:46 download listen locally 2010-09-23 2010-10-07
13 DDC DDC GGA GFD - 5:41 download listen locally 2010-10-11 2010-10-12 (none)
Total 76:41 play all locally album rating: (none)

Notes

The title comes from the feeling of "losing my train of thought" during my eight month hiatus from music making.

I've had my Triton since 2000. Before that, I used the Yamaha SY55 from 1990 to 1999, and before that, my Casio CT-310 until 1989. So this is the year I expected to switch to a new keyboard. However, as I've become increasingly reluctant to spend money and time on new hardware, I decided to stick with the Triton for a while longer.

I wanted to see if I could get this album to sound different from the previous ones. At first, I thought about switching to soft synths. However, some quick tests demonstrated that Sonar's bundled synths sounded very similar to the Triton, at least when I used them. So I abandoned the soft synth idea, and instead decided to focus on learning a new engineering technique for each song.

None of these songs was written out beforehand, and I tended to cling to each idea, no matter how lame, with the aim of finishing songs quickly. As a result, most of the tracks fall under the realm of "experimental filler". There are a few lucky moments, however. I'll leave it to you to discover them, and when you do, maybe you can rate the songs to let me know which ones you like.

Songs

Dust Castles

This was Giovanna's phrase for some houses on that we saw at the beach. We came upon them abruptly, and as they were up on stilts, they seemed like castles rising out of the sand.

My goal for this album is to try something different engineering-wise with each song. For this one I experimented with effects automation. This was the first time I was able to change the Triton's effects on-the-fly from within Sonar. The differences are subtle, definitely not as groundbreaking or impressive as I'd hoped. Neither is the song itself.

Oh well, we can't expect a whole lot after all this time off. So I'll in invoke my usual motto, which is: I'm leaving plenty of room for improvement in the next song! :)

Lyrics to "Dust Castles":

dust castles
  [repeat]
  

Dirt Necks

This is another Giovanna term. We were watching Amazing race, where some rednecks were doing surprisingly well.

My "experimental" technique for this song was to enable Sonar's linked clips option. This means whenever I copied a clip (bunch of notes) from one part of a song to another, and then edit one copy, all copies are affected.

This was semi-convenient in the early stages of the song. However, after a while I wanted to be able to add variation to each copy, which meant I had to keep unlinking clips. And then one time, some of my edits accidentally deleted a whole bunch of clips which were linked together, and I didn't notice. When I finally saw the gaps, I had to open an old version of the project to get those clips back. What a mess!

So, file the linked clips technique "one-off".

Lyrics to "Dirt Necks":

dirt necks dancing around the drain
stubbornly sticking in the game
dumb luck or strategic play
the bottom line is another day
  

Cacqua

This is our code word for diarrhea. Cute, huh?

The new engineering technique for this song is the vocoder. It didn't sound very good, so I kept it subtle and short. However, it was kinda neat to see how it works.

I also learned that the Triton's compressor really does make the soft parts louder! Whenever I dropped out some instruments, the remaining ones got louder. I didn't like this effect in those song, so I switched to a multi-band limiter. I have no idea what it does, except it doesn't mess things up like the compressor, and that's good enough for me!

And one more thing: I accidentally applied the delay and reverb from the vocals to the actual keyboard tracks after I recorded them. This made everything sound pretty muddy, except for the quiet sections, which now sound a lot less thin. I'll have to try that trick more often!

The rest of the song is pretty standard, at least in terms of the engineering. The sound is a little louder and darker than usual, but the loop-based structure and repetitiveness are very familiar.

To be honest, I got extremely bored with this song, even by the end of the first day. It was only on the penultimate day, when I added the arpeggios near the end, that I started liking bits of it. On the final day I threw in the vocals, which are utterly disaposable, and also mixed pretty low.

Flush!

Lyrics to "Cacqua":

ca ca ca ca ca ca... cacqua

d-down down, d-down down, d-down down, flush it down

don't don't don't drink the water
and don't don't don't eat the vegibles
don't don't don't touch my daughter
and don't don't don't trust dirigibles

it's not supposed to make sense
it's just to make the sound dense

da-da-da-down da-da-da-down down
da-da-da-down da-da-da-down down
flush
  

Dadi

There are two "tricks" for this song. The first is that I started it on the same day as "Dida", and worked on them in parallel. They use the same effects template, instrumentation, and roughly the same keys. The challenge was to see if I could keep them stylistically distinct, despite the similarities, or if their aural and temporal proximity would cause me to make similar creative choices for each of them.

The second trick, which applies to the second song as well, was that all the percussion parts use the Triton's "Orchestra & Ethnic" patch, which I don't use very often. I also kept the other instruments very sparse, mostly as a reaction against the previous song, which was very loud and dense.

The idea behind this experiment is to see if I can sound like a band that plays two songs back-to-back in a concert. Of course, I didn't want them to sound too similar, so I made this one slow and the next one fast.

Lyrics to "Dadi":

dadi
dadi  	
  

Dida

I developed this in tandem with "Dadi".

This one started off sounding a lot sparser and more Krautrockish. However, I noticed that over time I started using the same sort of musical phrases and rhymic patterns as on "Dadi", so this ended up sounded very similar. Also, since I worked on it second each day, I tended to be more tired when I got to it, and less full of ideas or energy. As a result, what started out as the "cool" song ended up being the boring one. At least, from my perspective.

Anyway, so much for the idea of developing songs simultaneously!

Lyrics to "Dida":

dida dida dida
dida dida dida
dida dida dida
dida is with me, dida is with me
  

Chew Thoroughly

For as long as I can remember, Mom and Jess have been telling me to "chew thoroughly". And now I find myself saying the same thing to Denali.

I wanted to make a song that sounds really "chewy", meaty, rather than smooth and gentle like the light, new-agey jazz stuff that I've been doing recently.

So I picked a really loud, buzzy synth to start, and added noisy effects, with the goal of having a real sharp, percussive sound. The drums, particuarly the toms, are supposed to sound very crisp.

I don't know if the end result sounds "chewy", or if it even works as a song, but it was fun to work on, and that's good enough for me!

Gone Jah

The title is a pun on "ganja". It also refers to the fact that cultures outside of Jamaica sometimes adopt reggae as their cultural sound. They seem to regard reggae as their "roots" music, never mind the fact that it originated on an island thousands of miles away.

Why can't people come up with their own catchy music? Why must they depend on what was developed in Jamaica in the late 60s?

Of course, this is all tongue in cheek, because Tripecac is equally guilty of assimilating reggae as part of its identity. If asked to describe the Tripecac sound, one would probably mention two types of music: reggae and jazz, neither of which have anything to do with my cultural roots.

Does that mean the reggae and jazz are forced, mere pretense? No. They are just as natural to my music-making instincts as rock or pop or anything else. In fact, making music which deviates from the jazzy reggae sound is very hard for me.

For example, I intended to make this song sound like pure reggae, with no Tripecac-ish jazzy bits. I added delay for a "dubby" sound, and really sparse, heavy bass and kick drums. Did it work? Heck no! Sure, for the first few measures it might sound different, but then it quickly [d]evolves into the familiar elevator jazz formula, with only a touch of reggae left. Not only that, but by the end of the song, any unique ideas are used up, and it sounds tired and ultimately empty of passion and interest.

I'd like to pretend this was intentional, in keeping with the theme of the title, but it wasn't. I honestly don't know how to shake the reggae and/or jazz from my sound any more than those other cultures can shake the reggae or hip-hop from theirs. We've been influenced, our unique identities compromised, and we're likely to stay that way.

Goop

Recently on the radio and podcasts there have been songs that sound really distorted but have managed to retain a certain catchiness. I decided to try the same thing: make a really noisy, distorted song, and see if it ends up engaging or annoying. In other words, do noisy effects help or hurt the overall song?

The music itself is really dumb, but the instruments are different from usual, and the performances are sparse. So it should at least be marginally interesting.

Avenew

For this song I decided to create a new default template for Sonar. I wanted something that sounded more like a piano practice room. My hope was that this would encourage me to sketch out rough ideas before jumping into song assembly and polishing.

For the new template, I kept the small room reverb, but replaced the stereo chorus with an "analog record" effect. This creates deliberate pops, clicks, and static which I can control with a knob. The idea behind starting with a "messy" effect like this is that it will hopefully get me in the practice room mindset, and at the same time will force me to think about and change the effects for each song rather that sticking with the defaults.

The title of the song refers to this new template (which actually makes it sound like a really old song), and also the fact that the song is like an avenue: one long, straight road, with no curves or bumps. It's all in a single key, and ended up very krautrocky.

It's not very polished, but was fun to work on. It only took two days to finish it, which is much faster than I've been working recently. So I ended up feeling energized by this song, warts and pops and clicks and all.

User Comments:

  1. "It's a mixture between abstract and tuneful music. I really like the peppiness," - Giovanna (2010-09-16)

Gemaker

The process of making gems is very tedious. So is this song.

Well, at least it proves something, and that's changing the Triton's default template doesn't automatically result in inspiration.

The writing, in my opinion, is a real dud. I could have extended the idea it for several minutes, but what'd be the point? Better finish it quickly and move onto the next idea, which will almost certainly be better.

In other words, bin it!

User Comments:

  1. "As a song little bit uninspired and tired. What happened?" - Giovanna (2010-09-20)

Feleven

The name comes from the fact that this is the eleventh song on the album, and I wanted it to sound more like Fela Kuti than the last couple.

As an experiment, I decided to use general midi for all the instruments. Usually I avoid general midi because I assume the Triton's sounds are more unique and closely tailored to it, and therefore superior. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that these sounds weren't all that bad. Can you tell the difference?

For some reason, I quickly ran out of tracks, so I added some vocals to flesh it out a bit. The end result sounds really busy. And repetitive. But at least it's upbeat!

Lyrics to "Feleven":

d-d-d-d-d-down

syndrome
  

Don't Blame the Racket

It's not the instrument that is to blame; it's the musician. This album has made that clear.

For a while now, I've been getting tired of the music I've been creating with the Triton, and suspected that maybe I could liven things up by trying different engineering techniques; that's the point of this album.

However, after a dozen songs where the end result sounds like the same old ultra-repetitive so-so stuff that I've been creating for the past year, I've come to the conclusion that I really need to start writing songs, not just assembling repetitive jams from small looped ideas. Sure, some of the resulting tracks might almost "work", but the vast majority are underwhelming, non-memorable, and effectively filler.

And that's what I want to avoid: album after album of filler.

Therefore, for the next album, I will stop worrying about the engineering and start focusing on the writing. However, for now, I need to finish this album the way I started it: messing around with sounds and winging the rest.

This song originated with a very loud, chimey synth sound and an extremely distorted ring modulation effect. It sounded very coarse and dramatic, but ultimately tiring to listen to. So I ended up deleting it.

That's right, deleting it. After all, it's very hard to delete ideas. However, it's necessary if I want to improve the average quality of the songs. We need a little Darwinism to kick in, or else we end up with an overpopulation of mediocre ideas. Deleting the unsatisfying ideas is something I need to do more often.

Anyway, I kept the first bass sound (which you can hear in the beginning, and sounds a little over-reverbed), and the funky drums. The rest of the stuff is new, from after about a week off. Fresh ears definitely make deleting old ideas easier!

DDC DDC GGA GFD

The opening and closing melody to this song (DDC DDC GGA GFD) was chosen long before the other songs were finished. Can you guess where the title comes from?

I wanted to give the song more of a live ambience, so I used an exciter effect and added soft ride cymbols in places. Doesn't really fix the song, though, which suffers (like the rest of the album) from a lack of direction.

Lost train indeed!