EN PASSANT – the album with a chess theme – artwork, instrumental names, and all. My “techno” album, though it’s guitar based anyway. The instrumentals all have chess names – “Light on the Right” referring to board orientation, “Giuoco Piano,” “Hypermodern,” and “Queen’s Gambit (Declined)” all being openings, and “Zugzwang” being a term used in the middle of the game.
1. RED HAZE () Recorded May 2004. Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, synth-bass, drum loops.
Yes, that’s right – techno without keyboard sounds in it. I wanted to prove that, as much as techno is about sounds and beats, it’s also about a style of songwriting, and for that, this song exists. I also get to play my signature “My-acoustic-guitar-is-about-to-overheat” style of rhythm that I do in paying a whole ton, but not in my songs before this one. The sense of buildup is really great to me. The lead guitar sounds in the breakdown around the mark are electric guitar sounds using a volume pedal in a funky way to make it sound like string noises. This is also one of my best bass lines, a line used to establish some funk stylings – very fun.
You spend your life in the red haze, counting all the days
You spend your life with a green sun when your days are done
You spend your life with a blue mood, with thoughts and attitudes
Leading into a black heart, not knowing where to start
And I think your life is representative
Of a life people would lead if they took sedatives
So what your life needs is an additive
To make it work out right
You spend your life in the red haze, counting all the days
You spend your life in with a green sun when your days are done
CHORUS first 3 lines
2. LIGHT ON THE RIGHT () Recorded September 2004. Electric guitar, synth, bass, drum loops.
Going with the traditional “move yourself” type of trance techno, but it’s focused around the electric guitar and piano parts. My first song to be recorded with a real bass too, and it helps greatly. Has a lot of “crunch” to it, a tinge of industrialness to it. Could somebody make a cool fighting game with this song?
3. IF TIME WAS A LEGEND () Recorded July 2004. Vocals, electric guitar, synth, synth-bass, drum loops.
The funk song that dies. The vocal sample has the lyrics as such because I wanted something that sounded sample-ish, and that’s what sounded good, so I sung it. It has no meaning. The true and literal breakdown in the middle is very cool, as is the organ throughout the song. Maybe a little bit repetitive, but I like it. As a production footnote, this is the only song where I’ve decided to keep the guide rhythm as the final one. It just seemed to fit.
If time was a legend, then I would be flying…
4. GIUOCO PIANO () Recorded October 2004. Synth, synth-bass, drum loops.
A short filler song that nonetheless does some cool work with electric piano. I didn’t realize it when I made it, but the song has a similar structure and feel to “Chemical” by New Order. That song is way awesome, and I recommend it.
5. ZUGZWANG () Recorded October 2004. Bass.
Again, a filler track, with zugzwang being a German word meaning “in-between move,” and so this song is an in-between one. I just thought it would be cool to have 4 different bass parts in a song – maybe all you loud car people will enjoy that.
6. ON () Recorded June 2004. Vocals, backing vocals, electric guitar, synth, synth-bass, drum loops.
Perhaps my densest and darkest recording to date, this one features me whisper-singing in the opening, a good dose of industrial noise, three-part harmony defining the majors and minors of the choruses, and…wah-wah guitar? A psychedelic industrial song, for sure. The lyrics are about people who play church. “Ghostly apparition” uses the word “ghostly” for double meaning – adjectivally for ghosts, and the older meaning of “spiritual.”
There is a switch, and only you know its position
You use it to make the ghostly apparition
That fools the world into believing that your face
Is the glass window to your soul that all who see it should embrace
The timer dings, and so you flip the switch on
But nobody suspects that your mind is really gone
The ghostly apparition you give for all to see
May flicker out and (finally) show your true transparency
You use what’s current as your main source of power
But it can only last from here until the next hour
So on your own, when all your strength is alkaline
Will the ghost flicker out on you, and reveal that everything’s not fine?
How can you be soaring, when you’re flying one big lark?
Because you’re labeled on, and yet we all are in the dark
CHORUS plus repeat last 2 lines
7. HYPERMODERN () Recorded October 2004. Electric guitar, synth, bass, drum loops.
To fulfill my album rule of “2 odd time signatures in an album,” here is my 19/8 contribution, 3 5/8s and a 4/8. The pipe organ to me is way cool. During the section of 4 eighth notes, there are two bass lines. After you hear this song (at least in my case), it’s hard to dive back into 4/4 thinking. It almost makes it seem that this is how music is supposed to sound, even though it’s not. Definitely interesting.
8. PIED PIPER () Recorded June-September 2004. Vocals, electric guitar, synth-bass, drum loops.
Featuring my best vocals ever (it’s hard for me to reach those high notes!), a raging guitar, a very cool bass hook, and drums of glory, this song’s message is that songs that sound like this aren’t de facto evil – look at the lyrics to determine that sort of thing, please. One of the classics of my small pantheon.
This is the part of the song where I’m supposed to protest someone in authority
Because I’m young and my market’s pre-adult
And through my evil influence, someone is supposed to be persuaded
To wear black and join some odd guy’s cult
You know this is true, because the song is loud and fast
Electric noise should make me the masses’ iconoclast
But who said it had to be that way?
Maybe it’s the words that express what I wanna say
So don’t assume that (just) because my music’s hyper
That I’ve intentioned to be your kids’ pied piper
This is that part of the song where I’m supposed to be provocative
And give my culture a nasty shock
13-to-16-year-olds are supposed to rally behind me
And form one depressing black sheep flock
You know this is true, because my voice is distorted
And every song like this is bad – that’s what the news reported
9. ISHBO (SHETH MIX) () Recorded April-May 2004. Lyrics and vocals by Steven “DJ Pastor Foster” Foster. Amen corner is me and Nathan Brown. Electric guitar, synth, synth-bass, drum loops.
Steven has preached quite a bit in our room, so I decided for a techno album, something wacky and Orb-like would be great, so he preached one on Ishbosheth, modified from something he had done last week. Great, great fun. And the rest of the song is kinda cool too – somewhat cheesy synthesizer work that gives way to an electric guitar, Chemical-Brothers style jam.
10. QUEEN’S GAMBIT (DECLINED) () Recorded October 2004. Electric guitar, synth, synth-bass, bass, drum loops.
Quite simply, there aren’t enough peaceful, soothing type songs out there. This one bears influence of “Clubbed to Death” by Rob D off The Matrix soundtrack, with its small piano line and so on. As I realized a long, long time after making this song, it sounds quite similar to Moby’s “Inside” off the Play album; I had no idea I was still influenced by Moby! There’s a low bass part that underlies the synth-bass track, which I think is cool to have. Reminds me a small bit of the middle of “Maturity.”
11. EXCLUSION () Recorded May 2004. Vocals, synth.
To me, this song captures the loneliness of a human heart – the achiness, the tenderness, and the beauty. It very much captures a lot of my past sentiments. A beautiful song, if you ask me. I can’t get much lonelier than this.
Being left out of my own life, and certainly out of yours
Is the pain that I bear every day – can I bear it pure?
The entire world met recently, but I didn’t get the fax
Could this perhaps explain my so-called oddball acts?
And yet you seem to be the one who’s missing all the parts
That I thought made someone complete in mind and soul and heart
It’s possible that each of us grossly deficient is
But until you stop my gaping hole, I’ll slowly, surely fizz and be flat
On my face again
Exclusion from life and from all men
Separation from all I would feel
Because I thought that what I had was real
You brand me from the outside, when the inside’s all I know
How to improve; my intellect is all in me that glows
And so my convoluted rhymes in poetry shall end
But will you see that I could be a kind and caring friend?
12. DISMISSAL (0:15) Vocals by Carl Chandler.
Seeing as how this is a techno album, it needs, to quote Edwin Kessler, “weird vocal samples.” I was originally planning on having Dean Hedgspeth open up the album and Carl Chandler closing, to get in both chapel MC’s from Faulkner doing their chapel thing for me. Mr. Chandler was very gracious in doing this for me, and I appreciate it very much.
YEARS LATER…about 15 months have elapsed since I finished the En Passant album, an album that was perhaps a logical conclusion of my increasing electronic music obsession. While it song-for-song may not stand up to albums like Inverse, I think this album is my greatest achievement to date. First off, it’s got 70 minutes of music, as opposed to 50. Second, I wrote a ton of epics on this one – 2 10-minute songs and several more in the 6-minute range. Third, I think I pulled off a really decent fusion of guitars and techno. I wish I had access to some really good recording equipment, so I could do this album over again. I think this album seems so good because of its cohesion – I’m not bouncing around styles as often as usual; I’ve got a purpose for the whole album, and that helps a lot. I’m hoping to make another techno album one day – maybe it will be as good as this one. As for songs that have aged well, I’m not exactly sure that’s happened a lot, where songs have surprised me since I made the album, though “Ishbo (Sheth Mix)” is usually very popular with my friends.