Sonic Horridness

A year or so after I made The Devyllfysh I was working on a bunch of stuff with my friend Murray called Project KKK. I don’t really remember what Project KKK was supposed to be, but it involved me recording, cutting up and pasting weird semi-musical collages for some purpose or other.

At some point I decided to create a follow up to The Devyllfysh with some of the new stuff I had acquired since that recording.

My tools were pretty limited. I had a really cheap broken Packard Bell PC mic held together with sellotape that was left over from our first family PC bought in 1997.

I also had a decently sized Yamaha keyboard, a PSR-225GM I think it was. The keyboard had a built in six-track sequencer into which I was carefully programming weird music step by step, and it just sounded a lot better than the crappy thing I had used on The Devyllfysh.

I was also now using software in the process. I found a free softsynth with a built-in sequencer online that I have long since forgotten the name of, and I ran through the presets and tweaked the knobs with the mouse creating weirdly compelling soundscapes.

For the actual recording of it, I used my trusty companion Windows Sound Recorder, which had filled me with so much entertainment due to its ability to double or half the speed (and pitch) of audio files, and provided for an extremely basic level of overdubbing and editing.

So, with all of these tools in hand, I wrote a silly little comic science fiction story about a superhero called Bert the Mighty Atom, and a holistic anti-science hippy druid fellow named Jim McDougal. I called it Sonic Horridness, in reflection of the fact it would probably sound terrible. That was all part of the design.

I made recorded the bulk of the narration myself while holding my fingers in my cheeks and making myself sound weirdly dumb. I also used text-to-speech to generate other parts of the narration for variety’s sake. Most of the rest of it was made up of a vast directory full of audio files derived from various experiments, including some bits I outsourced to friends and family.

I guess the process was inspired largely by early Frank Zappa stuff, particularly Lumpy Gravy, with its mixture of serious audio collage and absurd improvised humour. Does it stand up to scrutiny? No, but it’s kind of funny at times. Perhaps the funniest moment is when I list Jimmy McDougal’s three suns, Starborn, Pendragon and Tony. The joke isn’t actually very funny, but the way I delivered the line puts so much emphasis on the last name that I can’t help but giggle to this day. So dry.

The highlights for me are King Shane, which is a drum solo I programmed step by step on my keyboard, and Missingpiece, which is really synth heavy.

Anyway, you can enjoy it now on Bandcamp. Or not. Whatever you want is okay with me baby!

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