About, Acefilou, Album, Making of, Music, Nicolas Maeder

About Acefilou

Designed by Nicolas Maeder.

Acefilou album cover.

Acefilou is my first full-length album (as Nicolas Maeder), an 47-minute-long experimental techno effort created almost entirely in an audio editing program named Audacity. I was so obscure at the time of its release date that virtually nobody knew my existence. Being all abstractly structured songs generally made out of unusual, digitally manipulated raw data sounds, several complex distortions happen throughout the album, both quiet and loud. I was influenced by Autechre (including Confield, my favorite album), Nine Inch Nails (especially The Downward Spiral), Container, Pan Sonic, Aphex Twin, and Emptyset when this album was recorded.

“0373”

Original title was “zer0peopl3mus7di3”, but for the sake of neutrality the finalized name is “0373”, an hard, intense song written after I got “Not Responding” to be done. Couldn’t finish it in one go: Despite saving the project files, it wasn’t what I expected initially. That’s why more than one tempo and time signature exists, thus the bass melody changes over the time as the song progresses while keeping the original E tuning. A near-static segment includes an aural recording of me interacting with wooden materials and a laptop body as if they’re drums. Another recording of my use of concrete materials became a drumbeat, and I repeatedly used reverse and normalize to do so. There is singing, screaming, and growling, but it’s highly distorted so that the lyrics are incomprehensible. The song is fast-paced, intense, complex, and abrasive.

“Germanium”

Developed after “0373” (and before “‘rs’n’c”), the mono-only techno of “Germanium” calms down from the brutality of “0373”. There is an un-repeating melody created using my vocals, apparently inconsistent with the song’s tempo. A poly-rhythm of the 4/28 and 4/16 signatures prevails in the beats, drums that seem to repeatedly zigzag between pitches. A fading-out drone closes this sophomore.

“‘rs’n’c”

Along with “Germanium” and “Boron”, “‘rs’n’c” had its name taken from the periodic table of elements. Against a droning bass (which sometimes moves on to other pitches), the drums sound like distorted composites of bubbles popping, clapping, breaking wood, and pickaxes touching metal, and at one point it changes speed multiple times before taking a rest, then appears again afterwards (albeit with usage of amplify, echo, noise removal, g-verb, normalize, and low-/high-pass filters). Was written after and is quieter and slower than “Germanium”. A 48000 bit rate in this track, just like in the previous one, is inconsistent with the rest of the album’s 44100.

“Not Responding”

Acefilou‘s second finished song was edited down from over 7 minutes to around 5 minutes as part of my failed attempt to have the album fit the 331/3 RPM minute vinyl LP length. Said attempt was a decision happening before the album’s completion. It was named “Not Responding” due to not completing it before the Audacity program crashed (it was finished after the program recovered data). Starts off with chaotic edits of imported raw data converted into audio and moves onto an abstract structure. The bass, originally resembling “Ruiner” by Nine Inch Nails, gets low-pass filtered and disappears while the harsh industrial house drumbeat is played with. A temporary segment of wah-wah’d/phaser’d synths and drums over distorted vocals lasts for 4 bars before a 8-bar part with a repeating bass-line and loudly echoing beats is followed by new melodies and drumbeat transformations. The final minute is pure rusty ambient sound.

“Felty”

Initially titled “Humans Are Dead”, the earliest recorded track on the album was born in Summer 2013 as a theme song for my cancelled educational YouTube-exclusive series called Conceptum. “Felty” was built over a variously distorted guitar sound out a audio sample package downloaded from the world wide web* and features a harsh drumstep beat constructed through echoes, wah-wahs, phaser, amplification, normalization, rearrangements, and bass boosts. It begins with birds chirping (originally a melody, now converted into innocent sound effects through noise removal) and somehow squashed by a machine. Like “Not Responding” I edited this track down from around 5 minutes to almost 4 minutes and reworked the ending as per my task to make Acefilou fit what I temporarily thought how long was a 33 1/3 RPM vinyl record (thought: 47 minutes / reality: 45 minutes). However, the album doesn’t fit an entire 33 1/3 RPM vinyl LP because in reality the format is 45 minutes long, so if it’s brought to vinyl then Side A contains tracks 1 to 4, followed by “Felty” and “Won to Free for Vibe” in Side B, and “Boron” is Side C.

“Won to Free for Vibe”

Final track recorded for Acefilou, written and recorded in one go. The first five numbers in the first 90 seconds’ stereo count-up to 64 (I voiced the count-up over a siren-like bass) are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The song title rhymes with those numbers. An increasingly abrasive mono drum and bass drumbeat comprises the rest of the song. With almost all effects in Audacity 1.26 used, distortion grows to a point where the song becomes completely different from itself.

“Boron”

This album’s longest song (13 minutes and 4 seconds) is the second-to-last completed track here, produced following the time spent on making “‘rs’n’c”. I did save the “Boron” project files (even after it was completed), but Audacity crashed a couple times when I was making it. An ambient drone techno with alterations happening randomly, it begins with a sample off Episode 2 from Geneon’s English dub of 2006 Fate/stay night anime against an ambient background. Then the sample is interrupted by noises and resumes from where it was left off after the main downtempo drumbeat appears… And leaves the song prior to its replacement by a peaceful, low-pass filtered, slightly wah-wah’d, and somewhat phaser’d droning bass that, like the drumbeat, faces several surgeries for over 10 minutes before it crashes into another set of noises.

Conclusion

Acefilou was luckily little-known upon its release to SoundCloud and YouTube via Qas Records, but its audience will sprout over time as my history continues. In fact, I’m considering signing up with an independent record label in the near future, and I’ll freelance the world to see if any critic likes the album.

*  –  Here’s why I don’t call the “world wide web” the “internet”. Unbeknownst to many people, the internet is widely and incorrectly confused with the world wide web, which is actually a fragment of the (by the time this post was published) 50-years-old internet. The internet can be accessed outside computers and smart-technology.

UPDATE (November 15, 2014)

“About Acefilou” initially stated that 44100Hz was only used in Acefilou‘s opener, and the album’s remainder was exported from Audacity to 48000Hz. This factual inaccuracy was corrected on November 15, 2014.

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Acefilou, Album, Announcement, Music, Nicolas Maeder, Qas

Acefilou is announced! =D

Designed by Nicolas Maeder.

Acefilou album cover.

So here is where I’m revealing Acefilou, my first album. It’s not my first release because I did Schwap (an EP) under the “Antdirt” alias over 1 month prior to this announcement.

By spending over a year making this 7-track effort happen, I was comfortable. It was composed almost entirely in Audacity, with me putting in (and subsequently distorting) raw data and manipulating recorded audio of me playing with concrete objects. The recording phase of it ended today (September 18, 2014), and I’m happy! =D

See tracklist below:

  1. 0373
  2. Germanium
  3. ‘rs’n’c
  4. Not Responding
  5. Felty
  6. Won To Free For Vibe
  7. Boron

I will upload the whole album to SoundCloud (where it’s freely downloadable) and YouTube on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

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Making of, Music

About Schwap

Cover art.

Schwap EP cover.

Schwap is the first EP by Antdirt, a solo music project created by me, Nicolas Maeder. Qas released it for free on August 3, 2014 through SoundCloud.

I first downloaded Coagula Light back in 2011 as part of my independent research on creating audio out of visuals. Coagula isn’t just an audio editor, it’s more like editing images that can be scanned to record sound files. The program was conceived to emulate the spectrograms found in “Windowlicker”, especially one of Aphex Twin’s face. I put several photos into Coagula and turned them into sound, but it wasn’t unti June 2014 that I not only made came up with the concept of songs recorded using the program, but also created the name “Antdirt”. At the time I was known as “C. N. Maeder”; I was bigger on Twitter than on YouTube, despite my initial intentions to make the latter website the home for my works. To me, “Antdirt” meant my house was imperfect: Ants were navigating the place for shelter due to the heat they felt outdoors, the house (although architecture-wise okay) was disorganized due to my dad’s misunderstanding of my mom’s statements.

The first song done for Schwap was track 2, “Tant Rid (paoesTerruryzm)”, a 4-second scan of the EP’s cover art. Featuring several hollow shapes over a black background, the cover art was born out of Windows Paint. The cover is 6000×6000 pixels large, and it’s minimalist and somehow chaotic. The song name’s an acronym of “Antdirt” and a misspelling of “post-terrorism”.

I did a similar, slightly longer track known as “Za”, only with a different image. “Za” is unreleased as of the time this post was published.

To make “Bloodshine” was to test out the ability to make a song in Coagula Light. The song consisted of a simple painted note rising up within 64 seconds and built out of an image named “8192×5512 (test)”, which in turn derived from “8192×5512 (128 bars of each 64 inches)”. I made an 8-minute-long aural scan of one of the Glitchometry pictures afterward. “Bloodshine” was ultimately (at the last minute) excluded from the EP due to a copyright notice from SoundCloud.

The 2-minute, 56-second-long “Supernothing” was built out of copying, altering, and pasting bold red lines as if they were drumbeats. I put in variously-sized colored blocks and curved lines randomly to add layers of ambient noise to the mix. The drumbeats seem irregular and the notes are atonal as a result.

“Reamed” is more than just repetitive distorted harsh fast-paced beats. I inserted a photo of a car heavily damaged during a battle in the Syrian civil war, typed in scrambled text, put in colored blocks and lines, and stretched the last parts of the drum beats to an super-slow extent. The title of the song is an acronym for Maeder.

“Triple3rdThree” was the last track completed for the EP. It was all noisy atmospheres of traffic in a busy city. Police, ambulances, cars, et cetera. The red curved lines I shaped into the image the song was based off (an exaggerated version of “Spectrogram of Violin”) help this conception.

The EP was titled “Schwap” out of a misspelling of “Schwab”, a word included in the name of the company “Les Schwab”. The company’s commercials were seen regularly on my local television stations. The name was supposed to mean nonsense, but it was already taken and originally meant a sound effect.

I created Qas Records to distribute the EP digitally. Qas was a word I made up, and you’re supposed to pronounce it as “Cause”. Qas exists digitally now; it will enter the real world outside the World Wide Web someday, but it’s active.

Schwap was obscure by when it was released. Two tracks (“Triple3rdThree” and “Reamed”) were each downloaded once from Soundcloud on release day. I unintentionally stayed up late because of all the time I spent uploading information about the EP. I could’ve done that upon waking up on that day (August 3, 2014) instead of go to sleep late, because that was intense for me. I did upload the EP to YouTube and made announcements earlier that day, but no single critic paid attention to it. It’s good to be obscure, since you’re safer and more comfortable with life. However, the EP will gain more listeners over time and after I make my first album, it will be reviewed.

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