… a closer look at this upcoming album
The next paragraph is background information; skip to the one that follows if you like.
It’s a known fact that I constantly write music as Quicksilver Night. Some time ago I decided to release much of my instrumental music in one fell swoop (the forthcoming “Asymptote” album) and intended to later follow that with an album of my vocally driven material (“We Are Also the Dreamt”). Then we found ourselves having to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout, notably including its detrimental impact on warehousing and physical distribution of CDs. As a result of this I opted shuffle things around and ended up releasing two separate three-song mini-EPs in digital-only formats: “No Contest” on November 27, 2020 and “Mr. Wizard” on April 20, 2021. We also released the song “Hephaestus the Cuckold” as an advance single from “Asymptote” on March 5th. We have been busy. We are finished with the tracking phase of the “Asymptote” album and will finish mixing it this summer for release early this fall. We will release another advance single from the album (“The Galactic Edge”) prior to that and we’ll also include the three songs of the “Mr. Wizard” mini-EP as bonus tracks. Watch for it!
But this isn’t about “Asymptote”; this is about “We Are Also the Dreamt.” As I publicly posted earlier today, “The music is already written and the guide tracks recorded. I need to dig deeper into the album programming and make some decisions about editing and song order.” I’ve been listening to those guide tracks and making some notes. I’ll share them here for anyone interested but I have to admit that I write these thoughts down primarily because it helps me to keep my thoughts organized:
These are definitely going to be on the album, not necessarily in this particular order except for the opener:
1) “Canon/We Are Also the Dreamt” (4:49) – the title track and obviously the opener, it begins with a melodic four-part interwoven vocal canon before bursting into a driving prog rock song with tribal-sounding toms. It’s rhythmically interesting in that it has a recurring bar of 3/4 mixed into the otherwise 4/4 phrasing but I think it feels organic to the song rather than contrived. After we’ve completed the final mixing of “Canon/We Are Also the Dreamt” we’ll need to go back bounce a version of it without the vocal canon intro and release it as a separate single for the streaming-only crowd with their generally shortened attention spans. The song would then be more likely to garner a broader audience than those that might be initially put off by a small choir of monastic-sounding voices. Hopefully some of them would then turn to the album to see what other goodies it might hold. 🙂 In response to “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams” comes “We all stumble, often blind to the truth that we’re caught in a web; we’ve all forgotten in the minds of our gods we are also the dreamt.”
2) “Camera Obscura” (6:03) – will most likely be the second track on the album. It’s my usual brand of distilled prog but with some classical nuances. The focus here is on the vocals throughout; there’s not much in the manner of guitar heroics as such but there’s some nice harmony and interplay between the guitar and the piano balanced against some straightforward rock sections. The lyrics speak to the often-illusory nature of human contact via the Internet. “Bathed in pallid light … flicker through the night … window to the soul … through a billion eyes … Do they see?”
I will program the songs below into some sort of logical order to follow the songs above as the ‘We Are Also the Dreamt” project progresses.
3) “Desiccant Grains” (5:11) – is an attempt to describe my experiences as a US Soldier in Iraq in 1991 and again in 2003 in general terms that almost any service member could understand and hopefully relate to. It’s difficult to describe the edginess of long-term tedium in a pervasive environment of anxiety; I guess time will tell how well I did in doing so. The song itself is, unsurprisingly, my usual brand of distilled prog but with some different flavors and textures. “Sunrise on an ocean of sand … dust, flies, and a gun in my hands…”
4) “Monochrome Memories” (3:41) – is more or less straightforward rock in general terms but interestingly syncopated as the two intertwined but individually dynamic basslines lend it a subtle complexity against its broad, almost lush, chord voicings. The song is about a traitorous lover long gone suddenly returned and seeking absolution. The song was composed with a melodically soaring guitar solo section in mind and I have several different hugely talented friends that would fit the bill nicely. “Lies, as they burn, ringing in my ears now return, stinging all those years…”
5) “Revenant” (3:42) – has an almost Celtic feel to it due to the compound meter but it’s very much rock. It lyrically speaks to the feelings of anomie and dissociation that sneak up on all of us sometimes. If you ever had one of those dreams in which you were falling and awoke before you hit the ground then but then spent the day uneasily waiting for the other shoe to drop, metaphorically speaking, then you’ll know exactly what I mean by the line “abide today braced for an impact.”
6) “Somnium Liminalis” (9:58) – is, in its current form, both the longest song I have written to date and probably the one that is closest to being purely progressive rock in the classic sense of the genre label. I meant for it to be Latin for “the threshold of sleep” but I was also playing with the idea of a god of sleep being at the door. It’s an instrumental-only so far but various vocal lines keep popping up in my head for it and certain sections of it might benefit from an inventive soloist so I’ll leave those possibilities open.
7) “Panorama-Eigenlicht” (3:48) – is an interesting creation, an instrumental song mostly in quintuple meter that is somehow melodic without there being a specific melody that I could point to. To my ear it sounds somehow simultaneously both alien and familiar. The title literally means something like “All-Around Self-Light” in German but since I mean eigenlicht as the uniform dark gray background that many people report seeing in the absence of light it’s very much open to interpretation. I might incorporate some flute into the piece later in the production process.
8) “Xenolith” (5:33) – is also an instrumental song in mixed meter with some very cool things going on. It is stylistically reminiscent of several of my works – including, notably “Camera Obscura” above – but also very much different than the others. I’m currently of the mind that we should record it as-is and then, once the final product is in the analog domain, slow down the playback so that it sounds a full step lower to give it that “Strawberry Fields Forever” vibe.
9) “Untitled 2020#15” (4:06) – is a hypnotic piece with four clearly melodic lines in gorgeous harmony and counterpoint for which I’ve yet to come up with a single meaningful lyric couplet. I expect that when the words finally come so also will a suitable title but for now I only hear the notes as nonsense syllables. I tell myself to be patient but, frankly, it’s driving me crazy.
10) “Solar” (5:31) – is a working title that I might just ending keeping for want of something better. Poetic imagery, almost elegiac, delivered by a five-voice choir against a distilled prog rock backdrop, it feels to me like a solid closer for the album. I might invite a guest soloist but I’m going to wait until after recording everything else before deciding if it’s desirable for me to do so. It seems an excellent candidate to close the album. Sample line: “As he rises to depart from this place silent angels bear cold witness in effigy … Watchers made of stone raise their eyes to the sun…”
The ten songs above together span about forty-seven and half minutes in their current form, a complete album. Nonetheless, I have several other completed songs from which to choose that would thematically fit into the album, notably including the two below:
11) “Headlong” (5:07) – mostly in quintuple meter, a vocals-oriented song broadly about the choices we make in the face of our apparent freewill and the consequences thereof. This song was originally meant for the “Reliquary” album but somehow slipped through the cracks. It would fit right in on “We Are Also the Dreamt.” Sample line: “Surface ripples form and fade as the skipping stone strikes then away, free from Earthbound gravity, flying high…”
12) “Litany” (4:40) – another song about choices originally meant for “Reliquary” that slipped through the cracks and would nicely fit here, “Litany” is mostly in 7/8 and very much based in Middle Eastern modes. The lyrics of “Litany” relate more to regrets and waiting. Sample line: “Unconcerned, as we waste our lives carelessly…Dream deferred, as we wait to find some other time, some other day…”
What I don’t have yet is any concrete plans for album art and I suppose I should begin searching around for suitable works to license. That probably won’t pan out because I’ve got a vague idea to incorporate some of the album’s lyrical themes in some sort of surrealistic setting and I might just as easily end up commissioning an original piece but I suppose we’ll see. I am open to suggestions in this regard.
In sum, that describes the current state of Quicksilver Night’s “We Are Also the Dreamt” full-length album. We’ve already laid the groundwork and should begin actively tracking the next steps in the process beginning late 2021 after the release of the “Asymptote” album. I’ll be sure to provide any significant updates throughout the process.
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