Love in the Time of Pandemica

My newest album, Love in the Time of Pandemica, has just gone live. These days, I’m mostly recording under the name Inflatable Hippies (which my wife hates), but this album is under the band name UDK (short for Upside Down Kingdom). I’m not going to use this name again; it’s only for this album (and, yes, I realize this is totally a dumb marketing move in terms of [not] building up an entity–but that’s not exactly my goal here).

I didn’t write these songs for my grandmother. My specific audience for them is epic fantasy readers who shop at thrift stores, like Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and are mildly irritated with Jim Butcher for not writing a sequel to the Aeronaut’s Windlass. A very well-written and crafted book.

Anyway, these are all rock/alternative songs, mostly dealing with mortality, meaning in life, fate, providence, totalitarianism (particularly “Time to Run” and “Dark Stories”). “She’s Got Fangs” is in honor of all the excitable people who made themselves greatly known in the last two years of the pandemic/shut down/the great oddity (whatever you want to call 2020 and 2021). “Feel Just Fine” is an old, stripped down, fairly raw version of a song that ended up on the soundtrack of the indie film The Fellows Hip.

I love writing and recording music. The process is intensely creative with almost immediate gratification. At least, it seems immediate in comparison to writing books (several weeks versus months upon months). A regular dose of creativity keeps me sane. I figure on putting together an album’s worth of music at least once a year. Probably do an electronica instrumental album next.

You can hear all the songs in the new album for free at my HearNow site. If you like them, feel free to buy them on Apple or Amazon, or stream them on Spotify, Pandora, etc. The songs are pretty much everywhere digital music is sold.

Night Thoughts

Odd thoughts at night are inevitable, particularly when you rarely sleep well. However, the rareness was exacerbated even further the other night by a harvest prep crew working on their machines. At 3am. On the other side of the fence from our backyard. With great enthusiasm, gusto, dedication, perspicacity, however you want to describe it. Combined with a lack of focus on how much noise they might be making in close proximity to a sleeping house.

I popped outside and had a few terse words with the crew. They initially expressed confusion and doubt as to the gravity of the situation, but then began to grasp my seriousness. After a few back-and-forths, due to the language barrier, they drove the rig deeper into the ranch. As you can see from the photo, the rig was also festooned with lights, not unlike a large Christmas tree that has fallen over but still remains plugged into the wall socket.

Regaining sleep after such an event, is usually unachievable. Therefore, the odd thoughts. In no particular order: asteroid mining, devising a plot for a book (a lighthearted, comedic version of Lewis’ That Hideous Strength, with an emphasis on lighthearted), whether or not fats are as unhealthy as “they” say they are, cats vs gopher snakes as antidote to gopher infestations, the nature of time if dimensions exist beyond our four dimensions (time becomes very negotiable at that point, doesn’t it?), and whether my kids should start learning Mandarin.

I also spent some time musing over my latest music album (about to go live on all the various streamers): Love in the Time of Pandemica. I used a loop on one of the songs without realizing that certain loops have different kinds of rights associated with them: personal, performance, sales, etc. At any rate, I used the wrong kind of loop and had to pull the one song. Which means a nine song album instead of a ten song album.

I’ll post the song here when I get a chance. Can’t sell it, but I can post it for free.

The topic of intellectual property is an interesting one. I have friends on both sides of the aisle. Everything in the public domain versus rights reserved for a definite amount of time versus rights reserved indefinitely (Leonard da Vinci, contact your heirs). Automatic public domain is a bridge too far for me. After all, what’s the difference between a loaf of bread and a song or a story? Not much.

Of Music, Mice and Men…

But I’m not a biologist, so I’m not qualified to determine what are mice and what are men. Enough said.

Of music, however… I’ve been recording random songs for fun under the moniker Inflatable Hippies for the past few years. Rewrites of Christmas carols, electronica, etc. Purely enjoyable. Great way to exercise the creative synapses without needing to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Lately, though, I’ve been writing slightly more serious music in terms of subject matter. Also, with a more traditional rock approach. I’ve cobbled together ten songs, which are in the process of release under the band name Udk (upside down kingdom). This first album is called Love in the Time of Pandemica. Mild apologies to Gabriel Marquez, but not really.

I have to say, it’s immensely fun to create like this. Music is fast. Books are slow. Anyway, this will be live on Spotify, Apple, Pandora etc in a few weeks. I’ll post links when it spawns through.

Love in the Time of Pandemica

One of my main creative outlets these days is writing and recording music. It’s faster than writing books, in that I can sit down, write and record a song over the space of a couple hours. Walk away with a finished piece at the end. I can’t exactly articulate it, but there’s a certain psychological satisfaction in that. Finishing something that becomes its own entity.

Anyway, I’ve finished recording an album of ten songs with the Inflatable Hippies. That’s the occasional music group I’m part of. IH floats between electronica, folk and rock. This album is just rock. The songs seem to exist somewhere in the space between Seattle grunge and the Cranberries. Plus some odd folk influences here and there.

The title is (tentatively) Love in the Time of Pandemica and should hopefully be easier to get through than Love in the Time of Cholera. I still need to do the final mixes and mastering, and then get them up on all the streamers, Apple, etc etc.

The Taller Mountains

When I was a boy, I often had the sneaking suspicion that the mountains were actually taller than they usually appeared. This only occurred when the storm clouds came down and obscured the mountaintops. At those times, the usual, everyday peaks vanished behind the grey. I would look at them and think, “Perhaps the real heights of the mountains are now revealed within the clouds, even though I can’t see them. Maybe they reach higher and higher, up into the stratosphere and into some strange realm.”

I never climbed the mountains in a storm (or any other time, for that matter, as they’re private property), but that would’ve been the time to climb them. Doubtlessly, the path would’ve gone higher than the regular humdrum mountaintop.

YOU ARE OLD, FATHER WILLIAM…

Now that I’m an aged adult, one would assume I’d put such childish ways behind me. But, looking out my office window today at the rain clouds lowering down over the mountain range, the same thought enters my mind. I suppose I’m just a very aged boy.

There’s a similar idea in Lewis’ The Last Battle, toward the end of the book. The children and their various companions have finally entered the real Narnia. The heart of it is further on and higher up. The real truth behind mountains (and stairways, ladders, steps and apple trees) is further on and higher up. You can certainly climb a ladder down here on Earth, whether it is a corporate ladder at the XZY Widget Company or the ladder to fix the chimney, but the ladder that is even more real than your ladder goes on quite a bit higher. Pro tip: exercise your lungs so you can breathe easily at higher altitudes.

It’s an interesting thought to muddle on, and I suppose I’ll have to write about it in a book or perhaps just a song (almost have a whole new album done with the band I belong to–Inflatable Hippies–watch this space for announcement). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with wishes for a peaceful and merry Christmas, regardless of the doom and grumpy gloom seeping out of the White House like curdled milk spilling from a over-stuffed garbage bag (will they never learn?). Please enjoy a great deal of good food, good conversation, good music and good cheer. And may Heaven keep the beast from slouching to Bethlehem to be reborn. At least for a while yet.

Here’s a photo of our cat enjoying Christmas in the best way cats can.