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.
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.
I haven’t been creating much of anything these days due to the business of life. However, I have managed to carve out a little time for writing and recording some music. In years gone by, I recorded quite a few albums: folk albums by myself, as well as with an old friend of mine (those were some of the first I ever did), as well as some projects with a rock band in grad school and during my time working in Chicago.
This new album, recorded by my Inflatable Hippies entity, is a departure for me. It’s strictly instrumental and wanders somewhere into the electronica genre, specifically in the chill-out sub-genre. I’m not entirely certain that’s the right term, but I think it is correct. If it isn’t, then let’s just invent it right now.
I don’t consider myself even worthy to muck out the stables for composers like Bach and Beethoven, but everyone on earth–past, present and future–shares a similar trait with those geniuses, and that is the ability to take what already is, whether that be pieces of wood or stone or vegetables or sounds, and then rearrange those into different structures that, because of that rearrangement, have the potential or possibility of acquiring additional beauty. Or merely additional interest.
So, have at it, with whatever items of the universe you find pleasure in rearranging. With me, these days, I like rearranging sounds. The next thing on my to-be-rearranged list are the ingredients for an eggplant involtini recipe. It looks like it will be amazing. Or merely interesting (hopefully not).
Little ZombiesLatest tune, courtesy of me, my guitar, Garageband, some midi and a little time. Time. That’s the most valuable part. Time. I’ve been realizing more and more that we have limited time. Hardly any at all. And we don’t know how much.
Time is kind of like a wrapped Christmas present that we don’t get to open until the millisecond before our death. We get whacked by the drunk in his car and–bam–we open the present as we sail through the air, check inside the box and think, “Hmm. Okay. I get 48 years, 3 months, 16 days, 2 hours and 37 seconds. This is the last second.” And then we hit the pavement.
Or we open the box while in bed at the cancer center. Tubes and monitors hooked up everywhere. The monsignor or pastor or rabbi just gave you the last rites. Your heart monitor begins to flatline as your disease has the last say, and…we get to open the box, peer inside and remark “Aha. I get 82 years, 5 months, 29 days, 1 hour and 12 seconds. And this is the last second.” Flatline.
So where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. Just that…well, be careful with your time. Don’t presume.
Speaking of presumption, this song, Little Zombies, is about the presumption of life. Some people feel entitled to it. Some don’t even get to be part of the discussion, whether they’re alive and enslaved somehow (sex trade, human trafficking out of Africa and into Muslim countries, kids in sweatshops, little baby humans who haven’t been born yet, whatever and whomever). This one is for all the little zombies who never really got a shot at life.