Yearly Archives: 2010


I am now four entries behind on Holidailies. It’s a good thing, then, the Restraint remix project has reached a stopping point.

There are always things to tweak, but for the most part, the album is at a point where I’m mostly satisfied with the results.

I’ve been recording and remixing and remixing and recording these songs since 2005, and they’ve come a long, long way. In the beginning, they were all computer-driven, with parts faked to sound approximately human. That uncanny valley can sometimes be bridged, but most times it can’t.

Now I’ve got a real human playing on these songs, even if that human can’t really play. (That human would be me.) The songs at least now sound like a band is playing them and not a machine.

I’ve left the computer to handle a few things — the trickier guitar parts, the drums, and keyboard parts that obviously need a CPU’s intervention.

But for the limited budget and space under which I’m operating, the album actually sounds decent enough for me to put it out for real.

That leaves the question of what to do with the version that’s already out there. I’ll figure that out later. Right now, I need to take a break from this project.

I’ll start on the next one.


After charging myself into a credit card hole after the dot-com bust, I’ve been living a life of self-denial for the past four years. In 2009, I was trying to save up for a trip, while having both my salary reduced and no holiday bonus to pad the income. This year, I dumped all the stock I owned of my former employer and split part of my savings into a relocation fund. I also have another account which I used as my emergency trip fund.

Tickets to Hawai"i are expensive on any day, but when you have to get one at a moment’s notice, it costs a huge chunk of change. So I kept this account above $1K for as much as possible.

Well, it came in handy this past month, and now the emergency has passed.

I find myself thinking about getting things I’ve been putting off because I never knew when I had to tap that fund. I’ve got a 10-year-old copy of Microsoft Office that needs upgrading. I would mind getting a TiVo compatible with my LCD TV. I’ve been meaning to learn Flex, and I could probably think about getting a smart phone.

It feels weird.

My dad has traditionally served as a symbolic obstacle between me and things I want out of my life, mainly because he was less symbolic about it when I was younger. I put off a lot of little things because I was waiting for my dad to die. Now that he’s gone, I can start thinking about those things again.

And still I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

お土産、其の五: Restraint

Here’s the title track of the album.

Aside from the drums and the drones in the background, it’s the only one where every instrument is performed live. I actually had to practice the guitar melody in the chorus. Thankfully, it was slow enough for my limited abilities.

I remixed this track a long while back, actually, but it did inspire me to tackle the whole notion of remixing everything I’ve done so far. (“All the Times I Remember” was also done prior to this weekend.)

At some point, I need to learn how to make those drones myself since Guitar Rig 4 could probably do a bit more convincing job than Reason, but that’s another experiment for another time. Or I could just leave well enough alone.

Here’s the remixed track:

There. Now I’m caught up for Holidailies. Till I fall behind again tonight.

お土産、其の四: Speechless

I’ve been meaning to remix this track for a long time.

I recorded it back in 2005 and didn’t really edit it since then. The vocals are the first take. Back then, I didn’t really know much about effects, panning or any of the tricks in my growing arsenal.

So this past weekend, I finally separated all the tracks — only three instruments — and gave them proper panning and reverb. It makes for better listening on headphones, at least.

Here’s the remixed track:

お土産、其の三: Without Nothing

Part of this remix project I’ve undertaken this weekend is adding effects to tracks that should have had effects to start with.

It didn’t occur to me till I was recording these guitar tracks that to emulate the feel of a room, I needed to add reverb. Usually, guitars are recorded with a microphone strategically placed in front of an amplifier. A bit of the room sound might end up on the track. I don’t have the real estate nor the acoustic — let alone the gear — to do it that way.

So I recorded my guitar parts straight into the mixer, then add effects later, hence Guitar Rig 4 Pro. When I tried to pan the guitar tracks, they sounded flat. So I put a reverb plug-in on an auxiliary bus — essentially, a track to which you can route all your other tracks to apply effects — and adjusted the reverb to sound like a room.

I didn’t stop with guitars — I did the same for drums and a few keyboards. Bass is the only thing that never gets reverb — it gets too muddy.

I didn’t change “Without Nothing” very much, but I think the difference is in the depth of the track. Emulating the sound of a room can make all the difference.

Here’s the remixed track:

お土産、其の二: All the Times I Remember

If you follow the Eponymous 4 Facebook Page, you’ve already seen this track posted. But I’m now four entries behind on Holidailies, so I’m repurposing content for more filler.

“All the Times I Remember” was definitely intended to be played on guitar, but when I wrote it back in 2005, I was nowhere near confident in my guitar-playing abilities. (Not that they’ve evolved much in that half decade.) In fact, the guitar playing on this remix is really, really messy. I need to do some more editing or perhaps re-record the parts again.

I did change the acoustic part a bit. The rhythm of the original demo is a bit more than my wrist can handle, so I expanded it in the remix. Not sure if it works, but it does give the song more of a cluttered feel.

Here’s the remixed track.

お土産、其の一: The One to Make You Whole

I am officially five entries behind in my Holidailies updates, so it’s time for some filler.

I’ve spent the last few days playing with one of my new toys, Guitar Rig 4 Pro. The version of Cakewalk SONAR I have includes a limited edition version of Guitar Rig 3. When I bought my new computer in August, I finally had the processing power to try it out, and I got hooked enough to want to buy the full version, which I did on 黒い金曜日.

Now I’m going back to my demos and recording guitar parts where my limited playing ability can accommodate. On Friday, I realized I could probably go back and remix an entire album I’ve already released, titled Restraint. I already remixed two tracks from the album with Guitar Rig 3. Now I’m doing the same with the other tracks.

Some of them don’t have guitar parts, so I went ahead and just remixed those outright. I’ve put in some full days this weekend, nearly turning down a social engagement yesterday (which, in retrospect, I should have.)

So I’m going to post some of the tracks on which I’ve been working.

Continue reading »


The day after Thanksgiving, my mom and I bought a small Christmas tree to set up on a table next to my dad’s bed. Three days later, he was gone. Two weeks after that, so was the Christmas tree.

I’ve never been one to decorate my place, and in the 13 years I’ve lived by myself, not once have I bought a Christmas tree. Of course, the holidays this year feel less like holidays. The Big Day is Saturday, and it’s really the last thing on my mind.

I’m playing catch-up at work. I’m getting over a cold, and I’m still readjusting to Central Time.

I haven’t thought about whether I want anything to open up on Christmas Day. Sure, I bought myself some new toys which I’ve already put to use, but as for something Herr Sinterklaas would leave under my non-existent tree, I draw a blank. Well, there’s always my Amazon wish list.

No, I think the only thing I want this year is for my life to return to normal. I’d like to go back to working on stuff for Eponymous 4. I’d like to have my weekly margarita with Double-A. I’d like to save up for something other than an emergency trip back home. The emergency has passed, and now it’s time to start living. Maybe a trip to New York City is in order.

Maybe for my birthday.


I made an off-hand remark on Twitter months ago that I wanted to cover "You’re the Biggest Part of Me" by Ambrosia with an ukulele. I was nowhere in the market for an ukulele, but that remark garnered some indirect encouragement.

A friend of mine pointed out that the highest four strings on a guitar are also the strings of an ukulele. If you know how to play one, you can play the other. Other people mentioned where I could find cheap ones.

So I would casually look up ukulele prices. Over at Guitar Center, the higher-end instruments topped out at $200. A child’s instrument started at $40.

Anytime I would mention ukuleles on Twitter or Facebook, the same indirect encouragement got reinforced. In short, people wanted to hear me cover Ambrosia with an ukulele.

One day when I was shopping with my mom, we passed a display case of ukuleles. I mentioned my off-hand remark, and she said Dad had bought an expensive ukulele a few years back. He wanted to learn how to play and even took two lessons, but my sister in Chicago had surgery. So my parents flew there to be with her. Dad didn’t take it up again.

It was the last day he was communicative, and I asked him whether I could take his ukulele back with me to Austin. He indicated yes.

On the day of my departure, I went to the UPS Store to have it shipped. It arrived today.

Now I just have to learn how to play it. That Ambrosia cover, though, won’t be coming any time soon.