More on the creative process, and etc.

As in my last post, three topics to discuss.

MUSIC.  It occurs to me that, as I glance down the calendar, I’m going to be losing quite a lot of recording time over the next few weeks due to being out of town on the weekends (which often involves travelling on Friday nights, too).  I’m still sticking to my plan, though; at least one loop a night, with no mixing or tweaking or editing or even listening, until Sunday evening.  On Monday night I put down 2 loops; last night I only managed 1, but I think it’s a strong one – or, at least, it probably has some potential if I sit down with it and work with it, though I won’t be doing that until Sunday.

It’s interesting to be working in this way, to just make something and then leave it alone and deliberately ignore it for a specific amount of time; it’s not how I normally work, but then again, I haven’t been this prolific in years.  (And it’s only been 2 days!)  I’m not worrying about if the loops are good or not; my only concern is that they exist.  The thing about loops is that they can be changed and extended and manipulated very easily, whereas whenever I’ve written down chord changes and verse/chorus structures and melodies and such, I have a much harder time deviating away from that script.  (Which becomes especially frustrating when I realize that I can’t accurately recreate on tape what I hear in my head, given my recording and budgeting constraints.)

As I said – I won’t be listening to any of this stuff until Sunday.  Curiously, I haven’t been listening to any other music, either, except at quiet moments at work, and those aren’t really the best conditions to really listen to anything.  I’m curious to find out what happens to my brain after Sunday’s mixdown session, though; will I start obsessively listening to these loops, and thus risk getting creatively stuck again?  Will I start listening to other music?  Will new tunes suddenly pop into my head?  I’ve been very much an empty page this week, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also created a little bit of a sense of disconnection between me and the stuff I’m recording.

It is what it is.  This is an experiment; it’s too soon to tell if it’s working or not.  I’m happy to be working on a regular basis, though, which is perhaps the best part.

BY THE WAY:  I’d mentioned in the last post that I’d had a friendly set of ears that was going to be helping me out with those Sunday mixdown sessions, and some other friends had piped up and said they wanted to lend their ears as well.  I’m inclined to let them, and you, too, if you want, though I’m probably not going to be handing these out to everyone.  Anyway, if you’re interested, let me know.

BOOKS.  Any concerns I’d had about the first two books in the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy have quickly been assuaged by book three.  There is, finally, action.  Plot!  Things moving in time!  Yes, there are still very long digressions and observational wormholes, but suddenly all these images from the first two books (described in occasionally excruciatingly tedious detail) are becoming relevant and clear and meaningful, and meanwhile the current story has a sense of momentum behind it that had been utterly lacking in the previous volumes.

I’m still highlighting passages by the dozens, though; sometimes these endless digressions contain deeply resonant feelings and ideas, and the translation is quite excellent as far as maintaining the author’s poetic prose.  There’s also this hilarious bit in Book Three, though, that is deeply ironic with regards to the narrator’s endless digressions – here he’s complaining about his boss, who also tends to ramble in tangents:

I wasn’t going to allow him to continue wandering and digressing, not on a night prolonged at his insistence; nor was I prepared to allow him to drift from an important matter to a secondary one and from there to a parenthesis, and from a parenthesis to some interpolated fact, and, as occasionally happened, never to return from his endless bifurcations, for when he started doing that, there almost always came a point when his detours ran out of road and there was only brush or sand or marsh ahead.

GAMES.  As noted before, my game playing is taking a backseat to everything else for the next few weeks.  I did one campaign mission in Far Cry 4 last night and upon its conclusion I was told that I should probably take care of any unfinished business before going to the next mission, which implies to me that I should probably finish those last 3 outposts, do that one last Fashion Week hunt, and maybe do the last 2 Shangri-La missions before finishing outright.

Weekend Recap: Before the Storm

Some quick ramblings while the snow starts to accumulate:

1.  I’m roughly 14.5 hours into Far Cry 4.  The front splash screen tells me I’m only 36% complete.  I clutch my head in despair.  I find myself pressing on in spite of everything telling me to stop, including the game itself.  For example:  I’m in the mood to do some of the propaganda missions, so I open up my map, set a waypoint to the nearest one, and then find a car.  5 seconds after I start driving, I get a radio message telling me that the camp I just left is under attack, and so if I don’t immediately turn around and defend it, I lose the camp again.  This doesn’t feel like dynamic, organic gameplay in a living, breathing world; this feels like the game yelling at me to do a chore that I already did.  And yet, as I said, I’m compelled to keep playing.  In addition to the numerous side activities, I did quite a few campaign missions over the weekend; I visited Shangri-La for the first time; I conquered my first fortress; I upgraded my homestead.  I do appreciate that I can make a 15-minute session as productive as a 4-hour binge, if I so choose.  But it’s hard to get past the underlying blandness that permeates everything.

Speaking of which:

2.  The last FC4 campaign mission I finished before checking out for the weekend involved me taking over a “brick factory” / opium den, and once I was inside my character started hallucinating (i.e., things changing colors, weapons changing at whim, enemies exploding into colorful chalkdust).  This reminded me quite a bit of Saints Row 4, and then I remembered – oh yeah, I rented the Xbox One version that just came out last week, why not check that out?  And, um, it’s pretty underwhelming.  I’d finished the original game on my PC, and while my PC is not a powerhouse by any standard it still looks better there than in this XB1 version.  I can forgive that to a certain extent, but more troubling was that the combat/shooting felt kinda terrible, too; maybe it’s because I’ve been playing a lot of FC4 and GTA5 lately, where the combat feels quite good (or maybe it’s just the lock-on targeting in those games is a bit more pronounced and I know how to use it well), but I felt wildly inaccurate when shooting in SR4’s opening missions; and I’d be remiss not to mention that the combat didn’t feel particularly powerful or meaningful.  Granted, I know full-well that you have to play SR4 for more than 10 minutes before it starts getting meaningfully insane, but given that I’ve already played it… I’m not sure I need to continue.  As far as HD remasters go, this one is pretty disappointing.

3.  Surprise surprise, I splurged a little bit in the weekend PSN Flash Sale / 10% Discount.  Among the haul:

  • Super Mega Baseball
  • Costume Quest 2
  • Guacamelee
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Geometry Wars 3

And, separately, I pre-ordered Grim Fandango Remastered.  Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t pre-order anything this year, but Grim is a special case.  And given that NYC might be under 12 feet of snow tomorrow, I’d rather have that shit already downloaded before I need to worry about power outages.  (Which is to say – I’d like to have the Vita version downloaded as well, so that I can actually play it in the event of a power outage.)

4.  I’m about to finish reading Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 1.  I’m enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to the next one, but it’s a very hard book to recommend; for a 380+ page book that I was given to understand is a postmodern spy novel, very little actually happens – it’s mostly a series of endless paragraphs filled with laconic, obsessively detailed observations about human nature.  There is value in such a thing, and I’ve been highlighting quite a few passages that resonate with me very strongly, and it’s because the writing is so unique that it doesn’t often get tedious.  But I’ve found that it can be difficult to stay engaged with it when I’m in bed.

I thought I had enough for a 5th bullet point, but I guess not.  If you’re in the Northeastern US, stay safe and warm and indoors.