Great free album
March 20, 2008 5:23 AM   Subscribe

One of my favorite albums of recent years is now available for the first time. And, it's free. You Are Not Dead: A Guide to Modern Living by MeFi's own Fake. {embedded Flash player and link to zipped mp3s} {torrent of better quality mp3s} {via mefi projects}
posted by dobbs (38 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
A quick sampling of the audio files tells me, at first impression, that I like this music. And I like the site design, too. Very handsome. Thanks for the post, dobbs.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:10 AM on March 20, 2008

The music is great, and the artwork/ commentary/ manifesto is a beautiful thing worth some thought.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 6:18 AM on March 20, 2008

Holy moley, the music *is* good. Haven't read the book, but thanks for the post!
posted by the dief at 6:50 AM on March 20, 2008

thanks for posting this! I look forward to checking it out
posted by hector horace at 6:56 AM on March 20, 2008

I have now listened to the work in its entirety and would like to ask two questions:

1. Why do you think so many musicians want to write movie music for movies that don't exist?

b. What do you think would happen if you tried the same musical/sonic ideas, but did not put a disco beat over each one?
posted by Herodios at 7:04 AM on March 20, 2008

Thanks, I'll give this a listen today.

I took a quick look at the site this morning, and it completely fell apart on Firefox on the Mac. Seems to be fine on the PC here at work. No snark, just letting fake know if he pops into this thread.
posted by sauril at 7:08 AM on March 20, 2008

The writing reminds me of the public address system in Portal. Can't listen to the music at work, unfortunately.
posted by sciurus at 7:08 AM on March 20, 2008

Why do you think so many musicians want to write movie music for movies that don't exist?

The ones that don't exist are the best kind.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:41 AM on March 20, 2008

I am so heartily sick of drum machines making everybody's sonic pastiche listenable I could puke. If you're going to do experimental audio, stop trying to make it dance music. Or find a damn drummer and make the sound of hitting things.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2008

First of all, I am so excited to see this, here. It is hard to express how intense this project has been, from production to release, and it's only more intense now to see people listening to it and enjoying it. Thanks.

Releasing something publicly also opens it up to criticism.

Herodios, I don't understand. It's not movie music -- it's book
music. There was no movie in mind. And those aren't disco beats. :)

Lumpenprole, I'm not sure what you're objecting to. The album is positively covered in real drums, in fact, it was created with the help of my brother, who has a degree in percussion performance and teaches it, as well as Tom Hill, an accomplished rock drummer in his own right. Their drumming (on trap sets, exotic ethnic drums, and electronic pads) is featured on the first, second, and well... every last track on the album. The album wouldn't exist without them and their musical input.

I am an electronic musician, and this is an album of music produced in software. I use real-world instruments and collaborate with traditional musicians quite frequently, and take their work into the digital domain. You're listening to the sound of banging drums, clanging metal and clicking keys and mice all together. Personally, I think it's a lot more interesting than one or the other in isolation.


If anyone has insight about the FF on Mac problems that Sauril mentions, I'd be grateful. The last thing I want to do is serve up broken pages to Mac users. I am only able to test with Safari.
posted by fake at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fake: Thanks for responding.

Wish I could help with the Mac thing, but -- not my area.

By 'movie music' I mean that it doesn't seem intended to stand on it's own. Dobbs posted about it as a favourite recent album, yet the music seems intended to serve as a soundtrack to the print piece. Am I wrong about that?

I'm sure you know what I mean by 'disco beats'. The traditional "PA-doom-boom-pa-CHUK-a-chuk" (I mean, that one is everywhere!) and the others. I think they trivialize the rest of your work. Are you afraid we won't listen otherwise?

I don't know why Lumpen is angry, but theres a valid observation there and it relates to my sincere question:

Is it supposed to be dance music? If not, why are those beats there? What do they add? Don't they distract from the rest of the audio content, which I must say is quite rich in places? I like some of the bowed instruments and hand percussion, for example. But looped or not, I don't think they are enhanced by the dance tracks.

Have you examples of your work without the beats? I'd be interested to hear them.
posted by Herodios at 10:03 AM on March 20, 2008

On review, I read:

It's not movie music -- it's book music.

Fair enough. But still.
posted by Herodios at 10:09 AM on March 20, 2008

Man, so far this is pretty great. I'll have to wait until later to dig into it, but I'm liking it so far. Great job, fake. Nevermind lumpenprole. Apparently a robot pissed in his Wheaties this morning.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:17 AM on March 20, 2008

I recommend listening to the the downloads. They have a much warmer sound, whereas the streamers on the website are pretty harsh and trebly.
posted by Herodios at 10:23 AM on March 20, 2008

The album and book were written together, over five years collaboration with Meg Holle. While I believe the album stands completely on its own, it is very deeply tied to the book (which I also believe could be read in isolation, to great effect). They came from the same place, from two people working with a common goal.

I think we have to disagree about the drums. I don't believe that electronically-produced drumbeats compromise my music -- I love electronic beats at least as much as acoustic. It's difficult for me to understand how using electronic instruments in electronic music could trivialize it.

What I know to be "dance music" sounds really different from my music, though we may use some of the same tools and occasionally the same sounds. Dance music, in my mind, is much more repetitive and has a specific aim -- to make people dance on the dance floor. This music, though I hope it would work in many contexts, was not made with that in mind.

It seems to me that this is an aesthetic objection to the sound of electronic drums. Again, I love them, and I used them deliberately and I must admit being a bit disturbed by the suggestion that I used them to get you to listen. I used them because I think they are great sounds, because they move me, because they conveyed the tone, texture, and timbre of my musical ideas, and because this is an essentially electronic album.
posted by fake at 10:27 AM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Am I the only one who saw this in RSS, didn't see a poster name, and went "Oooh, self-link! Must get to MeTa for flameout!"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:57 AM on March 20, 2008

Thank you Fake! I'll have to seriously get into it this weekend
posted by P.o.B. at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2008

It seems to me that this is an aesthetic objection to the sound of electronic drums.

No, I don't object to electronic drums sounds on principle, nor samples, nor loops. But it is disappointing to hear uninteresting beats stuck on top of otherwise potentially interesting tracks. Lemme take a couple tracks to illustrate:

As track 1 opens, you have something really nice and rich and engaging going. It could have gone a number of different ways, but -- suddenly at :30 or so, here come the big drums. and what they are playing is square and mundane compared to everything else on the track; they sound unrelated to the other material; yet they take over the sonic space; and because we've heard this idea ninety-eleven times before over the past 30 years -- really, we have -- we anticipate it.

I must admit being a bit disturbed by the suggestion that I used them to get you to listen.

It is the fulfillment of that anticipation that leads me to suggest it. And since it's the first track, it colors one's perception of the rest of the work.

Track 4 is similar to track 1 in this regard, but the big drums come in a bit later and are better integrated.

Track 2: I think this one really works though it isn't as potentially interesting as 1 and 4.

Track 6: The drums are there for a reason, everything swings, there's rewarding development, and lovely distortion both harmonic and non. It tells its own story.

> What I know to be "dance music" sounds really different from my music
It is entirely likely that you have a more nuanced view on this than I.

> I think we have to disagree about the drums.
That much is clear.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to it. Good luck and thanks for responding.
posted by Herodios at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2008

I listened to the first track or two, and I love it so far. When I imported the MP3's into iTunes, it couldn't find any album art, so I cropped the first page of the book into the appropriate size and uploaded it here in case anyone else wants to use it.

(Hopefully this doesn't violate the "no self-links" policy. Sorry if it does; I promise not to be offended if the comment gets deleted.)
posted by JDHarper at 11:51 AM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Enjoying it a lot so far, lovely textures and great composition. Similar to Four Tet in a way, but its definitely its own thing.

Fake, I'm wondering what your personal reasoning was behind giving it away for free. Do you expect to make money from the donations? I make electronic music too and while I do a little bit of marketing, and have a small fan base... I've sorta given up the idea of making profit from it. So I'm planning to give the music I make in the future away for free because I just want people to hear it. Anyways, just curious at to your thoughts.
posted by troubles at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2008

Oh my, this is good.

posted by Kinbote at 12:42 PM on March 20, 2008

...seems to work fine in Mozilla Seamonkey on a Mac...
(and it's super good too - nice work, Fake)
posted by joe defroster at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2008


Well, I actually had some interest from some smaller labels, but things didn't work out for a couple of reasons -- usually, they wanted to change something important (most often, not wanting to publish the book, or not wanting such a "finished product" --they usually and reasonably want to tailor it to fit their vision/brand). In that sense, I just didn't feel that it was the right venue for the work.

I don't expect to make any money from donations, but I wanted to make the option available. So far, I have received twelve dollars from two friends, and that's fine. Next time Meg and I are in the same country, I am going to buy her a drink with it and bless her talented typing fingers. If we made substantially more, I'd use the money to press a vinyl/CD/something and a real print of the book.

I write music because I love music, specifically percussion. There were a lot of sounds that I wanted to hear, but couldn't find in other music, so I set out to write my own. Five years later, I'm here with a release. That process has had many rewards not evident in the final work, from my own learning process to the intensification and deepening of my friendship with Meg and the insanely gratifying creative moments when we "clicked" and made great things. Together, countries and sometimes continents apart.

I feel so great about the response to the music in general, and what I really want from this release is the goodwill and general awareness that comes from such things. I want people to know and love (and think about) the things I've made. As you say, I just want people to hear it, and I want that without attachment or restriction, without marketing or multilevel merchandising plans, without blogspam or bullshit business models. I have nothing against making money, in fact, I'd love some money, but I have everything against keeping you from something in exchange for it.
posted by fake at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

I guess all of that, in short, means that perhaps given enough eyes, ears, and goodwill, there will be desire enough (personally and publicly) to support more work like this in the future, financially or otherwise, but with or without, you get what's been done.
posted by fake at 1:24 PM on March 20, 2008

Yeah, you know what? Totally disregard me. I was in a horrible mood and this was exactly what I didn't want to hear. I deeply apologize.

Keep working.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2008

It's cool.
posted by fake at 1:34 PM on March 20, 2008

Fake, this is brilliant. I saw this in projects and was about to put it on the front page. I searched first and found this thread.

I think this is a brilliant concept and wonderfully executed. The idea of a book (manifesto?) accompanying an album is a long time in coming, and combining the two media makes either more interesting than it would be alone. I would love to see more artists doing this. I think that trying to unite music and a book under one concept forces the artist or artists to think very deeply and very carefully about what it is they are trying to communicate, and to channel their creativity in the service of that message.

The only problem you have now is what to do next...
posted by Pastabagel at 2:16 PM on March 20, 2008

Fake - first off, top notch work. Enjoying the album very muchly here at workland... Second, can you give us a brief overview of your weapons of choice for the album's production?
posted by stenseng at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2008

This is a good example of how media should/will be made--in terms of how it was created and is being released, making all the middle-people irrelevant. Further, I dig it musically. Well done.
posted by everichon at 3:18 PM on March 20, 2008

Also, bravo on the manifesto being thought-provoking and fun to look at while avoiding Adbusters-esque smug wankyness.
posted by everichon at 3:20 PM on March 20, 2008

Thanks for posting this. 'The Risks and Benefits' song has been on my playlist for absolutely yonks now. Great stuff.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:24 PM on March 20, 2008

The only problem you have now is what to do next...

Ack! Too true. Thanks, Pastabagel and everyone.

stenseng, I've been using Ableton since version 1, and I could hardly imagine producing in anything else. This album was produced entirely in version 5, though now I am running 7.0.2. I use an assortment of VST plugins, which has changed over time, but mostly the mda free plugins. My computers have changed over time, but at the moment I'm using a Precision M70 workstation. I have an M-Audio Firewire 410 sound card, and I hate it and wish I could buy another one. The drivers and construction are awful, but it has been good enough to get the work done.

As far as real-world hardware, I have a lot of stuff (Studio 2003, Studio Now), but I primarily use my Minidisc recorder to record musicians and get the rest from circuit-bending work on old synths yielding unique sounds. I've also built my own MIDI interfaces, because I don't think a piano keyboard is the best entry to software. I'd be happy to elaborate further if you are interested.
posted by fake at 3:25 PM on March 20, 2008

This reminds me of the best of instrumental Trent Reznor, in terms of quality, production, tone, and delivery. And I mean that in the best way possible.
posted by duende at 3:46 PM on March 20, 2008

Fake, thanks for the awesome gracious info! I would absolutely love to know more... Anything you feel like sharing about your gear/process/whatever. I'm working on breaking into doing some electronic music production myself after years of being "tech support and crazy ideas guy" for other friends' bands, so any info will be much appreciated.

Not sure if you want to pm, or post in-thread, but I'm sure most folks would find the info fascinating!
posted by stenseng at 5:40 PM on March 20, 2008

I was listening to some of the tracks while downloading the torrent, and I realized that I've had What to Watch When the War Is on TV on my playlist for a while. I don't remember where I found it, but I'm glad I found the rest of the album. I'm definitely going to have to spend some time listening and reading the book.
posted by finrod at 7:39 PM on March 20, 2008

I emailed fake about this, but just for posterity it turns out that the firefox /mac thing was only an issue with the trailing /# in the url. Otherwise it's good.

As for the music itself and the package, I enjoyed it a lot. As Herodios said above, the introduction of the drums in track one was a little obvious, but there are worse places to get those infuences than Boards of Canada.

Kid Koala released a comic book / cd package a few years ago called Nufonia Must Fall. Fans of this and of turntable wizardry should check that out as well.
posted by sauril at 8:37 PM on March 20, 2008

You probably got it from Dobbs back in late 2005 -- he posted a couple of tracks from an early version of the album in a music thread here. That's pretty cool to hear that you've been listening to it that long, hopefully the rest of it has similar longevity.

Stenseng, the best advice I can offer to start out is to download a copy of Ableton and start playing with it. Be sure to check out their demo videos and help files -- most people skip that step and so miss most of the fun. After you've played with it a bit, I think you'll not only want to make music with it, but you'll probably also have a bunch of more specific questions that I could answer. My email is on my homepage, as well, and I'll help you get started, don't hesitate -- but generally it would be cool to talk about process here so others can benefit, if there's any benefit to be had.

Someday, I'll put together a little "making of" page featuring all the musicians who contributed and more about the process.
posted by fake at 8:54 PM on March 20, 2008

that Declaring Your Codependence song has some of the best atmospheric video game breakbeats ever
posted by mannequito at 1:20 AM on March 21, 2008

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