My continued friendship with Hal McGee and his Electronic Cottage group of artists has been fruitful yet again, as I had another track included on the most recent compilation, Cheap And Plastic #2. This is a sequel to the 2012 compilation that has a killer line-up in and of itself, so to be included in the follow-up, which again has an incredible playlist, is nothing to sneeze at. And the comp was sequenced by Chris Phinney too, who knows a thing or two about how to sequence a compilation. I’m continually impressed with the kinds of work this group churns out, and it humbles me when I think that I’m occasionally not in the mood to write and record. To see how much material these folks have put out is pretty motivating.
The Cheap And Plastic concept is actually pretty great: sure, it can be easy to make a lot of experimental music when you have a ton of gear, often very expensive, that can accompany you while you perform an instrument that you are playing “live.” So, to cut to the chase: what can you do with the cheapest gear you have? There’s a little more to it than that, but the idea is to be quick, to be cheap, and to find inspiration in the innovation that thrift-store gear can offer you.
To that end, I decided to use a keyboard that M found for me while in a thrift store: a “Beat Bugs” branded toy that is shaped like a skateboard and has a keyboard on one side. While the samples of animated kids characters playing Beatles songs will be LOVELY to bend, there is something very simple about the generic synth sound that I’m really fond of. I’ve used it a few times on different pieces, but usually as an overdub, on top of other stuff I’m recorded. For this piece, I only used this keyboard, and allowed myself to add another take over the previous one, provided I panned it differently.
Using only those two tools (this keyboard and panning), I proceeded to compose something of which I’m really quite fond. There are no samples, and no slowed down loops that I’ve manipulated on the computer first, which then creates a bed of sound for me to mix and chop samples over. None of that. In a way, it’s just me, the keyboard, and the music that came out of me. Some of the simplest sounds I’ve ever made.
While my track is only one of many, it’s not what this is about. You really should check out the whole thing, as the other artists are very excellent, and there’s tons of cool things in this collection. And it’s LONG! I’m still working through it, there is so much excellent music here!
I get to make some cool music, and participate in some cool stuff, and I’m truly humbled by how lucky when I think about it. Hopefully some of you are entertained by some amount of this, because I’m having a very good time.