Afterthoughts

afterthoughts-300This is another song from Impressions which means that the song was lowered by a whole step. I had originally planned on recording this track live playing piano and singing at the same time. However, the logistics of the piano recordings did not allow this to happen. In any case, the piano recording is live and without edits.

listen to Afterthoughts

Who I Am

whoiam-300This song was track 3 of what would become the last Instant Emotion album, Impressions. I actually had hoped that this album would mark a new beginning for Instant Emotion, but instead it served as a finale. This was also the fist album not to feature me as the main vocalist. When these songs were being written in 1996, I was already working with a different vocalist, but by the time I started recording in 2000, that vocalist was no longer available. Fortunately, Stephen Scanlan agreed to serve as vocalist for the album.

I had to drop the key of this song by a whole step in order to sing it. However, I still could not reach the high notes in the middle section, so that was given to Charlene to sing. I also changed the ending of the song. The original version ends immediately after the chorus on a suspension. Given its context in the Impressions album, this ending worked very well. However, for the new version, I brought back the opening motive and ended the song with a strong major cadence.

listen to Who I Am

Anxiety

anxiety-300I do not write songs on guitar often, but when I do, they turn out to be favorites for many people. This song was written in the winter of 1988 and appeared on track 5 of Picture This. The song is a romanticized interpretation of a girl I had a crush on earlier that year. This has always been a favorite of mine and I did not have any issues with the earlier version except that my vocals were not very strong back then.

With the new version, I kept things simple as well. There are many guitar tracks, some nylon and some steel string to add to the color. There is also a Steinway piano that makes its way into the song. Charlene’s backups on this song are probably my favorite as well. Like everything else, the tempo was bumped up a little, but thankfully, the original key still worked for my voice.

listen to Anxiety

Picture This

picture-300In 1989 I released my first album as Instant Emotion and titled it Picture This. The original version featured a Roland TR-707 for the drum track and a Roland Juno-106 as the main keyboard track. The original version has a thick texture and a somber feel with a vocal track that struggles to remain in pitch.

For the new version, I decided to explore a new interpretation of the song. The result is a much more dramatic version of the song. The first chorus is quite dramatic and as a result I felt that the listener really needed 8 bars of music to recover from the chorus. This meant that I could add 8 measures or remove one of the two final verses. I settled for only have one verse before the second chorus. This meant altering the original lyrics. These are the two original verses:

Spare me a moment to look upon
All that we shared
Never a secret or an innuendo
Is it so far behind

And if all that remains is a photograph
Then won’t you stay for a moment
Close your eyes, make the memory alive
I reach out to you
Will you

The new version combines parts of the two verses into one:

Spare me a moment to look upon
All that we shared
Close your eyes, make the memory alive
I reach out to you
Will you

listen to Picture This

Looking Glass

looking-300Looking Glass was written in early 1989 and eventually found its place on the 1990 album, The Still Life. The song was recorded without using MIDI, so reconstructing the song took some time to figure out what each synthesizer part played. Once again, the tempo was sped up a bit on the new version. The 1990 version featured wonderful string patches from an Emulator II in the recording studio at UCSD. The new version features a Roland S-10 sampler playing strings.

listen to Looking Glass

Exposure

exposure-300It was a rather cold evening on December 15, 1994. David Ozab and I were walking in Century City awaiting the arrival of some friends. We ventured into a bookstore and I told David that the title of my next album would be on the cover of a book somewhere in this store. A few minutes later I came across a book title “Exposure.” The title caught my eye and I mentioned to David that this in fact would be the title of my next album. “What is it going to be about?” he asked. I replied: “I don’t know.”

Oddly enough, I would not write the title track for the album until May 1995. The drums on the original version were written out on sheets of paper in grids including measure numbers. Rather than programming my Roland TR-707, I step-entered the drum parts into Studio Vision at CSULB. I believe we used every synthesizer in the studio for this song, which included a Roland GS box, a Yamaha TX-802, a Korg Wavestation, a Roland D-50, and my Roland Juno-106..

The original MIDI file was used for the new version. I own a plugin version of the Wavestation so those tracks are identical to the 1995 recording. Once again, the tempo was adjusted slightly, but overall, this new version is very similar to the 1995 version which tells me that we must have been very happy with our original version.

listen to Exposure

Waiting for Something to Happen

waiting-300This is the first track on the album Exposure, which was released in summer of 1995. According to my notes, this song was recorded on the weekend of April 29th, 1995. The music was written in January 1995 and the words just a few days before the recording. I remember writing the song in the music history lab at UCLA during the first week of the year. The lab had a Korg T3 and I used its internal sequencer and sounds to compose the music, including the drum parts. The sequence was recorded onto a cassette tape.

David Ozab and I met at electronic music lab at CSULB on the weekend of April 29th. We transferred the cassette recording to the ADAT in the lab and used the remaining tracks for vocals. I had ambitious plans for the song that included many more instruments and vocal parts. We did the best we could with our own voices, but the song never lived up to its potential back in 1995.

The new version of the song remains faithful to the original structure and key, but the tempo was sped up. I have to admit that the upper notes of the chorus are nearly out of reach for my voice. The ending of the song was always tricky, however, I am pleased with the results on the new version.

As for what the song is about, well I’m not entirely sure since I cannot say what we are waiting to happen. It is not about indecision, but rather waiting for a sign before taking action. In fact, back in June of 1995, I wrote this about the song:

“And so during the first week of January, while playing around with a Korg T3 on a rainy day, I wrote the music to “Waiting For Something To Happen.” The title came immediately to me because it was exactly how I felt. I was waiting for something to happen, not just with the album, but my life in general. Of course, it took me another four months to write the lyrics, but that’s another story.”

listen to Waiting for Something to Happen.

The Album

looking_glass_250_01Looking Glass is essentially a “greatest hits” album made up of 14 songs from 7 albums I recorded under the band name Instant Emotion between 1989 and 2001. The songs were chosen by the band and myself.

Recording began in July of 2011 and then proceeded on and off until early 2014. The rest of the time was spent editing and mixing. Perhaps it was that this album was extremely personal to me that made the mixing process laborious or maybe I was afraid to finish the project.

In any case, the album is finally finished. Over the coming days, I will present each song in album order along with a bit of information about the song. The album is free to stream on this site.

I hope you enjoy this album as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.

Stay tuned for the first song…