Third Option Still
Ok. Lot to explain on this one! First of all, Murphurd. For those of you who know me as Murph, Murph is actually short for Murphurd. I got the name Murphurd freshman year in high school, damn near the first day. I was new to town. I was in science class, I asked this dude Andrew (I think) if he had a pencil. I was mumbling. I mumbling often then. He said “murphurd?”, you know how people do where they repeat the gibberish you sound like you’re saying? You say “are you here for pizza?” and they say “what? hurforpeets?” Well “do you have a pencil?” was somehow “murphurd?”. Like three times in a row. Finally I just gave up and said “yeah, Murphurd”.
From that moment on, partly because the dude didn’t know my name anyway, he just started calling me Murphurd. He never knew I was asking for a pencil. He just thought I was being a weirdo, all the more reason to name me what I was saying. I often WAS being a weirdo like that, (still am), and so it made sense, even though ironically, weirdo I was not being that particular time.
Of course Murphurd quickly shortened to Murphurd, but the honors class kids I went through all of high school with would be just as likely to call me Murphurd. All you cats who came around AFTER high school, when M.C. Murph and then just Murph were my stage names, you wouldn’t call me Murphurd. But cats from high school, they certainly might.
On to the word “slow”. Well, I thought this was so cool. I took I think the whole mix of the original Still track, minus vocals and played it back with this hard drive recorder called the Darwin I was using. The Darwin had a shuttle wheel, where you could hold it and turn it to play or fast forward or rewind. You could hold the wheel in one spot and have your audio play back at 2 times the speed, or 4, or even slow. If you held it right in the right spot, you could play a whole song back at the same screwy speed. Nowadays you can just tell some software to slow down or speed up something, and you could then too, but the software and computers were more expensive, and all I had was this Darwin machine. So I was playing it back with the wheel and did it slow one time, and it sounded neat. So what I did was, I put another Darwin on record (ok ok I had two - and they were like 3 grand a piece I admit) - wait did I have two at that time? I put SOMETHING on record at regular speed, and then I held that shuttle wheel in the exact right spot for like 10 minutes and recorded this mega slow version of the tune. Well it just so happened that the speed was a perfect multiple - I think a quarter - of the original speed. So what I could do was, I could bring in the normal speed song later and have it be perfectly in sync. And I put vocals in different spots, re-recorded the poem with me saying it, etc. We used this mix (minus the vocals, ’cause we were performing them) to start our Third Option show most of the time, actually. I always thought it was a neat mysterious intro. It comes on slow so you could sort of start it early and come to the stage just in time.
Anyway the result is the Murphurd’s Slow And Unrequited Love Mix, and that slow down process is why it’s a 10 minute long version. I guess I felt like I should use the whole thing *eyeroll*.
Oh I didn’t explain the unrequited love part. Well, at that time, there was a Third Option act, and we hadn’t done the Cult Of Nice record yet, and we were in Albuquerque and going all around doing our shtick, and the act was a duo, me and Tamara. But at that time me and Tamara weren’t dating. There was this kind of 9 month period between the time me and my girlfriend before had broken up where I was all about the getting with Tamara but she wasn’t all about the getting with me.
I guess sometime during the creation of the Still EP, we finally started moving that direction. I actually remember the date when we first “went beyond friends” (to put it politely), but not exactly where we were in the production process.
The point is, eventually, I named this mix the Unrequited Love Mix - I think because I did the whole thing in a sort of all night binge of disturbed creativity that was disturbed due to the unrequited love situation.
So it was quite a bold thing to say, seeing as how the subject of disturbance was IN THE BAND. Sort of like a Mama’s and Papa’s story I heard once.
Last piece of trivia: If you were to buy the disc, there’s a typo ion the cd packaging. It says “Muphurd’s Slow And Unrequited Love Mix” (missing an r in Murphurd).
Love to y’all!
It seems like I was probably moving from one mix to the next, tweaking the next one based on the last. But I don’t necessarily remember.
Well what can I say about this version? It’s a little different. It’s - a …uhm. Here’s the thing, how about we just listen to it?
Well obviously I called this version the Telephone Mix because I “telephoned” Tamara’s voice. I used to LOVE to use that telephone effect (which is achieved simply by cutting most frequencies and boosting the ones that the telephone picks up). I felt like if I made it purposefully fucked up, didn’t let you hear the full spectrum of the original sound, then you wouldn’t be able to hear that it was originally a low quality recording. It’s a good little trick.
This one’s a good bit different now that I’m listening. It’s a bit more ethereal. That ahh ahh ooh thing brings back all kinds of memories but the weird thing is, not really memories of that session or that time, or that version of my little studio. It kind of makes me think of Austin. Maybe we were touring that summer with the slam team or something to Austin. I know we went to Austin at some point around then. We rehearsed poems in Barton Springs. Tamara peed on me in the water.
in the cities of grey slate buildings
all night marquees
and flashing billboards of Virginia Slim and Camel Joe
we stuff our ears at the 24 hour 7 day a week diner of
fiber optic chatter
photographers take our pictures and people watch our lips go up and down on television and toast us as one of the new top ten up and coming
we will not go to the desert
we will not take off our clothes
or bear our hearts
or shut our mouths
<a href=http://www.nquit.com/sounds/ThirdOption/Still/02ThirdOptionStillFadeToBlackMix.mp3>Still Fade To Black Mix, by Third Option</a>
Something I really love that I might not expect someone like me to love, is remixes. I don’t mean somebody sampling somebody else’s song and turning it into some mashup. That’s a new thing that people are calling remixing but it’s not. Remixes, to my mind, are new versions of songs that take the original multitrack audio and make a different version of the mix. It’s not something you think about when you think about rock n roll live music and you think a recording is just a document of some player’s sound. But really nowadays, and for a long time, the mixdown is a key part of the creative process and there’s WAY WAY more variability there than one might think. You can even have a band play a song once, and totally change the character of the song, right down to actually changing the song.
You can do this without even rearranging by cutting, pasting, editing. But then when you DO start cutting, pasting, editing, you also start into the notion of rearranging, which is an old old concept. Arrangers in classical music are old-school remixers. They take the basic “themes” of a work and make an original arrangement of it. In some cases we have music from composers like Mozart or Beethoven or whoever and it’s not actually clear what the arrangement should be. So the arrangement is the arranger’s creative contribution. But it’s not a new song (or symphony or whatever). It’s still considered the same song. It still has the same title. But there may be a footnote “Mozart’s Lost Sonota, arranged by Johnny Applebaum”.
This is what I think of when I think of remix. The track I linked above is still “Still” (no pun intended) but it’s a different version. The Still EP is 5 of these, and I totally remember where I first learned of this concept of the “maxi-single” in electronic music. I was interning at KUNM 89.9 FM here in Albuquerque, and my job was to organize CDS and take home duplicates. Well there was one CD, I forget the act or title, that was just that: an electronica act with one song (which I presumed was a hit from their full length CD) remixed in various ways.
I loved how I became familiar with the original song, and then I was hearing the same song, but with this new take. All of the Still stuff is completely modeled after that CD, for example, where I’ve gone back to the MIDI file for the song, and for the Fade To Black Mix, all I’ve done is use different synth settings for some (but not all, which I think is key/neat) of the parts. Like the former piano line becomes a vibraphone. It gives the song this whole different character.
I also love the idea of DJs or big fans having access to these secret other versions of known stuff. And usually there’s a bunch of different versions of something laying around just because in mixdown, a lot of times you do different things and decide later which one makes the cut on the album. If the versions are different enough, releasing them as remixes seems like a great use for them and a great well of extra content. That’s where I wouldn’t think I’d like the concept, because I’m not necessarily into being so desperate for content that you dredge up the same stuff over and over (like greatest hits albums - which are really just artists who have a contract to fulfill and no more material). But since I like the discovery process in a remix/new arrangement, I do like it in this case.
Of course, the other cool thing is remixes are this great way to collaborate with other artists and reach new audiences, especially if you can get Big Name Electronica Artist or DJ X to do the “Still Paul Oakanfield Scratch My Back Mix”
Anyway I enjoy remixes.
So still was just one of the songs on Frosted Mini Wheats, and I probably said before that it was vastly different before Tamara came along. It wasn’t called Still, for one, because Still is the name of the poem, and the poem wasn’t there. And actually it really was completely different, the song that was in that spot. Tamara had ideas, which gave me ideas, I wrote new baselines, rearranged, wrote new beats, had Tamara do the poem, did bits of the poem myself, cut up the vocals, had us both sing - goddang what DID I keep from the other version? God only knows and no mortal man will ever find out because all those MIDI sequences and audio files were destroyed or lost.
That’s really stupid and bad, actually, because now with that record, and Frosted Mini Wheats, AND Cult Of Nice, I don’t have multitracks, i have nothing. I have no way to recreate and do a version without vocals or any kind of tweaked version if somebody wants it. That’s stupid stupid stupid. Oh well.
Then. Well. I’ll use the next couple blog posts to chatter a bit about the remixes of Still.