(Heaving Cipher Steelwork)
||Friday, August 12 2005 @ 01:43 PM CDT
|| Toronto, Ontario Canada
Forced ukulele lessons in grade school threatened to forever destroy any chance of me growing to love and make music. Mercifully, the hatred of stringed instruments dissolved during adolescence, along with my innocence and respect for authority. Enter irony. At the age of 16, I picked up a bass guitar and spent countless hours trying to become a "major rager on the 4-stringed motherf**ker" (Metallica seemed cool back then…). I quickly discovered that I had little interest in playing cover songs, opting instead to invent original (and often terrible) bits of noise.
Nonetheless, I played in bands until my early 20s and found some satisfaction in composing and arranging with my band mates, but I was secretly unhappy and frustrated by the fact that I couldn't take my own ideas beyond a certain point. Through a series of bad bands with even worse names, I began to lose interest in playing bass while at the same time becoming increasingly interested in composing. In the beginning I used my bass, a tape recorder, and the drum machine off a crappy Casio keyboard to capture my rather simplistic musical musings. I graduated to 4-track and began teaching myself guitar, if only to help my writing. I never could sing, can’t read music and have always had a really hard time thinking melodically.
Years went by as I accumulated a staggering number of riffs and beats and musical ideas on tapes and in notebooks. My musical brain dumps were poorly organized and spent many years hidden in drawers and boxes. To make matters more complicated, my expression was limited by additional factors - a lack of ability on other instruments, a lack of free time and an unwillingness to invest in expensive recording equipment, all of which inhibited my musical growth. I didn't even try to write full songs.
Heaving Cipher Steelwork was born the day I discovered the power of digital composition. Fast forward to 2001 - I discover Easybeat, which in turn points me to Garageband. Suddenly twenty years of music emerges from my closet and pours out of head and for the first time ever, sees the light of day. Twenty years is a long time to remember a riff. It is with great satisfaction that I can now capture every musical idea I have ever had and work with it until it grows into something more than a repetitive annoyance in my brain. Some of what I write is better than other stuff. I don’t discriminate – it all comes out…the good, the bad, and the ugly. The point is now in can give every idea a chance. I can take things further than I ever thought I could. With very little time and next to no monetary investment, I can now compose to completion. GarageBand has changed my life by helping me free up space in a very cluttered mind. I'm quite certain I have years of musical morsels left to mine, but with every old idea that I extract from my mind and bring to life, new ones fill the void, waiting patiently for their chance to breath.
Over the past couple of years I have compiled more than 100 bits of music ranging from full-tune, 8-minute epics to 30-second intro/outro fillers. Finally, what has been stagnant for so long is able to flow. I imagine I have mined only 10% of my ideas thus far which means I will be busy resurrecting the past for the foreseeable future. Perhaps one day I will go further and record some of my songs with real instruments and a real band but until then I am content in simply getting the ideas down.
Heaving Cipher Steelwork is the creative catch-all for all of this. It is more than just an anagram of my name, spit out by an online generator. It is the cauldron in which my musical creativity boils. It also struck me as a fitting description of the world we live in, what we have become – a monstrous, souless construction made of cold metal, without substance or feeling, gasping for breath as we choke on our own progess. This is precisely why we need music so badly. Creation defies extinction. Music is a sign of life in a dying world. We are lucky to be alive in a time when it is so easy to be creative.
This never-ending project has no ambition other than to create. There is no direction and there are no rules, which means it simply is what it is. However I feel, whatever I think, anything that creeps out of my subconscious - it all lives within the Heaving Cipher Steelwork.
I look forward to sharing this with the MacJams community.