'Midnight Acolyte'

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'Midnight Acolyte' Lyrics


About the Album

       Despite being my most organically written record, many steps were required to be taken to fully realize ‘Midnight Acolyte’.

       It all started in the summer of 2019. Back then, my synthesizer resources were quite limited: an iPhone furnished with the Moog Model D app, whatever preset patches came natively with my copy of GarageBand, and the very MIDI-sounding synths exported straight out of Guitar Pro (which I’d then attempt to process with my beloved Soundtoys plugs). This is how I did all of the synth production for ‘Delectable Machinery’. I inevitably became frustrated with attempting to track synth parts on my iPhone and purchased an iPad along with a handful of the wonderful synth apps available on the app store (side note: my early explorations with this new gear led to “Stentorian Echolalia”, from ’Silly String Redux’).

       For about an hour every night, I’d noodle around on the various synth apps, usually in a random musical mode. This soon prompted me to pick up the bass and commence noodling on it, as well; it was the first time I had made any sort of concerted effort to play the bass in many years. After I’d stumble onto something I liked, I’d notate it in Guitar Pro. After a month or two, I’d cataloged over 100 riffs/melodies/progressions/etc.

       I began organizing these things into ‘mode banks’, including one which served as a home for the ‘unclassifiable’ stuff. I started to stitch together arrangements of tunes, sometimes staying in the mode but usually segueing to another that had a similar “aroma” (to quote Zappa).

       ‘Midnight Acolyte’ was composed in two big chunks. The first chunk took place in the aforementioned summer: “Epiphyte”, “Dynomaniac”, “Blackguard”, “Nadir”, “Dog-ear”, respectively. After I completed the demos in Guitar Pro, I exported the MIDI, converted ‘em to WAVs, and threw the files onto my iPod. Then, for a week or so, I set up a mike and attempted vocal pre-pro for the first time in my life, standing in front of the mike and babbling gibberish (and whispering screams), attempting to find decent melodies and interesting rhythmic placements. I comped together the best takes and started working on transcribing what I sang, which was a bit of an undertaking.

       Once I had the vocals sketched out, I wrote lyrics; this in turn, of course, affected some of the melodies/rhythms. The lyrics on this record are a blend of personal experience and roleplaying. Some of them are permeated with subjectivity and poetic musings, some are fairly obviously steered towards a topic/feeling/situation/etc., as well as the miscellany of both approaches. After I finished, the tracking process was ‘conveyor belt-like’: drums, then bass, then synths (which were later augmented with programmed synths). This concluded the composition and tracking (excluding the final vocals, obviously) of chunk #1.

       I initially intended for this to be an EP, but not too long after I’d tracked chunk #1 I felt that there was still meat on the bone; there were still plenty of unused riffs and such from the banks, and I was playing more bass than ever. Chunk #2 began in the spring of 2020, and the same process was adhered to as before. So, now that everything was tracked—now what? Well, I guess I should really learn how to sing, eh?

       By then, I had a great warm-up on my iPod by Judi Donaghy and another rather elaborate 20-minute warm-up that I’d snagged from YouTube. I supplemented these with a full sing-through of ‘Pet Sounds’ and other assorted tunes. At one point, I had mentioned learning how to scream to my friend Taylor and he highly recommended me to David Benites. I took a Skype lesson with David in August and another in-person lesson a few months later and learned the basics of the ‘false cord’ and ‘fry’ screams: big fun! At the nigh behest (kidding) of my pal and vocal co-producer Gabe, I also started weekly lessons with Sacha Mullin, who would go on to co-produce and coach me during vocal tracking (more in a bit). These lessons were invaluable, greatly informing and supplementing my vocal practice sessions, and within about a month I was putting in 2.5 hours a day, 4-5 days a week. This whole little sub-process transpired in August - November of 2020 and was such an inspiring bubble of time that I wrote, tracked, mixed, and released 'Dotty Ditties, Volume 1(?)'. I had also committed to another two weeks of vocal pre-pro, now that I had lyrics and a general approach in mind for each section. I’m fortunate that I did, for I used several of the screams as the main tracks in a handful of the songs.

       Gabe, Sacha, and I had settled on a vocal tracking session for mid-November. Although my father was extremely ill, I made the road trip to Chicago. Despite the inherent challenges of only shedding for a few months, I was thoroughly prepared and finished everything within four days. Tracking with Gabe and Sacha was mountains of fun, and they managed to draw things—voices, melodies, inflections—out that I had no idea resided within me. This album would be devoid of so much of the drama that saturates it had I not had access to their expertise. I cannot thank them enough.

       I drove home overnight, stopping twice for brief naps, and came home to my father on his deathbed. I was able to spend four days with him. Perhaps it would be poetic to romanticize and infer—or flatly state—that his condition enabled me to channel more turmoil into my performance, but the truth is that I wasn’t aware of just how dire it was until I arrived back home. Even more truthful it would be for me to say that I was trying not to think of him.

       Between the fallout of his death and working on an assortment of other projects, I didn’t start mixing MA until March of 2021. It took me about two months of daily work, barring one week off for a session. Continuing with the second ‘mini-oeuvre loop’, the record opens with the end of ‘Projects III’ and closes with the opening drum groove of “The Mercurial”, which comprises the start of ‘Fall and Response’. Thanks for reading.


1. Dynomaniac
2. Laissez-scarce
3. Menticide
4. Heresiarch
5. Epiphyte
6. Nadir
7. Dog-ear
8. Blackguard
9. Halcyon

 · Travis Orbin - Drum set, Bass, Synthesizer, Programming, Vocals
 · Minou Alirezazadeh - Backing vocals on 7
 · Music Composed by Travis Orbin
 · Sound Design by Travis Orbin
 · Lyrics by Travis Orbin
 · Drums, bass, and additional vocals engineered by Travis Orbin of Woodshed Studios
 · Vocals engineered, co-produced, and edited by Gabriel Riccio at his home studio
 · Additional vocal co-production and coaching by Sacha Mullin
 · Synth Production by Travis Orbin
 · Produced by Travis Orbin
 · Mixed by Travis Orbin
 · Mastered by Taylor Larson at MixWave Studios
 · Cover Art by Travis Orbin
 · Photography by Jessica Dankmeyer

       Thank you to my fans, friends, associates, and family; especially my parents for their perpetual support and my neighbors for putting up with all of the racket. Also, thank you to my endorsements: Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Remo drumheads, Vic Firth drumsticks, RTOM drum accessories, Vratim drum shoes, the Hi-Hat Razer, and E-Pad! Practice Pads.


Cover Art Construction:

Jessica was an old friend from what was once a microscopic but still quite burgeoning microcosm of a music scene in my area. I approached her regarding contributing or potentially outright doing the art. We got together and she took photos of me, utilizing this wild flash technique that she coined. We flipped through a scrapbook with tons of random images she had procured for collages and I picked a few out with similar color palettes. She also turned me onto this great, super user-friendly and intuitive app called Gliché. One thing led to another and I ended up doing the art myself. I went to Michael's and bought some acrylic paint, polymer clay, Elmer's glue, a brush, and a canvas. I printed out one of the photos that she took that I had 'glitched', along with all of the collage images. I basically just worked in a stream-of-consciousness style, adding and shaping elements as I saw fit; I was more or less trying to mimic Jessica's style. In the end, I dig what I came up with: exorbitantly moody, just like the overall tone of the record.


Midnight Acolyte Gear List:

· 12”/16” Reference Pure tom-toms with Remo Vintage Emperor coated batters/Emperor clear resonants
· 6.5”x14” Sensitone brass snare drum with Controlled Sound X/Ambassador Hazy snare side
· 20” Reference Pure bass drum with Powerstroke III coated batter/Ebony Powerstroke III ported resonant
Cymbals (from left to right, player’s perspective):
20" K Heavy Ride, 19" K Dark Thin Crash, custom hats (14" K Constantinople bottom (top) / 14" K Custom High Definition bottom (bottom)), 11” FX Oriental “Trash” Splash, 8” A Custom Splash 13" A New Beat Hi-hats, 19" K Custom Hybrid Crash, 18" K Custom Special Dry China, 19” K China

· same setup as “Dynomaniac” (Vintage Emperor clear batter heads on tom-toms)

· same setup at “Laissez-scarce”

· same setup at “Laissez-scarce”, except with a regular ‘stack’ (14” A Custom EFX / 16” FX Oriental China “Trash”) in place of the 11” FX Oriental “Trash” Splash, and a small ‘stack’ (8” FX Trashformer / 10” A Custom EFX) in place of the 8” A Custom Splash

· same setup as “Dynomaniac”

· same setup as “Dynomaniac”

· same setup as “Dynomaniac”, except with a 6.5”x14” Reference brass snare drum in place of the Sensitone brass, a 22” K Constantinople Renaissance Ride in place of the 20” K Heavy Ride, 13” A New Beat Hi-hats in place of the custom hats, and 13” A Custom Mastersound Hi-hats in place of the 13” A New Beat Hi-hats (later in the song a 6” FX Zil-Bel is mounted inverted atop the 19” K Dark Thin Crash)

· same setup as “Dog-ear”

· same setup at “Laissez-scarce”, except with 15” K Light Hi-hats in place of the custom hats, an 8” A Custom Splash in place of the 11” FX Oriental “Trash” Splash, and a 6” A Custom Splash in place of the 8” A Custom Splash (later in the song the regular ‘stack’ supplants the 8” A Custom Splash)

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