'Projects II' - Individual Song Breakdowns


"Buttery Follicles" (132 BPM)

       As mentioned in the general information regarding PII, when I awoke the day after I released 'Projects', I saw a burning notebook in my mind's eye. Shortly after, the idea to start the EP by fading in one of the main melodies in "Greasy Mustache" entered by head and I decided to compose a sequel; "Buttery Follicles" was the first tune I wrote, purposefully at the same tempo as "Greasy". I also used the same snare drum I used on "Greasy" and the 'Zildjian equivalent' of the cymbal setup I used before.

       After the initial fade-in of the melody sans drums, the drums enter playing the same triplet pattern as in "Greasy". At first the guitars chug along, then after one repeat the bass plays the melody, then the left channel guitar (the drum feel changes here). Then, when you'd expect both guitars to enter playing the melody, instead a funky harmonized lead—a variation on the melody—occurs, with the drums shifting feels again to a metric modulation; this is briefly abandoned then reinstated.

       The next section contains an interesting pattern comprised of 16th-note quintuplets between the snare and kick. The dynamics employed on the snare ('rimshotting' every third note, then ghosting the subsequent two) sets up the listeners' ears for the melody that follows when the drums drop out, which is phrased in dotted quarter quintuplets; which, within a bar of 6-4, 5 notes fit into quite nicely. This setup is deceiving at first, as the section that follows is a quasi-metric-modulated feel within 8th-note triplets, which have no rhythmic relation to the quintuplets, hehe. But, it all begins to quickly make sense as the time signature changes to 5-4, the main subdivision feel changes to 16th notes, and the guitar/synth melody conforms (so that the dotted quarter quintuplets simply become quarter notes).

       The breakdown section is menacing and unpredictable and contains one of my favorite bass moments on the EP. I wrote a lot more slap stuff this time around and Cameron totally capitalized on that and made some wonderful contributions (check out the fill-ins at 2:05 and 3:25!). Wedged into this section is a brief nod towards the "Ellis Alley" groove that I've mentioned in the past as being a sort of connective thread in all of my releases.

       Following the breakdown is the previous section, but in reverse order. Then, a new part featuring a very angular sort of groove based around groupings of 5-16. As the part builds, the kick/snare pattern is sustained while 8th-note pedal hats are introduced to take the listeners' ears for a ride, hehe; a cool legato guitar lick also enters here, also based around 5-16. From there it's back to the breakdown then a brief 'summarized unison lick' to reintroduce the "Greasy" melody. All of the guitars play the melody while the drums play a giant metric modulation on top, switching hi-hats every bar to complement the progression. Eventually, a synth solo happens (there's a quick snare+china stab to complement a part) then it also sinks into the melody and the whole thing fades out. As for the title, it's yet another nod to "Greasy", merely substituting different words, hah.


"Roughhouse" (110 BPM)

       This is one of the tunes conceived before I decided to compose PII. I was on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival tour in the summer of 2014, touring with Darkest Hour and sharing a bus with Veil of Maya. Although I do not listen to their music recreationally, I was inspired by them to write something with only a trio (drums, bass, guitar) as that's what they are, essentially (plus a vocalist). Since this piece is comprised of only three instruments, there were some interesting panning options to explore. When Adam sent me his first mix, both the guitar and bass were panned down the middle with the drums. I told him to try an 80/80 split (bass 80% to the left channel, guitar 80% to the right channel), which sounded awesome clarity-wise, but also fairly disorienting. So we tried 60/60 on the next pass and he nailed it; it sounded so much bigger, more 'glued' together, yet with the same amount of clarity retained in the playing.

       The A sections feature a heavy riff with some fun odd tuplets and straight subdivisions. The B sections are also heavy but fast/aggressive yet playful (thus the song title), which give way to the hyperdrive-groove of the C sections (the first being abbreviated). The second A section features an upwards melodic shift in the middle of the riff (with some drum variation), followed by a downward shift. After the second B+C sections, the bridge/D section is initiated with some stabs in 5-16, prompting the first part, which is in 5-4 but contains a half-time drum feel superimposed on top. My goal with this section was to write a progression that changed only one note every bar. This drops down into the second part of the bridge/D section, a brutal, 'open' sounding riff in 4-4. The interesting thing about this is the bass/guitar play off of one another and are now in 5-4, superimposed over the 4-4, switching roles with the drums. The third and final portion of the bridge features some rapid, syncopated drum/bass unison figures. Then, a dramatic pause before we're off to the races with the last B section, which features not only more drum variation but melodic/arrangement variations (I really like the quick two-note unison at 3:02). After a third C section, a final A section is reprised with lots of drum variation to ramp up the excitement before the tune ends.


"Time's Up" (99 BPM)

       I began composing this song while on a plane ride from Denver to Washington, D.C. after performing with Darkest Hour. We played at some festival on 4/20 (duuuuuude), then crashed at Leonard from Cephalic Carnage's house; I remember sleeping on his floor and the blanket he gave me smelled of cat urine, haha. As with "Roughhouse", this seemed to fit into the overall aesthetic of PII, so I decided to include it after the fact.

       I believe I came up with the pattern in the A sections whilst improvising on the kit, then built it into something musical. I can't recall what inspired the B sections, only that I wanted to fool with 16th-note displacements and make a ominous/heavy riff with some twists and turns. I had Adam pull some more interesting panning tricks for this one. In the A sections, the synth is down the middle while the bass/guitar are 75/75, then when the synths drop out for the B sections they change to 60/60. When the C section starts the bass is down the middle, then when the guitar re-enters, it changes back to a 75/75 pan (for the remainder of the song). Since this part is built around 16th-quintuplets, I figured the 'segue riffs' should be in different subdivisions; the first is 16th-sextuplets phrased in five-note groupings (providing an interesting contrast) and the second in 16th-septuplets (love the slap stuff and harmonic Cam added here!). The outro sees me deconstructing the riff/pattern, fitting it into various subdivisions and time signatures yet still retaining all of the elements. I like to call something like this a 'break your neck' part, because you'll hurt yourself trying to find the '1', hehe. Cam is an absolute maniac and matched every note here rather than playing the part as before. HOW?!


"Demassify" (97 BPM)

       "Demassify" is the second tune I composed specifically for PII. The title is a reference to the 'segue riffs'/quotes from PI that are present in the tune (2:03 and 3:53) to tie it together conceptually. It's also the same tempo as "Project 15", and 16th quintuplets sounds pretty close to 8th septuplets at 136 BPM ("Safari" riff) at 97 BPM, hehe.

       The tune starts with a frantic unison pattern between the drums/bass built around a random linear groove I wrote in Guitar Pro—if memory serves—and not on the kit. Again, Cam somehow delivers the goods here and played what would probably be a nightmare for other bassists. The guitar fades in and plays chordal stabs every other bar; diggin' Adam's choice of effects here. Since synth is present in this tune and there's only one guitar, the panning arrangement is the same as most of "Time's Up". When said synth enters, the drum pattern changes to a less angular, groovier version on the ride bell. The B sections are based on an interesting polyrhythmic pattern I stumbled onto when improvising on the kit; the kick is phrased in 3-16 while the closed hat plays a broken 16th pattern and the snare ghosts 8th triplets with a rimshot on the backbeats. At first the bass locks in with the kick and the guitar with the snare drum, then when the drum pattern changes—to a far less groovy, more mechanical pattern—the bass continues playing in 3-16 (locking in with the snare hits) while the synth sinks into the triplet pattern along with the guitar.

       I wrote the drum pattern that comprises the C sections about ten or so years ago, being heavily inspired and influenced by Virgil Donati. After the first one, we've our first 'segue riff' (I had Adam place effects/filters on these to distinguish them even further) then a second, abbreviated A section with some additional synth leads. After a second abbreviated B section, the subsequent D section is another nod towards PI. This part is based around a concept explored in "Vice" (the drums even kick off with a snare flam like in "Vice"), where a super angular guitar riff is complemented with a drum pattern that doesn't groove and masks the backbeats, then eventually sinks into the pocket and demystifies the thing. A second C section follows, then a second 'segue riff' (I had Adam start the effect on the last snare+crash before launching into the "Safari" groove so it sounds like it's kinda 'melting' into it), then a third/final B section; this one grooves harder than the previous two. Originally, the song faded without a guitar solo, but I told Adam if he felt inspired to have at it. He ended up comping a few improv takes and did it in one sitting - superb!


"Whaddya Want from Me?" (108 BPM)

       This is the third and final tune composed for PII. As with my other EPs, I had someone whom I consider highly influential in my pursuit of the arts do a featured spoken word introduction. My mom initiated the first and my dad the second, both of whom took me to drum lessons and bought me my first kit. So, naturally, I had to get my instructor on board! The line he says and the title of the song have nothing to do with the actual tune, it's just a Goodfellas reference.

       This one kicks off with another quote, this time from "Ellis Alley". The rest of the tune came about in a linear/stream-of-consciousness fashion. The A sections feature a rapidly panned 16th-note triplet guitar riff (sustained longer in brief moments for effect) and are built around a giant metric modulation. Side note, but because of the inclusion of two guitars, the bass returns to the center channel. I wrote some piano and a teeny tiny bit of sax into this tune; I'm really happy with how they came out - thanks Gabe and Jeff! Skipping ahead, the C sections are interesting, as they feature a different dominant subdivision every bar but the keys/guitar conform or modify their respective melodies to coincide. The bass does as well, but merely changes rhythm as it's holding down chordal stabs with the downbeat and snare hits. The second A section is similar to the first, although with random bars of the section moved around throughout. Skipping ahead, I had Justin put an effect/filter on the drum fill-in at 2:20 to kick off the D section so it's slightly more impactful. I dig how that part seems to wallow in chuggy/heavy territory then naturally evolve into something a bit funkier. The second/final C section is similar to the first, although now with the sax playing counterpoint; this part is probably, as a whole, one of the most polyphonic things I've ever composed. Finally, another "Ellis Alley" quote (abbreviated), and that's the EP!

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