Well guys, the album I’ve been working on exists as of…basically dinner time yesterday. Am I, strictly speaking, thrilled with the quality? No. Is it still better quality than what I throw up on the blog off the cuff? Yes. Am I sorely tempted to take things I’ve learned in this process and start over? Abso-fricking-lutely. But, there comes a time in the process when you have to just kind of accept that it is what it is, and move on with your life. Because the quality is not necessarily what I wish it was (I and/or my equipment will hopefully improve as time goes on), I’ve priced accordingly – the downloadable album is $4 (or whatever you’re willing to pay beyond that point, if you’re feeling generous and think the sheer hours of effort and hair-pulling I’ve put into this thing is worth more to you than that) and is available for download via bandcamp.
There is no physical album at this time. I think most people opt for digital these days anyway. I may consider looking into adding a CD version at a later time if you express an interest in that. This is a project of passion, guys. The reality is that I’m putting way more time into it than money I will ever get out of it. At $4 each, I would have to sell an insane number of copies before I could even say ‘based on the hours I put it, I’ve made minimum wage’. It’s just not going to happen. Now, for a digital album, I don’t care because other than the sheer time and energy involved, there’s no up front cost and there’s no physical merch to deal with. But, physical albums? I just don’t have the disposable income to go into a project like that without some indication that I stand a chance in hell of at least breaking even. So, the ball’s in your court on that one. If you guys want a physical CD, you’ve got to tell me so or it’s not going to happen until/unless I have good reason.
The album is pretty home grown. I hate that I couldn’t get the first track to quite match, acoustically, with the rest of the album without it costing me too much sound quality, for example. I hate that balancing out the tracks volume wise cost me some sound quality. Do I want to scratch it for the umpteenth time and start over, since I know a lot more about recording now than when I started? Yes, in fact, I do, and the temptation is strong. But, I’m not going to, because I have 10 (or so) more of these things to do, and if I want to work on ANY of my other projects, share more nature photos with you, work on the 3 half-written songs I’ve got sitting on my desk, practice, write that damn ‘about’ page, get my redbubble squared away and fix my youtube channel, or, heck, even do things that are totally unproductive in every way, then it’s time for me to let this one go and move forward.
The album is called Stone Throw, and the moniker I did eventually settle on is SZ Marsh. The S is obvious – that’s “Shel”. The “Z” is appropriated from my grandfather’s name – the one I wrote ‘Foil Roses’ about. As for Marsh, that’s topographical. I was born and raised in the marshlands off the coast of New Jersey. That’s still where I live and I realized somewhere along the way a huge part of how I view the world.
We are, somehow, defined by the world that surrounds us and the things that we remember from our childhood. As I worked through the poems, especially the ones on this album, I saw so many references to the nature I was surrounded by growing up that I felt a bit foolish having never noticed before how much I tend to draw on that imagery, and from there it became obvious that that was the name that just plain “fit”. There were others that would have been more search-engine friendly (the voice of practicality talking, there), and that I wouldn’t have had to fight for usernames over, but after batting it around in my head, it just felt right. I went further and surveyed a few of my friends with my top 3, and they all, without fail, picked SZ Marsh from the list. So, that’s what I’m running with. It does sound a bit too schmancy for some of the music stuff, so if/when I get to the point that I’m good enough/want to add music to my ‘available for purchase’ repertoire, I may use some minor variation that feels a bit more casual, but I imagine that’s going to be a ways down the road. If I’m struggling to record just vocals, then I’m clearly not ready to figure out how to balance out vocals and instruments for a track that’s clean enough to feel sell-able (excepting the fact that my playing still needs a lot of improvement before I’ll be ready for that, anyway).
And, maybe, at some point, I’ll be able to play well enough to finagle backing tracks on these poetry albums, but for now, my skills are not up to snuff on that front.
So, that’s how it is, guys. The first poetry album is out! In June, as promised! Yay! It’s not quite what I wish it was, but it’s as good as I can make it with my current recording skill and equipment. Each album I’ll learn more about the process, and the quality should go up as I move forward.
Some tracks those of you who’ve been with me may recognize on Stone Throw are, “Foil Roses”, “Brush Strokes”, and “the Old Man’s Garden”, but there are a whole lot of tracks that are reworkings of things written 10+ years ago that I don’t think ever reached the blog at all, and the intro track “A Trick of Light” is brand new and written specifically for the album, because I realized I had an album full of tracks and none of those tracks made a good opener.
Stone Throw, as an album, has a very nostalgic theme. It’s full of poems about people who have died or faded away with time. It’s not exactly a super-cheerful album because of that, but there’s something weirdly poetic with the first release in this poetry project being one that’s focused on looking back, taking the lessons the past teaches us, and using those as mile markers from which to move forward, I guess.
Next up: pre-production on the 2nd album. The cover for that album has already been roughed up, and the 15 tracks that will appear on it have been chosen. After taking a few days off to clear my head, I’ll start banging away at any edits that need to be done on those pieces before getting the recording process started. Since there are so many albums out there, my goal is to release them in pretty quick succession, but whether that means an album every three months, or less, or more? I haven’t got the foggiest. It’ll take as long as it takes until I’m done.
Also on the agenda: artwork of some kind for the bandcamp header, an about me page for…all of the pages. A few new songs are in the works, including one I got some inspiration/help from friends on, I still have a ton of park photos I haven’t uploaded, which I need to get to.
I’m sort of burning from both ends, to be honest. I might take a week or so just to slack off and re-calibrate before rolling my sleeves up and getting to work on the next big thing. We’ll see.