October 18, 2012

In Vino Addo

When I buy wine, I have a very few, completely unscientific things I look for. One is a cork, as I’m wary of wine with a screw top (although those are becoming increasingly popular). The other is a cool label or name, something that jumps out at me. After that, the actual details of the stuff in the jug is purely secondary.*

As it happens, one afternoon I was driven to purchase a bottle of wine called The Night Harvest:

The label isn’t particularly interesting, but something about the name grabbed me. I think the vintner saw it as an expression of innocence or some such. But I took it just the opposite way. To me, “the night harvest” sounds like a euphemistic way of dealing with a horrible act of violence. Something that regularly comes and sweeps something, or someone, away for nefarious purposes. I think it also puts me in mind of The Night Watch, the definitive live document of the last 1970s variant of King Crimson.

With that in mind, I sat down and started to build a track. I wanted to use some repetitive phrases and rhythms to build a sense of foreboding as the harvest is about to begin. I layered several different sounds on top of one other, including the sound of marching feet. Everything breaks loose when the harvest actually happens, then things shift again with some mournful phrases as the horror subsides. Maybe, even, there’s some hope in the aftermath.

In addition to my own sounds, I used some samples from Freesound, which I first learned of through Richard Barbieri’s solo albums. People upload various samples and allow them to be used with attribution. This track uses the following samples:
  • 25273_freesound_argghh-ses2.wav
  • 20186_patchen_foot-stomp-d.wav
  • 70100_gregswinford_errir-forest.mp3

“The Night Harvest” is the longest tune I’ve put together since “Outpatient Beast,” but is much more satisfying. With “Outpatient Beast” I started out with the idea of stringing several sections together in order to create a prog-esque epic. Frankly, it shows. “The Night Harvest,” on the other hand, grew organically to this size and, I think (I hope), works much better in the transitions and such.

So, grab a glass of wine and enjoy!

* For the record, this appears to work pretty well.

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