Right, so as some of you may be aware, I’m participating in the WEEKLY BEATS challenge, which involves producing a track every week for a year. Well, so far so good, and the upcoming week (released on the 2nd) marks the quarter point, Week 13.
So, I thought I’d look back over them and critically assess them and my progress over the quarter of a year I’ve been doing this.
I’ll add the rating system I’ve put on them, too, which is as follows;
* = Bad idead, bad production.
** = Bad idea, good production.
*** = Good idea, bad production.
**** = Good idea, good production, possibly re-visit for release later.
***** = What is this track doing here? It should be on stand-by for the next EP.
So, the tracks (which can be found and downloaded HERE, or by searching ‘The Alastair Collins, if that doesn’t work)
Week 1 - Goldplated **
I wasn’t too happy that, with my determination only to submit songs written in the week prior to the release date, my inspiration petered out completely in the run up to week 1. I still managed something not unpleasant to listen to, but there’s little point to it.
Week 2 - Abused ****
I was pretty happy, following on from week 1’s submission, to have something worthwhile come out in week 2. I’ve always been a better instrumentalist than lyricist, and one of the things I like about my own work is how well I can link melodic lines together, even with a very sketchy musical theory background. ‘Abused’ is a good example, with five different synth lines running together without running overeach other.
Week 3 - Recursion ****
I deliberately took a different approach to week 3, aiming for a much longer piece than I usually ended up producing, being a habitually concise songwriter. I received a lot of good feedback on this one, and I’m pretty happy with it over all, although there are some issues I’d like to redress in time.
One thing I did try with this one, and will subsequently never do again, was producing all the synth lines and building pads in single patterns that ran on for 8:40. In future, if I feel it needs to build like that again, I’ll render them out to audio clips once the structure is locked in. I hatedhaving to listen from the word go everytime I made a change.
Week 4 - Love, Rejection, and all the Things in the Middle **
This one was a bit of a thematic experiment, but suffered from a collapse in motivation and inspiration just before the end, and had to be uploaded half-assed. The idea was to represent a doomed relationship from start to end, with each instrument track representing an aspect of it: ‘love’, ‘trust’, ‘infatuation’, that kind of thing, and map out the fluctuations in it.
It wasn’t a terrible idea, but it wasn’t great.
Week 5 - [Placeholder] *
I had nothing to run with and I ran out of available time, so I sat down and forced a track out. In about half an hour, I ended up with this. Yay for speed, eh for result.
Week 6 - Spirited ****
Probably the most notable thing about this one is that most of the production took place on my iPad, but it was mixed on my laptop as I couldn’t get a decent mix with the tools available in iOs.
Pretty happy with this track, it’s nice, but unlikely to get revisited.
Week 7 - Tactile **
Another iOs produced track, with different programs, but with much less success. It just sounds kinda tacky and forced, which I guess it kinda was.
Week 8 - And I Want (Grunge) ***
So, this is the week where I regained vocal and guitar tracking and was ironing the kinks out of my audio drivers. I also (finally) ironed out the kinks in Steinberg’s Groove Agent and got that working in my workflow, giving me a nice go to drum sequencer. Of course, though; the first ‘band’ track I produce was a grunge one.
Overall, I think there’s something to distill out and work in to a decent song here, but this track of single take, mostly improvisational, recordings is just a bit of fun.
Week 9 - King BooBass **
I set a few challenges for myself along the way with this, to try force myself to use some of the tools and VSTs I have at my disposal, but wasn’t too familiar with. This is the first (and, so far, only) successful one, with the challenge being trying to mainly, if not exclusively, use FL Studio’s bundled BooBass plugin, which is generally seen as pretty tacky (for good reason).
I’m pretty happy with this one, actually, for all it’s flaws.
Week 10 - Seaside Beating **
The first track which started to show my delving in to more club based music. Very basic in a lot of ways, with some interesting points, but overall a pretty average track. A track that I had to make, I think, to progress in to the more capable club stuff I’ve done since.
Week 11 - Potency ***
I’ll be honest, my knowledge of the club scene and it’s sub-genres is very sparse, so I can’t really say what styles I’ve been touching on, but I can say that I’ve touched on a few.
This track starts kinda strong, but goes a bit screwy when the orchestral sample comes in. I’ve done worse, though, and it does kinda work to have the stilted strings going.
Week 12 - Experimentalist ****
Again, a club style track, but stylistically different to the others I’d done (and the others I’ve produced which made it on to ‘use for actual releases’ lists. A good mix of samples and synths on this one, I think.
It was nice to get back on to four star territory with this one, and produce something I’m relatively proud of, not just content with.
Week 13 - Happy ****
Again clubbish, again different. This one is interesting because I sat down, completely uninspired, and just ran with the first sample I found which sounded half-usable to me.
So, is it a good sign that I can just sit and produce something I’m happy with, even when not feeling particularly creative? Or is it a sign I need to switch up what I’m working with to avoid getting stagnant?… I think I’ll switch it up a bit next week anyway. I don’t want to rest on the clubbish stuff too much.
So, I’m one quarter of the way there and going pretty strong, really. Only one * track, which is nice, and a good number of **** tracks.
Don’t forget, too, I have an EP available on BANDCAMP, and there will be a new single soon.