Being an Arcane Academic

album_coverI have a guest spot on Being’s debut album, ‘Anthropocene’, 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the album’s seventh song, ‘Arcane Academic’. It’s a unique record that shares a strong affinity with my work – both Anthropocene and Interior City are 72 minute long concept albums about self realization, empowerment, and overcoming societal programming in order to evolve. Both records have multiple recurring themes (including finales in which all of the previous songs return, ending with the first song), a cyclical structure, and an individual sound, and both were mixed and mastered by Taylor Larson.

Being’s singer, Cas Haruna, was working as the studio manager at Taylor’s studio, Oceanic Recording, while we were mixing and mastering Interior City. Cas gave guest spots to all of his favorite musicians that recorded in the studio, until there were so many that he was able to claim that Anthropocene had ‘more guest spots than a Nicky Minaj album’. And it’s true – in just the song I guest on, Travis Orbin has a brief guest spot immediately following mine, and Justin Gosnell (Vestascension) contributes a guest solo later in the song.

I believe that my guest spot was the last one recorded for the album. At the tail end of the IC mastering sessions, I came down with the flu. I worked through it, but I ended up getting Taylor sick. As I came in on the first day that Taylor stayed in bed to continue working on my own, I ran into Cas, who greeted me with ‘Come do a guest spot on my album right now!’. I told him that I was too sick and could barely talk (I had completely lost my voice the previous night, but it had somewhat returned that day). He promptly dismissed my concerns and told me to stop making excuses, stating that the guest spot needed to sound totally insane so my hoarse voice would fit perfectly. He showed me the 30 seconds of music he wanted me to sing over, and I was instantly taken by it. After explaining what was happening in the story and what the lyrics should be about, he left me alone for a few minutes to come up with a part on the spot. With Cas engineering the session, we tracked it line by line, coming up with lyrics and layers on the spot (every voice you hear in that 30 seconds is me). I ended up doing quite a lot of screaming since it was difficult to sing, but I think the part came out quite well considering how sick I was (and considering that I was singing into a room mic dragged in from the hallway). I threw in a bit of everything – normal singing, sing-screaming, black metal shrieks, death metal growls, falsetto, harmonies, and doublings. Taylor liked it so much that he made it quite loud in the mix and made Cas rewind it every time they listened to it. Taylor went as far as to say that “It’s the best part you’ve ever come up with – you should sing like that all the time!”

You can stream or purchase the album at Bandcamp.
Official Website

9. Languishing in Lower Chakras

This track depicts the time the main character spends in the chamber of eternal sleep that he entered in Inner Sanctum. The keyboard parts for this ambient track were entirely improvised, and I liked my demo version so much that I ended up using it on the final record instead of trying to recreate it. This song features reprises of the “choruses” of Inner Sanctum and Arrival in a Distant Land. It includes field recordings from an inner city Philadelphia first grade classroom with a substitute teacher, a high school graduation, the river before a storm, and more, in addition to many processed public domain speeches.

Because it was a home recording, there is no footage of the sessions for this song. Instead, I’ve created a new dark ambient track based around piano improvisation. This off-the-cuff improvisation was performed on an out of tune practice room piano at the University of Pittsburgh into a laptop microphone, but I ended up liking how it came out (sound quality aside), so I turned it into a lo-fi ambient track. Check out the track below: