Hiya!! I was originally writing this piece like my previous music reviews, but I wanted to take a different approach today.
I want to change my format a bit to present my music in a more narrative-manner, since Another Breeze was an album I created with this kind of story in mind!
I’ll probably compile a full ranking in the future, but for now, I’ll just go about these songs in a way we can enjoy better: in full context and in sequence!
almost… Heh—You’ll see what I mean soon~!
Anyways, to start off today’s ramblings-!
A lot of my earliest works, in both writing and music, have this amateurish charm to them that I think’s down to my lack of awareness on conventions!
My first two books, for me anyways, were bad in terms of story and characters and pacing and… everything, but in my head, a lot of it still plays like a Michael Bay-type movie: most of the time, you’re only really there for the visuals, yeah?
Same goes for my early songs—I didn’t think much of stuff like chords or meter or mixing, I just wanted to take ideas and make things out of them!
Since we’re doing four songs anyways, I’ll try to go in the order that I feel makes the most sense~!
One’s own faults…
One of my favourite genres of video games or movies are East / Southeast Asian Horror, and personally, I think developers and producers from these regions do these so much better than elsewhere!
I have a few reasons, but what I think makes the biggest difference is their emphasis on trauma and psychology—if there is a supernatural ghost, then there’s probably an explanation related to these instead of just like demons or what not.
I want to write a full tribute to these media in the future honestly~ but in terms of this song, I only really took surface-level inspiration from them!
An 18-year-old-ish student enters an old ballroom alone: a space cloaked in darkness and frozen in time from years of disuse.
Old chairs sit stacked atop each other and beside ageing tables, a stage plants itself empty and dusty with its curtains sprawled on the floor, tall windows lie boarded up and shattered…
Yet in the middle of it all is a single chair, facing the stage as it rests at peace with the neglect around it.
Our student settles in this seat, gazing ahead and locking their eyes upon where orchestras, ensembles, and troupes once performed.
Behind them, a silhouette begins to fade into view: a shape somewhere between human and beastlike, yet with a demeanour mirroring neither.
White eyes emerge and stare at the student, yet the ballroom remains as still as it always has, as the shade wonders whether it needs to make a move or not.
“What is this human doing?” the figure thinks, as baffled by this student’s presence as they would be of it, if they turned around anyways.
But soon enough, it chooses to stop and remain still.
It remains observing our student as they too remain idle, as if neither figure is willing to tread on the barrier between the rational and the irrational.
And perhaps the world is best left at that.
If that sounds interesting to you, then I beg you not to listen to this~!
or perhaps you could if you wanted to—but I think this is another good example of me squandering an otherwise-good concept (〃ω〃)
I recorded The Ballroom in one sitting that took around 2 hours I believe-?
It was actually the first time I tried playing something without autoplay, so those first and second “verses” I played myself on GarageBand’s virtual piano!
Those “flashback” sections though—the slow middle one and the faster, climactic one—are 100% autoplayed, except I adjusted the speeds to match the moods I wanted.
I guess among my works, The Ballroom is definitely pretty unique, just not too coherent or polished… like you can hear how I basically kept looping and speeding up the same melody just before the climax, and how I glossed over smoothening that (*´-`)
It doesn’t tie in much with the narrative either, which is why I wanted to go over it first here…
but funnily enough—this song was actually one of my first “hits”, and still one of my few to have surpassed 100 views!
Suuuure, a bunch of those are from people I know, but given my usual average of like 30-60, it’s still interesting… even if I wish those views went to my newer tracks 草草草草草
As they would soon come to know…
And now—for a song that continues Another Breeze’s narrative!
But to summarise, in that song, my vision was to depict some glacier slowly melting due to rising temperatures, and here in Last Night at the Fjord, that very plot continues!
Like with a lot of my songs, we have again a lonely person as our star, and this time, they stand just by our titular fjord.
In normal days, they would glance down and watch as tour boats pass by, cool breezes patting them down as trees provide decent shade from the cold, distant sun.
But today, thanks to glaciers melting all around them, something catches their eye: how much higher the waters are.
And despite that, most of Last Night at the Fjord is still pretty-upbeat, which is down to… well, partly inexperience again （＾ν＾）
But also, this time, some of it’s down to how I perceived our protagonist!
They’re someone who’s never seen nor lived through something this catastrophic before, so even as a looming disaster stares them right in their face, they still find it hard to comprehend how bad the situation will be.
They may not know it, but this likely is their last night at this fjord—if not because of rising sea levels, then probably because they would’ve been forced to evacuate the area in due time…
Musically, Last Night at the Fjord’s pretty interesting for me—it doesn’t really stay anywhere, since it just goes from an opening synth line, to a clarinet, then a bassoon, then some strings with drums, then back to the clarinet, then the synths again…
But around this point of Another Breeze, I began to use synths to represent something new: danger.
At the very end of this song, it’s kinda soft but—you can hear this synth playing a very specific chord progression: C – Am – B♭ – F, which is what I like to call the nature motif!
I play this progression throughout basically all of the song Another Breeze, and after that, I reuse it as a sort of status check for nature, getting more and more distorted and windy as the album goes on.
So hearing it as just a faint background noise in this song means…
Nothing lasts forever.
My description for Relic is just these three words.
That description continues directly from Last Night at the Fjord’s, but this is a song that basically takes place in the past.
By this point, that Fjord is long a relic of the past, just like many other once-beautiful landscapes, and that’s why I open with another synth line—like a way for us to access some digital memory of what we’ve lost.
From there, an Erhu (二胡)—also known as a Chinese violin—takes over, playing a really-long solo that is 100% autoplayed again, but honestly?
I still love it-!
Fun fact: I actually own an Erhu myself, though I’m terrible playing it—I honestly got one more for my love of instruments from my native regions than anything else!
And I can’t play anything close to what I made using GarageBand for Relic, so it’s still pretty-memorable in my repertoire as one of only three songs to use this instrument so far!
A lot of people here, and probably in the west too, associate this instrument’s sound with old Chinese settings, so I thought it was perfect for capturing that image of a bygone era （＾ν＾）
And as Relic goes on, the synths start to return, until they take over at the end as the Erhu fades out, with the song closing on this two-note electric piano motif that alternates between mid and high C.
I personally call this motif the “doom signal”, and I use it one more time in a different song, but that’s for next time~
As Relic closes, there aren’t any more glaciers or fjords, and all we have left are memories and shelters… for those who can afford them.
But what about those who are willing to adapt to something else?
It will be alright.
There’s one more pocket of humanity that’s desperate to cling on, and as temperatures go up, these people have gone down into caves.
Taking place in-between Last Night at the Fjord and Relic, Lo, a Ripple’s main setpiece revolves around an underground lake, with vibrant moss growing all around it.
In a way, it’s what I imagine these last pockets of humanity could be like: just this untouched paradise hidden so deep that only desperation could bring anyone there.
And musically, this song also marked a first for me!
Here you can hear my first attempt at a song entirely without Autoplay, with me playing the entire lead piano in a C Mixolydian mode—I also played the drums, but that… honestly went way off beat.
I took a lot of inspiration from JRPG music for Lo, a Ripple, and honestly, my original melody for the last section was straight-up ripped from Final Fantasy 6 before I caught and changed it (*´∇｀*)
And sandwiched between the adventurous songs of Last Night at the Fjord and Relic, this one’s really a break of sorts, both in terms of music and the narrative!
To top it all off, Lo, a Ripple was basically an afterthought!
Just before producing the album’s closing song, I wondered if I’d already composed enough for the plot at large, and when I answered that with a “no”, I came back to record something really-different to fill that gap…
and as flawed as it can be… Lo, a Ripple is the song here I’m most fond of!! *\(^o^)/*
~I’m glad I really tried to force myself to do something different~
Even if I didn’t know it back then, my “performance” here basically proved to myself that I could solo entire melodies; I just needed a good prompt and idea!
With the middle of Another Breeze finished now, we still have three songs in this album left: Another Breeze, Blombrück, and Eastward, and tomorrow, I hope to tell you all about what’s left of our story here!
Even if my tone in this project’s pretty-pessimistic… well, it kinda shows exactly what was on my mind at the time, doesn’t it?
Like I talked about with my stories, a lot of my music also stem from personal anxieties and fears, and though my outlook’s shifted since, I don’t really harbour much hatred or anything for this phase of me.
More just understanding… if only because I know how right I was to be scared, but my thoughts on this are best saved for when I talk about the end of Another Breeze!
‘Til then, all the more love to ‘ya! (๑>◡<๑)