RPM Dilemma

Rhetorical question for you. Though you can answer in the comments if you like.

What do you do if you have a great idea (well, a good one at least) but aren’t sure that you can do it justice in the needed time frame? Do you go for it, and risk underperforming? Or do you try to do something you can reliably get done?

I realize this sounds like a procrastinator talking. Or a perfectionist who lets the perfect be the enemy of the good. Or both. And while I am definitely a procrastinator, and probably a self-defeating perfectionist, I am not trying to put this off, but I am thinking I want to give it more them than the next three weeks.

I do most of my best thinking in the bathtub. It’s a fairly distraction-free zone where thoughts can flow and the brain can work problems. I was working on my RPM Challenge project in the tub when I had a great idea. Or at least a Good Idea. A fairly well fleshed-out idea with a title and everything. I like it.

Pure Data is probably the best tool for me to use for the bulk of it, but there are things I would need to know how to do that I do not. So I’ve been brushing up on Pd and researching how to do what I need… and I have realized that it’s probably a lot more work than February will allow me.

But I’ve stumbled across a couple of things in Pd that give me ideas that are definitely doable in the RPM Challenge time frame. Not super original ideas, perhaps. Long form noise collage sort of things. But still a lot of work, and potentially satisfying when done.

I’m proceeding with my remedial learning. And making lots of notes. Honestly, I could probably get a version of the Good Idea done by February 28th. But if it’s not great, I’m less likely to revisit it because it’s already Done. Which is probably a stupid way of looking at things. But it’s the way my brain works.

Thanks for lending me your ears (or eyes, I guess). I think I’ve made up my mind. I’m not going to stop working on the Good Idea now, but I probably won’t stop working on it at the end of February either. And I’ll start generating other material for Plan B in the meantime.

The Ghost Of RPMs Past

All of my past RPM Challenge albums are now available on my Bandcamp page.

Here is 2008 – “The Superstition Of Witchcraft”:

and 2009 – “Discrete Silicon Transform”:


Both are available to stream and for download on a pay-what-you-want basis. Including free.


It’s February. Which means RPM Challenge time.

This year, they’re calling it RPM X – because it’s the tenth year of the challenge.

And I’m a little surprised to realize this will be my eighth year of participating.

I’ve been excited all January to get started, but I’ve intentionally not allowed myself to think about it, so I have no idea what I’m going to do. When trying to find out what year I first participated, I realized I do not have all of them available on Bandcamp, where I have been posting them since the RPM Jukebox has problems with uploads of very long (60+ minute) tracks. I will correct that soon.

I am still very fond of my last year’s entry, “Meet The Pixels!”

WHY, WHY, WHY??? (Again)

Obviously, the music artists, recording, and mastering engineers of the mainstream music industry are not reading this blog. Or at least ignoring my sage advice. (I joke, of course – hardly anyone reads this blog, mostly because I’m not famous, and I so rarely post, but I still somehow manage a small regular amount of highly appreciated traffic.)

I have built up a small backlog of CD purchases to rip for listening. And the mastering errors and odd track index points continue apace. I rant about this at length in an earlier post here. It really bothers me, and I feel compelled to fix them, which in some cases can be time consuming. And I end up being resentful for my lost time if I don’t love the album. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which albums will have problems (yes, I’m talking about you, Spoon, New Pornographers, and Weezer – the same artists who over-compress their music, as it usually happens).

So I say this again – if you want two tracks to be separate, make sure the index point between them is on silence (even if it’s a single sample). If you want them to be crossfaded, make them a single track.

It’s kind of a lose-lose situation. Separate tracks mean no album mastering the way you want, but no one is going to hear it that way anyway. And making a single tracks means you can’t sell two tracks at 89 cents each.


Meet The Pixels!

My RPM Challenge 2014 project is called Meet The Pixels!

My idea was to take a photograph and converting the image data into sound. Not the same way I did the Robert Rauschenberg pieces. I wanted to take the raw image samples and use them as PCM data.

The picture is of a brick wall with paint splattered on it. It’s mostly red, with an interesting texture, so I thought it might be interesting. I converted the image into the CMYK color space to get four separate channels of data, which I saved to separate 16 bit grayscale raw files and then added WAVE headers to create audio files.

I processed the audio files in a variety of ways (including Paul’s Extreme Stretch) to stretch them out to album-length. Then I layered and mixed them together.

It sounds like the soundtrack for a science fiction horror film.

The cover is made from the CMYK channels of the photograph.

The FLAC file is too bit for Bandcamp, so I had to do an exclusive special mono version!

Meet The Pixels! Cover