On a dare (of sorts) from my pal Brian to take some of last year's songs out into a live setting, I ended up playing at the following show the other week:
Lifelike Family Presents: Abstracted
@ Townshend's Tea
March 7, 2015
- Exit Signs
- Temple Maps
- Cloud City Cars
And, furthermore, I recorded it! So if you missed this rare live Exit Signs performance, you may give a listen to the whole set here:
The live debut of a selection of tracks from last year's weekly song project, highlighting one song from each season and ending with a couple of new creations.
1. Week One
2. Week Twenty-Five
3. Week Thirty-Nine
4. Week Forty-Eight
5. Week Two (Interlude / Remix)
Brian Young of losingtoday.me was also kind enough to take some moody photos of the basement event:
This past weekend saw the release of Fall Phase, the final seasonal compilation of my weekly songs. Delayed a bit by the rush of the new year overtaking every precious spare moment, but now mastered and ready for your ears... free on BandCamp, of course!
'Twas a fun yet challenging project and - while I had the occasional delusion of continuing on the weekly release schedule indefinitely - I'm now looking forward to trying some new things. A few ideas involving remixes are in the works... so stay tuned, dear listeners.
The final seasonal album - Fall Phase - is coming soon, but in the meantime let's kick our feet up and relax for a bit with a look back on this year of so, so many songs:
We did it, folks. Fifty-two straight weeks in 2014, with fifty-two free songs for your ears. The fall season tends to be quite beautiful in the northwest, and its chilly days lend plenty of time for inspiring sessions in the studio; endlessly exploring new sounds to delight the ears. I did exactly that, and pressed through until the final days recording what I think are some fairly magical creations.
Let's take a look at some stats from this year's project:
- Total number of songs: 52
- Total duration of songs: 3 hours, 33 minutes, 12 seconds
- Average song length: 4 minutes and 6 seconds
- Shortest song: Week Forty-Seven at 2 minutes, 32 seconds
- Longest song: Week Eleven at 7 minutes, 15 seconds
- Most commonly used instrument: Native Instruments Maschine Studio drum software/controller
- Most commonly used effect: ValhallaDSP Room reverb
- Most inspiring instrument: Tie between the Psychic Modulation Phonec soft synth & the Korg MS-20 mini analog synth
- Most inspiring effect: Native Instruments / Tim Exile's The Finger Reaktor-based glitch processor
Thank you so much for following along throughout the year, and I hope you enjoy the resulting 4 albums worth of music!
Yesterday saw the release of Summer Phase, a culmination of music covering my very hectic and fun-filled season. Give it a spin on BandCamp below, and download it in any format (and at any price) of your choosing:
What a magical summer it has been, filled with wonderful BBQs, weddings, shows, road trips, and even an unexpected trip to Mexico. I'm not going to lie: it's been tricky to stay on track and complete the recording of a new song each week, simply due to those frustrating limits on the allotted time in each day. But, we must stay the course.
A couple of the songs produced this quarter were admittedly not my best, and the only excuse here is that real life time restriction I mentioned… but on the flipside, a few of these songs are my absolute favorite from the entire year. While some tunes can spontaneously appear in the span of an hour or two, the ones I'm extra proud of most definitely required more time and patience. Hopefully those tedious hours spent sequencing beats and automating fancy synth passages paid off for your ears. I'm very happy with some of those results, comprised of a nice blend of both meticulously-crafted programming as well as raw field recordings and guitar/vocals/analog synths.
But the days are growing noticeably shorter, and it's nearly time to retreat into the basement studio for another long and rainy hibernation. Take these songs, play and remix them to your heart's content, and stay tuned for more songs fresh from the Exit Signs Studio. I will make it through the year's end, and even have some slight delusions of continuing this endeavor into future years. We'll see, my friends…
Please enjoy the Spring Phase as much as I did:
The challenge continues, and somehow, some way I still manage to record and release a new song at the end of each week. And you know what really surprises me about this whole endeavor? Instead of being stressed about such deadlines, I've actually been happier than ever during these first six months. I feel a new sense of contentment with the level of creative productivity I'm hitting on a consistent basis, and one of the songs even acted as the catalyst for my engagement (see 'Week Twenty-Five')! It can only get better from here.
The music that I recorded during this spring quarter has perhaps an obvious new vibe to it compared to the winter release, focusing on some lighter sounds and melodies. The simple change in weather can influence such things, although you'll still find some darker dramatic tones here and there; listen to 'Week Seventeen' for the moody synth textures and glitch-drums that I spent my winter honing (hey, it still rains a ton in the springtime). All in all, we've got a good spread of sounds and styles both new and old, crafted with some of the sonic staples in my studio as well as a number of new tools that I carefully add as time goes on.
Ideas are already forming for the next batch of songs, and I look forward to powering through the upcoming Summer and Autumn releases with new sounds and techniques that I haven't even yet considered. Thank you for sticking with me during this project, and making it to the halfway mark; the feedback I've received across Weekly Beats, SoundCloud, Facebook, and other avenues has been extremely supportive, and it inspires me to keep moving forward with this and other musical projects with which I insist on filling my free time.
Enjoy this new batch of songs on your summer road trips, BBQs, or otherwise, and keep listening as new songs continue to roll out of the Exit Signs Studio. Cheers!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Winter Phase:
The day was January 1st, 2014... on which I was driving home from Long Beach, Washington with a mild hangover and a thirst for something new. I was tired and feeling beaten down by the failures of past endeavors, forgotten resolutions, and dwindling artistic productivity. This was it: the time to begin my new year with new ambitions, creations, and challenges. I needed to get back in the studio, and the only clear path in my hazy mind was to begin producing one song per week for the entire year; no excuses, no delays. This release is the culmination of the first quarter of this endeavor, recorded over the rainy winter months in my northeast Portland basement studio.
The individual songs from this weekly project have been mixed into a cohesive, linear album release, and re-mastered for better playability across audio systems. The recording, mixing, and mastering were all done in-house on a very strict schedule that required completing and publishing the results each Sunday by 12:00 AM GMT. The platform that helped me to establish this process is called Weekly Beats, found here: weeklybeats.com#/matthew+flook
This music is meant to capture a moment, and is recorded quickly without (my usual) excessive fussing over minor details. That being said, I put my best effort towards making these sound as good as possible in a week's time, and suspect you'll find some surprising subtlety in the mixes - especially if you give a listen with headphones. Enjoy!
In addition to the usual resolutions regarding more exercise and such, I've set a new goal for myself focused on ramping up music output from the Exit Signs studio. This project will comprise of a new recording each week, posted to SoundCloud and ultimately this blog. Many of these original tracks will be shorter instrumental experiments, some will be full productions, a couple may later turn into Pinscape songs, and a few may just be drum loops that I'm jamming on.
At the end of 2014 we'll have about 50 songs on the table (assuming I'll skip a few weeks for vacation). This collection will end up on BandCamp as a free download for you all to enjoy, remix, use as a ringtone, incorporate into your film project, etc. I hope to learn a lot along the way and share my discoveries through more posts here, some accompanying "making of" videos, and generally more consistent output than I've managed previously.
As this first day of the year has been a sluggish one for me - consisting mainly of take-out food and couch time - you won't be hearing the first of these tracks quite yet. Check back in a few days for the result, and stick with me throughout the year to see where this experiment goes. I expect the music to take some twists and turns I'm not yet imagining, and hopefully inspire others to hit the studio hard this new year. Catch you all soon! In the mean-time I'll be locked up in here making lots of noise...
Almost exactly one year ago, I was hard at work on an original score for a very exciting short film. This project - one of my first outside of the short and sweet film race events I had grown used to - proved to be much more challenging, despite the additional time at my disposal for completing the score. Thanks to Page Stephenson and Richard Beardsley, I wrapped up my portion of A Fistful of Lightning and learned many new techniques along the way.
Watch the new trailer for A Fistful of Lightning below:
A bounty hunter drives deep into the desert to apprehend and execute a fugitive in hiding with the aid of an electrifying instrument of death. Screening on Thursday, October 24th at 8 pm.
Official Selection of the Thriller! Chiller! International Genre Film Festival screening October 24-26, 2013 at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan. www.thrillerchiller.com
This film is still making the rounds at various festivals and I look forward to the day I can share the entire thing with you all right here. As I mentioned, composing the score was no easy task for me but it proved to be an excellent learning experience. I had grown accustomed to a very rapid production process of multiple melodic or moody themes for film race projects, but this score - despite being a short 8-minute film - required wall-to-wall music and sound design synced very closely to the beats of the characters and cuts on screen.
I hope to share what I learned in more specific details in a future post, as it will require a much deeper examination than I'm prepared to write following the richly satisfying dinner I just inhaled. In short: Lots of synth tones twisted and layered with distortion and reverb, tons of precise volume automation, majorly-pitch-shifted and time-stretched sound effects, a jangly acoustic guitar, and even a healthy dose of restraint in a key scene that required all ears on the dialog.
Any questions or comments on the workflow I followed, or stories / suggestions from your own experiences working on such projects? I'm all ears as I'd love to do more work of this nature and improve my efficiency going forward.
Next up: A post detailing many of the mixing mistakes and fixes I came across while finalizing the mix for my debut Pinscape album, set for release in the coming months. Working with Scott Worley on this project was enlightening, and we're thrilled to have the final mixdowns now sent off to Taylor Deupree for mastering.
Allow me to introduce myself, as I've been doing a rather fine job hiding myself from the web for a good many years now: I am Matthew Flook, working stiff by day and electronic music production nut by night. Exit Signs is the home base for my production work, primarily focused on film score projects. But Exit Signs also has a number of branches protruding outwards, connecting to my electronic dream pop duo Pinscape, brother-sister synth pop project Sevy Verna, and regular audio work with local film team Monsieur Soeur.
This week has been full of excitement for me, as I had no less than 3 events showcasing my work at the first ever Portland Film Festival. We brought Pinscape to the stage for the opening night in NW and had a great show, I caught the screening of Pedagog by Richard Beardsley featuring my sound design, and this Sunday night will end with the screening of a short film I recently scored called Miasma by Monsieur Soeur. Miasma was created for the 48 Hour Film Project and was voted Best Film, for which we are incredibly honored.
As this busy month winds down I can only look forward to many great projects on the horizon. We are putting the final touches on the debut Pinscape full-length and intend to book a number of shows for the fall, and I intend to keep you all posted on such things right here at the Exit Signs hub. Stay tuned for additional content such as tutorials and tips for my favorite audio software, gear reviews, and of course new music from my studio.