Episode 85

For today’s episode, I’d like to invite you to connect your best headphones or speakers and turn them up.

I have explored a few different musical experiments with you on Here’s the Tower.

Whether it has been a piano piece that requires three hands to play, an unusual set of beats that somehow fit together nicely, an acoustic guitar adaptation of my favorite Rihanna song, or a singalong chorus that relentlessly doesn’t stop modulating up to higher keys, I have tried a few new things musically and I’ve asked you to come along… everybody.

Today’s episode is a dive into musical notes and how they make me feel. I explored how the different notes I chose can weave in and out of each other to create different combinations, and how can different instruments and melodies can twist together and spread apart.

I have always been a big fan of dissonance and the unease it can create or convey. I especially appreciate how liberating it can feel when that dissonance subsides into harmony or resolves into opening itself up.

This musical experiment is nearly 10 minutes long. With more than 20 instrument tracks, it has more tracks than any episode I have done before. (There’s a more info about how I build episodes in this post on Patreon, available to folks who have stopped wasting their money on food and have instead become members of Tower Nation.)

I began writing today’s music on my iPad in mid-October, outside on a balcony, when the weather occasionally allowed things like that to be done comfortably. This was just days after I returned to Sweden, after spending all of the rather unique year of 2020 – up to that point – in Louisville.

I didn’t have the joy of working with actual cellists, violinists, drummers, et cetera, on this – like I did back in 2016 on my record Simple Orbits – so to complete this piece I moved the original phrases out of the iPad and then on to two Macs with input devices that were more capable of enabling me to do what I wanted to do.

A lot of listening to revisions and note taking for this episode happened during walks to and from three different lakes near my apartment in Stockholm’s south suburbs. The accompanying photo above shows the crystal clear water and forest-lined shores of Flaten, one of these nearby lakes.

The sounds I put together here capture the way I have been feeling since returning and being essentially isolated from society, as we all have been.

I was not crazy about my south Stockholm apartment when I took off last year for America. I really didn’t expect that I would come back and live in it again. I expected to perhaps return to clean out my belongings, transport them to Louisville, build the next phase of my life around my bourbon business, and let the apartment go.

But 2020 threw all manner of unexpectedness at all of us. I find myself now somewhat content in this apartment. It is quiet, close to nature, and fairly well suited for everything from recording to keeping one’s self away from other people and their aerosol transmissions of a certain virus.

I have been lucky (and annoyingly diligent) enough to stay healthy and fed through it all so far, as has my family, and I hope you have had the same good fortune.

Being isolated from physical contact with the world doesn’t have to be all bad. The isolation has given me time to invest in things like this. Who am I if there is no one around? What will I create if I have only blank pages and sounds to work with? Which notes will I choose and where will I put them?

I can’t imagine that I would have been able to build a piece of music like this during the hustle of what we now fondly recall as normal life. So for that, I am thankful and I hope you enjoy it.

Associate producer: Betsy McClimans

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