Today marks the release of my second full-length album, “Eight” by Thirty Second Complex. Where my EP, “Midway,” from last fall seemed like an ending, “Eight” feels like a reboot into a significantly different creative direction. In creating this album, I focused on digging deeper into sound design and composition, and drawing a significant amount of inspiration from those around me.
As for the songs themselves, the core of the album was created in the middle of 2016 when I was working on a rather complex project at work. June, Deadline and Transcontinental are signature pieces from that period and capture a lot of what was affecting me at that time. Metairie, which opens the album, is a throwback to my college live sound days of doing shows within gyms at schools crossed over with a hint of The Art of Noise and the club world that was (or is) the suburbs of New Orleans. Dot Matrix draws some inspiration from Massive Attack’s Angel, The Crystal Method, and a little Moby.
Turning back to June, it is a bit of a departure for me. In art studio in the early 1990s, the background music was typically the Talking Heads, so my brain became conditioned to clear itself and think differently while those melodies and rhythms filled the air. The month of June 2016 was a window of time where many different ideas were flowing and connections being made, so in a strange inverse way, that song draws is a call back to the Talking Heads and David Byrne. Midnight on the Drive is actually “vintage” soundtrack me from a decade ago where I tried to capture the feel of a cinematic driving scene along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago at about 3am on a Saturday – not to be specific or anything.
Friday Night 1985 and Closing Scene definitely have their roots in the current retro-80’s trend with Closing Scene drawing inspiration from the closing credits of any late 1980’s teen/college movie – “The Lost Boys,” anything by John Hughes, etc. I pictured a slow pulling-out crane shot at the end of a movie.
I’m not really sure where Synthetic Interlude came from…
During the creation of the album, I picked up two vintage synths that filled a creative void – an Access Virus Rack, whose sound I feel in love with eight years ago, and a Roland MKS-70 that was previously owned (and signed) by the amazing Thomas Dolby (and has a number of sounds from “The Sole Inhabitant” album). On a whim, I picked up a OneUp! circuit-bent synth for those wacky Atari 2600 tones, too. Those three pieces of gear joined my previous collection of a Yamaha TX-81z and a Roland D-550 that was from the estate of the legendary Issac Hayes, and a host of retro synth emulations on my iPad including a Sequential Circuits Prophet, Oberheim SEM, and Korg M1. Probably the most unique sound synth sound on the album is an Octave Plateau Voyetra-8 that opens Friday Night 1985. The samples came from Samples from Mars, which are definitely worth checking out. Put that much retro-vintage gear and samples together and well, it is hard to not notice the 1980’s vibe that’s flowing through most of the album.
All of the songs were written and produced eight years after my first album, which was originally released in 2008. It just took me a little longer than that to finish them – not quite Boston (obscure historical musical reference), but getting there.
“Eight” can be found on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify and Tidal.