extraordinary information

Here you can read my views on each of the tracks on the extraordinary album. I've been writing some of this text during the making of the album in over a year and a half's time (October 2004 - May 2006), but it's been modified quite drastically since to make it more readable. Just to make more sense, really. Anyway, speaking for myself, I love reading stuff like this myself: music makers revealing their thoughts about their work and attempting to analyse it. I just wish that musicians would do this sort of thing more often.

I hope that through these writings I am able to give some insight to the album and it's songs. It's been a challence for me as I am not very analytical during the actual process of making and realising music. So this has enabled me the opportunity to get analytical about it.

Feel free to comment on anything, questions are also welcome. Make sure to check out some reviews in the text section here.

12th of November 2006
Mikko Muranen

"destined to something less... but the thing is... how to push that little extra..."

I have been making music for a long time, I guess if you count it all it's been close to something like twenty years. It's my hobby and I really do it to amuse myself. A lot of people, mainly those with calculating minds focusing on music as careers, profits and sales see this of course as a total waste of time. Since I don't desire to be a plastic product and my aim is not the almighty buck. I kind of see the point and I tend to think about the purpose of it all a lot, but at the same time, who gives a fuck? I don't hurt anybody while doing it and I make my music sincerely and seriously. Although I have only myself to please, it doesn't mean that I don't put an effort to it.

As I've grown older, my self criticism has sometimes grown into ridiculous proportions. I try not to settle for the barely acceptable, but to push that little extra in there. Although it's sometimes hard to get anything done in midst a kind of internal debate of judging the worth of it all, there is the bittersweet feeling of succeeding at least partially sometimes. Just to get it done is brilliant in my book. Everything beyond that is a bonus. This track tries to convey some of that inner struggle. Therefore it has an extra special meaning to me.

Ordinary is the first song I completed as a whole composition for this album. It really got this album on it's way. Creating the song was surprisingly easy, I really just went with the flow and the song got its shape pretty naturally. As a relatively straightforward upbeat song with driving lead synth sequences it's an effective opener. This song is certainly a blast to play. It's relatively simple, but the solo was a stretch, at least the small shred section (3.32-3.38). But hey, I finally got it down pretty neatly...

Weaving the sonic soundscape of the song are some seemingly disparate sounds such as analogue synthesizers, B4, strings and distorted heavy metal guitars. Although not all are necessarily obvious choices, I like the way they blend together to make a coherent whole. This track set the tone for the rest of the album, as far as the basic instrumentation is concerned. I didn't really plan it, but the rest of the songs seem to have a lot of similar elements.

I really worked hard on the drum programming. I still like the way the drums sound like machine, but it doesn't sound like the regular rhythm box dah-duh dah-duh crap. There's some effort to it, which I always appreciate as a listener. I try to keep that in mind while programming and try to come up with something I like to listen to. I have that same approach to my music in general - if I like it, I do it and it stays in.

salt water flood alert
"as i'm walking down that line... in this case they are the tears of joy..."

The alert in the title is for the water from your eyes, but I guess in this case they are the tears of joy! To me this is an upbeat feelgood song. The track and the chorus in particular represent an uplifting energy when you're ready to face the world with the upmost confidence. I tried to portray that same feeling through arrangement also, and so the song pushes forward, changes and grows on each turn.

The song segues nicely from ordinary. Although it has similar elements, it has distinguishable flavor that pushes the album forward. I put a lot thought in sequencing the whole album and I feel the flow of extraordinary is natural as well as dramatic.

It's quite funny how the structure of this song came together. I guess I thought I was making an altogether different song when I started but as I moved some of the parts around it jelled into this. In the newly arranged form the song turned out to be quite a blast to play and to listen to as well. I really like the build up in the chorus and the additional oomph of the solo at the end of this song. It gets pretty stacked in there and the result is quite grand. These kind of orchestrated, big songs are a lot of fun to mix, although it takes a lot of time to get the balance right and achieve the desired result.

I used salt water flood alert as a test piece for a lot of my raw mixes, so I've had to listen to it a lot. The song has real strength as I must say that I never grew tired of it, though it was close sometimes, huh?

less beautiful
"all the while the things got less pretty... still irresistible..."

Image is everything. Wherever you glance at, it's all about the image: how does one look and represent. That's of course extrememely superficial and boring if you take a deeper perspective, as the ideal of beauty gets pretty fixed. Something less beautiful and against the "canon" can be more riveting and irresistible, at least to me. Like although this song can be described as sounding beautiful, it has it's twists and perversions also. It sort of goes against the grain, which I enjoy.

I like the way this track creates a contrast to the first two songs on this album. After the uplift and even roar of the two previous songs it is time to calm things down a bit. Yet I dig how the calmer beginning builds up into something totally different later on in the song. Something less beautiful perhaps?

I like the freefloating nature of the lead synth in this song a lot. The way the synth carries the melody is very interesting. It was fascinating to me how the synth part seemed to create itself, I just needed to put it down. Sometimes my songs seem to shape up easily, it's like I can just go with the flow and put the shit down. This track was easy like that. This easiness or difficulty doesn't have anything to do with the final value of the song. The hours put into something don't (unfortunately sometimes?) equal a great song. I can work endlessly on something else and it turns out to be the most utter crap. Then again it's curious how the first thing you put down or record can be a real gem. Music has always had an almost magical quality to me. So I cannot really analyze or rationalise it to pieces as I don't want to chase that magic away.

Less beautiful is my favorite song on the album and it's probably one of the strongest musical pieces I've ever written.

except the unexpected
"i couldn't care less and i was prepared... expecting the worst..."

I'm very much one of those people who expect the worst in every turn in life. And whenever something cool happens, it's not considered that huge a deal, just a bonus in midst the rest of it. This kind of worst-case-scenario -thinking maintains a shield for certain amount of misfortunes and failures, but it's a kind of a cynical attitude, ain't it? When you're in a point where you couldn't care less and you're prepared for the worst, you could say that you've delved deep in your cynicism. In this track I try to convey this sort of feeling, and in my mind at least the song pushes onwards with a certain I couldn't care less -attitude.

Except the unexpected was pretty easy to nail down compositionally, but after listening to the raw track there was something wrong. I couldn't figure it out at first, but after playing it back along some other songs, I figured out that I had programmed it a tad too slow. After pushing the tempo just a bit it clicked.

This track took a lot of consideration as I wasn't sure whether it had what it takes to be included on the album. The song has not a really special meaning to me and it's quite a simple straightforward rocker-type. But I think the album needs one at this point, so it fits the overall flow of the album very well. And I've grown to like the certain rawness of it. I guess the title describes the track pretty well: it's really a no-nonsense track. It's everything except the unexpected, but with the attitude of so fucking what? So it's cool.

the mark has been made
"you can't walk through life without it affecting you..."

Even the smallest, least unsuspected thing can have quite an effect on you. The mark it makes can be seen immediately or it can get to you later. But mostly, the real high points (or low, for that matter) make their mark felt and you can't walk through life without them affecting you.

The mark has been made differs from the rest of the songs on the album because it's the only one that includes human voices in the form of a sample. The song got it's spark from this sample and it influenced the composition and the vibe of the track directly. I have been using samples quite a lot in some of my previous works. Lately I've grown really concious about using bits from films as it's done to death. Especially dialogue from horror movies. But this particular bit from Dracula was surreal and created quite an extraordinary feel so I decided to use it. I like it especially as it doesn't create horror but mystique. The dialogue gives a dreamlike atmosphere to this song, which would be hard to convey without words. So I think the sample enhances the power of the music. I tried to maintain a similar, almost surreal nature of the dialogue in the music as well.

The music sort of creeps it's way in during the spoken introduction. The clean guitars build the tension of the story and after the climax of the dialogue the song kicks in. It's a very powerful moment. I like the simple interlocking theme of the clean guitars and piano in the chorus. It's also cool how the song evolves into something else than what you perhaps first thought it would. For me these changes and progressions come naturally and unconciously. I just go with the flow while writing. I'll make sure it all fits, but I try to keep an open mind to seemingly bizarre ideas also.

The solos on this song are long but they're there to enhance the power of the music. I made sure that in these songs I wouldn't just shred for the sake shred. The song comes first and the solo has to fit in there and add to the emotional content of the music. I don't consider the finale even a solo, for me it's a melody sequence played on guitar.

This song ends the first part of the album. In the days of vinyl, it would have been the last song on the A-side.

sail through tomorrow
"ship ahoy, someone shouted... on to the unknown..."

Time is an inevitable factor. You cannot escape the evergoing string of todays and tomorrows eventually turning yesterdays. Although that inevitably means growing older, I guess one has to accept that fact at one point. There are some people who try to avoid it at all cost. But that's superficial and only the shallow part of it - even those people must be at least somewhat delighted of the experiences gathered along the way. And as cliched as it sounds, it's a journey to sail through the time of your life.

This song has a really special meaning to me, because I think I've managed to reach some of these thoughts and feelings musically. The inevitable factor of tomorrows turning yesterdays is not an entirely unhappy feeling. It's wrong to call it a loss, at least when you've achieved something along the way, whatever that may be. As for me, at least this song.

Stylistically this song fits to the rest of the album without a problem, but being a purely guitar composition it is a little different. I basically wrote this song entirely on an acoustic guitar. The song still consists of those same simple chords and melody, but layering and constructing the composition changed it a lot. But I think the original idea of this quiet drifting stayed in there.

I like the song's simplicity, it consists of simple ideas, but the arrangement makes it sound fresh. I enjoy the ending a lot: the melody is the same as on the choruses earlier but the harmony makes you think it's different.

The song kicks off (albeit softly) the second half of the album. In the era of the vinyl it would have been the first song of the B-side.

anyway she blows
"it doesn't matter i keep saying to myself... but it does..."

I like it how the title of this track has different connotations to it, however cheap some may be. The song's music is perhaps closest to the wind connotation. I just didn't want to give it the same monicker as Zappa did all those years ago. The theme and at least the quote above are perhaps closer to some other connotations. You might act indifferent to what 'she' does, but deep down inside it matters...

Musically this song has a feeling of moving on the whims of the wind. The song and more specifically the lead synth try to capture that feeling or image, hence the sort of flowing modal structure of the song. I really like that flowing feeling.

The song basically started out from the guitar chords sequence that begin the song, but it soon turned out to be really different from what I originally thought it would. Most of the time I have no idea where this stuff comes from. Making music always has a sort of mysterious quality to me, which makes composing even more fun than simply listening or playing. You may have a definite idea or plan on something beforehand but you can never be really sure of the final outcome. There are many paths to it and none of them are right or wrong. You just have to go with the flow and trust you instincts.

I wanted the solo to come as a bit of a surprise. It has a grittier and dirtier feel than the most of the lead guitar work on the album. Although it's one guitar, it kind of has a call and response feel to it. I also like the bare trio feel of the solo section: it's drums, bass and the lead motherfucking guitar (with a little drop of synth to fatten it up).

Along with except the unexpected I thought about a lot whether to include this song on this album or not. The song took a lot of time writing but hell of a lot more work arranging and recording. That's not necessarily a sign of a good song. But the amount of workload luckily doesn't show. It doesn't sound forced. I'm glad I've included the track 'cause it turned out to be a fun ditty. And once again, as an upbeat rocker-type song it's just what the album needs to have at this point.

mew dawn
"open your eyes to a brand new morning..."

If sail through tomorrow gazes at those lovely yesterdays turning tomorrows with a longing and watches those days slipping away, mew dawn is a different cup of tea (or perhaps really a coffee). Mew dawn takes the morning by a stranglehold, confident in making the beautiful morning into a very best day. You know sometimes you just know you're going to make the moment count. I like how the music's upbeat forwardpushing feel creates a feeling of achieving that and reaching something neat.

This was the first song that I started working on that eventually ended on this album. After spending some time on it I scrapped it. I thought it was shitty and decided to shelve it, almost erasing it from my precious little hard drive. I could not believe it when I got back to it! The song was way cooler than some of the other tracks I had worked hard on and ended up being quite bad really (and yes, those songs are scrapped for good).

But there definitely was something wrong on the first "draft" of this song. The structure was all wrong as there were loose and frankly quite boring parts. The song improved a lot by editing. I also created the ending part (after the solos) later on, of which I'm glad, 'cause it turned out to be one of my favorite parts on the whole album. I worked really hard on the drum programming early on. I was surprised how little additional work I had to do on it. Usually I just slam in the basic rhythm track and polish it later, but the "scratch track" on this was nearly dead on right away.

The title is one of those that just stick. As on Nuendo you'll have to name the folder you'll start working on while creating the project. I tend to name them at least something different than project#123 already at that point to make a distinction. The title mew dawn sounds cool so the name stuck.

kiss this night goodbye
"the night was alright... and it made me smile..."

A lot of my songs seem to deal with time, in concept and thematically. Kiss this night goodbye basically deals with the sense of loss. But it's certainly not of loss of hope, more like a realization of the passing hours, days and years. But hey, the river flows and times goes by as it does for everybody. As you'll eventually have to kiss the night (morning, day, afternoon, evening, whatever it may be) goodbye, you might as well do it with a shy smile when the night was alright. This has a very strong thematic and practical connection to all of the music on this album. I created a bulk of this music after hours, at night often when I got back from work. A lot of this night time was inspired and I bid a great farewell to it with a loud kiss.

This song started out quite small. The arrangement has remained pretty much intact, it's just that I seemed to add more and more elements to it, until it felt right. Although the finalised song still has this somewhat intimate quality to it, the bigger sound fits in alright.

I really like the guitar riff that sets the latter part of the song going. As it basically stays the same throughout the later part of the song, it has a sort of lingering quality to it, like not wanting to let go. There was a guitar solo section in the middle of it, but I cut it out at the very last minute, right at the final stages of mixing. Although the solo wasn't bad at all, the section was a little bit too similar of the first solo of the mark has been made (the one with the clock ticking). I think losing the solo was a right choice, as now the song flows better and it's not overlong. Kiss that solo goodbye, alright!

jones made
"the mood changes dramatically... let it sink in... i think it's beautiful..."

The sun occasionally shines even for the gloomiest pessimist as even the broodiest of emotions eventually change into something lighter. If you're not in such a total despair where all hope is lost. Mood swings and changes. This song tries to capture that kind of an emotional ride through music. The jones of the title could represent an everyman, as these mood changes are felt by us all. In the immortal words of the late great Andrew Wood (may he rest in peace): "Life is what you make it. And if you make it death well then rest your soul away." (Mother Love Bone - Crown of Thorns) Other noted philosophers Monty Python also put it brilliantly with their song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". Jones made aims to achieve a positive vibe in the end.

Jones made is probably the most diverse track on the album. It combines a lot of the familiar elements heard throughout the other tracks into one song.

The first part of the song is my homage to King Crimson. The music has a dark brooding quality, there's almost a threat to it. The heaviness of the music takes the listener to dark places. The short piano interlude in this part of the song creates a brilliantly deranged feel to it, as if something's not alright. It's meant to increase the uneasiness. Also adding to the threatening feel is the pulsating one-note-synth, it sounds almost like an alarm. All of this tension builds up and just when it reaches its peak, the solo section changes the mood of the music dramatically. The music gives away to something lighter and more hopeful after the pressuring heaviness and tension of the earlier parts.

The piano arpeggios after the guitar solos create a sense of haste, but the mood has been changed to less menacing from the heavier beginning. I love the finale starting after the double bass drum -part. The song comes to its natural conclusion by these simple intertwining chords. To me the finale has an emotional depth to it, and I've probably been moved by it stronger than with any other music I've made. It's fitting for a finale of the album: as a conclusion of this song the album has travelled its journey.

It is made. It is done.

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