NPR logo Day 4: More Sketches From Son Lux's Album-In-A-Month Project

RPM Challenge

Day 4: More Sketches From Son Lux's Album-In-A-Month Project

NOTE: All this month, we're tracking the artist known as Son Lux as he writes and records an entire album from start to finish. Previous posts: Day One, Day Three.

Ryan Lott of Son Lux in the studio.
Courtesy of the artist

I've got another couple of rough sketches for you today. For the first one, I've broken up the parts for you to hear how the idea came to life.

Listen Sketch 4, Version A

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133499389/133499476" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

It started with a simple chord progression I wrote on piano and doubled with gently struck and bowed glass bowls.

Then I added some mechanical-sounding arpeggios on an instrument I made by combining some non-pitched metallic sounds with artificially tuned gamelan samples (a Balinese instrument).

Listen to Sketch 4, Version B

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133499389/133499477" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Then, last night, I tracked Rob Moose on guitar and violin. I had him improvise to create three layers of furious tremolo parts. Now the music has three distinct qualities at once: the drowsy, somber lilt of the original piano; the mathematical, pressing rhythm of the metals; and finally the arbitrarily intersecting percolation of guitar tremolos. Also listen for ascending octaves on the organ harmonics instrument I mentioned yesterday, which provide a nicely diagonal cutting through the bubbling horizontal texture.

Listen to Sketch 4, Version C

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133499389/133499478" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Every few days, I'm filming here in the studio, so I'll be including some video in my updates as much as possible from now on. Here's the scene from my studio on Day One, set to yet another early sketch.

Trumpet and more violin tonight.