TTBE cover art 1. Arrival At The Node
2. Reanimation
3. Alien Girl
4. Switch On, Switch Off
5. Counting The Electrons
6. Temple Of The Pulsating Orb
7. Lifesigns
8. Starchaser
9. Solar Flare
10. What Is F?
11. Everyone's Seen A UFO Except Me
12. Creative Differences
13. The Listener

The Manitou's third official release, completed December 2008.

Despite only writing seven songs during 2008, I managed to finish each one, and rework some 'oldies' as well. The addition of the Crumar Performer string synthesizer to my setup made for a fuller sound overall. A new microphone and some effort on my part improved the vocals as well. I regard this as some of my best material.

Download lyrics (.rtf format)

Liner Notes

Arrival At The Node - Inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series; "The Node" is essentially a giant artificial structure containing habitats for life-forms from throughout the galaxy. The intro was added late in production, to echo the docking procedure. The M-Tron choirs finished the track off.

Reanimation - Rhythms were built up in Fruity Loops, from sounds including driftwood and metallic objects being struck, sampled electronic toys, and the horn of a diesel train recorded to Dictaphone. From there it snowballed into something of a mad-scientist's creation; hence the lyrics. The strange solos are courtesy of the circuit-bent Concertmate 350 and the K-Station.

Alien Girl - This is the first song I wrote with the Crumar Performer string synthesizer. I consider it one of the best songs I've ever written. The brass, strings, and a lot of the modulated and filtered noises were created with the Performer, with bass and melodies coming from the Alpha Juno-1. The resonant-filter "zoop" noise, variations of which appear throughout the album, was created on the K-Station. This is about a man who looks forward to being abducted by aliens, under the illusion that one is his girlfriend.

Switch On, Switch Off - Another "first" - the first track I made with the Alpha Juno-1. In fact, every synthesized sound (excluding samples, drums, and vocoder) is from that synth. I didn't realize until later that the Juno was tuned wrong when I recorded this, so adding other instruments became troublesome. I'd been thinking about all the artificial radiation we swim in each day on this planet, and the harmful energies we use and produce; in some cases needlessly.

Counting The Electrons - When thinking of a title for the album, this is one of the phrases I came up with. I turned it into a song instead; the last one written for the album. Once I had the lyric ideas I matched them to some chords and the rest came naturally. The finishing touches took the most work. Drums on this one are Alesis SR-16. The protagonist is a robot, stranded somewhere in deep space awaiting the "return" of the long-dead human companion it was created to serve.

Temple Of The Pulsating Orb - When I wrote this, in 2007, I was stricken with writer's block. I kept the bassline on a loop and just added layer after layer of bits and pieces; mostly from the Alpha Juno-1. It didn't come together as a track until I improvised some noises on a bamboo flute over the top. They were done in many takes and I chopped and assembled the best parts into passages. The stuttering drum-beat was created on the Roland SP-404, a technique I used again later on Alien Girl.

Starchaser - A song that took little time to write, as I recall. A simple synth-pop tune built on arpeggiated sequences from the K-Station. The lyrics are a bit vague, but they were inspired by Doctor Who.

Lifesigns - A stripped-down demo of this has been around since 2005. In order to make it more interesting, a lot of parts were added during the 2008 sessions. Finding room for them all in the mix proved troublesome, and I was working on the mix up to the last minute. The lyrics are about a ghost.

Solar Flare - Another song written with the Peformer, and one of the first tracks I used electric guitar on, using the SP-404 in place of an amplifier. Being both melancholy and a little menacing at times, I wrote lyrics about a doomed space-mission wiped out by a solar flare.

What Is F? - What is F, indeed? The simple truth is, it was the first thing my Talking Whiz-Kid said when I tested one of its program-cards. It struck me as being interesting, so I created a song around it, and wrote lyrics about an unsolvable code. You'll hear some synthesized water-drops and sampled Kalimba here, and I used the Alesis Sr-16 drum machine for the first time.

Everyone's Seen A UFO Except Me - I thought the chord sequence on the chorus of Alien Girl would go well in a slow house-style track. It occurred to me I could use other elements from the song as well. In the end, I only kept a few and the song went in an entirely different direction after the intro. Hearing about some UFOs got me thinking just how many people I know have seen one, and that I've yet to, despite a life-long interest in them. Thus the title, and it fit the music perfectly.

Creative Differences - It's rare that I write lyrics before I write the music, but in this case that's what happened. They'd been sitting in a notebook since the winter of 2006, and I thought it was time I wrote some music for them. I couldn't have been happier with the result. The concept here is technology taking over the song-writing process to the point that human input is no longer necessary. Another song I'm immensely satisfied with.

The Listener - This began as a very minimal experiment involving various circuit-bent toys, the Yamaha CS-5 and some lyrics spoken into a Dictaphone. The strings on the original demo were K-Station, but I wrote it with a "string machine" in mind, and redid them with the Crumar Performer. The lyrics are semi-biographical, in that I don't interact much in social situations, but I'm always taking things in.

Kit List

Synthesizers: Novation K-Station, Crumar Performer, Roland Alpha Juno-1, Yamaha CS-5, Yamaha CS01.
Keyboards: Casio MT-100, Yamaha PSS-480, Yamaha PSS-270.
Samplers: Akai S1000, Roland SP-404.
Drum & Rhythm Machines: Boss DR-220a & 220e, Alesis SR-16, Univox SR-95, Whippany RM-20, Yamaha MR-10, Acetone Rhythm Ace FR-2L.
Toy Instruments: Stylophone, Speak & Spell, Talking Whiz Kid, Concertmate 350; Various circuit-bent toys (see "Studio").
Other instruments: Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 6" Djembe; sampled music box, chimes, kalimba, gong, & various found sounds.
Software: Sonar 4 Studio Pro, Fruityloops 3, Sound Forge, Gmedia M-Tron, EastWest Orchestra Silver, Mr. Tramp, RingMod, Delta Series FX.

All art, text, music is copyright (c) 2008 Joshua M. Blanc.