🎧 Songs of the Week #9: The people are allowed to do as they wish
📅 November 12-18, 2022: Featuring Mersiv & Elephant Revival, Protohype feat. Charmae, Buku, Hermitude, and Greg Gonzales
Welcome to week #9 of the Steel Orca Songs of the Week.
I’m writing this introduction on a Tuesday afternoon (instead of my usual Thursday night) as we are all home sick today 🤒. Nothing too serious, but we all got hit with varying degrees of some version of the respiratory virus(es?) that seem rampant this fall. We seem to be through the worst (which wasn’t that bad). Hopefully, this will inure our bodies against other pathogens 🦠 for the rest of the season (I’m not holding my breath… haha).
I hope everyone out there in the world had a good week. It’s starting to warm up from a bitter cold snap, providing some much-needed respite/sanity. The snow is melting and turning to slush, so it’s warm, but we all still have to wear boots lest we get our feet wet. Canada 🤷.
On a newsletter-related note, I’ve been learning to use Twitter to increase engagement, so that’s taking up a decent amount of my time. The irony is that (if anyone recalls last week’s post) I’m trying not to spend a lot of time on various social media. As a result, I’ve been looking into software like Hootsuite to automate some of those posts so I can do it all at once (i.e. at the same time or just after I write this) and then schedule the tweets to go out during the week. That seems to be the move, but Hootsuite costs like $80 a month or something with the exchange rate - it’s a bit pricey. So I plan to hit it hard this month while I have my Hootsuite professional demo account and then see how impactful it’s been before I start paying for it. I’ll keep you all posted.
On that note, I wanted to highlight a funny exchange on Twitter that made me laugh earlier this week. If anyone read last week’s post, you’ll recall we featured Popeska’s Doing Me Wrong. Well, here Ralf is teaching Elon about GraphQL and Chrome dev tools:
His heart is in the right place:
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Here are the songs for the week of November 18, 2022 🏠.
Youtube Music ▶️: Songs of the Week #9 - Steel Orca
This week's playlist is one of the more eclectic we’ve put together. I don’t want to go so far as to call it weird, as I think that’s a poor descriptor, but I would say that these songs evoke a feeling of surreal introspection 🌌.
Before you hit play, I wanted to share the silly song What the World Was Called Before Us by the Story Pirates 🏴☠️. This is how I felt this week. Yes, it’s a children’s song, but it is hilarious. It sounds like an old Will Ferrell skit. It tickles me.
Am I blowing your mind yet? ‘Cause my mind’s blown! That’s the only way I’m able to think straight, is with a mind shattered into a million pieces.
Another thing for this week - I’ve added the release date, label, and genre to the details of the playlist tracks below (courtesy of Beatport). I realized that these were data points I’m interested in and regularly mention (maybe I’ll be an actual DJ myself at some point), so I figured I would include this standard for every song moving forward. In the future, when I have a bit more time, I would also like to include a quantitative measure that details how “hip” the playlists are, using release date and label “independence” as relevant contributing indicators (among others).
Mersiv, Elephant Revival - If I Was a Raven
Release Date: October 22, 2021
Label: Mersiv Music
As a lifelong fan of Tool and their associated side projects (A Perfect Circle, Puscifer), I can only say that this sounds like a song that could have been on one of their albums.
The vocals are sparse but drawn out and haunting; in my opinion, this song could easily have been sung by Maynard James Keenan. I suppose not much of an observation, given his vaunted vocal abilities.
If I was a raven
I’d fly on to the heavens
I’d fly to all my loved ones
If I was a raven
If memory’s worth saving
I’d savor the feeling
Of knowing love and loving
I’d remember the feeling
This song is a rework (not a remix, seemingly a vital distinction) of Raven Song by Elephant Revival. That song is an absolute vocal masterclass. Unfortunately, Elephant Revival has broken up, citing “family matters” as the reason.
Colorado artist Mersiv aims to heal through sound with his noteworthy debut album, Pretty Dark Loud.
Established on the intention of bringing people into the present through sound with The Mersiv Sound Project, Anderson Gallegos AKA Mersiv, could be described as one of electronic music’s modern trailblazers. Based on personal experiences, his goal is to provide therapeutic energy to listeners through captivating tempo changes and a full spectrum sonic experience. After a personal tragedy, Mersiv began to explore his electronic music expression on a deeper level, ultimately gifting us with the creation of his debut album Pretty Dark Loud.
“The purpose of this record is to help people heal and grow through frequencies. I hope ‘Pretty Dark Loud’ can help bring a sense of healing and peace to whoever listens.” - Mersiv
Protohype - Run Cried the Crawling (featuring Charmae)
Release Date: November 15, 2019
Label: Underdog Records
Wub a dub 🔊. This hits hard, but it’s still pretty and melodic. I love this song.
Charmae does the vocals. The lyrics aren’t readily available on Spotify, but I think they add real depth to the song, so here is the chorus at least:
Baby my heart and soul
A giant in the room
We took the walk alone
And now we are through
Wind heavy on the ground
A cloak before the moon
I guess I've never known
Someone like you
If you’d like something heartwarming 🥰 while listening, it looks like Protohype and Charmae are actually a couple who recently got engaged. So now that you know, go back and listen to it again. This song is so good because of the chemistry at play 🧪.
Buku - Everything
Release Date: September 13, 2019
Label: Thrive Music
From the perspective of a musical novice, there isn’t a lot for me to say about this song. It’s very straightforward, and I think that basically what’s happening at the beginning of the song is that he’s trying to make an aural soundscape with all the synths 🎹 stacked on top of one another when the super-impactful lyrics kick in… brace yourself:
Everything you mean to me
That’s it; there are no other lyrics. Then more bang-your-head dubstep. My neck hurts, and I’m just sitting on my couch.
From Buku’s Insomniac artist profile:
From the track record of Robert Balotsky’s work as Buku, it’s clear that the Pittsburgh native and graduate of Music Technology is a well-equipped architect of twisted, layered soundscapes. With a menacing grasp on sound design and music theory, Buku combines deceptively simple and emotive melodies, laden with resounding low-end and intricate drum patterns. With a love of drums rooted early in his childhood, his work reflects his passion for percussion laced with elements only a trained ear could produce.
Ok, so I at least understood enough to get the deceptively simple part of his music. I didn’t hear the “percussion laced with elements only a trained ear could produce,” but maybe there’s a reason for that 🌽.
Buku (that’s also just fun to say) is currently on tour - check his dates out here.
Hermitude - Midnight Terrain
Release Date: August 28, 2015
Label: Nettwerk Music Group
This is an older song from an album that anyone who’s into electronic music is probably at least cursorily aware of. This album was big enough to go gold and included The Buzz 🐝, one of my favourite songs ever (and Hermitude’s biggest hit).
From Urban Dictionary, this definition came out a couple of months before this album:
Hermitude (noun): the attitude one develops from not wanting to be social, being flaky to avoid socialization and eventual upfront honesty about not attending social events simply because one doesn't care to.
"Jordy had so much hermitude when I invited him to my bar-b-que... he said House of Cards was on Netflix and he wasn't coming."
While most people reading this are probably already aware of them, what surprised me when researching this song is that Hermitude is listed as an electronic hip-hop duo. I had never realized the hip-hop leanings of their music, but their recent EP, Mirror Mountain, confirms a return to these hip-hop roots. So put your damn hands up.
Song of the Week 🙌🎵
Greg Gonzalez - Country of the Mind - Edit
Release Date: December 3, 2020
Label: The Earth School
Genre: Melodic House & Techno
Greg Gonzalez is the co-founder of Youth to the People, a high-end vegan skincare line out of California, as well as the Earth School, which they describe on their website in the following way:
The Earth School is an index of human environment interaction, at the intersection of music, design, art, and experience. Free of agenda, in search of a phenomenal view of reality, thinkers of the eclectic type.
This aligns with our purported ethos here and stands as an articulated vision of an approximation of what I would like the Steel Orca to be: a digital intersection of community, industry, and environment (ideally with some activities in the real world thrown in later on). The “free of agenda” is the crucial part of the statement above. That has to be the driving principle.
From his Soundcloud:
Country of the Mind’ is about the freedom of expression without fear of judgement. It illuminates a philosophy that we can enlighten and expand our minds by building certain mental constructs for ourselves and encouraging the same in others. It speaks to the idea that the mind is a country in itself, which can be developed over time through dedication and focus. For this track, live shakers were recorded by the river in Angeles National Forest.
I searched this week, trying to figure out who the woman is that’s being sampled for this song, and I couldn’t find it. I will probably end up reaching out to Greg on Twitter to at least ask, or in all likelihood, find out on the internet from some prominent and conspicuous place five minutes after this post is released to the world. The latter seems more likely than the former. If someone reads this and knows where this sample is taken from (some interview), please let us know by leaving a comment below.
Greg only has three songs on Spotify; the original version of this, this one (the Edit that took off) and Birds Fly Free, which I’ve listened to and is a great song. All of them were released under The Earth School, with the label’s other artist Hannah Fernando having released five other songs.
I was thinking about it tonight, and I realized this track was a perfect example to me why writing this newsletter is worthwhile (and hopefully, reading it) - if I had just randomly listened to this song and liked it and added it to a playlist but beyond that never thought of it again, I would have never found out that this is a song made by a skincare company owner who, otherwise, doesn’t make music. So I would have to argue that it is a slightly bizarre piece of trivia.
Anyway, all of that is to say I like Greg Gonzalez and appreciate his music, business, and vision. So, Greg, if you’re reading this right now, first of all, hi and congratulations on getting the song of the week, and second, we would love to partner with you - reach out to us.
That’s it for this week from all of us here at the Steel Orca.✔️👋
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Thanks for the playlist and of course for recommending my newsletter. That was very kind! Have a great weekend :)