The Sccrets of The Ultimate Chill
Thank you for your interest in my ELECTRONIC COLLECTION: "The Ultimate Chill". Most of these songs were composed during the Global Pandemic of 2020. The intent was to bring peace and calm to those struggling with health and emotional issues. Creating these songs provided some sanity to me as well, as I focused on warm tones and frequencies associated with balance and serenity. Here are notes on my thought process as I weaved each piece.
1. Atmospheric Bliss - I really wanted a slightly funky song which evoked a free-spirit dancing mood. When writing this song, I chose to explore jazz chords with 4 stereo tracks of steelpan so I could play some 7ths, major 9ths, diminished and other unexpected chords and adding a few more intervals in with my voice tracks. It is sort of traditional for me to throw in a bridge that takes you slightly off the usual path, so in this song I switched to the key of A minor as you hear the pulse of a syncopated drum, almost like toms, while playing some less conventional scales on the pan, then returning to the home key of D minor. Overall, the vibe is happy and free with a slight edge of excitement.
2. Pacific Blend - this tune was really just a progression back and forth between 4 chords in F minor...I kept my melody line on the pan very simple and hypnotizing rather than splashy. The predominant beat in this song keeps a strong pulse like the beach go-ers continually moving about on and in the water... I envisioned the syncopated rhythm in the middle of the piece to represent an underwater current of the Pacific Ocean as fish and coral plants swayed...at times I could see some surfers on top, and the music was part of the sea life below captured in the moment. Listen to the steelpan as it goes underwater (I used a combination of WAH filters and special delays).
3. Liquid Theory - This song is all about flowing liquid - it is very pulsy, but I wanted to take the steelpan completely out of the normal composition world and give it a life in delays, free form and movement ...beyond it's current boundries...and from a metaphysical point - the idea is that you have traveled beyond your expect destination and ventured to the outer space of our universe, or as far as you are willing to let yourself go. I really wanted to play this in D minor, but my melody hook for the steelpan wanted to go below my lowest note of Middle C (C5), so in order to play B, I had to play "C" and then tune it down on my digital workstation to "B" (1 semitone) using tuning software. It worked beautifully, and I got to hear my pan melody in a different range, preventing me from having to borrow a lower-range pan just for this song. There are lots of delays and magic filters to bring you out of this atmosphere.
4. Ahimsa - This chant song is rooted in a Meditation concept. By definition, "Ahimsa" is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. The music follows a course parallel with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism with respect to sound, but can easily be applied to any belief system, as the intent is to awaken peace, love, harmony, tranquility and stasis. There is an underlying vibe of South Asian culture and desire of calm. The side trip in the bridge (middle of song) is to lure you in deeper, so when I return to the original theme you trust in the truth.
5. Floating - as I developed the underlying chord progressions, this song just moved towards the feeling of lightness, so I went with it and kept the steel pan melodies very simple and pleasing...for this reason, I felt it was like "floating" in the clouds. Use of the pan/air flute was a nice compliment to the bell timbre of the steel pan. I was inspired to add some emotional "aahs" to the end chorus of the song for an extra dimension.
6. Infinite Chill - This song is full of stories, from an initial departure to the final return. I pictured a hovercraft at first just gliding over the top surface of our local air. The clicking in the beginning is like a clock as we leave the ground... as we lift we watch all the activities and scenery while humming along at a perfect pace. Picture the phased bass as the underlayment of the hovercraft and the strings pad as the ease at which we feel the air supporting us. I love the sound of metal, so I introduce quite a bit of edgy sounds in and out of the song. Listen at 3:05-3:24 to the phased and wah filter effects on my voice - this actually happened because before I had the vocals I swear I heard those voices in the song there - not sure if it was overtones of some other instrumentation I had there, but it was like it was there, but yet it wasn't! So I wouldn't lose my sanity, I decided to sing what I heard there and then apply several effects so it was woven tightly into the tracks like an instument. A new concept born during the Infinite Chill ! The breakdown at 3:46 is as soon as we enter the new atmosphere and we are experiencing new levels of awareness of our subconscious, just go with it ! And be free ! And then fully dance with your own spirit to the end of the journey. The steel pan is always there to guide you to higher places!
7. Mumbai Glow - An ethnic, South-Asian inspired meditative, thought-provoking, calming and soothing, track which I wanted to excite your senses and raise you to a higher level with captivating sounds, vibrations, pulses, and magical steel pan passages that flow in and out like ocean water. I have a love of Indian spices, and the culture so I wanted to feature ethnic instruments like tabla, gjembe and khol with layers of synth and steelpan. The melody glides in and out with the use of flute and sitar and some vocals.
8. Kickin' Back (Lo-Fi) - I got in a habit quite frequently in 2020 of listening to Lo-Fi music, just as a calming, behind-the-scenes vibe as I was cleaning the house or doing office work. After a while, I noticed how retro, yet refreshing the sound was! Then I thought, how could I do this with my steel pan ? I knew I could already accomplish it with keyboards - so I worked on certain phrases...capturing 2 tracks of the same, then tuning one of the two tracks by anywhere from 10 - 30 cents either UP or DOWN. There are times that it is sharp and times it is flat...but the vibe is an old vinyl record being put on and it wavers. What I really love about the young generation enjoying this music is that it has many jazz chords (lots of 7ths and augmented/diminished)...really anything with the slinky jazz flair goes! Throwing in a few vocals at 2:27 for extra sexiness, it's meant to be relaxing on the weekend. And since my original thought on this song was just "kickin' back" on the weekend, I used a "radio" effect on my voice to imitate the AM radio sound, letting you know it was just a movie, kick back kinda weekend.
9. Shimmering Delight - simply created to be a simple song with very little happening so it would be very appropriate as background music. Great for spas, or fancy salons, or shopping malls !
10. Celestial Massage - This song was created as a mind workout - a focal point for those who are constantly working (like myself !) and need to let go. I decided to play a lot of piano to accompany my steel pan melodies. As I was singing complementary parts I felt like it was a departure to some other place using only the mind to take you there. I was hoping this song might be a great 5-minute break for some who are feeling anxiety and need to slow down.
11. Smooth Silk - I created this song in April 2020 when I was feeling most down about the global pandemic - the uncertainty of jobs, health and overall sanity. The tempo and sounds I chose to use for this was meant as a meditative piece, yet somewhat playful (as displayed at 2:28 and 2:40 in the pan, and 2:54 in the voice) and evolving like the pan at 3:05 (a simple C major scale gliding up). For me personally, I felt much anxiety as the world was turned upside down (as I'm sure most felt), and I wasn't really sure of whether to cry or scream at times, so I bottled much of my fears inside which made me feel even worse. I started creating meditation speaking soft words of inspiration and was hoping as I did this to help others that it would help me as well. I had created a simple soft track for that meditation, and then went on to write this composition as an exploration into my fears and worries... somehow it brought me to splashes of happy memories of childhood, running through rain puddles and playing with friends. I wanted to return to this carefree feeling amidst the chaos of our strange lives. The feelings of hopelessness disappeared every time a note was played. Aaah, the amazing work of music! I finally realized how much less we fear as a child in most cases because we didn't "know" there was anything to fear. Turning this anticipated fear off was a key to enjoying every moment of life. So it was like a meditation was created with this song as I worked through my realizations... Bells and tingling sounds at 4:07 and reduction to cascading thirds on the steel pan as it fades out...
Thank you for reading about my inner most thoughts in creating these songs. It is not easy to divulge all that is going on in our minds when writing music, but I wanted to reveal that these songs were very mindfully created during a very historic time in world history, and truly were meant to heal. The frequencies of sound, and the miracle of "music" is something that has helped many people, even in horrible crisis as well as celebration of joy. Music should always be honored and respected for its power.
Peace & Love, Bickley