A friend of mine mentioned doing the RPM Challenge back in February of 2010. Much like MUSIK 2003 and MUSIK 2006, it was a month-long challenge to make some music. Instead of doing a song a day, which is quite a drain of one’s creativity, the RPM Challenge was just to make an album in a month, considered to be either 10 songs or 35+ minutes of music.
As a musician, I’m not always necessarily passionate about creating music. I can go through long stretches of time where I don’t think about making or playing anything. For some reason, maybe because it’d been 4 years since MUSIK 2006, I was intrigued by this idea of an album-in-a-month (which I’d actually sorta done in 2002 for Clocks Striking 13). Art needs constraints to produce actual work, and this seemed like a good restriction. The site wasn’t taking itself seriously, so I didn’t feel like there was too much pressure or SRS BIZNESS at hand, leaving me in a good state of mind to actually go through with the whole thing. A sample question from their FAQ sealed the deal:
Is it a good idea to record 35 minutes of jaw harp through a delay pedal while someone chants the names of all the fast food restaurants? Yes.
My friend dropped out about a week into the project, but I pushed on. Although I was technically supposed to have written the material recorded during the month, I instead used it as an excuse to finally record my long-in-the-tooth pop album idea, Kaleidoscopic. The old name didn’t resonate now, so I thought of something new. Adversapolis is what I ended up going with, since it was a portmanteau of “adversity” and “people”, the general theme of the album. I record myself singing sparingly, as it’s not my best instrument, but I wanted something accessible, so this album was going to have to have vocals as its prime draw (save for one instrumental track).
In the end, despite the kindness of people living in my house putting up with all the recording sessions and my general level of earnestness, I think the album is pretty much a failure. Mixing quality is at a significantly low point, some songs just plain turned out bad, and my singing is largely unremarkable, occasionally bordering on awful. In addition, the mindset I was in when I wrote these pieces was really different than when I recorded them. It all just seemed like I was trying to drum up a time and place that I no longer really identified with anymore.
To be a little more optimistic about it, Adversapolis had great potential. The riffs I wrote were good, and the lyrics decent. My actual recording/production skills are still amateur, however, and that combined with weak singing ability makes for something not all together pleasant.
At least I got it out of my system. For the most part, that’s all that’s important to me with music: it builds up inside over time and it just needs to get out in some meaningful way so I can move on.
I will not be doing the RPM Challenge this year. Good luck to all who attempt it, however, as it’s a great way to push yourself and potentially make something great.