Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Summer 2001/No Such Thing as a Perfectly Reliable Digital Backup

It's strange, but true: I've been recording on a computer for ten years now. Back when I first started doing this, hard disk space was hard to come by, so after I was done with a song, I'd run a mix of it and then burn the raw tracks to a CD. I had no real system for doing this, and as a result, when I try to revisit some of my older work in its raw mixable form, it can be a real disaster.

Back in the day, I wasn't too systematic about keeping track of my own music, and as a result, I've lost a few things along the way. In particular, there was a song that I recorded in the summer of 2001 that I remember really liking, but I can't find a copy of this song for the life of me. I can't find a mix, and I can't find the raw files. All I really remember is that there's a line in the song that goes "Monkeys, after all we've tried, threw the bone and I can't see myself desert walking in a robe." If anyone out there has a copy of this song (I tend to give away my own music, and therefore find myself not having my own stuff) I would really like to hear it again. It's been so elusively hyped in my mind that I remember it being some total masterpiece, but I could be completely wrong about that, seeing as how I haven't heard the song in about seven years.

Anyway, in going through my old backups, I found some songs that really don't embarrass me when I listen to them today. In hearing stuff that I did ten years ago, it's been really interesting to hear what has changed about my approach, and what has stayed the same despite whatever conscious decisions I've made. Anyway, here are a few tunes, all recorded during that magically weird summer of 2001:

"Cowboy Boots and Tatts"

I feel like this song really captures the weird thing that I was doing back then. MIDI, metal chords, and singing. I still like this song.

"Generations Reside in Your Eyes"

This song kind of makes me knot up a little inside, but in a good way. It's basically about my future baby-mama, whoever that might be. Religion, death, tradition, travel, hunger. It's all represented.

"Metal Meltdown"

I just like the notes that are played.

"You Were in Your Cell"

An example of the "maximal" approach I was into at the time. Too many notes, for the sake of there being too many notes.

"Old Friend"

This song kind of makes me weepy too. There's just something sad that you can hear in my voice. What a strange summer that was.

In short, I'd like to remind all musicians/filmmakers/digital creative types out there that any sort of digital backup, especially optical media, is prone to corruption, so don't count on that stuff working after about five years or so. Five years may seem like a long time, but soon enough you'll be old like me. There's really no sure-fire way to back up large digital files. The film industry is realizing this as well.