Talking Music: “Untitled” by PanaC

Am I seriously going to review my own album?

No I’m not, but I would love to discuss some of the ideas behind it on a public forum such as this!

The album I’ll be discussing is available here. You don’t need to download or hear it in my opinion since I’ll mostly be discussing the motivations behind them, but I’ll briefly cover the topic of the album itself:

“Untitled” is the sophomore release of artist PanaC, following up “The Other List.” Originally titled, “A Diamond Ring, A Dinosaur, A Pikachu,” “Untitled” features many of the same problems his previous album suffered from. Volume management, vocal quality, and album pacing are all lacking – this results in a decidedly amateur-sound. Unlike “Diamond Ring,” PanaC covers a larger set of sounds, but the gesture still leaves a lot to be desired. An unconvincing vocal performance works well against the album, and many songs simply do not “work” as a consequence. The instrumental pieces themselves tend to drag on – particularly “Admission” – and it does no justice that they are all of the same musical styling; if you don’t like the vocal-pieces, and you don’t like the first instrumental then there’s nothing coming that you will like. Ultimately, “Untitled” is a notable improvement, but is just as notably far away from reaching par.

I guess I did review my own album…Well then…

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the good stuff!

Untitled

Yes We Do

Do you remember when this video came out? Because I do. Unfortunately for the world, at the time I also had this song playing at my work. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I still made sure to regularly listen to my Televisor collection. There was simply no way I wasn’t going to try my hand at this whole electro-funk business.

My desire to throw my hat in the ring was one of the last ideas to be added to the album, and was also one of the first ideas to be removed from the album. Quite frankly, I had determined I couldn’t arrange an entire song out of the sounds I had made.

However, like most of the album, the inspiration for “Yes We Do” came from a dark place. The further time carried on, the further I fell into my pool of self-pity, and eventually the ideas of the lyrics began to form themselves. If you have the fortune of not having heard the song, the central theme (well, let’s be honest, there’s only a single theme in this) is in regards to a dying relationship, and the beginning stages of letting it go and ignoring urges to linger on it.

Let’s Move

“Let’s Move” has been a bit of a favorite for me amongst the mess of an album, and I wrote and composed the entire thing in essentially the frame of an hour or two. It was originally supposed to be a guitar piece with electronic drum backing, a la Blink-182’s “Boxing Day,” but after putting together the drum track I had completely forgotten what I was playing on the guitar. I decided it wasn’t worth trying to remember, threw on a basic lead synth, and wrote the lyrics to the first verse. I threw on a bassline to give the second verse some variation, tacked on the outro, and called it a day.

The lyrics themselves came to me (from dark, angsty places) out of the desire to just leave. I wasn’t talking to any person in particular – I just found myself tired of the everyday scenery and feeling that all my memories of the area were long expired. Honestly, I don’t rememeber exactly why I chose Canada, but it really could have been because I associate Boxing Day as being a Canadian holiday. It is, but is by no means exclusive.

Epression

“Epression” was one of the first songs I remember finishing, and like many of the songs I finished it in a single sitting. Epression itself was a long time in the making – at the time I was taking a course over music history, and my urge to make a classical-inspired piece was through the roof. I had many, many unsuccessful attempts prior to “Epression,” but this is where it all clicked.

I was unusally obsessed with Mozart’s Requim, but I knew I had no sense of my own impending death. I had tried time and time again to recreate that atmosphere, but it just wasn’t me.

What was me was anxiety, and that’s what “Epression” is all about; it’s a mixture of my paranoid rage, overwhelming lonliness, crippling fears, and the sensation that my life was completely out of control. Thankfully I don’t feel that way anymore, but at the time “Epression” captured it all for me – it’ll always hold a special place in my heart for that.

P.S. Epression is in the key of D minor…Get it? D – epression, Depression….Ha…ha…ha…….

The Tragic Death

“Epression” captured who I was at the time I had made it, but I still wanted to cover death. “The Tragic Death” was made long, long after “Epression” and I think it’s a bit evident in the styalistic differences.

“The Tragic Death” is odd because it’s one of the only songs that has nothing to do with any of the other songs, or any dark emotion I was experiencing. It covers the adventures of fictional character Panwell A. Croue (hint: PANwell A Croue…PAN A C…) – he’s a great guy, people look up to him, and he’s probably an American soldier for the revolution or something. This song, sadly, is playing during his last battle – he has a strong start, a shaky middle, but he pulls it back together in the end. Then I like to imagine someone gets  a cheap shot on him, the kind of thing that makes you think, “He deserved such a more honorable death.”

Sometimes

Oh boy, where to begin. Just kidding, I know exactly where to begin. Sometimes was originally just the first verse, which was written as a very cheap rip-off of Box Car Racer’s “I Feel So.” Yeah, hearing the similarities takes all the fun out of it, huh? To me, the “Sometimes” was really the most powerful song I wrote though (yes, more so than “Epression”). I don’t think I ever showed this song to who I wrote it for, and I don’t know if they ever heard it after I released it. “Sometimes I wish I was brave – I wish I wasn’t afraid – I wish I had the nerve to say,” is pretty much the entire summarization of everything wrong with my life at the time. Making this song and singing the words – putting it out there for anyone to hear – it was really empowering. For that reason alone, I really don’t care about any of the flaws of the song.

The song was originally only the drums over some strings, but I decided I needed something awesome for the bridge if I was going to just repeat a part of the first verse for the second verse. After thinking carefully, I concluded the song captured the gloominess of “finally telling someone everything I wasn’t brave enough to tell them,” but I wasn’t just sad about it – I was pissed off. Once I made that realization, the bridge and outro made themselves.

The Crown

If  “Sometimes” is the most powerful song I wrote on this album then “The Crown” is the most genuine song I wrote. I made “The Crown” without any music while I walked around aimlessly in the dark – I just sang the words over and over out loud until the whole thing was done. People probably assumed I was homeless. I kid you not, by the time I got home and was ready to make the accompanying music I knew exactly what I wanted and exactly how I wanted it to sound – it was pretty cool. On that note, I would love to make another song following this style, but I haven’t made much progress on that front.

I don’t think anything really needs to be said about “The Crown.” It says it all itself.

Admission

I composed “Admission” around graduation time for all the high schoolers, and that’s more or less what the song is about – going off to college, meeting new people, handling your problems, and becoming a better version of yourself all the while. It was really sad for me to make because of the problems going on around my life at the time, but I don’t think I could have not made it – if that makes any sense.

Admission was made after “Epression” but before “The Tragic Death.” After I made “Epression” I really wanted to make a “proper” classical composition, so I took another shot. For “Admission” I attempted to follow simple ternary form, but I still have no idea if I did it properly.

Bonus Songs

Is It Really

There is a possibility that I’m wrong, but I have a strong suspicion that this was the first song I completed in the name of “A Diamond Ring, A Dinosaur, A Pikachu.” I really love this song, but I felt like it didn’t fit in at all with the rest of the album. I think “Is It Really” is one of the best mixed and mastered songs on the album, and I think it’s one of my best songs in general.

I really was not happy with the way “The Other List” had turned out – the first three songs were clearly better than all the other songs, but they were also the oldest songs by far. I had this soul-crushing suspicion that I would never again be able to make songs of that calibur.

When I made the very first version of “Is It Really” I suddenly felt like I could believe in myself again. The first version was probably a minute or two longer than the final version, and contained no vocal, but it sounded like my older works – it sounded like the genre I had self-proclaimed to be my original creation, the “epic electronic” genre. Heavy ornamitation on the intro, a sort of trance-drop midway through, and atmospheric synths radiating throughout the entire thing. Oh man.

The vocal sample belongs to Nikkita, and I picked it up super cheap. I’d recommend you check her out if you’re at all in need of vocal work.

Razormind DnB Remix

Let’s get this out of the way, my version of “Razormind” is entirely odd compared to the original. There was a remix competition going on, and I made this song out of the samples provided. There’s not much more to be said about this song since it wasn’t an entirely original composition.

Quick

“Quick” was one of the songs I finished right after “Is It Really” (the original predicted tracklist for this album was almost entirely different – basically “Quick” and “Epression” were the only ones to make it). “Quick” was originally an instrumental bit similar to “Is It Really,” and I even added a Nikkita sample to “Quick” as well.

I had really wanted to add a rap song to the album in honor of how I first became interested in music, but I had begun writing it to an instrumental I had creatively titled “Rap track back track” (I’m so artistic, as you can tell). Eventually I decided I wanted to rap over “Quick” as well because “Quick” would allow me to rap much more hecticly than “Rap track back track” was allowing me. Eventually, I scrapped “Rap track back track” altogether, and translated the half-written verse over to finish “Quick.”

I always enjoy recording my occassional rap verses and I think this one was especially fun; the chorus is pretty bad no matter how you look it though.

Talking Music: “Untitled” by PanaC

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