Behind the songs: Soundtrack to no purpose

Soundtrack to no purpose’ is a compilation of music I created over a span of 18 months, from 2013 to 2015. It’s now out on Spotify, and I hope you give it a listen, because we shot the cover abroad.

The 15 tracks are mostly two to three minutes long each, designed as background music to films, commercials, news clips, etc. The album contains the best musical ideas I had in my early 30s, and I’m so proud of it, almost as proud of my more symphonic and contrapuntal album ‘Paul’s purpose.’

  1. A different world – When I first came up with this, I just kept playing the riff over and over out of fun, in spite of a nagging suspicion it wasn’t original. The suspicion turned out to be false, but it does bear a resemblance, if played at double-speed, to a well-known power ballad. Can you guess which one?
  1. Waiting – This was one of many ideas I had over a period of a couple of days. I like the indie vibe, and it doesn’t vary very much throughout but doesn’t get old.
  1. A light – I came up with this melody 15 years ago, possibly during the time I was still capturing ideas on cassette. I made it into a song that I have since scrapped, but here it’s given a fresh take, being less waltzy than before. The title is part of the cheesy lyrics I came up with, that went, “A light shines for you.”
  1. Grim is good – I stole the title from a relative, who modified the ‘Wall Street’ (1987) quote. The music itself was one of maybe a dozen quite good ideas I came up with in a span of an hour.
  1. I would like to try – The original feel of the melody was of a tiny voice crying in the silence of the night. Recording it, I unwittingly turned it into somewhat of a blues tune.
  1. Endless – I had come up with the delay (echo-thingie) riff years back, in fact around the time that I had just discovered using the delay effect like The Edge. Putting a lead track was just meant to add variety to the piece, but now it sounds like new age legend Kitaro.
  1. Future – The main riff here was a variation to a more bluesy creation of mine the year before. The title is just perfect.
  1. Persecuted radical – I had just watched the film ‘Safety not guaranteed’ (2012) the night before, so when it came to entitling it, I thought of a description for the main character. I am normally wary of songs I make in the key of E Major, because they’re so easy to make, but this one was exceptional enough. This is the only time in the album that I strum the bass part.
  1. Hope – The main riff came from a 30-minute jam I had, the chords of which are based on a Mozart aria (technically a cavatina but I couldn’t tell the difference), ‘Pallid’ombre’ from ‘Mitridate, re di ponto,’ written in the composer’s early teens. I entitled my piece ‘Hope,’ and it does sound hopeful.
  1. Legend – I had just discovered the fun of using a volume pedal (that is, making volume rise as the note resonates) with a flange effect, you know, that smoking-hot jet sound employed by Eddie Van Halen and Karen Carpenter. I like the vagueness of the tune, hypnotic in its way.
  1. The dictator of dictators just bought ice cream – Who is the dictator of dictators? The consuming public. The main riff sounds a bit like the opening theme from ‘The X-files,’ and the heavy riff in the middle still kicks my ass.
  1. Great – This is the most straight-up ‘metal’ tune in the album. When I first made it up, it felt like I was stepping on worlds beneath me.
  1. Skipping like a kid – Still makes me feel like skipping like a kid.
  1. The bad is the worst of us – I like the sheer happiness of the song, which reminds me of something out of ‘90210.’
  1. Thank you – More ballady when I first came up with it 15 years ago, the additional effects make it a lot more upbeat. The slide could be done better, but it’s still not as bad as Duane Allman on ‘Layla.’

Perhaps this soundtrack album does have a purpose, to read alongside my books ‘Dumbest President Ever’ and ‘Be kind to puns.’ Enjoy!

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