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Love is a luminous explosion from a star’s fury that coalesces into something new and beautiful.
SIDE 1: SUNBURST (TRACKS 1-8) // side 2: nebula (tracks 9-16)
- SUPERNOVA: Sunburst Nebula is an album divided into two sides, one for nightcore, one for vaporwave. These are genres I hadn’t seriously dived into before, and I ended up setting a few rules for myself: Only one sample allowed per track, everything has to come from the sample, and I can’t sample the same artist multiple times (because with the first restriction there’s only 16 samples total). Anyway, holy shit this track. A friend of mine sent me a song called “RPG” that he thought was the most annoying shit ever. So of course I thought it was the perfect sample to open the nightcore album that I was thinking about making. It’s a wild injection of manic energy to start things off. The last chorus feels like violence. Additionally, though, I had some general thematic ideas about this album; it’s kind of a concept album. This first side, SUNBURST, is about falling for someone who doesn’t really care for you, and in my head this track is about that initial, overriding obsession.
- YOUR SPEED: Picking up right off from SUPERNOVA. In general the basic musical idea behind SUNBURST is that each track is less intense than the last, so this definitely needed to be near the start. I even thought about making it the opener, but I realized that’d be a bad idea because this track isn’t very representative of how most of the album sounds. There’s a lot more emphasis on short looped sampling, plus there’s the silly gradual tempo increase that starts partway through. I think this track is about trying to modify yourself to fit someone else’s taste. Also yeah funny sample
- LOST DON’T DOUBT IT: It scares me that Death Grips nightcore is actually a step down in intensity after those first two tracks. But it’s important to note that I’m already toning things down a little intentionally: the verses are loud and basically untouched, but the choruses are quieter and reverby. This is one of the vaguer tracks thematically, but it has the one track mindset, plus a creeping worry that you’re devaluing yourself.
- LOVE AND DREAMS: The sample here is an unusually slow-paced Venetian Snares track, which ends up sounding like a normal breakcore track after I speed it up. Also I clipped out the “dreams” lyric and used it to add a little more color to the track. Late in production I was surprised to discover the lyrics were a lot darker than I’d originally thought, but interpreted loosely they still fit the idea of unhealthy emotional dependence.
- FEEL: I’m sorry I don’t like this song I don’t know why I sampled it. In this album’s context, this track and SO BAD are like one last moment of denial of emotional vulnerability before things fall apart.
- SO BAD: This is basically the outro to FEEL, but it’s a different sample so it has to be a different track (according to my arbitrary self-imposed rules).
- THE COSMOS: Musically things are really cooling off now. This loud, in-your-face post-rock sample has been turned into a still-grand but soft and distant thing. This big zooming-out moment is where you get enough perspective to recognize that things aren’t working out.
- WHEN IT ENDS: Finishing the musical downturn of intensity, a minimal guitar singer/songwriter piece. I actually loop the main part of the song once, just to stay in the moment a little longer. The lyrics here tie into the theme very explicitly; ideally I was thinking people might use this track to read the more abstract earlier tracks.
- the veil lifts: We begin the second side at a low point. The lyrics here don’t tie in much, but I was trying to get a cross a sense of ugly bitterness, after the tragic-but-pretty vibe of WHEN IT ENDS wears off.
- somebody else: The closest thing this album narrative has to straight-up exposition. This song is simply here to communicate that the second half is about a different person from the first half. But musically I think it has a neat vibe (and the sample was originally a comedy song so it was fun to recontextualize), so it’s not just busywork. It’s also trimmed down to just a minute, to keep the pace up.
- new reality: I like the sound of this reversed sample of a lofi recording of a piano piece. Thematically it’s kind of a breather, putting the previous arc of the album firmly behind us now.
- find the words: This is where nebula properly kicks into gear. I love the sample here: Tyler the Creator’s “Garden Shed”. Originally a song about coming out, now it’s about the struggle of learning to open up to a new relationship when you’ve struggled with that in the past. (I’m gay so it’s not queer erasure.) The dusty sound of the sample was a great fit for slowing down. The one thing that I didn’t think worked after slowing down was the (fantastic) verse at the end, so instead the little mains hum bit before that is now the outro.
- do you want me: This is probably the most traditionally vaporwavey track. Carly is here to aalmost sing about love but hedge her bets. Production-wise this track especially highlights a tool I used throughout nebula: exciters. Basically an exciter will sharpen an audio signal, effectively adding new stuff to the high end (but in a way that’s musical and totally coherent with the input). This is very useful for vaporwave, because if you’re slowing a whole song down then the high end is empty! Doing this helped the mixes feel a lot more complete.
- let me in: Not sure how I feel anymore about twisting this song to be about a lesbian relationship. It’s starting to become clear that the yearning going on is mutual, which means it’s about time to move to the next step.
- mend the heart: Like THE COSMOS, this is a grand moment of clarity, but it’s a much more positive and intimate one. Partway through, the filter and the reverb gradually drain away, until everything is coming through bright and clear (an exciter’s at work again). A real relationship is forming, and there’s room for healing and understanding.
- say: One last pillowy track to close things off. With just one bright-eyed repeating couplet, our love story is at an end for now.
cover art by Blood Machine
for Frida & Eva 💙✨💫🌠💖