The Mandolin, the Ghost, and the Machine

New Anderhill music is out. This is my first full album since The Beauty of Infinite Sadness.

The Mandolin, the Ghost, and the Machine¬†is a concept album that makes use of a mandolin on each of the nine tracks. As the composer of this experimental electronic music I have mixed feelings. Take a listen and see what you think and I’ll be my own critic below.

The album was made quickly. I created the nine tracks in a matter of a week. I often compose music quickly but this time only some of the tracks felt like they came together and others seemed oddly incomplete or not good enough. However, instead of killing tracks or the entire project I pushed forward.

The music is hard to fit into any category. It’s not ambient. It’s not house. It has some drone qualities. It’s experimental. As I worked through the project I became critical of the music and my own creative processes. Whereas I liked my opening track, “The Ghost in the Mandolin,” I became less inspired with some of the other tracks. The music began to feel too repetitive and machine-like. So I commented on that problem with the tracks, “Bloody Machine” and “Bah Bah Boom Chick.” The track “Almost” is just that. It’s almost good enough, but not quite.

Next there’s my use of the mandolin. I’m almost ashamed for bastardizing such a beautiful instrument. Rather than playing the mandolin I just haphazardly plucked and strummed short bits, sampled them, and programmed them as the first track of each recording. Then I built music around them using ghostly sounds. Finally, I added manipulated and distorted drums.

Some of the tracks feel a bit too cluttered for me. Instead of editing some of that clutter out as I often would, I decided to leave it. This work is exactly how I created it.

You might wonder why I’d even release¬†The Mandolin, the Ghost, and the Machine if I dislike it as the composer. Let me explain. First, I don’t dislike it. I think it could be better. I think I’ve composed stronger works. I feel less passionate about the album than others I’ve created. That doesn’t make it bad.

Second, it’s art. Some might disagree. My process was simply to use a concept, in this case samples of a mandolin as the building block for the music. I created nine pieces quickly and in the order you hear them. And although I was critical of my own process I forged ahead.

Finally, it’s often been my observation that the works we are most critical of as artists, creators, and composers are often the viewers, readers, and listeners favorites. I can’t count the times that I’ve been about to throw something away but several people told me it was one of my best works. In that spirit I decided to release this album for better or worse. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.