Let make this clear at the beginning, just in case some hectic zeniths fan decides to hunt me down for some reason*. I’m not a music reviewer. I lack the needed education on any and all musical matters. At best, I’ve been around my younger brother enough to have heard him talk at length about music production. And, more or less, I have a slight idea of what makes the music I enjoy, well, the music I enjoy.
Also, and this was unnecessarily explained to me, this blog isn’t about music reviewing. However, I think I can get around that by tying it to the overall theme of writing. My gracious host writes stuff, which is something I also used to do. I still do, or at least try to. Some stuff has been published. Some stuff I’d like to have been published more than the stuff that was, but that’s neither here, nor there.
With all that out of the way, let’s talk about music for about four or five hundred words, so I could get to hectic zeniths already.
A Gateway to Hardcore Writing
Ever been to a party where you just enjoy the atmosphere and company, and you like those people you’re with, and you want to be like them, to be their friend. So when they offer you something, you have this quick inner debate whether or not it’s worth it, but you decide that trying once couldn’t hurt. Then you like it too much, your life spirals around it, etc., etc. You been through that?
Neither have I. I did experience a similar thing with writing though. I fell in love with it, did a lot of it. But now life and responsibilities have caught up with me. Now, I rarely have the will and energy to spend time staring at my laptop and punching the keys to fill up an empty page. I know, I know: it’s sad. Weep for me, the white cis male, for my burdens are heavy and my pain is immeasurable.
Like any withdrawal, the prolonged lack of creative expression eventually started to get through me. Ideas never stopped forming, but I now file them away for the later that almost never comes. On a rare occasion, I’d power through a thousand words in a single sitting, but then abandon the draft for a few weeks. I’ve been trying to get back to writing, but it’s a bit more difficult than I imagined.
How to Get Back in the Saddle
One thing I’ve been doing lately is meticulously building a music library to help me get into a proper mood for writing. It’s nothing innovative to use music for inspiration, or for the enhancement thereof. In the past, I used to rely on purely atmospheric background sounds and noises. Sadly, in recent months, Ambient Mixer hasn’t been stimulating enough for me; there’s only so much a detective’s office or a fish market can do to ease me into a scene.
So, I turned to instrumental music, or at least mostly instrumental music. The fewer lyrics, the better. As someone who works mainly within the confines of genre fiction, with a particular affinity for science fiction, that would generally mean a preference toward everything electronic. About two years ago, I would’ve been listening to Monstercat’s entire output. The Canadian label is pretty popular, and both its YouTube channels are worth subscribing to – one & two.
Right now, however, I’m in need of something a lot more introspective. I have to be able to return to that headspace I feel comfortable in as a writer, and for that purpose, I have found a certain artist whose music I can’t help but identify with in all the right ways.
Layers of Time: Adam Prince or hectic zeniths
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but there we go. I became acquainted with the works of one Adam Prince on two separate occasions. Both times, weirdly enough, it happened because of the same song. As hectic zeniths, Prince released a self-titled album in 2012 that features the song “i might drown”. (All lack of capitalization is per the artist’s chosen naming conventions. I feel I should’ve mentioned that earlier, but I might be able to sneak this brazen laziness through my editor.)
Maria: You are forgiven.
I don’t really remember the first time I heard “i might drown”. It was through Tonedeff, about whom I’ve blogged at length and maybe I should finally translate the whole thing in English, that I rediscovered the song, the corresponding album, and the music of hectic zeniths.
To call “i might drown”, and indeed, the entire album, a masterpiece in the genre of hip hop would be a disservice to shoegaze, triphop, and lo-fi music, among others. This combination of piano, strings, and samples shouldn’t be able to register on such a personal level with me, considering I’ve never met the man. That feat alone is a testament to the transcendence of his art.
hectic zeniths: Creating an Atmosphere
In the span of several months, I purchased pretty much Prince’s entire discography through Bandcamp. Going back to his earlier releases under the pseudonym amplifya, all the way to a project that aims to raise both awareness and funds for the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund. While the technical evolution is undeniable, there’s this underlying layer of melancholy and optimism that plays a constant role through a lot of Prince’s work.
That’s not to say that it’s all darkness and brooding. I dare anyone to listen to Prince’s sweet flip of the Super Mario Bros theme and tell me, to my actual face, that it doesn’t fill their heart with simple childlike glee. I mean, I wouldn’t exactly listen to it as I’m trying to figure out an emotionally charged dialogue or something, but it definitely has its purpose.
As you read, I already made a point about not being a music reviewer. These ramblings of mine are nothing more than a layman’s opinions. I know nothing of substance about synth-pop artists, loop pedals, or other things related to this particular type of music.
But I know what this artist’s work can make me feel. I know that it can help me with shutting out the rest of the world when I need no distractions between me and the keyboard. And recently, I had the opportunity to indulge myself in even more of hectic zeniths’ creativity in order to boost my own.
An Actual Soundtrack to My Thoughts
In May 2020, Prince released two albums under another pseudonym, TOEHZAMP. (All capitalization is per the artist’s chosen naming conventions. I feel sorry for my editor, but I may yet bribe her with books as of the time of writing this.)
Maria: So that’s why you’ve been forcing paperbacks on me…
The albums offer an intriguing possibility! The opportunity to be included as a musical score in a movie or a TV show. And I would imagine a video game as well. The first release leaned toward sci-fi and fantasy, while the second is horror-themed. I loved both of them.
Another great idea the artist had was the inclusion of two versions of the same piece! One with an accompanying beat, and one with only the original melody. That way it could be used in very different scenes as a setup for different types of moods. I honestly appreciate this so much. I figured out that I could use specific tracks as a character’s personal theme. It really helps with getting into their mindset and figuring out their parts of the dialogue.
Also, this is music made with the explicit idea to exist within the genres that I, coincidentally, feel most comfortable with writing in. To say that this was an unexpectedly welcome thing in my life is to greatly underestimate how good it was for my atrophied writer muscles.
There’s nothing like the feeling of the downtempo music entering my mind and stripping away all unneeded thoughts and worries, in order for me to start typing with confidence. Hell, I just banged out over 1300 words while listening to various hectic zeniths works. If that’s not a proper way to prove my point, I can’t do anything for you. Make peace with your family, your friends, and your God. I’ll be coming for you eventually.
It’s my honest opinion that Adam Prince and his music should be far more well-known than they are. I’m glad to do my minuscule part in that regard, by writing down said honest opinion and presenting it to you. Go give it a listen. See if you agree with me. If you do, well that’s awesome! You might add something new to your playlists. If you don’t, I don’t really care. Just send your complaints to @inhalewords on Twitter**.
Maria: You’ll hear of that.
In all seriousness, I owe hectic zeniths a lot of my recent return to writing. It’s a slow process for me, like having to learn to walk in the full gravity of Earth again after months on the International Space Station. But learn to walk I will, and maybe, someday soon, I’ll even run. And some good music to go along with that just makes it all the better.
*I really don’t think they would; his fans seem like generally cool people, it’s just that I can be a bit paranoid
**don’t actually do that, send them to @themindchaotic and we could both bet on whether I’ll break under the pressure of responding or not