New Release: Disappearing

April 2019

Viewing posts from April , 2019

New Release: Disappearing

I’m usually the person reminding my creative friends that “Not everything needs to be a masterpiece,” but sometimes I forget that myself. Sometimes a song just wants to stay modest and doesn’t need to be your own Bohemian Rhapsody. That’s the story of this latest single called Disappearing.

I had Disappearing finished for a while, but since it was so short (1:20 min) I never considered it done. However, every time I listened to it, I didn’t feel like it needed anything else. My final adjustment to the song was to add a meaningful field recording at the end during the mastering phase. This brought the song to an epic 1 minute and 35 seconds! But maybe a song called “Disappearing” doesn’t need to drag on and on…

The song was written fairly quickly earlier this year while I was in a reclusive aka “hermit” period. I spend hours sometimes going through the thousands of different keyboard sounds in my music production software, adding the sounds I like to various “favorites” lists. During this time-consuming process, I get to freely improvise on the keyboard and make up random micro-songs based on how the various sounds make me feel. That’s when I found the main “pad” sound that makes up the majority of Disappearing. It’s a setting on a software version of the Yamaha DX7 synth, from the late 1980s.

While I played the chord pattern, the lyrics came out pretty naturally without much belaboring. I like that the flow is a little bit reminiscent of the sing-rap style of Drake or Khalid–it’s a bit different for me. BTW, I cut a sped up 1-minute version that I used for an Instagram post.

The song’s subject matter is halfway between self-deprecating and actually concerned. LOL. I sometimes get into periods where I have conflicting feelings of being too isolated, but also feel antisocial at the same time. So I was hibernating and reflecting on topics including legacy, mortality, and what people choose to do with their limited existence. It culminated into the concept of “disappearing” if you’re not present in anyone else’s life.

The final addition to Disappearing was a meaningful sample that I got from my friend Mike Harrison, who passed away last year. He made a bunch of field recordings during a trip to Japan in 2016, most of which were of busy streets, arcades, and mass transit. But there was one of crows in a field. If there are any old-school Ming & Ping fans reading, you might know that I’ve often used a crow as a stand-in for myself in Ming & Ping’s music and even some photos, like this one by Julie Klima. It’s also in the lyrics of Ming & Ping’s most popular song, Beautiful Things:

“All the people scream for their dead dreams
And tell you not to try ‘cause you won’t fly
And you just watch the show like a black crow
You just watch the show like a black crow.”

– Ming & Ping, “Beautiful Things”

 

 

The crow is basically a symbol of actual BAO creeping in the background while my eccentric art takes the spotlight. The crows also reminded me of my late friend Mike, whose legacy will always be a strong and beautiful one with the people who knew him. I just wanted to pay tribute to something we had in common: being innately antisocial while making weird eccentric art.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to support my work, here are a few other ways:

Thank you!
❤ BAO

*UPDATED* Musashi (Original Game Soundtrack)

UPDATE: A mobile game that I created the musical score for is now available in the US. People have been playing “Musashi World Warriors” in Asia for a while. If you feel like winning actual cryptocurrency while playing “Rock–paper–scissors” using ancient warriors, you should get this game on your smartphone and put on some headphones to enjoy the music and sound effects by yours truly.

Download on Apple’s App Store
Download on Google Play


Late last year, some friends invited me to compose the music for a game called Musashi, which is scheduled to be released in early 2018. It was the first time I had ever created original music for a game, so the experience really made me want to do more projects like this. This soundtrack album consists of full length versions of the musical clips used in the game. Enjoy streaming the music on this page or on any major digital streaming platforms and learn more about the game and my creative process below.

About Musashi the Game

Musashi is a simple role playing game for mobile devices. Your character travels through ancient lands to battle opponents and win virtual gold. Players trade in that gold for armor and other powers for their characters. The thing that makes Musashi stand apart from other RPGs is that the fighting is ultra-simplified and is based on rock–paper–scissors. You can just play it casually while waiting for your coffee to get made. I really enjoy the game’s retro artwork, reminiscent of the Street Fighter II character art from the 1990s. And hopefully, players will also like the game’s music.

General Approach to the Music

Overall, the Musashi soundtrack is mainly electronic music with many sampled and digitally distorted acoustic instruments. I used classic synthesizer sounds and effects as the basis of the music, while adding traditional world instruments to create certain vibes that match the scenes in the game. But even the real instruments were heavily altered using digital effects because I wanted everything to have a decayed, unnatural feeling. For example, most of the orchestra strings were played on a software version of a Mellotron so that there’s something unnatural about them, but you can’t quite place what it is. While the game required short, monophonic loops (one speaker only), the full versions on this album were mixed in stereo with a few additional effects that help create the illusion of large antique spaces.

Vietnamese-inspired Musashi Theme

Musashi’s music all started with the main melody that you hear in the Musashi Theme, played by a sampled and digitally distorted Erhu, an old Chinese two-stringed instrument similar to a fiddle. I came up with this melody while in the shower after having played around with the game for a couple days. I wanted a melody that felt like a conflict between seeking adventure and longing for home. Once I had this melody recorded onto my iPhone’s voice notes, the backing music came out pretty naturally. The last part I did on this song was to add an electric guitar with lots of delay and reverb. There was a Vietnamese guitarist that was hugely popular in the 80s and 90s named Vô Thường, whose style inspired my guitar part. You’ve probably heard his music playing in the background at the Pho restaurant. LOL. Here’s four hours of his insane music.

Musical Themes for Each Ancient Civilization

We decided early in the process that we should have a few musical themes that correspond to the various ancient lands that your Musashi character travels through in the game. My approach was to use the main melody from Musashi Theme and use variations of that throughout all the other themes, even though the rest of the music could be significantly different.

The Arabic and Siberian themes are probably my favorites. For the Arabic theme, I found a loop of some tablas that had a cool rhythmic pattern and tuned them to my liking. I then added some synthesized and sampled vocals and detuned them, causing a melted feeling. The rhythm of the vocals on some parts sounds a little like chanting, but it’s actually accomplished by taking a long and steady “ahhhh” sound and using something called sidechain compression to make the voices pulsate to the rhythm of the tablas. For the Siberian theme, I listened to a bunch of traditional music from Siberia and Mongolia, which helped me pick some instruments that had a similar vibe: a primitive flute, a clanky guitar, and some deep voices that sound almost like throat singing. Put all that on top of a pulsing electronic beat and you have Musashi’s Siberian Theme.

How to Support BAO’s Music

How did you like the music? Let me know in the comments. When Musashi becomes available to the public, you’ll be able to download the game on the Apple and Google stores. You can also support me in a few different ways:

Text me maybe: (629) 888-1938
❤️ BAO