This category is for information about the album, Electric Rain by Bipolar Dimensions. Moreover, it provides access to the music and explains the philosophy behind it.
Electric Rain is my debut album. Here, you will find articles for each track as well as information about me. The music speaks for itself. But, the story behind the music is important too. So, I’ve spent some time explaining my history. Above all, I want to acknowledge my illness. The album is dedicated to those who suffer from mental illness. I am one of those people. But I am also a survivor. This album is about survival. No, it’s about thriving.
Firstly, Bipolar Dimensions is a one-man band. The name identifies the disorder. Electric Rain is about mental illness. In short, the music portrays different mental states. From happy mania to dreams to depression to schizophrenia to full-on manic to psychosis, the album evolves. So too does the genre. It’s a concept album that otherwise defies a label. But, that’s enough describing. I’ll let the music speak for itself.
Here's the first track on the album, Electric Rain by Bipolar Dimensions. It's a lively introduction to this otherwise eclectic collection of electronic music aimed at illuminating the many different sides of mental disorder. Cosmic Dragonfly opens the set with a gentle but somewhat moody arrangement of strings and piano. They portray the lighter, yet still volatile, side of mania.
Electronic music comes in many flavors. Each track on Electric Rain explores a new musical direction. I hesitate to classify each track by genre as some just don't fit any particular genre. Having said that, the music ventures from upbeat and dreamy to ambient and drone, from melody to dissonance, and harmony to noise.
I improvised each track on Electric Rain on a Korg Krome Music Workstation from January to May 2019. My apartment dining room in Evanston, Illinois is my studio. Each track represents one to two days of work. I then recorded it into a Digital Audio Workstation on my computer. From there I mixed and output it to an audio file.
This album represents a labor of love and it's been a long time coming. Seems that my studies of art and music in college some 30+ years ago turned into a worthwhile endeavor. That and the toil for months in my apartment studio. I thank you all for coming along for the ride.
Finally, it's great to share my music with you and I'd like to make it available for free listening. Therefore, you can enjoy the video above as many times as you like.
Rem sleep isn't a mental disorder but it is an important product of the mind. In a manic phase, for example, it becomes impossible to sleep. As a result, dreaming is suspended. This can lead to psychosis or delusional thinking if left unchecked. Rem sleep is important. This track is about settling into our dreams. Even more so, it is about having the peace to dream.
Electric Rain is an eclectic album for sure. The tracks as a whole are not of a specific genre. This is eccentric. But, given the improvisational nature of the album, is also expected. This track, for example, differs greatly from its predecessor. Its moody overtones shift away from the energetic strains offered up in the first track. In short, its a different animal.
Recording Rem Sequence
I enjoy the process of fleshing out a song. I usually start with a basic "feel" in mind. Then, I start improvising. And it doesn't typically take too long to get into a groove. Each track adds dimension to the song. Probably, the first track offers the greatest challenge. I have to find the right sound. Then it comes down to setting up a tempo, a time signature and other aspects of the recording process. After recording the base track, I can really start to jam. I composed this song in an afternoon.
In conclusion, this song is about finding peace within our dreams. Good mental health starts with good sleep, good nutrition, and good exercise. They say that music is food for the soul. I hope this finds its way into your soul and brings you pleasant dreams.
Finally, Side A of Electric Rain wraps up with Serena's Song. Above all, it's a short ode to those who suffer from depression. Cries dissolve in the ring of gentle bells. There is both pain and joy in the piece. Also, hope in the music as well as melancholy. The slow pace reflects the sluggishness common in a depressive episode. I could say more about the piece. But there's nothing quite like listening to the music.
I composed this track over the course of an afternoon and evening. That is to say that I improvised and recorded a series of tracks in the course of a day. The mixdown came later.
Firstly, I specifically wanted to work with bells and choir ahs. The lazy drumbeats came at the end of the process. Secondly, I wanted to create a wistful, yearning mood. I really enjoyed improvising over the strains of the ahs. The real challenge came during the recording and mixdown process. I had to record several passes to get the mix right. This is actually fairly common.
One Man's Take on Depression
I have been in dark places. But I have also seen the light. Each day challenges me to stay positive and to not dwell on things out of my control. I have a solution for depression. But I can only say that it works for me.
I have goals and I work towards those goals every day.
Then there are my passions such as art, writing, and music. I try to engage in these passions every day.
I measure every step of progress towards my goals.
And I take great pleasure in accomplishing those goals, whether they are short-term or long-term goals. Accomplishment is the key for me.
I don't let setbacks get me down. I look for other options.
In conclusion, I'm grateful for everything I have, for the opportunities I've been given and the ability to work towards my dreams. Art is my medicine. It's what keeps me sane. This song is an example of the above.
Side B of Electric Rain kicks off with the convoluted strains of Voices. Certainly, it comes as a departure from Side A's melodic presentation. It's the album's the first foray into the realm of schizophrenic auditory hallucination. The album picks the theme up again later in the track Psychosis. In short, this is a dark journey into the realm of mental illness. I have never heard voices so this is just what I imagine after living with people who suffer from the disorder.
It took a couple of long days to lay down the tracks for Voices. Each sound was a new adventure into the realm of my music workstation. For example, the arpeggiators used were meticulously selected through a lengthy series of trial and error. Also, I was looking for a mood that embued both confusion and organization. The goal was to stay away from traditional melody and timing while still keeping a musical feel.
I call my works improvisations because I don't rehearse them. Yes, I spend time programming the sounds. But in the end, each track is a product of the moment. Each materializes from a sort of reckless abandon. Each is made up as I go along. This is true for all of the tracks on Electric Rain.
I have experienced schizophrenia first-hand. I am no expert but I know that walls don't speak. It's difficult to watch someone suffer from this illness. I have known highly intelligent people who think the devil is talking to them through the TV (well, this could be debatable). I've had deep, intellectual conversations with impacted individuals followed by pure nonsense. I've seen beautiful spirits lost in a maze of illusion.
The music is an attempt to capture these dichotomies. It's a statement of concern and also of compassion. But most of all, it's a beacon of hope.
Side B of Electric Rain continues with the dark, driving drone of Riot. Above all, this piece seeks to capture the frantic, reckless nature of mania. That is to say, inappropriate risk-taking and delusional thinking. I have suffered from these symptoms in the past. They have debilitated me. But I'm happy to say that I've survived it and that I now put that energy to more creative purposes. So, here's the music.
Probably, Riot is the most genre-specific piece on the album Electric Rain. It is clearly a somewhat melodic example of drone music. I created the underlying drone in two takes. That is to say, using two different arpeggiator patterns keyed from the same single note. I then improvised a couple of passes over the resultant drone.
It was a tricky Mix-down. In other words, it was a challenge to bring out the many different voices in the music without making the mix too hot. But it was well worth the effort. In the end, everything comes through.
The Many Faces of Mania
Manic episodes come in many guises. For example, one can become hyper-focused on a particular activity. Or delving into unhealthy and destructive behavior. Sometimes the condition is so severe that the sufferer becomes delusional. Meanwhile, there is the downside of disrupted sleep and feelings of invincibility.
I've been on both sides of bipolar disorder. For the most part, I've created with the excess energy I have but I've also been on the destructive side of the scales. These days, I use my elevated moods for creativity. Medication has helped to smooth out the highs and lows and I find myself being far more productive as a result. I channel my moods into my writing and music. Art is a great mood stabilizer. I wouldn't be the same without it.
To sum up, this album is for those living with mental disabilities. I'm one of those people. But I chose to defy the definition. I chose to make music.
Finally, Psychosis wraps up Side B of the album Electric Rain. The track's musical soundscape seeks to honor those who suffer from this condition. There is a timekeeper for this piece. But the music abandons time and melody. Instead, it ventures into the realm of delusion and hallucination. It is a dark, spacey piece of psychedelia that brings the confusion of Voices to a haunting conclusion. Here's the music.
The most challenging mix on the album was Psychosis. So, it took a number of tries to get a good recording. The tracks were where I wanted them. But some of them were too hot, others not enough. Consequently, it took some practice to get it right.
I created Psychosis over the course of a day. But much of that time was spent getting the sound right for each track. Most of my improvisations involve the shaping of sound. However, this one took more than most. I wanted a very spacy feeling to the piece but also with some cohesive elements. As a result, there is a constant ticking and gurgling of water in the background. Meanwhile, the sound effects ignore the tempo. It's a soundscape. Beyond that, I haven't found a definition.
Real or Imagined?
I have had my experience with psychosis. That is to say, I've suffered from delusions and grandiose thinking. I didn't experience any symptom though until my late 50's. Suffice to say, many things collided in my life at one time and I lost it. I had a psychotic break. As a result, I thought I could run the world, even made plans to run for President. I was not in my right mind. The State institutionalized me and I lost practically everything.
It's been a long road to recovery. I still think big thoughts. But I think they're grounded in reality. For example, I wanted to build this website for my music. And I have done it. I wanted to create an album. And I have done it. I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I'm confident it will come with music.