Pink Lazers

by P.T. Burnem

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about

How to accurately express this.

Let's start, by beginning.

When I started the Pink Lazers project, it was November of 2013. It was cold, and I was working as a line cook at Cafe 821. I was just starting two romantic relationships that took very different shapes, and both see their way onto the album in respective forms. "Sea of Love" which is sung by the lady in question (the only time a female singer, and acoustic instrument is heard on the album), and “Continuum ad Infinitum” which is about the woman who most truly inspires me and fires my synapses. She is dark haired, and has, at times, informed me that my world is delusional.

However, the impetus for the creation of Pink Lazers really starts in 2 places. Being very inspired by Phillip K. Dicks writings and legacy, focusing on a video of a speech he gave in France (the audio of which is peppered throughout the album) and the song “King Felix" recorded by Swordplay and I originally for a compilation being put out by Dora Doravitch. It wasn't accepted for the comp due to being submitted very late, and with a subpar mix. Still, I would listen to this song occasionally and just know that stylistically and lyrically this tune held something special.

So flash forward to beginning to work on the body of Pink Lazers. I made the decision early on about some of the stylistic elements.

I would be making it a guest heavy album, because I was more interested in sonic feel and tone than writing "songs".

I would use the Dick speech throughout as samples.

I would sample heavily from movies that were based on PKD novels.

I also decided that static, and duality and the switching of universes would have to come into play as well.

Static was the easy part really. My main method for creating this layer was to take a long run of evolving static, like say from a helicopter radio transmission, and chop it into 16 pieces. I would then sequence each of those pieces to pulse in 16th notes simultaneously, through creative panning, and filter sweeps, it basically buries you in that sound, and really it's very interesting because, what was a linear experience, the 10 second sound running from beginning to end, is now experienced chopped with different time points being experienced simultaneously. This is important, as the issue of Time as non-static, is a common theme in PKD literature.

After creating the initial minute long static pulse, I then, over the course of the album, would take small chunks from other songs and work them into the pattern, distorting them to blend them with the static, sometimes reversing them or changing their pitch. In this way, small hints as to what will happen later in the album, are contained in the static chunks. Again, the nature of repetition and time are played with here.

Now, the duality and switching of universes thing. I attempted to convey that through big, sudden dynamic switches in the songs. Bipolarity is huge in Dickian Mythos.

At this point I started reaching out to other artists, seeing if they would be interested in contributing to the album. The picks I made for this team were based, not necessarily on skill level or friendship, but rather the nature of their relationship to me. If it connected with that whole, other worldly, things are different just beneath the surface feel.

Visitor 10 was one of the first folks to get involved. He came to visit as I was beginning to flesh some beats out, and we sat down in my studio and hashed out some parts. Some of which made it onto the album, like the chorus for "Money in your Microchips", and others which remain in the vault. Visitor 10 is one of my absolute favorite kin in this indie rap world. He understands a few vital points about the form that I share, it's limitless potential for strangeness, and it's deeply personal nature. He also understands the fact that we are creating a legacy as we live and breathe, and also in our way, creating a world. Through imagination and creation. It's ours to create. He was an obvious pick.

I dipped deep into my strange Rolodex of indie rap contacts for my collaborations. Getting contributions from from Ceschi Ramos, J. Ring from Boogie Boy Metal Mouth, The Bookhouse Boys, Ben Lowder, my ICEBOX crew Paulie Think and Eyenine, Leo Albatross of Serum De Facto and Drew Scott. It bears mentioning here that my good friend Swordplay is All over The Album. Contributing vocally to “Kng Dck” “Vitamin B13” and importantly “King Felix" which of course started the whole experiment with its back masking and use of vocal saturation, and even some of the production on that song. Isaac is a very special person to work with, and I can honestly say one of the people I've learned most from. We recently finished off an album called DRONES with Erik Akers and the songwriting process on that album taught me more new technique and method than I've learned maybe in all my career. So Isaac is all up in Pink Lazers, both actually, and in a reverberated spirit type of way, if that makes any sense.

Around February 2014 I crashed my motorcycle and broke my hip. I was lucky. It could have been much worse. I spent the next week in the hospital, and some of the static from the nurses radio makes it on the album, making it a real trip for me, because when I initially heard those sounds I was in a strange place, and situation, and very high on drugs. Post Op, I spent almost 2 months at my parents house in Maryland. While recovering, I didn't do much work, except on the outro track “Aver Leef", which was created in one night, sitting at my childhood dinner table. It was subsequently remixed and remixed again, but that original version mixed on the fly that night, will always raise my neck hairs.

I returned to Richmond in April, got down to DRONES business with Isaac and Erik, and Lazers took a back seat that Spring / Summer. Beautiful times. Some of the happiest days I've known. Totally in love and doing really exciting musical work, and walking around with a cane. In fall I began work on Lazers again, through a severe depression that stressed my friendships and kept me in a dark place through the rest of 2014. Early 2015 I was Keeping mostly to myself in the The Compound, which is an show house that has been in the RVA community for years, and the place Isaac and I called home along with a rotating assortment of other artists. I took the same sort of approach to finishing Lazers as I did with Paulie and Mike (eyenine) on the ICEBOX album; lots of coffee, blunts and just grinding hard, barely looking up from the desk you know? In this way I fleshed out the rest of the beats and writing.

At this time, I knew the album needed and deserved to be made. However, I also felt strongly that it was lacking. Despite the uniting aspects of the Dickian samples and static work, it was still feeling like a collection of half songs. This was in January of 2015.

To Be Continued in The files on the Pink Lazers USB. You should get one if this sounds interesting to you.

credits

released March 21, 2015

Wooo. This is a big one.

All Over The Album:

Soundscape design by P.T. Burnem

Vocal Samples throughout are Phillip K. Dick giving a Speech in France in the 70's.

The Advertisements that blend in and out are from a record called "Music for Biscuits"

Almost all the samples used on this album come from movies based on Phillip K. Dick books.

All rap verses written and performed by P.T. Burnem except where otherwise noted.

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P.T. Burnem Richmond, Virginia

Al Shipley of the Baltimore City Paper called P.T. Burnem "A captivating performer, with an intense physicality matching his deep commanding voice and dark, dense production". His aggressive stage presence and articulate flow have captivated crowds as far away as Moscow, and as close as Joey's Basement. His latest record, "Ornithopter" is slated for release in Mid-February 2012. ... more

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