Sometimes they call me Slam Jamsen

Salvage Operation EP album art

Graffiti Labs is shutting down next month. I’ll be spending June looking for a new job (edit: found one!) and honing my audio engineering skills.

As my first act of freedom, I’m releasing Slam Jamsen’s Salvage Operation EP!

This is a collection of “bedroom tapes” made between 2005 and 2009. The popular vision of a budding high school rock musician is a guitarist sitting on a bed writing bad love songs, but in my case, I was at a desk with a low-end Mac and a MIDI keyboard, sharing the room with two more computers and a treadmill, writing bad video game soundtracks.

Since the rise of the 4-track, the cost of making decent home recordings has fallen at different rates for different genres. As a so-so piano student and early-to-mid-‘00s Mac user, my options were limited at first to MIDI editors. When Apple’s Garageband program came out, and I finally got a copy, I discovered the world of software synthesizers.

Video game development was my other major hobby at the time, so it seemed obvious that I should write my own soundtracks. (Otherwise, I wouldn’t have soundtracks at all, given my $0 budget.) My modus operandi was to constantly write songs for soundtracks for games that didn’t exist yet, and pull out the best ones from my catalogue when I actually made a game.

Four of the tracks on this EP come from that process. Duty Calls was made for Escort Wing, a game designed and mostly programmed by Will Hogben. Glue Me Together and The Creature Sneaks were made for gw0rp, my entry into uDevGames 2008. Catastrophe Prelude was never used for anything, but written for a nonexistent game.

In 2007, I built a Blue Man Group-style PVC instrument for a science competition. Once built, it was too tempting to pass up making music with it, so I wrote Parakeet in the E.R., Unsolved, and a few more songs that don’t appear on this EP. Those tracks also feature my classmates Amanda Andrews with bizarro-world guitar parts, and Eric Baize with an ocarina. My brother Phil played the bluesy intro to Unsolved. “Wheeee!” was made in the same batch, but doesn’t feature the PVC instrument.

That just leaves The Five Dollar Song, which I’ll just say was mostly written and played by Phil, with contributions from me, around 2005.

Good free synthesizers that appear on this EP and are still around include daHornet, Automat, and Remedy.