Clocks Striking 13: A 10 Year Retrospective

Clocks Striking 13

One of my earliest musical idols was Joe Satriani. Satch. Satchmo. After picking up the guitar mid-way through high school, I began to get into the instrumental guitar music scene. Crystal Planet was one of my first purchases during this period in my life, and I listened to it quite a bit. By that, I mean track 8, “Ceremony”, which just went on loop for weeks before ever listening to any other track. I had heard it before buying the CD (ha, CDs!) and just laser-focused in on it.

I’m a bit obsessive about putting off pleasure and that track was so perfect in and of itself that I wanted to delay the rest of the album both to prolong the ensuing joy it would most likely bring, but to also wring out every bit of happiness that one specific song could bring to me.

Spoiler alert! The rest of the album was fantastic, too.

Satriani and his contemporaries (people like Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and John Petrucci) all took playing the guitar to a new art form for me. Sure, it’s often indulgent and it’s definitely not popular, but once you start seriously playing guitar, it’s hard not to find your way into their world for a spell.

I started writing my own music on the guitar a few years after I picked one up for the first time. My mountain of tablature of popular music had been rifled through enough, and I was itching to try out some original licks and riffs. Those initial ideas are what became Clocks Striking 13. Thus, for a month in the middle of 2002, I used a recently-purchased copy of Cakewalk’s Guitar Tracks 2 (replete with Drag ‘n’ Drop Drummer Lite!), a Fender Strat, and many drum loops to make my masterpiece.

Of course, it’s not really a masterpiece, but it’s a fully-realized work that I still hold dear to this day. Just its very existence gave me the confidence to continue making music for another 10 years. Since then I’ve made 10+ collections of music, branching out from just guitar wankery and into sequenced electronica, orchestral stuff, and experimental diversions here and there.

It’s odd, though: listening to CS13 again today, despite the lack of a real bass guitar, repetitive drum and guitar lines, and uneven mixing, it still sounds all right. I’ve never been one for boning up on the recording engineer side of things, so my mixing/mastering skills still fall short even today. In fact, even my guitar playing abilities don’t seem much better than they did in 2002. I spent a lot of time during high school and college playing a lot of guitar, so my skills probably peaked around the time of recording this album. Back then I was probably practicing every day for an hour or more, whereas today I’m lucky to get an hour in a week.

Regardless, it’s nice to get CS13 on Bandcamp alongside my more recent stuff because it’s really the grand-daddy of all of them. There was a time when I didn’t think I could make an album all by myself. Making singles here and there was more my speed, but CS13 changed all that. And no, I didn’t get the idea for the title from 1984. It’s actually just a weird coincidence.

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