This week I did something that I haven’t done in years. I bought some music. I mean sure, I do pay for music by subscribing to Spotify premium and buying tickets to live concerts. But I hadn’t purchased some music to have and to hold since I don’t know when.

The album that changed that for me this week is called All Melody by Nils Frahm. It’s music I’ve been listening to for the better part of a year now. I keep returning to it, and I keep liking it more and more. The songs are hauntingly beautiful and subtly crafted, with each note and shift ringing out with crystal clear purpose. You should listen to it.

I finally reached a breaking point with my affection towards this music and decided that I was no longer content to just listen to it. I wanted to play with it. I wanted to stretch it, reverse it, compress it, shift it, bop it, twist it, and pull it. You can’t do this stuff on Spotify—you have to have the audio file.

Quick side-note: There’s a similarity here to dating vs. being in a relationship. Listening to music on Spotify is like dating. You experience the music or person in the nice, curated way in which they want to be experienced. You’re also likely listening to other artists on Spotify (dating around), and you can walk away from any one artist whenever you’re tired of them. But purchasing music—now that is a relationship baby! All of a sudden you can truly take this music/person wherever you go. You can burn it on to a CD and play it in your friend’s 2007 Toyota Corolla, you can put it on your weird Chinese handheld mp3 player, or yeah, you can still play it on your phone. You can also hear this music from totally new, and deeper angles— you can slow it down, speed it up, and put it in reverse. Some of these new angles will be uglier, and some of them will be even more beautiful.

Disclaimer: I know more about music than I do about relationships.

Anyway, upon purchasing and downloading All Melody I was delighted to discover that the download included liner notes. I had a keen sense of nostalgia as I was reading them—remembering all of the CD’s I bought and insert-booklets I read. I also learned a little bit about Frahm and his recording process. For instance he does his recording in the historic Funkhaus Berlin recording studio, only records in one take, and only uses real chambers for reverb in the studio—all things that add an atypical depth of life to his electronic music.

Yet I was most struck with his articulation of a timeless conundrum in the artistic process. For creators, the music in the speakers, or picture on the canvas, or movie on the screen will never quite live up to the image which we have in our heads. These are his words:

“All Melody was imagined to be so many things over time, and it has been a whole lot, but never exactly what I planned it to be. I wanted to hear beautiful drums, drums I’ve never seen or heard before, accompanied by human voices, girls, and boys. They would sing a song from this very world and it would sound like it was from a different space. I heard a synthesiser which sounds like a harmonium playing the All Melody, melting together with a line of a harmonium sounding like a synthesiser. My pipe organ would turn into a drum machine, while my drum machine would sound like an orchestra of breathy flutes. I would turn my piano into my very voice, and any voice into a ringing string. The music I hear inside me will never end up on a record, as it seems I can only play it for myself.”

My song this week (Lucas speaking now) feels like a textbook example of this very conundrum. I had high hopes for it, and I think there are certainly redeeming qualities to it, but it is not what I hear in my head. Oh well, here’s to getting closer next week.

Finally, I want to extend an extra special thanks to my buddy Jonathan Gardner for providing the buttery bowed bass you hear on this track.

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Well, I live in New York now. So far I’ve spent most of my time lazing in Central Park, exploring the NYU campus in Greenwich Village, or piecing together my tiny bedroom in my Upper West Side apartment (pictured above). All summer I’ve been excited about this move and proud of myself for taking this leap, but I confess I didn’t (and still don’t) know what I was getting myself into. I suppose a naive part of me expected that I would arrive and immediately begin walking down a clearly paved road to musical success. In reality, I’ve just been trying to figure out how to properly feed, clothe, shelter, and transport myself in this enormous city. I’ve been here for just over a week, and every day I oscillate between being a giddy tourist and a homesick child. I walk around stupefied by the iconic streets full of hip beautiful people, I constantly screw up on the subway, and I miss my family and friends to the point of tears.

And still, I’m so happy to be here. I know that eventually I am going to figure out the subway, I’ll learn where/when to go to the grocery store, I’ll make great new friends, and I’ll start to feel like my tiny closet of a bedroom is a cozy home. Many of my now effortful actions will change into natural routines. What will not change is the fact that I am living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, surrounded by rich culture and a talented, driven, diverse population. I have every resource I could hope for to help me fulfill my dream of musical success: world renowned instructors, innumerable venues, plenty of talented collaborators, and a potentially vast audience of music fans. I have a sense that if I am not successful here, it will be my own fault. This city is full opportunities for me and I believe that I’m going to be rewarded if I only work hard and consistently choose to step out of my comfort zone. Frankly, my dream is to write, record, and perform music all over the world, and I think I’m in the best possible place to make that dream a reality.

This is where you come in precious reader. I’m going to document my musical life and thoughts once a week in this blog, and I need you and everyone else to read it. Sure I could try to hold myself accountable to my goals on my own, but I’d likely end up frequently binge watching any of the brilliant shows available in this golden age of television instead. I wish I were entirely self-motivated, but the fact is, if I know I have an audience, I’m going to try a lot harder. In exchange for your readership, I’ll offer you delightfully useless observations (e.g. New Yorkers won’t make eye contact with you until they are slowly rolling out of your life forever on a subway car— and then it’s nothing but blazing eye contact), as well as priceless nuggets of wisdom (sometimes). You’ll also have a candid look at my life as I rise from Lucas Murray levels of obscurity to Kanye West levels of international superstardom and egotistical delusion.

Finally, I’m going to cap off each weekly blog post with a playlist. I’ve adopted the city-wide habit of walking around with my headphones in— I put all of my music on shuffle, and am consistently delighted by the synchronicity of the random song I’m listening to and my outside environment. Thus, the songs that I’ll include in each playlist are the songs that were most significant or enjoyable to me that week as I roamed the city. And like New York itself, this playlist is going to be diverse, including both old and new songs from a variety of styles. You can find each playlist at the bottom of my blog posts, or follow me on Spotify and find the weekly playlists there if you’re interested in hearing the songs but don’t want to read the blog (you lazy so and so), or if you you like, I can even burn it on to a CD and mail it to you because I’m cool like that (just shoot me an email).

So if you believe in me like I believe in me, please follow this blog, share it with your friends, family, and rich patrons, and don’t be afraid to contact me with any questions, comments, or words of encouragement. Also, if you don’t believe in me or just plain dislike me, please follow this blog, diss me often in the comments section, and judge me as I shamelessly try to pursue my foolish dream of musical success. Whether friend or foe, WordPress user or not, if you would, please go push that follow button at the top right of this post, drop me your email, and then tune in each week for a new post. Thank you!

And here is this week’s playlist: