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Cherubim - Commentary

3k words across 5 entries.

Album commentary


u_u ~ tumut


Alex Rosetti:

i made this song its abou tcallpope shes the girl troll on the web cartonn ‘homsockers’ an she lives on the moon with her brother cazzbiborn baggin of rivendale were they play chess she isnt as good as it as cazbio l and he beats her this song is about when she was before he bit her le g fof

he is such a good goadlie and im tryhing to anticipate where hes going next i’m perfectly fine where i am im like where where wheere s your move tell me why im wrong

Carne Vale

Malcolm Brown:

The Concept

So with Cherubim, we tried something a little different to reflect the duality of the character/s in question. The album would be split into an even number of tracks grouped in pairs, and then finish off with Eternity Served Cold, to represent Caliborn’s dominance and unchaining. The pairs would represent a similar track done in two distinct styles for Calliope and Caliborn - Calliopes tracks would be considerably mellow, light, friendly, while Caliborn’s versions would be chaotic and angry.

Carne Vale mirrors RJ’s “Stellarum Salve" though only vaguely - I probably could’ve done a better job, but hopefully there’s enough recognizable lapses into SS that I treat as Calliope’s personality sorta coming back into the fray. The noticable sections are 0:00 and 1:58. Outside of that, anything pretty much went - The original ideas thrown about were a kind of crazy, OTT DnB. I ended up combining that with quite a bit of angry metal guitar, and a few spoonfuls of English (And Eternity, just for a bit of foreshadowing).

Originally I was looking into the Saw theme for inspiration, since there’s quite a lot of decent connections to be had there (Not least because of Caliborn’s escape sequence and the whole Lil’ Cal thing) - in the end I didn’t really use much of this, which is a shame because it’d probably work quite well…

The Name

The name for this guy actually has more backstory than most. The working title was “Caliburninate”. Afterwards I thought “uNCHAINED” might make a nice name, since the progression of the song made it seem an almost alternative version of Caliborn’s freedom/leg-sawing. adventure. Trouble was, Eternity Served Cold already provided the background to that, and it’d make more sense to rename EsC to “uNCHAINED” than this one (as pointed out by Toby). So that idea was dropped and still no name.

(Also, while I considered renaming EsC to ‘uNCHAINED’, I figured that guy’d been renamed enough and people were already referring to it via the ‘Eternity’ name, so I figured just leave it).

Finally I looked to the whole ICP/Juggalo angle. Latched on to the name “Carnival”, but that on its own was a bit flat, so went looking into the etymology of the word. Dug up “Carne Vale" (lit. ‘Farewell Meat’) and that was that.

It bizarrely managed to be a sort of weird mirror of “Stellarum Salve”, and be almost appropriate to the whole leg-slicing shenanighens.

The Track

Now, there was quite a lot of DmC being played while I was making this, so a lot of of inspiration came from both the new Devil May Cry and the original ones.

We start off with a minor-ised version of a sequence from Stellarum Salve, before bursting into the rising power-chord section. This is you’re typical “transformation” section where Caliborn’s personality is beginning to take over. Of note for this song is the usage of Shreddage, which I’ve been fiddling about with after Toby posted about it a while back. My setup for using it isn’t brilliant, but the Amp sim it comes with is decent enough and the recorded strings and general setup (i.e. easy support for double tracking and the like) are probably better than anything I could do with a real guitar.

At 0:45 we bring in a direct reference to Eternity/English. (The melody is English, the music box in the background is referencing the beginning of Eternity). Can’t quiet remember what I was doing for the synthy-bass in the background, but I do remember it was fairly distorted. The laughing here I’ll talk about a bit later...

1:10, and Shreddage is paying for itself with a meaty bit of rhythm guitar. Probably could’ve done a bit more variation around these sections, but it was doing a good enough job.

1:57 gives us the second Stellarum Salve reference, sort’ve mashed two bits together. Here we have a brief reprieve from the chaos as Calliope’s personality resurfaces. Then however, we get to the noisiest bit of the whole song.

2:27 and we get ready to go into full rave mode. Once the beat gets going, I decided to try a more complex riff for shreddage, a mix of power chords and lead. The synth bass also gets a bit more to do, adding a bit of panning and the then pitching it up to play a crazy arpeggiation. This bit was basically just “do something crazy”. Originally I had some laughter here too, but took it out since it was being drowned out by everything else.

3:02 and we return to a bit of sanity. The guitar solo here is again provided by shreddage and sequenced - It’s actually fairly simplistic, but adding a few articulations helps fool it into sounding a bit more believable.

3:26 and we bring our old friend Fruity Slicer back into the fray. He’s simply slicing the beat that was used throughout the song previously, while the rest of the song calms back down to another reference to English. Once that’s done, we bookend the whole thing with another reference to Stellarum Salve - Caliborn’s off back to sleep and we’re returning to Calliope again.

Now, a few other interesting things about this track (That a few people have already spotted) - firstly, it actually uses quite a few samples that come with FL Studio. Namely the percussion and the laughter. The percussion was pretty much the only example I had for the kind of drumline I was after, so it was fine.

The laughter was an interesting example - It’s from one of those collections of samples of voice that are usually terrible and added to 90s dance tracks (Shouting something random if its a male voice, like “CHECK THIS BASS!!” or “YEAH!” and moaning something incoherent if it’s female like “Oooahhhawoooahhayeah!”. Pitched up it sounded creepy enough when layered. It’s a bit cliched, but it works.

And that’s Carne Vale. An angry little shout from a little green, malevolent angel-baby. Grr. Argh.

Constant Conquest

Michael Guy Bowman:

I floated the idea for a UU + uu album last year in about June as a concept record divided in half with equal and analogous parts Calliope and Caliborn. While we really wanted to jump in and get to making more Homestuck music following Volume 9, we decided to wait and discover more of the two characters until December when Radiation re-organized the effort. He proposed the Jekyll / Hyde alternating pace of the album culminating in “Eternity Served Cold” and had the group split into pairs, each musician working with a partner on a track with the same themes and motifs.

I worked with Erik, who sent me the at-the-time unfinished Calliope composition “Constant Confinement" for me to base my Caliborn track around. Erik’s track was so meditative, it was actually difficult to recognize the slow-paced woodwind melody over the course of the piece, which pulses onward without any strict meter. This melody had to be expanded upon a lot to match the pace of "Constant Conquest" - it actually flies by at breakneck pace in the first measure of the piece before settling into its groove.

Conquest in many ways resembles Ruins Rising, another electronic track based around one of Erik’s piano compositions. Like in my approach to “Ruins" I arranged the melody sparsely and created a very dense environment of drums and percussion sounds to convert Erik’s pulse into a groove. Same input, same solution, although this time I went much, much heavier than ever before. I had a handful of different drum kits going all at once, each with unique effects chains, to create more of an ensemble sound than a clean dance beat.

What really sealed in the atmosphere of this track was the huge slather of pads that adorned the track, most of which were created using analog equipment. I fed the signal from an old Radio Shack keyboard with basic midi patches through a pawn shop guitar pedal to create the many layers of sound that fill the background. Some of the most excellent sounds on the track (especially that snarling synth at 2:57) were created by hammering the mod knobs and wah-wah pedal while playing atonal pitches. The result is distorted synth excellence.

Eternity Served Cold

Malcolm Brown:

First off, a thanks to the folk who enjoyed EsC.

Secondly, the above question’s been asked by enough folk now that’s worth commenting on. Specifically, a) Will I release the original and b) Why is it different.

So let’s get a) out of the way: Most likely - I won’t release it right now though, as that’d diminish the album release. Somewhere down the line I’ll release the original version with the original mixing, and possibly the cut ending part (Which was cut because it sounded silly :p).

Now for b):

Getting the first bit out of the way, I’ve a long way to go with learning mastering properly. What sounds ok on Headphones A might sound too bass heavy on Headphones B, absolutely lightweight on Speakers C and generally terrible on earphones Q. With a bit of effort, understand and the right equipment or software the process can be considerably better (I’m using various Dynamic Range monitors to check loudness, for example). I’m still fairly naff at it.

Now, Eternity’s one of the more complicated tracks I’ve done - It’s got quite a few opposing voices: a synth orchestra, synth and heavy percussion, rhythm and lead guitar voices, pianos, wooden and metal toned percussion, timpanies, creepy sound effects, various choirs with various articulations and so on. Getting all these noises to sound halfway decent on top of each other might’ve been a bit beyond my current skill.

When I passed the first version to Rad, he noted it was a bit quiet compared to other tracks. A few variations later (Some bass reduction because a lot of my tracks are a bit bass heavy, I blame my default headphones which have very little bass), then it was a bit anemic. Brought the bass back, tried to bring in some of the voices that were being drowned out (This is the biggest problem people have with the newer version - Some of the strings have been reduced in favour of other voices, notably in the Revelawesome section). Long story short, I didn’t have a decent setup that lets me make any mastering decisions with much confidence.

There’s also a few notable mistakes in EsC in general - Firstly, there’s simply too much strings. In some sections, there’s a high string melody, with staccato strings, more strings below that, and a cello/double bass strings bit. And a solo violin on top of that. It’s simply too much string section fighting over control of what’s going on - This was the main reason for trying to bring the french horns and oboe back into the fold. Additionally, I’m not convinced I’m using panning to its best, resulting in a very squashed mix that’s very central and doesn’t sound “spacial”, which a bit orchestral track really should.

Mastering EsC highlights that there’s large gaps in my skill for music production that I need to brush up on. This is good - It’s always good to have targets for self improvement. I’ll say right now that both versions are still considerably better than Rex Duodecim Angelus :p And essentially it’s the same deal - A synth-orchestral romp through a Homestuck medley meant to sound mean and imposing and threatening, so I won’t say I’m not improving :D.

TL:DR: Yes the old version will be released at a later date. It sounds different because I’m wishy-washy at mastering. (I’m not actually sure if I’m using that term right, I’m basing it off Peanuts)

Hope that answers ya'lls questions :)


I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this guy, so here goes:

It’s commentry time!!!

The track in general

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, I already hinted at the development of ES. It’s kind of a “Sequel” to Rex Duodecim Angelus in that it’s a gradual Medley of HS tracks arranged in some kind of sinister Boss Theme.

The track itself is split into 3 “Acts”. Act I acts as a kind of intro and goes from 0:00 to around 2:30 (As the Revelawesome section begins). Act 2 is the conflict, and ends just after “ the party is defeated” and the music turns a bit more sinister around 4:40. Act 3 is distinctly missing from the flash, but deals with the heroes comeback and eventual final conflict and resolution. The Flash ends just hope is beginning to peek through.

The obvious inspiration and basis for this track is Toby Fox’s “English” and it’s meant to be a track for LE ‘imself. As the act structure implied, it was designed for a battle with LE vs The Good Guys, but ultimately works as a “LE is doing something incredibly nasty and you guys better stay away!”

The track in more detail

I tried to be a bit more cinematic in my orchestral arrangement here. It’s far from perfect, but it’s better than previous attempts. Gotta keep pushin’ yourself I guess.

Stuff you should be able to hear:

Stuff you didn’t hear because the track ends before it gets going:

  • Doctor
  • Quite a bit of guitar

So why make another Medley fest? Quite a lot of the HS themes blend really nicely together, and we can associate a lot of events and memories with past flashes (Revelawesome was used as a kind of gag, but here’s it more sinister). I do like a good Medley, and judging from the reaction of Descend, RDA and the latest Solo Album, you guys do too!

The track was made in FL Studio. It mostly uses SoundsOnline EWQL VST libraries, namely:

  • Symphonic Orchestra
  • Symphonic Choirs (Shouty choir girls)
  • Goliath (For some of the larger percussion and sound effects)
  • Ministry of Rock (Guitar, some percussion and bass guitar)

And a few soundfonts.

When is it available?

Good question! I suspect you’ll be waiting for Volume 10 to show up, which'll materialize after the solo albums and once we’ve got enough Cherubim goodness for you.

The Name

“Eternity’s Shylock” is an odd one I’ll grant you. It’s alternative working title is “Eternity Served Cold”.

“Eternity” should be obvious. He’s a time travelling demon after all. "Shylock" is a bit more confusing and that leads us on to…

A bit of controversy with the name

“Shylock”, as many of you know, is a character from “The Merchant of Venice”. Specifically, a rather antagonistic Jewish Moneylender. You can read all about the antisemitism debate on the WIKI page but long story short, the character of Shylock has quite a bit of controversy surrounding the portrayal of the Jewish.

Now, from the name “Shylock” it’s also a slang term for “Loan Shark” - One who loans money yet charges extraordinary amounts of interest and threatens those who cannot pay the return. It was used in 20th century gangster/Mafia slang, and that’s where I pulled it from as a nice fit to Lord English. Therefore “Eternity’s Shylock” - One who gives time, only to take it back with interest. It’s a bit of a stretch, but in the end it sounded like a nice name - Mildly sinister, yet grand.

Now, my use of the term “Shylock” in this context is that of a Loan-shark. There’s been plenty of portrayals of this profession, particularly in crime dramas where one character gets in deep with one and they send round “The boys” to break some fingers etc. The name “Shylock” in this manner refers to the profession and behavior rather than the character or his religious beliefs, but I can fully believe why some people would look at the name “Shylock” with disgust, given the controversy surrounding him.

This was my bad in lack of research, and I apologize. There was certainly no insult meant if it was received.

However, it should be clear to anyone that Lord English, a time travelling threat to all existence, is not in any way implicated to be Jewish. No more so than the implication that he’s from England and has a seat in the House of Lords because of his name. He’s a green, skeletal Mafia pimp demon who flies through time in a crazy sarcophagus and vomits rainbow laz0rs.

I may be [mis]understanding the original controversy surrounding the issue, but from what I read it implied that Shylock the character and Lord English were one and the same, and that Homestuck was presenting a parallel to tMoV. The link is… Well I may not be the finest literary analyst in the world, but I don’t buy it in the slightest. And even if it was a genuinely well thought out analysis, I’d be delighted to be told exactly where in Homestuck it is implied that Lord English identifies himself as Jewish by his words or actions. Or at which point Shylock vomits lasers all over the dream ghost of Antonio.

See, it sounds absurd. Fan-speculation is a large part of the Homestuck community, but sometimes it can get a bit icky when it dives into issues of race and creed. You’re thinking about it too much, it’s a webcomic about some crazy stuff. Just chill.

honk HONK.

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