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Previous Years: 2021 - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016

Entry 2022.0001 — WINNER
Jim Eddy
Viking Dreams
Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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Original Concept:

Starting in 1960, on a black and white television, I started watching -- and loving -- the Vikings.  Reruns of movies like "The Vikings" (1958) and "The Long Ships" (1964), followed by the TV serial "Tales of the Vikings" (1959) taught me how to play, with imagination and an attention to detail, as a Viking warrior child.  I never recovered!  This album will explore my "Viking Dreams," with an hommage to these television roots, through a lifelong obsession with the Vikings and their adventures, and my eventual travels to Iceland and Scandinavia in search of Viking museums and inspiration.

Artist Post-Game:

I have some mixed feelings about this year's record, but overall I'm pleased with my effort.  The negative first:  (1) I don't record very much in general, so I needed to relearn the basics of Garage Band once gain.  So, even though I used GB last year for InCoAlMo, having forgotten how to use it, it was all new to me again; (2) I was on track to use the whole month for the project, but some emergency travel plans had me leaving my stuff from March 14-31, so I decided to push hard and get it done by March 14.  So...yeah...rushed! (3) Probably a weak excuse, but I got sick around March 10, and completed two songs with really froggy vocals at the last second, around March 13.  Yes, I can go back and fix these -- my stuff is on Bandcamp, so it is easy to fix if I want -- I'm just not sure I want to go backwards at this point.

On the positive front, I think I realized my "concept" fairly well, with all the songs reinforcing my Viking Dreams and aspirations.  I also really like singing a few of the songs, which is always nice.  There are some in there that I will be adding to my current rotation for open mics, etc.  My research led me to learn more than I was aware of previously about certain parts of the Viking sagas.  In reviewing old movie reviews of films like "The Vikings" and "The Long Ships," I found that my infatuation with these movies was largely around the action and the costumes, and less on the silly plot lines.  Not exactly a revelation, but it helps me understand how some who watched those movies might have experienced sub-standard Hollywood entertainment, while impressionable, aggressive kids in inner city Buffalo, New York might have experienced them quite differently.

Finally, I'm grateful to Joe and to this InCoAlMo group for the chance to dive deeply into these kinds of projects, stumble through how to record the damn things, and otherwise get inspired by not only my own activities here but by what the rest of you come up with.  I don't spend much time with Discord, but I do pay attention to your work, and my listening is the better for it.  So, thanks all!

Entry 2022.0002 — WINNER
KC2
InCoAlMo 2022
NJ, USA

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Original Concept:

"no title yet"

no concept yet either. really, I don't think about this challenge at all until Mar 1. :D

Artist Post-Game:

So I had a crisis of faith of sorts midway through. Do I push for a full 40 minutes of substandard product or do I abandon any hope of "winning" and just make whatever I can? I eventually concluded that I just can't release anything I won't stand by as a finished product. So I gave myself permission to just forget about the 40 minute goal. Also, I couldn't abandon this new idea I had for a workflow even though that meant a lot of time was gonna be wasted. I was worried about letting other people down if I produced less this year than last year, but at the end of the day I have to satisfy myself first.

Without going into too much technical detail, I decided early on in the month that I really like working in AUM, even though there's no timeline. I made sounds in synths, I made patterns in midi, and I feed one to the other. I made variations on the midi and then used other midi to switch between those variations. I used midi to mute parts. I found a way to use midi to trigger gradual fades and cutoffs. And to cap it off, I used midi to sequence all the above into a song. It was a bit of a crazy way to work, but I think it appealed to my programmer background - functions calling functions calling functions.

I also experimented with vocals for the first time. I recorded some lines, used midi to trigger those lines as samples, and put it through a vocoder along with additional midi to control the pitch.

I had this idea, which I haven't realized yet but I'm close, that I can have my song layer midi just be an abstract song structure and then replace the instruments and note patterns to make different songs. Again, kind of like top-down programming. If I can get that to work, I'll make a whole album of just that and we'll see if it flies. :D

So in the end I'm calling this year a win because I accomplished what I set out to do, which was push myself again in new ways to do new things. And while I don't think this year's product is a good as last years, I'm still happy with what I produced.

Entry 2022.0004 — WINNER
My Four Fastest
agree
Ann Arbor & Lexington

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Original Concept:

record an entire disco shoegaze album in a month isn't enough of a concept?

Artist Post-Game:

This album includes 12 tracks that are each inspired by a short story in Italo Calvino's "Cosmicomics". Incoalmo was a great excuse for us to put our heads together and crank out a rough album that we're now in the process of mixing and producing.

Our cover art is by our friend Mark J. Stock from his real time generated artwork 'Diaspora' <http://markjstock.com/>

Entry 2022.0007 — WINNER
Ethan Och
Max Q
Minnesota, United States

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Original Concept:

I'm not sure yet, but my starting idea that I plan to build off of is space-technology-based (I work in the space industry, so I thought it'd be fun to incorporate that somehow). Maybe I'll frame the album like a story, from launch to reentry?

Artist Post-Game:

This was a great experience! I stuck to my initial space-based album concept, and I'm very happy with the outcome. I've historically struggled with bringing musical projects from concept to completion, but I think that the time restrictions and rules imposed by the challenge helped me to remain focused. I've never made something that sounded this decent in such a short span of time. I learned a lot of neat tricks and really refined my production workflow over the past month. I'm very much looking forward to next year!

Discussing the album further, I'm torn between Hohmann, Reentry, and Touchdown for my favorite track. Hohmann has a neat "drop" that is really clean/crisp sounding. Reentry has an interesting feel with the triplets, and the tension/aggression that persists throughout is pretty cool. Touchdown was a bit of a happy accident, as it was the shortest, most-rushed (due to the deadline), and yet turned out remarkably well in my opinion. CR3BP was probably my least favorite, as I wasn't a huge fan of the bassline and the midsection, but it offered something different relative to the rest of the album. All of the tracks were pretty much exclusively created with one synth, and the percussion mostly came from a single sample pack (with some EQ and layered effects). Next year, I'd like to try exploring different synths, and I'd like to try using different samples (or create my own).

Entry 2022.0003 — PARTIAL
Joseph Mancuso
"(still TBD -- see post-game notes below)"
New Jersey, USA

Original Concept:

"TBD"

This year, i actually put my album concept up to a vote!  Folks who supported a crowdfunding campaign in which i was involved selected from a list of 8 nominees (some of which are pretty wacky, and almost all of which were submitted by one of them).

The winning concept, submitted by long-time supporter Jeff Elbel, read as follows:

"10 songs each somehow based upon, related to, influenced by, explaining, or spinning off from a character found in (artwork or lyrics from) one Rush album. The list of albums must include Rush, 2112, Moving Pictures, and Clockwork Angels."

The victory was by a narrow margin (1 vote of 22 cast plus 4 abstentions), with the runners up being tied between an album of songs about how other songs could've been better (submitted by Dave Morris) and a concept described simply as "Girls, Cars, and Surfing" (also submitted by Jeff Elbel).  Thanks also to Jason Larke for submitting a great concept nominee.

Artist Post-Game:

I was honestly on fence about whether i should call this year's record a WINNER or a PARTIAL, but because i didn't fully complete what i set out to do, i feel like it's more fair to fall back to the latter.

In terms of the challenge, i did successfully write and record the 10 songs as stipulated by Jeff Elbel's winning concept submission.  In terms of the created material, i successfully met the Rules of 40, 30, 20, and 10, as well, and did so by approximately 2152 EDT on 31 March, before the challenge deadline.

Unfortunately, just after the Equinox, my work was set back by (what is best described as) a very sudden death in the family, and the resulting hit to my production schedule wasn't fully recoverable.  While i was able to record my material on time and even get some rough mixes by ~0115 EDT on 01 April (which, given the EST-to-EDT conversion mid-month, is technically only 15 minutes late, for which i'd normally just call Rule of 0), i did not at all have time to correctly mix the album.  In the past, i've called albums "done" prior to being mastered, but they've always at least gotten to final (enough) mix.  This one definitely isn't final in that regard, so i can't call it really "done" until it's properly mixed.  I suppose one could claim that my rough-mix drop of the record is technically a complete "version" of the album, which is why i say i could theoretically call this a WINNER. ... but in the end, it doesn't really matter.

What matters is that -- despite a very difficult ending to the month -- i wrote and minimally rendered a record with which i'm very happy in terms of capturing my vision.  As usual, many performances could've been better and all that, but i'm extremely pleased with how the composition and writing turned out.  Jeff's concept was incredibly fun to work with, and inspired a wide variety of fun (at least for me) pieces, including some in genres that i might call sloppy jazz, early-70s rock, punkadilly, tribute filk, and pseudo-world minimalist trance-funk-scat.  As is often the case with my InCoAlMo records, i found the ideas and creative process inspired by the concept to be very rewarding, and feel that with more serious production, this could be an album i'd be very happy to promote.  I'm hoping that, since i can take more time with final mixing this year, i might get closer than ever to a "serious" final product (at the cost, of course, of my first-ever InCoAlMo without a WINNER on the record books).  Ç'est la vie.  :)

Entry 2022.0009 — PARTIAL
Uncle Sixer
Guitar Heroes
The Guest Room Studio

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Original Concept:

"Working Title"

A month (or so) of music.  Cover tunes will be played, unfinished projects will get almost-finished, the band is working on an expanded repertoire, jazz band rehearsals will be ramping-up, I want to produce better/more efficiently...  rules will, of course, be broken.

enormous expectations will soon be tempered by reality...

Artist Post-Game:

This was originally going to be a month of band practices (which, thanks to our lead singer, would all be live, played in a room together and multi-tracked as vox, bu vox, 2-3 guitar tracks, bass, and stereo drums... yes, he has a lot of expensive toys), brought home to my daw to cherry-pick our best run-throughs, fine tune the mix, and put together 2+ hours of music to represent where we are.  For several reasons, that just became impractical and I lost my aspirations to work in that direction.

So, this is a month of side projects.  Actually, "Side Projects" was a possible title at one point.  This is all very intentionally NOT what my band is doing because I decided to keep that separate to avoid inevitable frustrations.

I had actually "put the daw away" for a while there since November (long story) and was looking forward to INCOALMO as a good motivator to get moving with things.  The other motivator was my friend/band-mate, Doug, who suggested he and I do a little side project together... which is the last track (What Is And What Should Never Be, our singer won't do Robert Plant style, but we have some singers in mind to finish it and I am open to nearly anyone throwing a vox track on there for snickers and giggles), it is the only track with someone else playing, the only track I consider unfinished, and full disclosure: started the last weekend of Feb.  I still consider the bass line a scratch track and Doug thinks he has some better takes in him, but it is a cool Zep cover and we will polish it up when the time is right.

As for the other four songs, they represent "silly stuff I do with my daw once the kids are in bed and I can go put the headphones on and play for a bit before my bedtime".  I had a lot of fun with those and behind the scenes, I am continuing to improve workflow, automations, and all kinds of other cool stuff.

Big advances from last year:
1)  A better Drum plugin, better drum routing in the daw, better compression, gated snare (sometimes) and other percussion such as claps, tambourine, etc, better eq control on drum channels, better dynamics and more humanized sound (hopefully)
2)  Better guitar eq, delay, etc... some with my cool new pedalboard, some in the daw... all items recorded direct and had amp/spk simulation added after, also loop-style recording is now something I programmed as a custom action
3)  Bass tracks now have things like analog-style saturation and compression sidechained to the drums for dynamic control
4)  Master tracks (busses) are run through one master limiter that is pretty easy to tune, along with some other nice master track plugins.  A reverb bus is used which puts everything "in the same room" instead of having several different reverbs.  I have tuned-up things like delay times and reverb dwell to fit songs/tempos better.
5)  Automation Envelopes... wow, what I have found out can be automated has continually blown my mind over the last few months.  I will spare you all the details, but EVERY parameter of EVERY plugin can be manipulated and automation is both a creative tool and a problem-solver.  In particular, the tempo envelopes for The Wall Trilogy and What Is And What Should Never Be were critical!
6)  Templates for tracks and templates for full projects make getting things moving so much faster.  I have a template for guitar that already has a high pass/low pass eq and amp sim inserted and the template is set to record from the first input of my daw where the guitar always gets plugged in.  I have a bunch of very user-friendly templates now, along with plugin chains and plugin presets...

So that is a bunch of nerdy stuff, but I think I need the nerdy stuff to capture the creative stuff.

I had a lot of fun last month and appreciate all the work and inspiration from the INCOALMO community.  Thanks for the listens and the feedback.  Thanks for giving me a good excuse to listen to music outside of my usual taste.  Thanks especially to Joe and Jeff for the effort and organization involved in all this!

Entry 2022.0014 — PARTIAL
Lionbelly
Fistful of Beaks
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Original Concept:

I am going to try and fuse my love of horror fiction with my love of music and see what happens. The rule is, though, that the songs have to be "about" something deeper than whatever plot or vibe is happening. Fingers crossed!

Artist Post-Game:

Well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that I failed to complete the project. The good news is that I did manage to sketch out a bunch of it and record several pieces that are in various stages of being done. I've decided to post this mess for fun and in the spirit of InCoAlMo. Please keep in mind that I'm not the greatest singer on the best of days, and in this case many of the existing vocals were meant as roughs so I could work on the arrangements around them. Whoops!

The plot of the concept album is/was supposed to be this: A guy who is stressed out by his job and runs away to get some rest, a woman who attempted to shoot the crime boss who killed her father-but missed, and the aforementioned crime boss all collide in a small country village. Turns out the quaint village is actually run by a vicious religious cult who are on the lookout for humans to sacrifice to their goddess.

Basically, it was going to be a mashup of a crime story and a folk horror story (two of my favorite genres of fiction). There was going to be dialog and such added in several places (hence the instrumental sections sprinkled throughout) which would help tell the story.

There you have it. Much fun was had, but I just didn't have the available free hours to finish my project this year. I may come back to it, we'll see...

Onward and upward!

Bri

Entry 2022.0005 — Registered!
Paul
If Music be the Food of Love... Play On
Michigan

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Original Concept:

The album will be four or five suites inspired by Shakespeare's plays- currently thinking of using King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and maybe one more.

Entry 2022.0006 — Registered!
TA Walker
"Holding Centre"
England

Original Concept:

I *was* going to make this album under my "alt-folk with an English 'spritz'" side-project, Mannerbourne, then thought that as I'm both a guitarist and a vintage synth-nerd, and play a lot of ambient guitar and guitar-synth, as well as being really into prog-synth-instrumental stuff (Mike Oldfield, JM Jarre, Tangerine Dream, David Bedford, Ashra, etc.)... I should make an instrumental prog album loosely inspired by Anglo-Saxon poetry - The Battle Of Maldon, The Dream Of The Rood, etc. Well... a week into the challenge, and I've got absolutely nowhere with that, so I'm going to fall back on a loose concept of "delicate, almost ambient songs and pieces, providing comfort for uncertain times".

Entry 2022.0010 — Registered!
Josh Goodman
"Not yet created"
Sacramento, CA

Original Concept:

Not yet created

Entry 2022.0011 — Registered!
Jeff Rogers
"The Coast with the Most"
El Granada, CA

Original Concept:

I've recently started taking more regular walks on some of the many trails within a very short distance of my home.  I'm treated to great views, being outdoors, and hopefully better health.  And at the same time, inspired - so many great places to go just outside my door.

So this year, I'm going to try and come up with a few songs inspired by the beautiful area that I live in, maybe even recording some sounds from the outdoors ... we'll see!

Entry 2022.0012 — Registered!
Fear of Blushing
"Queen of the Cardboard Jungle"
Astoria, NY

Original Concept:

Twelve songs about imaginary friends. Embracing a more live-band sound with pink floral notes.

Entry 2022.0013
J. K. L. Smith
"Songs For My Friends"
Minneapolis or wherever

Original Concept:

An album of songs that I think my friends will like, or, at least, that I want my friends to like. I want to create from a place of love, and I love my friends. Also, it's easier for me to do things for the benefit of others than for the benefit of myself. I'll deal with that handicap once I've written some songs. One thing at a time.

Artist Post-Game:

Good news: some lyrics got written, and some melodies came into being that didn't exist before.
Bad news: I just do not have access to any spaces suitable for recording. I'll keep trying to make things, though.

Previous Years: 2021 - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016