__                          _____                                     
  ______/  |_  ____ _______  _____ _/ ____\ ____ _______  _____   ____ _______ 
 /  ___/   __\/ __ \\_  __ \/     \\   __\ / __ \\_  __ \/     \_/ __ \\_  __ \
 \___ \ |  | (  \_\ )|  | \/  | |  \|  |  (  \_\ )|  | \/  | |  \  ___/_|  | \/
/____  \|__|  \____/ |__|  |__|_|  /|_ |   \____/ |__|  |__|_|  /\___  /|__|   
     \/                          \/   \/                      \/     \/        


Here’s a selection of some old stuff that I’m proud of:

mr_mark_dollin – Music Archive

Between 1996 to 2012, from the ages of 16 to 32, I created and posted music under the name of mr_mark_dollin (or mmd for short). For quite some time, the works I put out there on the internet were available via markdollin.com – which is a domain name I have unfortunately lost control of. So, in the spirit of honouring this phase of my creative work, I have gathered a ‘mmd archive’ here for public reference. These are not all of the songs I wrote in that period, but what is here does best represent my creative evolution.

All these works were created in my ‘home studios’ (bedrooms, living rooms and other make-shift spaces), representing a journey of learning how to write, record, program, produce, mix and master my own music. The majority were made on primitive digital sampling software called ‘trackers’; so early work in particular lacks the gloss of modern digital fidelity and DSP effects; and lacking from my own side with limited musical ability and mixing technique.

The earlier music contains elements of personality best described as immature or embarrassing. Music was a therapeutic catharsis for me; awkwardly finding myself and documenting as I went along. It’s my opinion that I’ve grown and changed for the better as a person since these early days, so for me looking back at these it’s difficult to not cringe. These songs don’t represent who I am now.

Nevertheless, I can recognise a certain mad courage in what I did create within limited means, and still like many little moments of musical daring. I present them below in chronological order with some annotations:

Amoeba – 1998

Amoeba was created in August 1998 under the name of 8733902 for submission as a major work for my year 12 high school art project. All the was music created using Fast Tracker II using 8 or 16bit samples. The original work included a 24 page CD booklet with black and white industrial photography, digitally modified in an early version of Photoshop. I got help from Tony Petrisic, whom was the only person in the region that had a CD-burner at the time. I remember taking a PC to Tony and playing out the music from a soundblaster via an aux cable into his Mac (hence the buffer-under-runs you can hear), and then waiting 5 hours for the CD to burn! I intended the music to be a complement to the dark moody industrial photography and poetry: so it sounds more like a experimental ambient soundtrack rather than ‘traditional songs’.

Puddles – 2000

Puddles was my first full album made with the intent to achieve completing a unified album. It is made up of tracks that I had been working on from 1997 up to when it was finished in April 2000. Puddles was made using Fast Tracker II (FT2), and by this stage I was using other software to work on samples, such as Cool Edit Pro, Soundforge, and generating sounds out of ReBirth RB-338. I was starting to record my guitar and voice, albeit with significant difficulty. FT2 didn’t allow for recording while the song played back, so I had to put the songs on cassette, play them back on headphones while recording my voice back into the sampler. I would have to guess at trimming the sample length correctly to get them to sync up with the music. With a very cheap and tiny microphone and my terrible singing, it wasn’t a great result. I’d also be pushing FT2 to it’s limit, with many of these songs right up to their maximum file size limit of 10MB.

I’m not very proud of my lyrics here (Object makes me want to die of cringe in particular). It’s clear that I hadn’t processed enough feminist theory and done more patriarchy de-programming by that age; but, this was me in my late teens trying to figure that out, in an ugly way. I am still proud of what I pulled off in the music despite my limitations. Some moment I still like are: Can’t Wait with its big uplifting energy; A Teacup In a Storm with its cheesy doom; the melancholy in Obviously; the mad genre-hopping in You Make Me Feel Like A Man (Sometimes); the sad dark groove in Student X; and the epic apocalyptic rock drama in H.E.H.F.

I’ve still yet to really follow up this album, all these years later. I’ve not yet finished an album that will be intended as a traditional set of ‘songs’, inter-relating with one another in a cohesive whole. I’m still working on them!

Pornography And Other Corporate Nonsenses – 2000

This was an album that happened very quickly during late 2000, where I was churning out experimental music without an ‘album master plan’. To be honest I was pretty depressed and working through some ugly edgelord behaviour that was masquerading as absurdist arty sophistication. The music is unfiltered expression: a noisy anti-everything joke that attempts to prank everyone, including myself. I was struggling to make sense of the veneer of the polished corporate world juxtaposed against it’s sleazy underbelly. This is the hideous and confused result.

Down Dirty: Mindfuck Remix features a vocal sample of a fellow tracker musician Marc Crouch. His song ‘Down Dirty’ was a romantic smooth jazz piece, so of course my version tried to be the opposite of that. Track 6: Man Gets On Bus was made with fellow college student Michael Kortt – Michael and I made this after trying to find a song off the Fight Club soundtrack while drunk one night, with him saying “put that one on where he gets on the bus! I think it’s track 6!” – and of course there’s no song title with that name, nor was it track 6. So… I decided to make up a replacement song, with Michael reading out my twisted poem.

Alongside the thematic edginess, there’s a lot of sonic limit-pushing with this album. I was bending Fast Tracker II to extremes, using strange techniques to make the music software to spit out odd sounds; turning sample-data inside-out to make uniquely distorted audio; and breaking all sorts of musical and production conventions to make ‘rude music’ or anti-music. While it’s a listen not for the faint-hearted, I look back on this as accidentally complete and unified piece of weird-art.

Smargaid Maerd – 2002

Smargaid Maerd is the first in the Dream Diagrams Trilogy. During 2001-2002 I was busy. I was working on some ambitious song ideas for a follow up to Puddles that weren’t finishing quickly, forming the music-art collective [tqr], and doing improv-rock recordings with a band called Pneumatic Bell. I was getting the urge to actually finish something that didn’t require a lot of effort. So, mostly during 2002 I made this album.

It was a happier time in my life, and I was getting a lot time and space to tune-in to music, art and theory that was rapidly broadening my horizons. I was really getting into the work of David Lynch, exploring subtle states of consciousness, dreams, nature and euphoria. I remember a lot creativity coming out of being enthralled with atmosphere from situations such as late afternoon sunlight, autumn leaves, wind, rooms and places empty of people, rain on trees at night lit by electric lights, distance, dreamy half-awake states. I channelled these feelings into music that was written very quickly, often done so in tiredness to attempt letting a dream be diagrammed. The songs were mostly improvisational, focusing on mood. Lynch fans will note a lot of trickery going on here with things that work going backwards, and then differently going forward.

Two [tqr] alumni are featured here. The album is book-ended by songs using a smeared and glitched sampling of Martin Kidd’s joke song ‘I Like Cheese’. Pneumatic Bell is a cover of an unreleased song by my friend Simon Floth – I wish the vocals on this were better and didn’t sound like I had a cold and was half asleep. Simon was a massive influence at this time, both musically and for helping me improve my music production technique and equipment.

The Postmodern Blues is the only track built using Fast Tracker II, while the rest the tracks were built using Fruity Loops 3, with some of them getting extra recorded layers using Cool Edit Pro. This was the first time I got access to real-time DSP effects – so you can hear me trying to make sense of that extra ability everywhere, with lush reverbs, echoes, distortions, filters and compression.

2 Smargaid Maerd – 2004

2 Smargaid Maerd is the second in the Dream Diagrams Trilogy. Made from late 2002, mostly during 2003, with some of the more challenging songs taking their time during 2004, I made this in between working on more ambitious songs that still have to see a release – so again many of these tracks were made quickly using improvisation. Originally intended to go on two CDs (labelled Consciousness and Unconsciousness), with tracks 1 through 15 being more like traditional ‘songs’ of the first disc, and tracks 16 through 19 of the second disc as monotonous ambient pieces for use while sleeping. Three remixes were later to the end of the playlist as bonus content, My Heart Only Beats For You being a real favourite of mine.

This was a time of personal struggle, which I won’t go into the detail of here, but I think a range of negative emotions found there way into the music – so the album lacks the ‘just vibes’ euphoria of the first Dream Diagrams album. Nevertheless, I tried a lot harder with these songs to evolve them beyond mere ‘dream sketches’, by adding guitar, piano and synth solos, and a lot more spoken and sung vocals. I channelled a lot more resigned emotion into the music, seeking to capture the cold and wet melancholy of the high altitude place where I was living. There were also moments of gentle levity and hope, with songs like Way Out, My Heart Beats Only For You and Electronic Rural Sunshower.

Altitude Aria and If Not When features guitar, singing and writing by [tqr] alumni Ryan Sanders. At the time Ryan was writing dreamy shoe-gaze music that had a significant influence on this album.

Aside from Electronic Rural Sunshower being made in Fruity Loops, this album was more using early versions of Renoise, a new software that married the old tracker technique of programming that I was confident with, along with 32bit DSP real-time effects and synths. Again then everything had additional layers of recording done in Cool Edit Pro, which later turned into Adobe Audition. I had a lot more confidence with everything, and even some of the vocals were ok-ish. I started to experiment with tape-loop emulation, to allow collisions of musical ideas to happen unexpectedly. I have fond memories of recording the college pianos for songs like Rain Is Good For My Mental Health, Depressed and Mount Hotham. And finally, I am most proud of [Sleep Is God] as the closer for the first disc, pushing myself to do a long epic song about taking afternoon naps, and layering more sung vocals than I’d ever done prior.

Futurology – 2005

Futurology was a strange detour for me – again I was slowly working on more ambitious projects beyond my ability during 2004 and 2005. Frustrated with not being able to finish stuff, I leapt at the opportunity to make an experimental album to contribute to a DJ/artist friend, Michael Carlier [sp?] for his ‘Arc’ project. Mikey deejayed at a local community radio station I also presented at (we had shows next to each other one evening). Instead of playing one song at a time, he’d layer up many at once, usually one with a heavy beat as a ‘main focus’, and others serving a variety of textual functions, leaving their collisions up to chance, and letting a ‘soundfield’ happen for the listener to graze upon. He called this technique ‘Arc’ and I was very fascinated by this. A few times I would jam along with my electric guitar and loads of effects in live improvisation, but he would push me to ‘play less musically’. I remember being frustrated by the sonic limitations of guitar, so I went to work making tracks that experimented with sonic texture as their main focus. Hence, Futurology is not six ‘songs’, but six strange entities, designed to be used by ‘Arc’ DJs that could spin them as ‘layers’.

Building upon what I’d already done with the Unconsciousness tracks from 2 Smargaid Maerd, I experimented with tape loops, generative processes, randomness, noise and glitch. It’s a cold and monotonous listen, un-musical; but I guess that reflected what was going on with my life at the time. There’s some of that sad awkward darkness coming through A Machine Contradicted. But, this gets contrasted with some sonic silliness performed by my ornithological friend Dr Jarrad Cousin, whom one day took opportunity to go crazy with my microphone and pitch shifting effects. Jarrad’s presence here inspired much on the album, as I took many field trips with him into nature. Following on from that, there was a thematic exploration into environmentalism, and a possible futures of dystopic environmental collapse.

3 Smargaid Maerd – 2008

3 Smargaid Maerd is the third and final album of the Dream Diagrams Trilogy. Again, much of this was quickly done on the side while struggling with other ambitious songs. spanning from 2006 to 2008. The first 11 tracks follow the ‘intuitive’ dreamy approach, mining moods via improvisation and half-awake states. The final three tracks have some elements of that, but are much more traditional melodic ‘songs’. This album leans heaviest into tape-loop experiments built around live guitar improvisation – very much seeking to emulate the approach of Fripp. Loopzilla is the nickname for my Boss RC-50 loop-station, which is all over this album. The album also features heavily a newly acquired Ibanez GIO electric bass guitar and a modified Jackson DK2S electric guitar.

The two final tracks are special to me.

Long started from a sad guitar phrase I happened upon while jamming with some friends that were pounding away on a heavy G groove. I worked for months building out a large song structure that had both swing and melancholic longing. I’m really proud of the sung vocals and lead guitar.

Meteor Shower came to me as a powerful moment of inspiration. I got up in the middle of the night to try to catch the best time to see a predicted meteor shower, but luck would have it I didn’t see any. However, the crisp icy night sky was dazzling, and I returned to sleep dreaming of the stars. Later in the morning I had a rare dream of composing music, and the chords of Meteor Shower emerged in the dream. I was so lucky to gently wake out of this dream remembering the chords, so I went straight to the studio and captured them. Then, I started hearing a melody in mind to go with the chords, and I improvised out the notes on the guitar and the result is what you hear! I have some musical friends to thank for helping me evolve Meteor Shower: with Jarrad Cousin helping me find the swing beat, and tracker legend Mick Rippon giving me suggestions to try certain thematic embellishments.

I find it hard to listen to the rest of this album without reliving the hope, loneliness, excitement and pain that happened during this time of my life, so it’s hard for me to know how it may sound and feel to others. Some things in life had run their course and not work out (perhaps they were doomed to not work out at all?), and I had run my course experimenting with dreamy intuitive music that sat somewhere between noodling jams and ‘songs’. I am grateful for experiences I had, the help that I had, and the learnings from it all.

No Options Left – 2011

No Options Left is my musical homage to Arvo Pärt, an Estonian classical composer. Pärt has astounding artfulness in being able to take musical systems (e.g. patterns, phrases, rules, etc) that logically ‘expand’ over time without sounding dry or mechanical. I would go as far as to say that it’s some of the most intensely emotional music I’ve ever heard. This song follows that play-book in my own way, focusing on a stormy mix of drum-kit, FM synth, flute, harpsichord, bass synth and organ.

The song represents a transitional time in my life, processing loss, and struggling to see the way forward. I’ve survived that time: while the music tracked toward a doomed finality, I made sure to leave open a wide open atmosphere for new storms to form.

Ghost Debts Rehaunted – 2011

Talk about nerdy! The original version of this song is call Ghost Debts and is a ‘xrns file’ that can only be played back on the music software Renoise. A niche internet community had clustered around Renoise, representing a branch of ‘tracker culture’. This culture saw nerdy flexing with how far one could push the software to do extreme and impressive things. A common version of that was to make ‘demo songs’ from as small amount of sample data as possible, using the code to make as fleshed out song. I can’t remember the context exactly, but one day I participated in such a nerd flex. Ghost Debts was made entirely from one single hand-drawn looped sine-wave. It was a bit like trying to build a palace with just grains of sand, but I managed to make percussion and instruments happen. Ghost Debts Rehaunted is the same ‘song’ with some minor mix-tweaks, rendering and mastering.

This song was the end of the road for me using Renoise as the main software to make music. I had hit the technical limit. I had run out of that kind of creative steam. Most of the remaining unfinished projects I was working on were leaning toward needing a traditional DAW work-process to capture musical performances of guitars, vocals and synths. A year later I switched over to using Reaper, and music making changed from being vertical to horizontal.

Thank you for listening.



All content on this website, unless otherwise specified, is covered by the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license for Stormformer Productions, 2024.