Sunday, December 20, 2009

Momentuum's Momentuum


Ice Miner Suite

-The Story of the Ice Miner

- The world has lost most of it's drinking water, creating a new career - Ice Mining on the moon....

-Tuu Section

--- still rough, needs to be arranged, a project for Josh


- Shapeshifter? No, shift-shaper...


- like Bach, we recycle our music


--- The Ellipsis returns


--- finally, on an album! Perhaps the second track to be released...


- in 5, well mostly.


- Josh tried to demo this one. Shot down, this needs to happen with Nic....


- Originally an improv at Dana St. Almost complete and ready for recording! Oh yeah, lyrics....

Momentuum **

- Josh needs to expand on this one. The idea was written at his studio, then brought to Fractal and improv-ed at Dana St, soon to be reprov-ed...


- Paul’s mash and gravy. An Englishman's delight....


- Watch the wheels go the other way, but the car continues forward.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The closing and title piece for Fractal's first CD, Continuum is a popular live choice that is often played when an encore is called for...

Musically, Continuum is an atmospheric driving instrumental in an odd time signature, which represents a distillation of Fractal's evolution when it was recorded in 2003, and set the direction for the following works.


Brother was written by Josh before he joined Fractal. Its a moving story about the bonds of friendship and the support given to a brother in need of help. Fractal have made several different arrangements of the song over the years. There is an epic quality to the piece, with a final section that builds emotion and intensity over a simple sequence of power chords.

Brother is not currently available as a CD release.


The opening track of Fractal's first album - Continuum - Fractional is a driving instrumental that starts off in seven time with a melodic guitar line. The middle section builds in intensity before a restrained and delicate guitar solo.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Aftermath and Symbolism

Aftermath and Symbolism

Notes on the Fractal song Aftermath, by Nic Roozeboom

The (in)significance of numbers

  • Numbers abound in Aftermath, but not necessarily numerology. Some are significant, some are deliberate, some accidental and some merely convenient.

  • The Chorus and Spiral sections are in 11 and in 9, respectively. There is no specific meaning attached to these numbers. Mostly, they are merely the result of implementations of thematic variations, and an overall objective to introduce variability in meter to create a general sense of changing perceptions of time.

  • As a freak of circumstance, the first full-arrangement draft cut of Aftermath totaled in time to 9 minutes, 11 seconds. This occurred before there was any realization what this piece was going to be “about”. Yet, it occurred after all the subsections had been fully composed and arranged. This somewhat baffling fact has become one of the key thematic characteristics of the song (just by leaving it be so).

The Verse

  • Introduces the basic mode and harmony. Guitar coins the basic pitches: 1/5, 2/minor 7, and only in passing the flat 6. The strings introduce the major third (a positive injection), but then strongly emphasize the flat six (a conflicting and contrasting ‘negative’ dose).

  • In seven. Over time, this strangely becomes the most natural-feeling meter in the song, and an anchor of reference as such.

  • The musical intention of the verse is to establish a mood of emotional detachment (effected by the canceling effect of positive and negative elements, vying continually but unsuccessfully for resolution). Key concepts: detachment, loss of affinity, giving up, attempting to live life having parted with certain key values that define life, denial, putting up a shield.

  • Once, the verse dwells (guitar only) on six rather than seven. One of a few devices used throughout the piece to distort the perception of time

The “Metal” bits

  • These sections are heavily contrasting, loud, intensely percussive, and rhythmically somewhat confounding single-meter interjections to the Verse. There are four of these sections, and they reoccur always in the same sequence, interspersed throughout the Verse. The four sections each differ in meter (12, 15, 13, 16) and percussive intensity (progressively denser in the order mentioned).

  • The musical intention is that of (in movie-simile) the shock-abrupt nightmare flashback.

  • Their symbolism is the least cryptic of all: there were four airplanes, you see. Each suffered its own violent fate. These were individually significant and tragic events, but their grouping of four significant more so.

  • There is more symbolism in the number four: some traditions and religions regard four as the number of death; the four horsemen of the apocalypse, harbingers of impending doom.


  • In eleven. Not ten: - eleven.

  • The primary symbolism embedded in the chorus is that of an Escher-staircase arpeggio: intended to convey a general sense of ascent (signifying hope, positive inclination, looking-forward-to-ness) and its ability to self-reinforce (by wrapping around with almost complete continuity)

  • Note that while the feel of verse and chorus are very distinct, you may be surprised at how structurally very similar they are. The mode (major third, flat sixth) is the same (with a minor third thrown in the chorus), and the rhythm and phrasing of the chorus is only a small modification (different note lengths) of that of the verse.

  • The final solo, first four repetitions, features disjointed, snippet-like solo guitar phrases as well as soundscaped, harmonically-correlated randomly-emerging pitches. The symbolism is that of souls evaporating (to where?).

  • The final three repetitions of the Chorus feature a written solo: a single, mostly ascending melody over the entirety of almost four octaves (low E to high C#), and borne by the propulsive nature of the infinite-staircase arpeggio. Musically as well as thematically solo represents a culmination. The solo’s notes are not new to the piece (in fact the melody in basic form is embedded in the piano arpeggios), yet it is brought with newfound energy, enthusiasm and optimism.


  • In nine.

  • Comprises two sections: a Spiral Descent and a Spiral Ascent

  • Descent chromatically modifies (downward) the three notes of the major triad, through minor à diminished à major triad a semitone downward. This is a simple gimmick harmonically, but gains complexity when implemented in the Spiral’s particular rhythm.

  • Ascent modifies only one element of the above, using the diminished as a pass-through device to arrive at the major triad one whole tone higher rather than a semitone lower. This somewhat surreptitiously introduces the turnaround to an ascending sequence, progressing twice as rapidly upward as the Descent moved downward.

  • The symbolism of the Spiral is that of the unlikely and magical emergence of hope (or new life) from - and in spite of - an overwhelming and seemingly inevitable spiritual decline.

  • The Spiral also forms the backdrop for the drum-non-solo. The specific directives to the drummer were:

  • Acknowledge but do not emphasize the meter in any way

  • Imagine you are drumming yourself out of a burning building


  • Aftermath deals with certain existential emotions and questions in response to events of unfathomable significance, and how (and perhaps why) somehow these are absorbed and assimilated over time.

  • The nightmare sequences are, as the piece progresses, dissipated by the mantric repetition and reappearance of the redeeming Chorus and Spiral sections. Horror can only serve its function for so long – it is necessary but so is its catharsis; it is unwise to ignore or repress but also destructive to dwell. Ultimately, the very same Verse emerges from the process at the end, yet with a different perspective.

  • Ultimately I chose the title “Aftermath”, for the confluence of two meanings:

  1. For its meaning as it had become in much use after the events of September 11th 2001

  2. For its (original) literal meaning as “new growth” or “second growth”

  • The title came to me while listening to early demos of the track while on a flight from San Jose CA to Vancouver BC, exactly one year later on September 11th, 2002.

Nic Roozeboom

Thursday, February 26, 2009


a riff-heavy and confidently strident instrumental album-opener, built upon a multi-layered and multi-rhythmic main riff contrasting with delicate, interlocking arpeggio sections. Melds Beatles with King Crimson.


Given the title in a response to the events of September 11, 2001. The band's very personal dedication and remembrance of those events. The struggle to come to terms with the loss of innocence is symbolized in many of the song's elements, such as its shock-metal guitar bursts, its ascending and descending spiral harmonic modulations underpinning a frantic percussive middle section, and chorus with fleeting ghost-notes and culminating in an emotional guitar solo crying for hope.

Please follow this link for a more in-depth discussion of this song by Nic.

Mantra: Eternal Spring of Life

intricate rhythmic melodic pattern in an emotionally charged song. Meandering legato guitar lines and a softer core features sparse singing and delicately cascading guitar notes.

Giving Tree

a vulnerable, pure and serene ballad.


an improvisation: contemplative and organic soaring sonic atmospherics and an almost subliminal rhythmic drive.

A Fraction Of One

a haunting and surreal “soundtrack to a dream”, with stream-of-consciousness lyrics, an insistent, throbbing guitar riff and eerie soundscapes.


a fortuitously captured improv plays like a screamingly violent outburst of grief, outrage and indignation.

Mauves and The Great Pain

a two-piece bluesy mini-suite in 13/8 odd meter - “like Jimi Hendrix singing with Robert Fripp on guitar”.

The Monkey's Paw

after a Zeppelinesque opening explodes in a frenzy of simian angst-ridden punk energy. Its coda, Pentacle, mutates the theme into a signature Fractal spiral harmonic transformation, layering an unusual blend of instrumentation and colors including classical guitar and baritone ukulele, harpsichord, tubular bells, synth-choir and ultimately culminating in a thrash metal reprise.


Epic meanders in styles through its several episodes: a symphonic overture, a riffing anthem-rock section, a nightmarish and trippy third movement, and a cathartic ballad finale.


a non-sequitur....