Tinty Music (Part 1)

Created: 12/01/11
Last Edited: 12/04/12
From 1994 to 1998 (and very briefly in 1999), I operated my own small DIY label, Tinty Music, on which I was essentially the only artist. I during that time, I released one CD and a number of cassettes under the names Tinty Music and Tinty Music Noise Unit (aka TMNU), plus a one-off as Observe Zero.

Initially, I explored ambient music, but soon found myself drawn to Japanese noise and other experimental forms. Over time, I abandoned the use of sequencers in favor of improvisation. Eventually, real life and a full--time job intervened, and I found myself less inclined to work with sound as my primary means of creative expression.

However, I had discovered that I enjoyed creating the artwork for the things I released; a few years later, this would factor heavily into my decision to go back to school to properly learn graphic design.

Unless noted, all of the following examples pre-dated my formal training in the basic principles and techniques of graphic design.
  • Cover Art
  • Compromise (1994) was the first official Tinty Music release. Technical problems had delayed the production of the Weightlessness CD; not sure if it could even be completed, I decided to put this out in the meantime. The photograph comes from a 35mm slide I took in 1978; the building is a church in Seattle's Mount Baker neighborhood.
  • Weightlessness was finally completed in November 1994. Though the designer used the original image I provided, and did pretty much what I asked him to do (down to using the tray card for the front cover art), I was disappointed in the results. I never did like the typeface, which was merely the least offensive of the limited, "spacy" options I was given; and I was not aware the color would shift from blue to purple until the printer called me in for a meeting to discuss that little problem (which I was actually fine with, once it was explained to me). Finally, the type in the 2-page booklet was too large.

    On the bright side, I had noticed that the designer was using Pagemaker to produce the artwork, so I went out and bought myself a second-hand copy—which made it possible to produce my own designs thereafter. I subsequently produced two alternative designs for this cover.
  • Anterior Interior was my first cassette release of 1995. I printed the j-card on vellum (probably because Japanese noise artist Aube, whose designs were a significant source of inspiration, had done that with some of his cassettes); the cover images were downloaded from nih.gov's Virtual Human Project web site.
  • Another 1995 release. The Stumbling Into Blindness j-card was also printed on vellum. The image was an original creation done in Photoshop, though I'm no longer certain exactly how I made it.
  • My last release of 1995. For Abstractions, I used a two-layer j-card, with the outer layer being vellum so that the stuff on the inner layer would show through.
  • The first release of 1996 was The Four Phases of Realisation. Initial j-cards were printed on vellum, but I later switched to a grey paper stock instead.
  • Sublimation (1996) was not one of my better design choices. The j-card was another 2-layer design, which was actually just fine—but I used a variety of different papers for the inner layer, resulting in atrocities such as the greenish cast seen here.
  • 1996 release number three. The j-card design for Veiled Faces, Moving Shadows was my favorite for a while. (An alternate version reverses the black-white areas.)
  • In 1996, the Stone Temple Pilots released their Tiny Music album. So, in the tradition of Nick Lowe's Bowi EP (released in response to David Bowie's Low LP), I put out the Stone Temple Plots cassette.
  • One of the highlights of 1996 was the appearance of a Tinty Music piece on the Nocturne Concrete compilation from Unit Circle Rekkids. On top of that, I was one of the folks asked to perform live at the CD release party.

    Since I had never performed live before, I recruited my new friend Vincent Booth to join me. I decided to record our preparations for the live event; from those recordings came Mediation. The album used a number of samples from NPR and Vince's recordings of panel discussions about the book The Death of Discourse (by Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Skover); since obtaining the legal clearances would have been troublesome, the album has never been released. (Though a piece that did not use samples from these sources was subsequently made available for online listening.)
  • My page in the booklet accompanying the Nocturne Concrete compilation. Simple though it may be, I'm actually quite proud of this—not all of the artists got to use color for their pages.
  • Phono-electric (1996) was unusually packaged—wrapped in blue mylar that was twisted at the top like a mutant Hershey's Kiss®—so I now regret not having photographed the final product.
  • For the j-card of this split cassette with Interference Patterns (who also appeared on the Nocturne Concrete CD), I took the names from a flyer created by IP's Michael Colello, and added them to my photograph of an airplane wing from 1985. The use of a variety of different papers was again probably not a good choice—at least, not when this color paper was involved…
  • The first cassette release of 1997 was Anomaly, which collected recordings of two performances at Seattle's now-defunct Anomalous Records. The special edition featured hand-painted tape cases and cassette shells, plus this booklet (once again using a vellum outer layer with an inner layer on regular paper stock).
  • The inside of the booklet accompanying the special edition of Anomaly.
  • The last of the 10 copies of the special edition of Anomaly was this one-off in handmade packaging put together from various items I had lying around the house.

    This copy spent a weekend hanging in Seattle's Equinox Gallery as part of the CARBO Art Expo in February 1997.

    By 2005 or 2006, the thing was starting to fall apart, so I disassembled it and photographed the results
  • The original cover art for Live at Anomalous Records 31 May 1997. The background is a detail from the image I used for a later release.
  • Later copies of Live at Anomalous Records 31 May 1997 used this background image instead. The version shown here was a prototype for possible use in the Amray cases some video games were packaged in at video rental shops.
  • Observe Zero (1997) was a one-off noise-based project in which I took a slightly different approach during recording. The name came from a phrase in the instructions for setting the alarm at the video store where I used to work.
  • The j-card for Re-Contextualisation, my collaboration with R.H.Y. Yau. The Chinese characters were scanned from the cover art of a :YAU: cassette; and I again utilized the flyer created by Michael Colello for the Tinty Music lettering.
  • A view of the Re-Contextualisation cover by itself.
  • The front cover of the Tinty Music Scrambled Electronica video cassette (1997).
  • The Scrambled Electronica video cassette with label.
  • The final Tinty Music cassette, Beneath the Conscious Chasm/Sinistrata: Music from the Archives, Vol. I (1998).
  • The first in a very short-lived series compiling music I made from 1988–1992, The Learning Curve, Vol. I (1999) was the first Tinty Music release on CD-R. Unfortunately, I had mostly lost interest in selling music by that point, so there were never more than one or two copies in circulation.
  • Had I not decided to call it a day in early 1999, Meditations on The Inescapable Self would have been the last Tinty Music release, albeit under my own name.

    I actually had ambitions for this project, which would have incorporated music, found sound, and visual art in a collaborative installation. In the end, I had neither the time nor the resources needed to make it happen.
  • In February 2002, I had the opportunity to display a couple pieces of artwork at Aftermath Gallery in Seattle. The Ocean Gravity compilation was put together specifically for the occasion, and made available to patrons attending the opening of the exhibit.
  • In 2004, I decided to put together a 10th anniversary edition of the Weightlessness CD as my year-end gift to friends and family. This time, I took a more conventional approach—i.e., the tray card was now the back of the package.

    The original color background that I used in black-and-white for the Veiled Faces, Moving Shadows cassette made the perfect update for the Weightlessness cover—complete with color shift from a bluish hue to a purple one.
  • The original Weightlessness cover (above), and the update (below).
  • The Weightlessness 10 back cover.

    Yes, that's Times New Roman. While I wanted to keep things very simple, I also wanted a hint of the unexpected—and what's more unexpected than using a typeface everyone avoids?

    Sadly, the folks who did the printing for me neglected to use the font I'd provided for the copyright symbols. (Sure, I probably shouldn't be pointing out flaws—but I also want to make it clear that the typo was not my error.)
  • The Weightlessness 10 disc label. The background is detail from one of my paintings. I handled duplication and printing of the discs myself.
  • In 2005, I put together a proper video as my year-end gift, with the centerpiece being the approximately 50-minute long Sureru. I did not create a booklet for this DVD, instead utilizing the label as the space for cover art.
  • An alternate Sureru label. (I changed the background every 10 copies.)
  • In 2006, I decided to produce a 10th anniversary edition of Sublimation as my year-end gift. The cover art was inspired by Prefab Sprout's 38 Carat Collection.

    I was going to have copies of the CD produced through CafePress, since ordering them in large quantities from somewhere else would have been too expensive. But, ironically, the CafePress route would also have been prohibitively expensive (for would-be purchasers), so I made the album available online as a free download.
  • After skipping a couple of years while I was back in school, in 2009, I decided a Tinty Music retrospective would be my year-end gift for family and friends. This May Only Make Sense Later On was produced as a music DVD containing the six volumes of The Learning Curve, plus the Best of Sample & Mold disc I had given to a few friends and family in 1999.

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