Fiction Prediction, the second Soft Riot album, was released on this day in the year 2013 through two different labels: Other Voices out of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia for Europe and Volar Records out of San Diego USA for North America — the latter having released an extended LP version of No Longer Stranger, re-released from its original 6 track version on Panospria into and 8 track album.
Over the past year I’ve started writing these reflective summaries of past works on their release date anniversaries, mainly due to the fact that for me music and art are ever evolving and I generally have a lot of thoughts posthumously of things that I’ve done as time moves forward, informing me of where things are to go. I’m never really happy to just rest on my laurels as it were, and am always analyzing how I’d do things now differently. What a better way to reflect on that than to just write about it.
When Soft Riot started, it was a very casual side project that lingered in the background for years as my energies were invested in other musical projects. Finally in the last weeks of 2010 I finalized a number of tracks that had been sitting dormant for a while. Constantine, who runs the Panospria label, is a friend of mine and in conversation I passed over the tracks to him as I figured they’d be something he’d be into — his interests being in more soundscape and ambient music. He offered to do a simple digital release which sounded totally fine to me at the time.
I had no expectations to do anything with the project. I was still playing in a band called Savage Furs that was my main outlet. But then things changed a bit: people were actually listening to that release and Savage Furs came to an amiable but unfortunate end in late spring of 2011 so from there I figured I’d start investing more of my energies into moving Soft Riot forward and bringing it to the stage.
From there started a slow transition period of the Soft Riot “sound” with the album Fiction Prediction being the bridge of that transition. Having followed the release of the Another Drone In Your Head EP a year earlier in 2012, some things carried over to this release, including my vocal style from the earlier releases. I think I was trying to go for a “hushed narrator” type of voice, more influenced by 60s psychedelia rather than synth, wave or post-punk but as I started playing more and more live I was slowly phasing that style out, mainly as it didn’t feel really natural singing in that style.
I was gradually adding more energy to the music I was writing which reflects in some of the later tracks I wrote for this record, most notably “Cinema Eyes” and “Your Own Private Underworld”. The drums started becoming more of a grounding rhythm and more forceful synth work. All of this influenced by how the show was forming in a live performance scenario, as well as at this time Soft Riot was my only musical project and being a punk at heart, I was looking to add more direct energy to what I was writing.
Following this record there was an experimental detour with 2014’s Some More Terror but by the time I was writing You Never Know What Might Come Next, that older vocal style was abandoned and the foundations of how I would do my vocals for tracks moving forward were laid.
And here we are seven years later. Listening to this record now the core ideas are good but overall the record had a very muted production quality and lacks a bit of the energy that I thought was there when I was mixing this record. I was also experimenting with linear narratives in lyric-writing at this time, most notably “Terminal Love Song” and “You’ve Got To Use It” — something which was a challenging experiment but one I ended up abandoning as that sort of writing style doesn’t entirely come naturally to me.
This all comes with learning and experience, especially when producing records yourself. For You Never Know What Might Come Next I did something different — I mixed the album with a friend, Owen Pratt from Noi Kabát (now Uncanny Valley) just to get a different perspective. He did a great job and I learned a lot about producing my own music that would be applied to 2018’s The Outsider In The Mirrors.
Fiction Prediction does have some good tracks though that I’ve been considering doing newer versions of recently, mainly just as a fun project to warm myself up to get writing new material again. Probably something I’ve taken some inspiration from fellow musician Mild Peril, who often revisits old tracks and does new versions of. Overall I’ve been busy on other things lately and haven’t really worked on new music since the beginning of this year. And of course navigating my way through the ongoing crises affecting all of our lives in the first half of 2020.
Some tracks like “Cinema Eyes”, “You’ve Got To Use It” and “Write Yourself Into The Void” could sound more in line with where I’m at now (especially as I still play some of these live, more so “Cinema Eyes”) if the approach I’m using now were applied to those tracks, so we’ll see what happens!