Half Step

Origin

Half Step was written some time in the late 90’s, probably around 96-97.  It is quite high for my range, yet I’ve always had a nasty habit of thinking that I was a light tenor when I’m really not.  I enjoy the challenge of singing high but I will not subject anyone the discomfort of having to listen to me try it — it’s a purely private pursuit.  Despite my having a hard time executing it, the song itself seems to draw attention because of the demanding verse melody and dramatic contrasts between loud and quiet sections.

Music & Production

This is one song that had a bigger baggage than others on the EP, because I recorded it on my solo album. For a long time I felt that I didn’t do this song a justice because of my lack of singing chops, though I revisited it after Bob picked it out as a song to re-record and realized that the first version had many endearing qualities to me.  The original goal was to make this version different from the Aries9 version, make it less layered and more live-feeling, and of course, add a cello to the mix.

But it’s a tough thing for a recording to have a pre-cursor, as new takes constantly get compared to the old.  It probably didn’t help that I didn’t change the drum parts — simply used the new samples — because I was already fond of the drum sequencing I created, especially the sequences in the 2nd verse and the loud bridge.

The more the recording progressed, the more the parts started resembling the old recording, as attempts to re-arrange them failed.  In the end we even ended up recreating the “choir” which I really didn’t want to do, as it’ll be hard to reproduce that live.  But without the choir the choruses seemed too repetitive and particularly, the final chorus felt anti-climactic after the big climax of the bridge — so Half Step went back to being a heavily layered epic.  Pretty much every part is simply a re-tracking of the arrangements I made in the original recording.  I suppose you can’t fix what’s not broken.

The title is referring to the chord progressions in the song — both verse and chorus are two-chord progressions, each half-step away from one another.

Lyrics

I am fond of some unusual imageries used in this lyrics, particularly the beginnings of each verse.  The choir has more uplifting lines than the main lyrics, but we’ll leave you, keen listeners, figure out the words sung there.

See it wither away
This life of consuming bars
Of restraining iron
Will you remember
Our laughters in crates
The slow bloom
The scenes of joy
The glowing tide of colors

You seemed so out of reach
But I…

Step on the corner flower lane
And look for you
From the palace of no burdening shame
I saw you fall through

Swim out of this pool
Of lifeless pull machines
To hear unanswered calls
Will you remember my pictures of your back
The paths we mapped
The tiny jumps
The forgotten ship in the cellar

Step on the corner flower lane
And look for you
From the palace of no burdening shame
I saw you fall through

I almost followed you down

Standing where you stood
But couldn’t stand to see you disappear

Written by Ari Koinuma
Cover photo: “Dark Forest” by Alfred Borchard

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