[When I was in college, I gained the nickname "Helix." If I recall, one of my roommates pronounced my name "Alex" with a slight "h" at the beginning for comedic effect and it stuck. Years later, I'm putting the nickname to use.
Today, I am sharing NDTA 2.0: The Helix Mixes. When making Never Doing That Again, it was a long process. Some ideas never turned into anything but were cool in their own right. Some songs had several demos and versions. Some songs were finished but just didn't fit the project like I wanted it to. There were mic tests, quick recordings that were to test newly acquired gear. There were nights where recording was all about just finding different mic positions and seeing how it would sound. I wanted to share these demos, clips, ideas and other little things. In a not so serious way, like my nickname from college, it's a candid collection of what the recording process was. It's the wild west sonically. it's the kitchen sink. I like the idea of "The Helix Mixes" being a series that collects stuff that doesn't make the main line of projects I make moving forward. Sometimes, sharing something not serious is the most fun. This is that. However, there were days where I didn't feel like making SONG songs, so I made instrumental music instead. These ideas I took more seriously.
I always loved soundtrack music. One of my earliest memories of enjoying that kind of music was the music from the video game series Final Fantasy. Nobuo Uematsu's work, and the other composers he worked with, on Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9 and 10 had a massive impact on me growing up. I found that I especially resonated with the original synthesized soundtracks rather than the live orchestral arrangements that they would make in later years. I wrote a paper in college about the sound of the Final Fantasy 7 soundtrack and how while it was synth based due to a technological limitations of the Sony Playstation 1, I enjoy how the synths sound. Though it landed with me completely ironically, the synthesized soundtracks take on a stylized effect. I loved the sounds of synth strings, choirs, and how those sounds would blur into various industrial electronic noises seamlessly. This would make it come across in a very unique way with so much color and distinct character. In the early days of Never Doing That Again, I struggled to figure out what my music would sound like. I looked to the synthesized soundtracks of Final Fantasy and other various video games and movies as inspiration. That kind of music has a simple yet effective approach which was so refreshing to me.
There were days that I made music more of that nature. It's a love or hate thing. Some will get it. Some won't. That's fine. Never Doing That Again lands wearing that nature on its sleeve, but these songs go off in the subtlety of soundtrack music much more directly. The Helix Mixes collect some of that as well. There's a lot on here. "Curious" was the very first attempt at "not pretty" and I love the stoic approach but it's very stiff. That was where everything started. The original version of "Never Doing That Again" almost feels like a different song, a bit too jam band for my tastes but I still enjoy this version. "Line of Guitar" is my favorite right now. It reminds me of the Final Fantasy X soundtrack a bit. And I wanted "Breathe" to work but it tip toes too close to Nu-Metal for my tastes. I wanted it to be more industrial feeling but it lands in a confusing middle ground. That song was actually done and ready to be on the album in between "Never Doing That Again" and "In Transit". I'm glad I made the decision to keep it off. There's a wide array of stuff here that's neat, none of it great but just neat. These mixes are a bit rough, and it's all unmastered so the volume may vary. I polished some songs but nothing major. So while this is a rough collection of tracks, I thought it'd be fun to share. This stuff really captures the essence of what Never Doing That Again was all about.]