Members: Ben Cooper
How this project came about:
I write and record music regularly, for various projects, and sometimes just because I get a random idea at 3 in the morning and I want to see what it will sound like. As such, I wind up with songs that don't have a place. They don't fit on the records, and some I'd be hesitant to even call a b-side despite being recorded around the same time. For a while now, I've been putting some of these songs up in the news section on this here website, but I figured there's gotta be a more interesting way to deal with these.
That's where Patients project came about. Instead of putting the songs up one at a time, or simply forgetting about them, I decided to put them into mini-collections and find a more interesting way to get them out. So these are not going to be records, in a sense that the songs have any relationship with each other. The discs likely won't be very coherent. More like mix-cds of random songs, alternate versions of tracks previously released, instrumentals, one-off collaborations, remixes, and so forth.
There are no specific plans concerning the future of this project. Whenever I have enough extra songs laying around to make a collection, I'll come up with some (likely idiotic) way to get them out and post about it here. And that's pretty much it. It may happen regularly, or I may have long spaces between these. You'll find out when I do.
Volume 1: Download
This first disc was eleven tracks long, and there were 100 copies total. They were not officially pressed. I put them together myself, so they were basically just fancy CD-Rs dolled up with spray paint and markers.
The discs were not sold. The way people got a copy was by trading me something through the mail, on a first come first serve basis. What they traded was entirely up to them, as long as it was not money. Listed below are all the items received. I documented each of them as they came in. If details were given as to why the items were traded, then I included those. If no details were given, then I jotted down made my observations, which may not have been correct.
01 -- A single low top converse sneaker, heavily used, no laces. This shoe was worn by the participant traveling through much of Europe, visiting numerous historical sites, and even went with him skydiving. It has many of his most memorable experiences attached to it.
02 -- 1) A video showing a glimpse of where the participant lived, a true love of potato chips, and an amazing amount of snow. 2) A Polaroid labeled "Wintertime", the last one shot on the camera.
03 -- 1) A Watercolor painting made with melted snow. 2) The first thing she ever shoplifted (a copy of Lord of the Flies, which they didn't finish reading). 3) An eyepatch, which has been a part of her halloween costumes for the past 4 years (a pirate cowboy, a pirate zombie, a pirate philosopher, and a pirate mime). 4) A necklace that has significance (the significance left unexplained). 5) A bracelet made for a boy she liked at age 14. The boy did not return the sentiment. 6) A great many crayon wrappers (likely packing material, but I don't want to assume).
04 -- A mix CD, the first a girl ever made for him.
05 -- 1) A great many newspaper and magazine clippings. 2) A folder of poetry (5 poems total), with a drawing in back. 3) A folder containing a 3 page stream-of-consciousness essay, type-written. 4) A cd titled The Flashbulb -- Kirlian Selections.
06 -- 8 holofoil Pokemon cards
07 -- 1) A black t-shirt with a mirror image of a tree, done with bleach. 2) A pencil drawing -- featuring space, insects, and floating stairs.
08 -- A box of chocolates, with caramel and pralines, called "Butlers." They were her favorites from her time in Ireland (unless I'm misreading the handwriting).
09 -- A newspaper, called "The Evening Bee", dated May, 12, 1926. It features the headlines, "British Strike Is Off!" and "Norge, Too, Sails Over North Pole."
10 -- 1) A book titled The Art of Shenku which is "The Ultimate Traveller's Guide of This Planet." 2) 3 packets of Bentley's green tea. 3) A message made from cut out magazine fonts printed on slightly burned photo paper. Reminiscent of the Ridler.
11 -- 1) A knit hackysack. 2) A pair of orange and hot-pink sun glasses.
12 -- A Godzilla action figure, standing about 1 foot tall.
13 -- A Slingerland snare drum.
14 -- A cassette tape box from "The Outlaws" (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi colter, Tompall Glaser), dated 1976. Inside the box was 1) a strange-looking seashell, with it's sides worn down and a visible spiral inside 2) an emergency room bracelet with the label "DISASTER, Sneezeweed".
15 -- A set of D'Addario EXP acoustic guitar strings, custom lights.
16 -- a handmade scarf, crocheted, with blue and green yarn. The second one she's ever completed. All the others stopped at headbands.
17 -- An ornamental plate of the Virgin Mary, split in half (likely broken during shipping). Wall mount included.
18 -- A letter on notebook paper with a link to a website containing various screensavers.
19 -- A 3D scene designed by the particpant, then printed to photo paper.
20 -- A copy of the novel Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.
21 -- A copy of the novel "You Shall Know Our Velocity" by Dave Eggers.
22 -- 1) A pressed CD of his own music. 2) A t-shirt from the same project.
23 -- A black and white photo of a stone bench surrounded by dead leaves, approximately 8 x 11, shot and printed by the participant in 2008.
24 -- A CD-R Zine titled "Titanium and Plastic", issue No. 3. 2) A print zine, presumably titled "Nincompoop", featuring drawings by Kymia Nawabi. Both appear to have been sewn together with a sewing machine.
25 -- (currently missing from my files ... will post later)
26 -- An EP of his band's music, written to a Memorex CD-R.
27 -- 1) A sketch done in art class, pencil. 2) 3 Band-aids, for potential paper cuts from opening packages.
28 -- 1) A shirt button, royal blue. 2) A drawing inspired by the song "Monsters", slightly smudged.
29 -- 15 Marvel cards from the early 90s, all featuring characters he's never heard of.
30 -- 1) A knit beanie, brown, gray, black and white. 2) A pair of polaroids. The first features a man and a woman sitting on a roof. Beneath them is a sharpie drawing of an arrow. The second is a shot of a male, presumably wearing the beanie in the package, with the text "woven in Ecuador" written beneath.
31 -- A print of a photo shot in college, very large. Approximately 3 feet wide, 5 feet tall (just eyeballing it). Black and white.
32 -- A mixed media painting on tracing paper. Subject is a robot, and it has physical wires coming out of the chest and hands. The wires were from an old organ, that her husband turned into a free-standing Leslie Speaker.
33 -- 1) A silver cross on a chain, which he'd worn during services over his 6 years as an acolyte. 2) A boomerang from his time as a camp counselor, given to him during a "Secret Santa Trade" which may or may not be authentic. 3) A copy of The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, hardback. 4). A set of Hustler Trading Cards from 1992, Collector Set, Series II. Contains 100 cards.
34 -- A copy of the book "This Is Your Brain On Music" by Daniel J. Levitin.
35 -- A mix cd, titled "A Mix of Sorts".
36 -- A notebook/journal of poems, stories, and a scattering of drawings. Black and fairly worn.
37 -- 1) A cd titled "Her Magic Wand: Rough Draft (EP)", presumably made by the sender. 2) 3 stickers of the same image used on the cover of the CD.
38 -- 1) A CD containing songs from the sender's solo work and various collaborations. 2) A type-written and oddly printed list of English-to-Swedish phrase translations, including: "There are dwarves in the cupboard", "Please may I fondle your buttocks?" and "I like to eat kids."
39 -- 1) A copy of the novel "Naked Lunch" by William Burroughs. 2) A DVD of "American Psycho."
40 -- 1) a copy of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea" on CD. 2) Six photos shot by the participant, including a shot of trapeze swingers, a dog in midair, colored smoke, a woman taking a photograph, a shot of flowers against the sky, and a gathering of people, perhaps on a field trip, with a large print of s shirtless man encased in glass.
41 -- A pressed copy of his Band's record, titled "Civilian."
42 -- A fist-sized statue of an egg, with a bird painted on front, and a message on back reading "Autumn Brings Magic Changes."
43 -- An acrylic painting with the words "Into the air" across the bottom.
44 -- A toy dinosaur with googley-eyes glued on, wearing a maroon cape with gold stars on the back, which had been the mascot for his studio/garage.
45 -- 1) a copy of Smash Brothers Melee for the Gamecube. 2) a decal that says "Aloha" and "Live". 3) A poster from the film "Jackie Brown." 4) Some math notes and doodles from a friend.
46 -- A handwritten composition, written in pencil on sheet music, titled "The Tale of a Lonely Water Droplet".
47 -- 1) a CD of the participant's music. 2) his brother's favorite joke book, titled "Jokes, Jokes, Jokes" by Franklin Watts, published in 1957. 3) An acrylic painting of a clown that his sister drew, under the suggestion "it should be put in one of your music videos; it would look sweet."
48 -- A copy of "The Book Of Mormon."
49 -- 1) A compilation with no track titles (track titles to be delivered after the disc has been listened to). 2) A copy of a record from a local Australian musician, discovered in the same record shop that the participant first found "Ghost" in.
50 -- 1) 2 CDs of Japanese music, selected by the participant. 2) A can opener in the shape of a bird.
51 -- 1) a bottle of absinthe called "Absente", missing exactly one drink. 2) A pumpkin head Pez dispenser. 3) A copy of People Magazine with Patrick Swayze on the cover. Presumably used for packaging purposes, but I don't want to assume.
52 -- 1) A copy of the record "Working For a Nuclear Free City". Packaged in a case made from cardboard, and when opened, features a pop-up.
53 -- A short story, written by the participant, titled "Believe".
54 -- 1) A collection of buttons, most of them found. One says, "Help the Homeless", another is from Beck's record "Odelay", another says "U.S." and is presumably from a military uniform. 2) a Polaroid that was supposed to be of tall grass, but instead produced a strange spot and what looks like a thumb print during exposure. 3) A book titled "Comic Epitaphs", found on a bench. 4). A collection of photos, including shots from a self portait assignment, a potential record cover, and one that is intended to be turned into a postcard at some point. 5) a pencil drawing of a shark.
55 -- A t-shirt, maroon, featuring a "Popsicle Monster." The shirt design was originally made to impress a girl the sender liked.
56 -- 1) a bathroom book of Onion headlines. 2) A pack of gum titled "Don't Have ugly Children: Beauty Gum". 3) Memory Cards from a Yamaha SY-55 with sequences still on them, 64kb in size.
57 -- A cartridge of "Super Mario Kart" for the Super Nintendo.
58** -- 1) A painting titled "Death By Tippes", on canvas, which might be his favorite he's done. Dated July, 06. 2) A film, printed on DVD, titled "Skin Cell". It was his graduation film. 3) A still that contains an image the sender had considered getting a tattoo of before thinking better of it. 4) A CD made by a good friend of his, whom he has played bass with. 5) Flyers he designed for the hip-hop artist Bleubird.
59 -- A copy of "The Talisman" by Peter Straub and Stephen King.
60 -- An EP recorded with a friend of his, tracked in his basement over the course of a week.
61 -- A published book titled "Tre Righe Di Sole", in what appears to be in Italian, authored by the sender. From what I gather, it is a book of poetry. I don't speak the language, so I can't be sure.
62 -- A copy of the German film "Staplerfahrer Klaus: Der Erste Arbeitstag" on DVD.
63 -- 1) The novel "Fool On The Hill" by Matt Ruff. 2) A postcard of a man running after his train, black and white.
64 -- 1) A metal Kazoo. 2) A short essay on how kazoos might be integrated into music beyond novelty.
65 -- 1) "The Ring" on DVD. 2) A small, plastic see-through calculator.
66 -- A pressed copy of his band's latest release, which he plays the drums for.
67 -- A copy of selected poems by T.S. Eliot 2). A copy of their CD which they "ran out of friends to pawn it off on."
68 -- A linoleum print of Edgar Allen Poe on a piece of cardboard.
69 -- 1) a postcard of a castle labeled "Carcassonne." 2) A bookmark featuring a colored drawing of a building.
70 -- A short story, written by the participant, titled "The Riverbank."
71 -- A pressed CD of her material.
** -- A package, including a brochure and a DVD, from Disney World titled "Patients: We invite you to join us!" It's supposed to help me plan my family vacation. It's amazing that spam somehow reached this mailbox.
72 -- 1) A ring, worn by him for 5 years, then given to his girlfriend, who wore it during their time together. 2) a letter sharing some vulnerable moments/thoughts (I will refrain from relaying them, since they seem personal).
73 -- A pair of thong underwear, black, with red lips printed on them in a pattern.
74 -- An offer to do a write up on the Patients project, as well as something more secret.
75 -- A jar of handmade apricot jam.
76 -- A signed copy of Graham Joyce's "The Stormwatcher", stolen from a library, but not by the participant.
77 -- A mix CD of his favorite tracks from 2007. A song of mine nearly made it onto the disc, but didn't make the cut.
78 -- A storybook called "We Can Be Happy Underground", currently incomplete, made by the participant.
79 -- 1) A series of photos, shot by the participant, including pictures around a dock yard, a night parade, and various textures from trees, rocks, walls and stairs. 2) Another series of photos, printed on computer paper in a comic book format. 3) Various fliers and stickers from bands in her area, along with the offer to make a CD of their material.
80 -- A small comic, handmade, featuring the dangers of hitting cattle (buffalo?) over the head.
81 -- A silver flask, that has been kept with the participant since his time in the military six years before.
82 -- A handkerchief, designed with flowers and scroll work, that en elderly woman gave him while waiting on a bus in Hakone, Japan.
83 -- 1) A black tassel with the word "Carhartt" across it. 2) A collection of stickers, including ones from Morr Music, Domino Records, one that says "Carhartt", one that has "145" on it, and a few I don't recognize. 3) Four post cards, 3 of which are promotions for bands, and one for the artist "Mark Fell." 4) an adhesive badge of the Rockstar Games logo.
84 -- A series of comics, drawn by the participant. Three strips total, 10 pages collectively. All in Italian (as far as I can tell).
85 -- A packet of handmade papers, of various sizes, weights and consistency, made by the sender's girlfriend years before.
86 -- A copy of Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales".
87 -- A copy of "Created In Darkness By Troubled Americans", a comedic collection from McSweeney's.
88 -- A fossil of some kind of fish. It originated from the Great River Valley in Wyoming.
89 -- 1) a case of 500 Mile Chai, a black tea that is reportedly strong. 2) a copy of the short story collection "Sugar Among the Freaks" by Lewis Nordan. 3) a small figuring of a glow-in-the-dark zombie girl.
90 -- 1) a copy of the book "Course In Isaac Pitman Shorthand: The Canadian Edition." He found it when he was seven years old and always liked the look of it. 2) A CD containing a cover of the song "Homesick."
91 -- A disc of .pdf files containing her poetry and artwork.
92 -- A seashell, cream colored with brown zigzags, fairly large. She brought it to the UK with her from China.
93 -- 1) a Fruitloops alarm clock of Toucan Sam. 2) a packet of 4 double-a batteries, which I assume goes with the alarm clock. 3) A triple feature of DVDs titled "Now For Something Completely Hilarious", containing The "Adventures of Baron Munchausen", "Monty Python and The Holy Grail", and "Now For Something Completely Different." 4) All items were packed in an Edward Gorey tin lunch box.
94 -- A painting, spray paint and acrylic on poster board, of a dark figure wearing what I believe are headphones.
95 -- 4 choose your own adventure books. Volumes 83, 87, 92, and 144.
96 -- A series of Children's stories/songs on 7 inches. Casper the Friendly Ghost, Thumbelina (includes a book), The Wizard Of Oz and Sleeping Beauty, Romper Room's Birthday Party, and Walt Disney's "Family Band".
97 -- A design, printed and framed by the sender, for the song Robophobia, featuring robots reaching through the darkness for a screaming man. Framed.
98 -- A Martin guitar strap button, given to him by his mother. 2) a copy of Normal Mailer's "Executioners Song". It took 3 years for him to reach page 718, and then he gave up. He asked, should I finish it, to tell him how it ends. 3) A temporary tattoo of the Jameson: Irish Whiskey logo. He wore a similar one on his neck one night as a joke and forgot about it. He accidentally wore it to a job interview the next day. He did not get the job.
99 -- A hardback copy of the novel "Seven Brothers" by Aleksis Kivi, which the participant described as the "To Kill a Mockingbird of Finland".
100 -- A lime green Gameboy that the sender has carried around with her for the past two years, with a copy of "Pokemon: Gold" in the cartridge slot.
Here's a quick write up on each of the songs, with general info on how/when/why they were made. If you'd like to see the lyrics for each track, just click on the track name.
Tall Tale Number 5: This is basically a country song. I wrote this song about 3 years ago, and recorded the drums for it while working on Astronautalis's record "The Mighty Ocean ..." down in Orlando. I tracked the guitars, banjo and bass when I returned home, but didn't put any vocals or extra instruments on it due to getting sick. Then I forgot about it. So it sat on a hard drive for about a year and a half until I was making back-ups and stumbled upon the files. I still had the notebook with the lyrics, so I went ahead and finished it over the course of a night.
The Coldest Hands: I often get a random urge to cut up drums. It can be kinda relaxing, in a weird/meticulous sort of way. This song began like that, just chopping some samples into a pattern. But I didn't really want to play guitar or piano on it (my go to instruments), so I used an accordion and a soft-synth mellotron. I'd planned to leave it instrumental, but one night I got the idea for the words, and went ahead and added them. It came out better for it, I think. Not In Nottingham: I always liked the music to Disney's Robin Hood, and I used to cover both of these songs at shows years ago. At some point, I kinda combined both of them into one song, since the chords were so similar. Earlier this year I decided to record it, on some late night whim. I just put up a couple room mics and did a live one-take. My voice is nowhere near as cool as Roger Miller's, but I figure mine is so far from his that I can get away with it.
Body Song: This was originally written for Mother's Basement. We did an assignment where we could only use our body's as the source of sound, no instruments, and this is what I came up with. But for some odd reason I decided to make it even more difficult, and I did it without using a reference -- by that I mean I didn't use a piano or guitar to check my pitch, just attempted it by ear. As such, the song is a little pitchy at times, but I got pretty close, and I've always been a bit proud of this tune for that.
Mind Ur Manners: This started as an attempt to make a dance song. And by dance song, I don't mean something with a kick drum hitting on every fourth beat. I mean like straight-up house music. I'd never attempted something like that, and I figured I'd give it a whirl. That didn't last long. Before I knew it, I was cutting everything up, and adding pianos that didn't fit, and generally having a bit of ADD about the whole thing. So I kinda just rolled with it and let it go where it went.
Doorways: This was the last song I wrote on my former piano before the hammers got completely stuck and it had to be thrown out. It was originally just a scratch demo for a general sound I wanted to use on my next Radical Face record, but I kept running with it and liked how it came out. And since that piano died on my the next night, it wound up being the last song to ever come out of it.
Mathematics: I recorded this song with Alex Kane (other member of Electric President) last year. It's one of the stranger songs I've ever done. I don't really have an explanation for it either. It came about by just seeing where all the random ideas led, and not really second guessing them. As such, it's kind of ridiculous and over-the-top. But since it didn't really have a home, I figured it could be a part of Patients.
The Voice of Our Age: This was originally written about 7 years ago now. Alex and I tracked it on a 4-track, using MTV's Music Generator and a Casio keyboard. When working out a set of songs to play while in Japan last Fall, I thought it'd be fun to make a live-version. So this one is totally re-tracked, in a different key with different instruments, and generally a lot louder (I needed some more "band" sounding tracks to keep the show from revolving entirely around a dumbass and his guitar). But I figured since I already recorded all the instruments for the new version, I might as well add vocals and finish it up.
Leaves: This is an instrumental song I wrote about 4 years ago, when I first got Reason 2.5 Most of the instruments came from that program, using a midi-controller, and I added some vocals and percussion after the fact. One of numerous instrumental tracks I had lying around that I'd never done anything with.
Sad Business: I don't know what got into me when I wrote this song. It's not quite a murder ballad, but it's certainly a downer. Originally tracked about 4 years ago now, and I remember doing the entire song in about thirty minutes, including the mixing. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes songs just sort of shoot out of you like that.
If You Come Back To Haunt Me: This one was very similar to "The Voice of Our Age." I made this version for the Japan tour, again so I'd have some more upbeat things to play. The original track was mostly accordian and piano, though, and I like to switch things up for live sets. So I tracked this one all with drum machines and synths and electric guitar, with the idea of aping New Order. And like the other track, I was already 80% done with the song just having made it for the shows, so I went ahead and tracked the rest when I returned home.