Sunday, December 29, 2013

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Ive always liked...stuff. Things that capture my eye. Things that can start an idea or push my thinking in another direction. It might be a toy, book, film or game, an instrument or even a coffee mug. For me its really important what I visually surround myself with. It can be something like a Star Wars postcard that will bring me back to the feeling I had when I saw the movies at the cinema when I was a kid. Little things that spark something. So just before christmas I decided to upgrade my coffee mug. It wasnt a big deal but considering the fact that I touch the thing every 15 minutes eight hours a day, six days a week it becomes a permanent fixture on my desk. And yes....I use the same one all the time. 2013 was the year of the moomin mug. 2014 will be my Nineteen eighty-four mug. Seems very suitable. 30 years later things are worse than George Orwell predicted. Some people even seem to think he was an optimist. 

But more interestingly it puts time in a different perspective. The future has a tendency of coming sooner than you think. Today we continued working on the Akaba album. We have been working on it for more than ten years. A couple of kids got born in the middle of the sessions. Moved the studio a couple of times, reformed a horrible band (please note band-horrible music- pretty darn cool) not once but twice, made some money, lost some money. But we are getting there...we are closer now than we have ever been. Its exciting and fun even though Im struggling with it from a visionary perspective.

When you start recording a track you usually start with something fairly grey and dull. Clicktrack, guide vocal, guide guitar/keyboard. But fairly early on in the process you will probably add something with more colour and attitude. Something perhaps....a bit cool. Something that will probably be there until the end. 

The problem is that the energized feeling you had from recording that "cool" overdub will soon fade as you hear it over and over again. And you will probably add more crap on top....stuff that you think is even "cooler" and before you know it your first impulse/overdub is hidden under a pile of of "pseudocool" overdubs that are probably all based on that first technicolour overdub (that you cant even hear anymore because of all that stuff you put on top). The problem is that first overdub was probably cool...for real. As it was your first impulse, that first idea, the first reaction.

And I see this tendency in a lot of projects Im working with. There is always one more overdub you can do. The problem is that they are really fun to do as well. But maybe one should always try to listen with those "first overdub" ears because that is exactly the way your audience will hear it. 

Maybe that should have been in Orwells book. In the future you will have unlimited recording possibilities. The horror!

On the track we are working on now...there are actually a couple of those early "cool" ideas. The verses have three Baritone guitars playing against each other with a Zvex lo-fi loop junky in the middle creating a weird tilted chorus effect.

The choruses on the other have next to nothing harmonically...A very ambient synth going thru a small stone phaser and the akg reverb and then the chords are played on a Yamaha SK-20

Here is a video from that first session.

It sounds very "open" and I felt very strongly that it should stay like that. So we focused on the bridges instead adding first a Chamberlin steel guitar that was augmented with doubletracked Burwood 9 stringed guitars. 

We also added a cluster of guitars at the end of the choruses playing almost harpsichord like patterns.

2 Dano Convertibles with Zvex seek-wah
1 Epihone les paul with Zvex Seek wah
2 Burwood nine strings Clean
1 Eko acoustic 12 string with builtin pickup.

To get more notes but avoiding the organs territory we recorded the Roland Vocoder plus using the original drum machine as the trigger. The roland went thru the Sonic alienator to give it an almost snare buzz feel. The end result is almost abba esque. (please note that this is my interpretation of Abba esque...Tobias and Åsa didnt agree)

To add bass but without real "personality" we recorded two takes of the Roland Juno-106 ...low bass....and....superlow bass.

Rhythmically we added some 808 BD and 909 SD from the modular and treated them with some delays. To finish the whole thing off I record a sort of "road to nowhere" rhythm using a floortom and a snaredrum. Together with the rest it became an almost train-like feel but very small and the same time. To give the whole thing more depth I reamped (as in pulled them out thru a guitar amp and recorded them again) the acoustic drums and miked them far off to get the acoustics of the room.

We worked an entire day on the track and in the end we had amplified things but kept the sonic core intact. I feel very pleased about that. I could have have added 16th notes and cymbals to the choruses but it just felt unnecessary. 

Take care....and thanks for reading.

NP - Beethoven String quartet No. 15 in Aminor

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