Sometimes it’s nice the way a project develops over a long period of time. And by project I mean the working out of particular ideas and their documentation.
As time and energy are put into it, the project begins to take a life of it’s own and to suggest it’s own development. A long time ago, when I started working on the material that would end up being part of this project, I did it in an intuitive sort of way. A conversation with someone would stick in my head, or an image, or a dream, or a particular melody or structure. As these stuck in my head i would start putting them together into ditties and verses, bits and pieces. Over the past year, I’ve recorded the material and listened to it and edited it, and then re-recorded it and listened again, and edited again. And this cycle has been repeated several times. And each time connections between the parts and what the project is about begins to take focus.
Formally, it is shaping up to be in part a concept album, in the sense that it explores related ideas from different angles. It’s also a little bit like a musical, because there is an underlying story, although the story is more implied than literal. It does, however, have a certain melodramatic quality to it that is reminiscent of musicals. Ultimately, however, a formal categorization of the project is not that important except as it helps us move forward by giving it some momentary cohesiveness as it threatens to run wild. However, if one thing has become clear over the past year, it is that this record is an exploration into an ocean of intersections and contradictions, a place where opposites are not so opposite. In particular it is an exploration of how the way we feel about home and leaving can change over time.
Over the time I’ve been working on this project I’ve had many ups and downs about my feelings for it. We’ve kept on track though and now we’ve moved “out of a red flare of dreams and into a common light of common hours. Until old age brings the red flare again.” In that common light of common hours we float amidst a group of sounds, words and ideas that are taking audible shape as a horizon all around us. A changing horizon, so that what begins sounding like an answer often ends up being a question. “I hear the sounds of home” as a statement made by me changes suddenly into “Do you hear the sound of footsteps?” as a question I am being asked. And the horizon begins to take shape and as it does it gives the project its shape. Like the two years I spent reading the Brothers Karamazov, towards the end I felt like Dostoevsky was reading me rather than the other way around.
So what follows are windows whereby you can see individual tracks from the group that together form the ocean on which we tread, the ocean that is this project. Actually it’s more like surfing. Catching that wave as it’s rising, standing up on the board and riding it until the board is flowing with the wave. Then seeing the crest begin to turn and the pipe start to form, and we hunch down, point one hand towards the future, and use the other hand to trace the inside of the wave, feeling its shape, its flow, the undertow lifting from behind and propelling us forward. It is then that we begin to carve our leads into the giant and the music begins to really sing.
Ideally, at the end, the tracks should stand on their own, but right now it’s hard for me to see them individually. In each track I hear the echoes of the previous ones and the anticipation of the ones that follow. It feels weird to separate them from the group to post them individually here. Like my friend who would get all excited about playing a record, then he would play you only the first 10 or 20 seconds of a song before skipping to the next one. He wanted to play you the whole record in one minute. I always though that was so annoying. This feels like I’m doing that to you. But I’m not, because this songs can stand on their own. I hope.
We have been approaching these ideas with several different methodologies. Here’s a sample of the method whereby we start with drums and go from there. This is Double Sunglasses Sunday, which you heard in a previous post as a garageband sketch. Here it is still in a fairly basic form and still needing some work, but at this juncture this version is a good representation of the shape of the song.
Another method we are using is to start with vocals and guitar and go from there. Camilia is one of the songs we are producing that way. The plan is to add to this some piano, for more percussive rhythm, and pedal steel for more tears and air at the instrumental bridge.
On the above link, Camilia is followed right away by Double Sunglasses Monday which is what it’s like being lost in Montreal. In a previous post I posted the original Garageband version of this song. Here it is now in its almost complete form with real instruments.
I’m really getting a kick from transitions.
We are using other methods, including recording some songs live under the James Taylor bridge where the cars go thu-thump, thu-thump, thu-thump high above, but I’ll tell you more about those later.
It’s nice working on a project at this pace. Like a chess game where days go by between moves, but with more players. Maybe like that old negotiating game, remember Diplomacy?
In other news:
Valient Himself, leader of the Venusian rock and roll band Valient Thorr is donating one of his kidneys to his earth father. Read the press release here.
As a result of this Valient Himself has incurred some debt and to help pay for the debt he is auctioning a number of his paintings and has also promised to make a line drawing of any picture you send him for just $29.00 ($25 + $4 S&H). Here’s the link to that follow up post.
So contact Valient Himself through the Valient Thorr myspace page or write to Valient Himself at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for details. Valient Himself is doing the hard work of donating the kidney, your part would be to send a few dollars to help him pay the bills, and you’ll get an original Venusian line drawing of your mug, or any mug you like.