Easter provided the opportunity to work on some new music; a crazily difficult game called Dwarf Fortress provided the impetus. More on that later perhaps but suffice to say playing and understanding that game made music technology and child rearing both look simple. The soundtrack had a layered keyboard part that gave my fingers some ideas. Off they went.
There are two new tracks: ‘Rain Inside The People’ and ‘The Crane’. Sketches are in progress for two more to round out a short EP called Rain journey: a concept record about nothing more complicated than watching the rain.
The idea of recording music had become slightly daunting after Everything I Will Remember When We’re Gone. That EP has some really involved some tracks with many elements requiring detailed mixing and effects treatments. ‘Deep Assignments’ and ‘Your Eyes’ were the exception: they were totally spontaneous and the former still mystifies me somewhat. It was time for the approach and workflow to return to something like the start of Uffmoor Woods Music Club, when tracks would be recorded and mixed inside of a day. Jack White’s recent record will remain safe but it still felt relatively swift.
One of the changes in approach was to strip away bells and whistles to give the core elements more frequencies, more room to breathe. Hopefully this will make it easier to focus on what’s important in the core composition and it also has the benefit of making the recording and mixing process less labour intensive. It was possible to get a lot out of the technology quickly because I’m much further along the learning curve, having resisted switching to shiny new kit. There’s a benefit to sticking with what you’ve got. (Helsinki Bus Station theory).
As for changes to composition, I recently read Alan Watts’ The Wisdom of Insecurity, a fascinating interpretation of Eastern philosophy and religion. In an aside in this book Watts takes a swipe at Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner for building up to massive climaxes and then not having anywhere to go. In Watts’ view they end up hammering the same chord over and over again: not willing to let the moment go; not able to take the music any further than they have. I won’t fault that lot but it seemed interesting to try Watts at his word by not lingering on the endings as I sometimes might be tempted to; not even to have anywhere particularly special to go to, but just to enjoy the moment and the movement.
It was all going so well that music technology almost seemed like a benign, transparent tool bestowed upon man that he may create. This was until the drums started skittering during mixdown of ‘The Crane’. Two or three hours were spent trying to find a fault in the AE-35 unit, to no avail. Eventually, I managed to step outside of the problem: ‘if drums aren’t going to work, then the work won’t have drums’. It didn’t need them and the mood was much better served without them. This way of solving creative problems is always handy to have in your arsenal.
One last thing, related to mindfulness meditation. I noticed my guitar playing was much more even when I focused on my breath during ‘Rain Inside The People’.