Friday, October 22, 2010

They call us the Diamond Dogs

The process of recording is, by necessity, a Hermetic experience. Solitary, intense, involved - a bit like blogging really. Once it's all underway however, it is hard to contain your enthusiasm in polite society about how well it may be going, and equally difficult to comprehend if you’re not one of the people actually doing the recording, and I speak as one who is both pleased and proud to read of my friends and acquaintances’ progress in their own endeavours and who once took a friend to the studio so that they could see where the magic happens, only for them to be so relieved at the close of play to be released from the air-conditioned hell in which we’d imprisoned them and made them listen to endless repetitions of the ride cymbal overdub that they never complained about not having enough time to do the Sudoku again. Nevertheless, on day three of recording for SftBH IV, Our Glorious Leader and I convene at the country estate of newly installed drummer, percussionist, recording engineer and all-round good egg That Nice David Booth in order to lay down some guitars, as we say in the trade - the trade in question being that of being stuck permanently inside an endless loop of eighties terminology. OGL was on acoustic, I was on electric and, having listened to ZZ Top all the way down to the studio I was feeling in pretty much the right place mentally to deliver my take on the folk-country-bluegrass-pop-rock niche that we have deservedly made our own. Us and Mumford and Sons, that is. This is where it gets a bit spoddy for the rest of you, but having spent three hours on various bits and twiddles – OGL in seclusion behind glass with his guitar and me in the control room armed with an amplifier cocooned in baffles and blankets – we burned a quick reference copy to CD and made our farewells. I listened to the very basic drums, bass, guitar and guide vocal takes this morning in my usual reference listening station, or the car on my way to work, as it is also known – and I genuinely haven’t been as excited by the prospect of an album being completed since I heard The Waterboys were back in the studio (mind you, we all know how that turned out). And I know that the intangible and the ethereal won’t mean anything to you, being mere constructs and concepts until I can lay something in front of you with a button marked ‘press to play’, but I can assure you that at least one of these things waiting to envelop your senses is the sort of monster that deserves a Glastonbury sunset behind it - and that isn’t even the sing-along one. As for anyone else investing time, money, thankless effort and endless ennui in a recording studio at the moment, or brimming with ideas and riding the carousel of creation and unable to quite get across fully how amazing the whole constructive process can be - I share your joy and I feel your pain, brothers and sisters.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We have started recording what will ultimately become the fourth Songs from The Blue House album. It has been notable so far both for the number of guide vocal and guitar tracks we have laid down, some feral drumming, and the great bass playing by Gibbon. We were trucking along nicely today only for That Nice David Booth, our drummer and recording engineer, to at one point leave the studio monitors on whilst recording drums on a six minute track in the control room. Since everyone else was wearing headphones I was the only one who realised but, reasoning that Gibbon might do a good take in the next room, I didn't mention it until after they'd finished. As it turned out there was some bleed from the click track on to the drum mics, and so we had to do it again. When I skedaddled from the studio back to Ippo after the session as I was supposed to be going to a gig in Cambridge the same night, I missed my lift by three minutes.
Our Glorious Leader has employed the wonders of technology to record events. Here's day one.