October 29, 2008
When this old world starts bringing you down, sometimes it's best to Dress and Dance.
Kenny Gross could be a pain in the ass for anyone who cared about him or his music,
but that music just came pouring out of him.
"Sticks" Patton managed to get him into my
studio in Paradise for some (mostly drunken) sessions years ago. This featured song hung
together good as any of them.
(do I need to post a warning here? f-bomb and bad attitude in song lyrics. procede at your own
risk of psychic pain or humor)
October 28, 2008
There was another session last Sunday with Craig Wise. We got about half-way through
his song Coming After You when we decided that we were in the wrong key. So
we shifted that and things are going well now.
A big part of the reason for that was that Kregger plays live a lot, and usually as a solo. Things
that work well in that situation don't always translate to "tape". I feel this is true
for the mighty Dr. Mo as well. It's difficult, if not impossible, to confine
his live mo-ness to 2-dimensional sound.
Still, sometimes, it can be done, and we'll be trying to do it.
October 23, 2008
Playin' the Room
Tape Op magazine is one of this world's
best things- it's all about recording as practiced on the margins, and it's free. This
month they have an interview with T-Bone Burnett in which he sheds some light
on one of my favorite recordings.
T-Bone produced Revival by Gillian Welch. On that record is a song
called Pass You By which grabs you the instant you hear it and is so good that
it keeps on grabbing you years later. In the interview T-Bone dishes on some of the
more technical issues on that recording, but ends by saying that when that take was over
the bass player, Roy Husky Jr., had to "go outside for a while," to walk it
Roy's performance on that track is all about time. Burnett explains how his playing
"compressed the whole (big) room," and while his sound was amazing, what makes it so
special is the feeling that at any moment his walk is going to break into a run- yet he never
does. He pushes hard and pulls back hard at the same time. The notes he plays couldn't be simpler,
but man, where he puts them!
It's fun to find out about these things, and to find out that great performances can
stagger the great players who play them. And here I thought they were just workin'...
October 20, 2008
The Big Board
Fortunately, Kregger is having no trouble finding things to do around here.
He and Dave Huxta were in last night and recorded some starter tracks for
the next song in Craig's project. We also dropped Jeff Gibble's lead
#5 into Northern Lights. This was a first for Steam Powered- Gibble
recorded his track up in State College PA. Distance recording works!
October 17, 2008
I was dreaming this morning... or half awake... or maybe it was last night. Whatever, the
upshot was that I've got to have something to push against. We can easily find things
to push against, on the outside. I needed something to push against on the inside.
And that's sort of a tall order, because aren't we supposed to be all mellow an' shit? Sorry,
there isn't much music comes from that. I feel like I'm in the middle of a fallow place,
because I've got new instruments to learn. I've sort of been doing shit for all.
Tonight I tried a little pushing back, I don't know what against. I got some interesting
rhythms out of it, I think they can go somewhere. And some words...
rough demo of Storybook.mp3
October 12, 2008
Here's Kregger laying down a rockin'
lead last Thursday night for his song. Bit of the old chiaroscuro there.
Big thanks to the other Joe for his sponsorship this month- and the Spons-O-Meter
moves another pip... I think somehow there is wine involved.
Let's have a new featured song- a blues this time, from Blind Joe Death, faeturing
Lil' Freddy on vocals and harmonica. Hey, Lil' Freddy!
October 08, 2008
Now Trance has got some online instructional videos- check 'em out, learn to
riff like Trance!
October 05, 2008
Performance matters. Among things I really like, Rossini's overture for La Gazza Ladra
(the Thieving Magpie) is up near the top. I'm no connoisseur, no classical music expert,
but I do like good music, and this Rossini guy, he wrote some good music.
I enjoy this piece, even in the crappy MIDI electronic form I've listened to at work for years.
Tonight it dawned on me that I could find a real performance on You Tube and record it off the net.
I'll tell you why I steal... it's because performance matters.
I could, of course, go out to a music store, or hit Amazon, and find some version of this piece.
There's hundreds of recordings of this piece. But the thing is, they're all different.
How will I know which one I will like if I don't either A: Study classical music,
read all the reviews and determine who is supposed to have the best performance, or B:
Download copies and listen, decide for myself? You know that option B is the better option.
So I searched and I listened to several versions of the overture for La Gazza Ladra.
I even listened to a tuba quartet version. Finally, I found exhibit A: La Filarmónica de Berlín,
conducted by Claudio Abbado, here. And it's very good,
very energetic. I think this Abbado guy is somebody famous. But to me, it seemed a bit fast, a bit rushed.
There's a lot of notes in this piece, and I remember that the German violinists wanted to be paid by the note a
few years back. There is a sense of Euros clinking behind this...
I kept looking, and found exhibit B: a version by Nino Rota Orchestra, conducted by Bepi Speranza,
From the first measure it's obvious that these people understand what makes this piece work.
And you've got to love a conductor named Bepi. Check out his hair- even for an orchestra conductor it's wild hair!
Why is version 2 so much better than version 1? It would be easy to say it's an ethnic thing,
but I don't really know. Watch the videos, and see if you can't tell the difference in the quality,
the feeling of the performance. Same notes on the paper, more money paid for version one- yet version
two brings tears to my eyes. To me it's astounding!
October 02, 2008
Last night was like when I was a kid listening to distant AM radio stations way
late at night. I just happened to switch on my receiver and there was a really
fine song playing. Something contemporary, I couldn't identify who, but the stereo
spread of the instruments impressed me mightily. Things were very distinctly placed.
So I put off working on the song I was working on and just dug the sounds. I thought
maybe I was tuned to WXPN and since they are pretty good about announcing the artists
I hung in through the next song, Little Wing, and it seemed like somebody was
making a point about stereo placement in songs, because that one has the drums all on
one side and Jimi and his guitar all on the other side. This was followed by a
wonderful acapella version of Under the Bridge- again, with very distinct imaging.
Rather than try to achieve a total blend of voices somewhere near the middle, every person
singing had their own place in the stereo field. (I'm fascinated by this, technically, after attempting
something similar with the Old Time Liberation Front recordings) After that there was
a rippin' Tex-Mex sort of song, done the way David Lindley likes to do them, but with
more button accordion. It was great. The next song was completely
different, a really mellow sort of Kansas City shuffle/blues number. By
now I was convinced that this DJ was god and I had my portable dictation recorder
handy just to make sure I caught the names of the bands. Here's some bits from that
KC tune strung together...
Well, as it turns out, it wasn't WXPN that I had tuned in and they never did announce the artists,
(they never even announced the station ID!) so consider this an October contest- can you identify the artist who recorded this song?
I'd guess it's a group consisting of guitar, sax, piano, bass and drums. Judging from
the quality of the recording, I'd say it's contemporary. The winner gets my thanks- I
want this record! I don't think I've ever heard a group as loose-jointed as this play
as tight as this, if you know what I mean. And the ending kills!
(bonus points if you can identify the vocal group
know, I know, groups like Manhattan Transfer just wig some people out, and there's
about a million versions of this out there, but I think this particular version is
October 01, 2008
Here's the latest MP3 by Midnight production-
Orgy of Hate.mp3
Orgy of Hate.ogg
It's a hold-over from last month.