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Monday, 24 October 2011

Song Number 39: Feeling Go Away


Love 80s-type Electro-Soul; Hate Parkinson's Disease! Come on - donate generously at http://www.justgiving.com/songaweek

Vocals, Linn LM-1 drums, piano, saw wave and a bunch of bells.  As much as I enjoy doing tracks like Amenartas, Long Long Way and Lucky One, I also have a real fondness for minimal productions.  I think it's growing up as a big Prince fan that did it - tracks like When Doves Cry, If I Was Your Girlfriend, and pretty much the whole of the Dirty Mind album are very bare in their productions, and these are tracks that would either excite me or, for some reason, give me the creeps.

It wouldn't take much to scare me, though.  Terry Gilliam animations used to terrify and fascinate me, as did the video for And She Was by Talking Heads (Dir. Jim Blashfield, who did the same creepy things with Xeroxed photographs in Michael Jackson's Leave Me Alone). 

Nooooo! Make it go away! Make it go away!

Anyway: to the song.  The words were written before the music; though "Sleep reset me/feeling go away" came into my head with its melody fully formed.

The drums are all done with Linn LM-1 samples - the explosion sound that sits where a cymbal normally would is actually a handclap slowed down to a zillionth of its speed.  I love the sounds of the LM-1, but it's hard to use them without making it sound like I'm trying to be Prince (at this point, my family will no doubt be shouting, "But you are!").

Get over yourself, Falconer

 After putting the piano chords in, and then writing the melody, it all sounded perfectly pleasant, but not particularly interesting.  I wanted something that would jar the ears, but sound intriguing rather than repulsive - and so I shifted the piano track along so each chord comes in slightly behind the beat.  I hope it doesn't piss you off too much, but I just didn't want the track to sound too comfortable; the singer, after all, is in an uncomfortable, sleep-deprived, confused state.

So anyway, that's that.  Let me know what you think, either here, on the YouTube channel, on the Twitter account (where I spend most of my time!) or on the Facebook page.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Song Number 38: Lucky One

Hello - it's me!

Yup, that's Donald Duck in the picture.  And if you don't donate a few quid to Parkinson's UK, Donald will be most upset! http://www.justgiving.com/songaweek

Incidentally, while I mention Donald Duck, have a look at this great piece of Allied WWII propaganda - brilliant, and slightly disturbing:

But anyway, back to business.  This track is an overproduced monstrosity - basically me trying to be Todd Rundgren.  Rundgren is a fantastic musician - a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer responsible not only for some tremendous chart-friendly hits such as Prime Time (produced for The Tubes); Hello, It's Me (from his wonderful album Something/Anything) and the first Bat Out Of Hell album by Meatloaf and Jim Steinman... but also for a catalogue of work that's always interesting to listen to (the beautiful a capella album, produced nearly 20 years before we were getting excited about Björk's Medúlla), even if the experiments sometimes miss the mark (such as the one-joke-stretched-too-long With A Twist).

When you're this talented, you can wear what you want
Nowadays, Rundgren's still producing consistently interesting and listenable music, with plenty of tracks you feel are great even though you're buggered if you can work out why.  As I mentioned in the last post, I was privileged to have got to see him at London's Jazz Café a few weeks ago, when he played one of the most relaxed, fun shows I've seen in a long time - despite what impressions you might get from the above photo, he seems to be a very funny guy who doesn't take himself all that seriously.  Much like another favourite of mine, Frank Zappa, he's an artist who definitely rewards the time and mind-space you're prepared to give the music.  Start with A Wizard, A True Star.

So yeah, millions of tracks; lots of overdubbed vocals; and a big, flappy Vistalite drumkit like his current drummer Prairie Prince.  The guitar chords in the chorus, for example, are made up of three guitars, a synth, a clav, and strings.  Daft.

BY THE WAY - I see from the little Feedjit thing on the side that I'm getting visitors from all over the place, day and night.  Firstly, hello to you all!  Second, while you're here, please leave your comments and maybe make a donation as well!  We musicians crave attention and constant reassurance, you know...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Song Number 37: Waterloo Staircase

Try this with headphones on.  In a dark room.

DONATE TO PARKINSON'S UK AT http://www.justgiving.com/songaweek - if you don't, it means you like Parkinson's.  *FACT*

So this track was written in a few minutes, and the main purpose was to play around with the backing vocal sounds and try to convey some of the atmosphere of one of my favourite places in London.  The title should give you a bit of a clue (HELLO!) as to where it is.  It's a small staircase nobody seems to use, and it feels like one of the few places in the whole of the Capital that isn't covered by CCTV.  Not that I want to get up to anything naughty there, of course - I just remember the wonderful feeling of calm that washed over me the first time I walked up it and realised I wasn't being watched by an electronic eye.

Doing all manner of prohibited activities...
The backing vocal noises have no effects on them other than a spot of reverb - I did a lot of waving my hands in front of my face, singing into a saxophone bell, and other ridiculous things, but it was a delight to be able to play around with noises like that again - I think part of me was inspired by a recent Todd Rundgren concert, at which he played this track from his "A Capella" album - Lost Horizon.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Song Number 36: Stink Eye

Back?  I never went away!

As I said in my previous post, I've been having trouble with this one - just found the backing so uninspiring and New Jack Swing-ish.  Anyway, I plugged away at it, and came up with this, which is just a fun bit of nonsense.  It's also the first time I've heard the word "Hinny" used in popular song...

Donations have been sat at that level for too long - we need to get a shift on if we're to reach this £1000 by New Year.  Tell your friends about the site - send them a link to your favourite song - then donate at http://www.justgiving.com/songaweek

Song 37 is also finished - I'll let this one breathe for a bit and then get it up tomorrow or Monday.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Working on Song 36

I'm once again at a point in a song's development where I've got a backing track sorted, but it's so uninspiring I'm struggling to find a melody to fit with it. 

Now comes the part where I stop layering up instruments and start layering up vocals, grunting sounds that might fit, and hoping they form themselves in to words and sentences later on.

What's not helping is that this track is so New Jack Swing-ish, and I can't stand New Jack Swing!

But not to worry - I'll come up with something.  And I can always take comfort in the fact that it can't possibly be worse than I Wanna Sexx You Up...

The wardrobe's even worse than the spelling!
Fuck me, the '90s were bleak.

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