Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Release the Bats"

This is probably the liveliest song I've ever written, a fairly busy bass guitar track drives it from start to finish with various percussion and synth treatments creating the "hectic bats" atmosphere. The outro features an electric guitar played by pushing the side of a pick up and down the strings in an almost bow like fashion while moving up and down the neck. I further altered the sound by mixing the main track with a reversed track. I think that makes three times I've used this technique on this album. For those into the finer points of mixing, I used "side chaining" on the bass guitar and drum tracks to get them to sit together right in the mix. They were fighting each other at first but this solved that, I think.

Monday, May 19, 2014

More Halloween, I'm Afraid - Recording Details

When I recorded this track I initially wrote the bass line and added a drum beat with the intention of writing a second part that would alternate with what I had so far. As happens sometimes when creating music, the plan changed and a "less is more" attitude was adopted. It seems I couldn't tear myself away from the bassline/beat combo and kept adding other instruments and sounds over it that I liked, and every new idea I tried for a second part just didn't fit in. Once I decided to go with this idea I recorded a couple of simple single note synth tracks while working the modulation control slightly at various points, making both of these tracks run for the entire length of the song. Then I mixed these two tracks together and started experimenting, when I reversed one of them and played them both back with one going backwards and one going forward I knew I had something. These are heard as a quiet sort of spooky wailing sound that goes up and down in intensity throughout the song. The brief synth lead at the beginning of the song was an aggressive lead setting I tend to favor and the actual melody is used again at the end of the song with an electric guitar. The so called "middle eight" that many songwriters refer to could be the section in between the synth intro solo and the guitar solo. Here I recorded several short passages of electric guitar played with a slide, in this case a glass bottleneck type. I faded these in and out while adding more eerie moaning sounds from the synth and a muted toy piano lick. There's also some additional percussion hits here. Then the song is taken over with a dark toned guitar solo that brings it to a close with the same lead the synth introduced at the start. This guitar solo was intended to be darker and quieter, I used an Epiphone Les Paul with the neck pick up and the guitars tone control turned completely to the bass end. There is distortion, reverb and digital delay on it but along with the dark bassy sound I kept the volume under control here because I didn't want it to sound too "rock show" and it fit better. To give it an even more mysterious sound I used an exotic Persian scale(1 - flat2 - 3 - 4 - flat5 - flat6 - 7) to break away from playing overworked pentatonic licks. Of course I do use a note here and there that doesn't belong in this scale but that's what makes improvising interesting.

Friday, May 16, 2014

New Video "Steampunk Lullaby"

The new album "More Halloween, I'm Afraid" has just been released on itunes and will be showing up at various subscription services shortly, this is the first video. "Steampunk Lullaby" was created with several industrial sounds, some eerie moaning voices and several traditional instruments causing it to veer from sounding like a can factory to a music box with other distractions along the way. I had a lot of fun capturing the sounds in my head and putting the video together.