Monday, March 06, 2006

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes

Friday and the weekend. March 3 – 5. So much has happened. So many changes.

Derek was not able to get back in, but that’s OK. We got what we need. Of the five tracks he recorded, we’ll probably end up using three of them. His playing on Reason to Believe was really hot. Or very cool. I can never remember the difference.

Rob was in again and finished all of the percussion parts. Then we went out for Dim Sum, but that’s another story for another section of the website. Let’s just say that I’ve never seen “fish lips” on a menu before.

While Rob and I were out, David recorded pretty much all of his guitar and bass parts. Layering, layering, layering, it’s all about layering. Celia, a fine musician whom we’ll get to in a minute, said that it’s like building with tiny bricks.

On Saturday we had a string trio come in. Two violins and a cello. They were three young women from CIM (the Cleveland Institute of Music) and they were fabulous. David wrote beautiful arrangements for Blessing, Edge of the Ocean, and a solo cello for Fire, and they executed it perfectly. This was a short but exciting session.

I’m starting to look forward to the final mixing process which, ironically, is more hours and hours of tedium. But that’s where we put all of the parts in their places and make the songs sound the way you’ll finally hear them. It’s hard to explain the mixing process to the uninitiated, but basically it’s where each track gets its own level (sorta like volume) – that is, how much of it you hear in relation to all of the other tracks – and effects, like reverb. With today’s technology the possibilities are literally infinite. You can get five different producers to mix the same tracks and end up with five completely different sounding songs. It’s an important step in the process. More about that when we get to it.

Sunday was a long busy day in the studio. Celia and Charlie came in from Athens (Ohio) to lend their talents to the recording. Celia used to be in my band (The Promised Band) when they lived up here. She’s a phenomenal talent (so is Charlie, her husband, but I haven’t worked with him as much. They play together and have a couple of CDs out. Check them out here). Among the instruments she plays is the hammer (or is it hammered?) dulcimer, banjo, harp, and 12-string (or is it stringed?) guitar. She also has a beautiful voice and perfect pitch. She and Charlie put down some guitar and banjo parts and will do some vocals on Monday. It was a pleasure and an honor to have them in the studio.

We put a third guitar part down on Silent Son but we may end up not using it. It’s a nice part, but the song is starting to sound too jaunty. I think the message of the lyric may become lost. It needs to be a little more sparse in the final mix. Sometimes less is more.

Jimmy Weaver, the engineer (who is also a fine musician we hear) got a friend of his to come in and do some electric guitar work for us. Sam Getz is all of 22 years old and is absolutely phenomenal. One of those natural talents. Never took a lesson. Doesn’t read (music). But he can hear a song once and then do anything you want. He played on three songs and I can’t wait for you to hear is scorching guitar solo on Let it Burn. He also played on Metaphor and Reason to Believe. He added a whole terrific layer to this record.

Monday we start the keyboards and Tuesday we lay down the horns. After that, it’s pretty much time for vocals.

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