So, this is leBLOG, the place to read up and listen in on the recording of the second leBLEU album. The posts will be irregular and variable, but will hopefully give a glimpse into how I'm trying to squeeze recording an album into a busy life of fatherhood, work, running and volunteering. Merci, Phillip.
This evening I created MP3s of all the rough tracks and produced a playlist in iTunes. Even the third mix of Mark Zonda's track doens't quite fit in. So I'm going to go for a fourth mix of that one. The second track with Warm Morning needs a recorded guitar to start so it mixes better with the opening track. Plus I've decided to put a couple of instrumental tracks (possibly with interview extracts) into the middle of the album. It is really rough but I can hear an album coming together.
I've been trying really hard to find an American to collaborate on a song. I've picked out what I think is a great track as well, but alas . . . Today I had a great idea though. What about finding a podcast and using some quotes from that. I searched around using Everyzing and bingo the track is taking shape.
Suzy Mangion got back to me today to say that the vocals on 'a step, a cross, the sea' are a bar adrift. I think I've sorted it and got another version for her to check.
I've been singing - never a good thing - to lay down some vocals and get a structure together for the title track. This song has two versions, one which will open the album and another to end it. I won't post these demos for everyone's benefit.
We got a CV in at work for an American designer. I noticed that he also sang. So I emailed him and he is going to give the title track of the album a go.
I relistened to the Mark Zonda track and I'm not happy with the mix. I've started again on a third mix of the track. It just rocks a bit too much compared to the rest of the album, so I'm stripping it back a bit.
I've just emailed two tracks to collaborators to check. One is with Suzy Mangion, Pickled Egg solo artist and ex-half of George. The other is with an Italian group I came across on Shelf Life Records called Warm Morning. Once they get back to me I'll post extracts.
I came across Mark's band Tiny Tide via Shelflife Record's myspace page. I approached Mark to write a track about what the Roman's mean to him as an Italian in 2007. The result is an epic track which will sit either towards the start or end of the album. Why not listen to an extract from the rocking middle of Rock in the empire?
I just heard back from Minori (of Pop Off Tuesday also on Pickled Egg) that she really likes the first 'finished track' for the album. I asked Minori to work on a song about the history of Japan and she choose one of Andy's tracks. I'm really liking the result and just hope the rest of the album turns out as well. Why not listen to an extract of The ancient paths?
Russell, one of my work colleagues at Whitespace came in this morning and said he'd been reading this blog and listening to the tracks. He commented that the music sounded like a cross between 'Beck and Vangelis' - that is pretty cool with me - we'll have to see if it still stands once the final tracks are mixed. He also leant me a copy of Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive which looks pretty good.
. . . I was on holiday in Tuscany and came up with the idea for this project. Today I'm in Italy on holiday again, this time in Umbria. Have been thinking about changing the plan slightly and getting some singer / songwriters onboard now. I can then do one final mix of each track to bring in the vocals, double bass and any other extra elements the mix might need.
Just the title track to go and everything is ready for Ian. Over the last couple of days I've finished two more tracks. Another of Ricky's tracks RBRS13v3 with a crazy ever changing beat at 121.79bpm. The final track features a funky riff from Ash, I'm really happy with the whole track. AKRS07v4 at 102.2bpm could be a really catchy final song.
This latest track certainly starts in the 'wild west' but I'm not too sure about the ending. Time will tell how the track finally ends. For now I give you Ricky's cowboy tremolo at 100bpm with RBRS00v3.
Sadly I got sidetracked (pardon the pun) with the rest of life for a few days. We are also about to head down to London for 4 days, so things are going to slow down even further. But at least I've got two tracks to post up, ANRS01v3 with Andy on guitar at 79.05bpm and AKRS04v2 with Ash on guitar at 117.79bpm.
These two tracks have come together quite quickly, so I've got 6 of the dozen or so tracks I'm after. The first of these new pieces - AKRS06v3 at 105bpm with Ash on guitar - has a really nice lilt to it. The other is such a different track to my usual style with Ricky pulling some great tricks on the guitar. I've had a lot of fun, especially since I didn't know where to take the track after the 3 minute mark. So, RBRS15v3 at 93.98bpm is a work in progress.
I know I haven't been posting as often as I should have been, but I have been busy. The first four tracks are ready for bass. You can listen to the 120bpm AARS17v4 with guitar from Adam, AKRS10v4 with Ash at 56.72bpm, ANRS03v3 with Andy at 99.74bpm or Ricky at 100bpm with RBRS16v3. I'm really happy with all of these and have a few of the others started so keep tuned.
So, Ian came round for a meal and a nice glass of red wine (as I mentioned on Wednesday). Afterwards we listened to the 10 tracks I've got so far and he left 'excited'. The plan is that he'll lay down some double bass parts in the second half of April. So I've got a couple of weeks to get everything ready for him.
Loop 7 was good but I didn't think it was that funky until Ash turned it into a gem. This is going to be a really good one.
Over the last day or so I've managed to edit the guitar parts for a track from each of Ash, Andy and Ricky. We are now up to 8 tracks ready for (double) bass. Just as well Ian is coming round for tea on Friday ;-)
Finished editing the guitar parts for another couple of tracks this evening. The first is an old track Adam played guitar on years ago. This actually appeared on my anonymous podcast last year with some less than impressive vocals. Hopefully the leBLEU version will be a better song. The second track for the night involved taking a 'punk riff' Ricky produced for Loop 15 and layering it with Loop 14, which certainly makes the 'loudest' mix so far.
Spent some time last night and again this morning creating snippets out of Andy's pieces for Loop 1. This is a nice mellow track which I'm already looking forward to doing the final mix of.
I emailed Nigel a couple of days ago and received a nice message back. He thought it was great I was making music again and mentioned that Minori from Pop-Off Tuesday has just started recording again.
As you'll hear some of Ash's tracks are really going to work without me doing much work but Loop 4 is a difficult one. The loop sounds great but has a tuned element which is hard to fit the guitar around. I've cut out an intro/middle 8, verse and chorus. The verse works least well but once we've got a bassline and mixed the track it might work better . . .
Sadly Adam is too stretched right now to put any guitar tracks down. As you'll hear later however, he'll still make it onto the album . . .
First up was a tricky dubby track (Loop 13) which doesn't really ever settle into a regular beat. Without much work a few of Ricky's pieces were working really nicely. On top of these I've added a slow Rhodes line and a rough bass for discussion with Ian. I'm sure if I put a System 7 track on it wouldn't sound that similar but they did keep springing into my mind.
Andy emailed his pieces over and Ash's arrived by mail. So now I've got 10 tracks to start sifting through - fantastic.
Over breakfast I started going through Ricky's guitar tracks. They are really varied - which is great. I've labeled all the tracks I think I can use in red, only to find Ricky had labeled a couple in blue. He was right though, so I soon turned those red as well.
Almost on schedule I got the first CD of guitar parts back. Nice one Ricky.
I panicked, all of a sudden I realised that Adam, Andy and Ash are too busy to record 4 tracks each. So I headed back into the studio and created another 4 loops. These I've just sent to Ricky, a colleague at the Scottish design agency where I work: 13, 14, 15 and 16
Over Christmas and New Year I've had a couple of weeks off at home with Katy and Meg. When they have slept I've worked in the studio. Armed with 12 loops I just emailed each of the 3 guitarists (Ash, Andy and Adam) with 4 tracks to work on over the next couple of months.
For Adam loops 2, 5, 8 and 10
For Andy loops 1, 3, 9 and 12
For Ash loops 4, 6, 7 and 11
On October 4th our daughter Meg was born. In some way or another I'm sure she'll make it onto the album. Also over the last couple of weeks all the 'usual suspects' got back to me.
Ian on the 21st:
"yesterday i ordered a mac! it's a sign! it's a sign!"
Norman on the 21st:
"I do indeed know a couple of really amazing singer/songwriters. I'll ask around."
Ash on the 21st:
"More than happy to do it." and then being very keen he sent a couple of sketches on the 23rd
Adam on the 5th:
"Definitely up for a bit of musical contribution."
I just emailed the demos and idea to Andy, Ash, Adam and Ian who all performed on the first album. Hopefully they'll all get involved. I also emailed Norman (from Gold Streets). I worked with Norman in New York and he knows a load of musicians who might be good as singers / collaborators later in the project.
We'll find out how the album turns out, but for now I'm trying to head towards a mix of the following influences:
Four Tet - Rounds
Jose Gonzalez - Verneer
Notwist - Neon Golden
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Tortoise - TNT
Sometimes it feels like our civilisation is starting to crumble. History is littered with the rise and fall of civilisations and I thought it would be interesting to explore this. I'd love to hear an Italian sing about their relationship with Roman history, a Mexican share the influence of the Aztecs or Mayans on their life and a fellow English man or woman sing about the fall of the British Empire.
Sonically, I want to mirror the rise and fall theme with songs that sound like they are on the brink of building, falling, collapsing and evolving. I've produced a couple of tracks to give an idea (please excuse my vocals):
Side Lines [MP3 - 1.4MB]
Won't Be The Last [MP3 - 2.6MB]
Have continued to think about 'the rise and fall' over the last few holiday days. Now wondering if it might make sense as 'The rise and fall of . . . leBLEU' rather than inventing another 'band'.
On holiday in Tuscany walking near San Gimignano. Started thinking about some musical ideas with the theme of 'the rise and fall of civilisation'.