Song #06 - Week of Feb 07-14, 2011
(Right-click or ctrl-click to download the song, or just click the link to play it.)
"Choctaw Ridge" -
Track count: 21 Tracks
Instrumentation: iMac, laptop, Live, MicroKorg, Live softsynths, voice, Ableton Live.
This is something I started last year, but never finished. It's based on a recording I made over two years ago - either on my laptop or a field recorder - of myself trying to get a drum part idea drown quickly, using just my voice. I then decided to use the voice part for the rhythm of a song instead of trying to play it with drum sounds. I distorted the original scratch recording, copied and re-shuffled it, ran it through some drone generators in Live, and otherwise sliced and diced it.
The name is from a line in the Bobbie Gentry song "Ode To Billie Joe," which is a great song, one of my favorites - partly because, even though it has tons of lyrics and characters in it, and goes on for quite a while, no one really knows for certain what the song is about. I love the sound of the name, too.
This song is an attempt to get a spacious journey and vista feel, like climbing a ridge and looking out over a landscape, but without using any purely natural sounds. I always wanted to go to Choctaw Ridge. This may be the closest I ever get.
Monday, Feb. 7: Opened and cleaned up the session for "Choctaw Ridge." Rough mix is there.
Tuesday, Feb. 8th - Did some re-works, edits and a final mix on "Strockholm" for Mike Barber to perform to in Seattle at Ten Tiny Dances shows there but didn't do much with this week's song today.
Thursday, Feb. 10th - Holy crap! I have totally lost track of the time. I have been working my ass off - writing and producing and rehearsing, hooking stuff up, moving it around, taking it apart, putting it back together, trying new techniques and dusting off old ones (including the Kaoss pads, I missed those!)…. And not much of the work I've done is actually making it into the song. But it feels good to be doing it. This might be "one of those weeks." I am taking it with me to the coast, though. I leave tomorrow.
Hmm. Vacations are going to be a challenge. The ideal is I take a uke or a banjo or something when I go on vacation, and sit staring out at the waves and plink away. The reality, this time at least, may be marathon sleep and not much else. I will crack the laptop if I can….. we'll see. I picked a tough song to do on a week like this.
Friday, Feb. 11th: In the morning, I took Robyn to the ER with a case of SVT (Short version: rapid heartbeat, like 160BPM - which is too fast, even for house music!) She's fine, but it was a little scary. We managed to limp off to the coast in the evening. I fully admit I did not get one bit of work done on this piece. I didn't even open my laptop.
Saturday, Feb. 12th: One of the most insane wind-storms I've ever been in on the coast. The wind was totally howling - so much so that at night I put the field recorder inside the woodstove/fireplace thing at the hotel where wind howling overhead was coming down and rattling the insides of the chimney and making weird noises. Contemplated ditching "Choctaw Ridge" to make a piece entirely out of that recording. Nah. Maybe not the best week to change course on a Saturday!
Sunday, Feb. 13th: Starting out with a very distorted process on the drum/vocal, then it resolves somewhat to a less distorted sound when the piece kicks in. I fade to and fro between the "straight" vocal and the distorted, and also threw an envelope follower on one track so the voice/drum triggers a bass synth sound. Some of the synthesizer parts are thin, especially in the last minute or so of the piece. I don't want it to be too grandiose or thick, but it does need to have a drama of some sort.
Monday, Feb 14: Away most of the day - ER again (big thanks to the ER cardiac team at Emanuel!) and then rehearsal at OBT. Recorded multiple layers of voices to finish this project. The voices are in the background, and although they build somewhat, they stay back. I'm happy enough with it - and it's a new week, so off it goes. One part that's hard about this project is not agonizing over the mixes, as I usually do. I am so busy I feel like my head is going to explode - like, James-Franco-busy. But this is such a wee, unassuming, friendly little tune, how could it hurt me? And here you have it.