One of the last guitar parts of the songs on Uneasy Listening now available for download:The Hooligan (786 downloads)
Listen to the song and download here:
It has come to my notice that my last record has been reviewed rather kindly in a couple of places:
You’ll notice that the first reviewer opines that I’m a better player than singer. I won’t argue with that, although some folks have written to me in indignant protestation which is heartwarming! For my part, I long ago decided to do the best I can with the tools I have.
I’m also delighted that the CD has been warmly received by customers – and even more so since many of them had bought the first – Interim Reports – and had come back for more!
What now? On with the next! Several songs are “in the can” although the shape of the collection has not yet formed in my mind. More soon.
I hope you have time to wander over and take a listen:
It’s played on my Martin OM-18V.
I have a class of song that use I as catharsis in response to certain challenges I face in life. I call this class of songs my Catharsis Song Class 🙄 . The challenge met by this particular example is the vicious circle of insomnia caused by a bum day job which renders the day job less endurable which causes me to lose even more sleep. I commend the song to anybody requiring something soporific in the wee small hours. As ever from me this is a filigree of fingerstyle underpinning a wine befuddled vocal.
Soon to be on my Uneasy Listening CD, I hope you have time to have a listen.
Can be streamed from here:
And downloaded here:
Living Is Easy
I lie away at night
But I’m not counting sheep
I’m just trying to get some sleep
Turn on the radio
A little jazz FM
I’d sleep easy if I could play like them
Get up in the morning
Go to shave my face
Get ready to join the human race
Living is easy
Without any sub-plots
I’m just happy joining up the dots
I hope you enjoy it!
Or: “The Year Of The Sheep”
“But [the Scottish] hills are empty. In all of Britain only among them can one find real solitude, and if their history is known there is no satisfaction to be got from the experience.”
(John Prebble. From the introduction to his “The Highland Clearances”, Penguin Books, 1963.)
“Since you have preferred sheep to men, let sheep defend you!”
(Quotation from the same book.)
This is a song from the forthcoming CD which I’m lurching towards. I’m sure you all know that Bliadhna nan Caorach (The Year Of The Sheep) refers to the year 1792 during which all the flocks of sheep in Scotland formed an army and evicted the human population from the hills and the glens. (Eek!)
This has reached the stage where I would welcome critique on the sonics which you think I should maybe attend to before I commit to mastering. My own ears have thrown in the towel.
Some might say it’s another one of my attempts at shoe-horning some lyrics into something that wants to be an acoustic fingerstyle guitar piece!
Please take a listen or download (320kbps MP3, 10.61Mb):
Free download for limited time from here:
The Year Of The Sheep
Five thousand children no foreigner could rule
Were slaughtered in the sleet when following a fool
To keep the people friendly, to keep the lion tame
They used the paper and the pen, the sword and the flame
From the year of the tourist to the year of the sheep
For the morality of the nation and the king’s peace to keep
For sound economics and cleanliness
They turned overpopulation into a wilderness
Now the hills are kept empty for sophisticated eyes
The picture on the postcard is the consolation prize
Oh my, look at the view!
The hills are kept empty for me and for you
The pre-production of my forthcoming CD Uneasy Listening is nearing completion! But there is still some work to do. If you would like to be kept up to date with the progress and be pointed to a place where you can download free pre-mastered mixes of the songs as they progress, please complete the form below:
At this time a few things remain undecided: song order, booklet artwork and blurb, inclusion of lyrics… maybe you will have some ideas!
Thank you for your interest – and support!
The bulk of the songs for Uneasy Listening is sitting on the hard-drive of my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation or Discount Analogue Workaround, depending on age and prejudice) awaiting editing. What does this comprise?
Well, as far as the guitar parts are concerned, it involves editing out the occasional (I insist) fluffs from the selected take using corresponding bits from alternate takes. This can be a painstaking episode auditioning the selected take closely to identify the aforesaid fluffs, performing the edit on the computer screen by incorporating and cross-fading bits chopped out of other files and incorporating them into the selected one, then listening closely to the results to make sure the edit is seamless.
For the vocal track it involves “comping” from four or five takes. For the uninitiated, this involves selecting the best lines, phrases, words, or even parts of words from these takes and gluing them together in a new master version of the vocal track. With a little imagination you should be able to see that this can be a mind-numbing venture.
In fact, both of these activities are the least creative part of the process of putting an album together and can leave you spiritually drained. You are, after all, listening out for the bad bits. And, to be honest, some bits can indeed be hair-raisingly bad. There is also a danger that, after spending a couple of hours with headphones on staring at the screen, your faculty for making accurate judgments can become blunted at which time it’s best to shut the DAW down and come back to it the next day.
So why don’t I just record the song as I would perform it; ie, guitar and vocal all at once straight into the mics and into the DAW? Well, there are a few reasons:
1. I don’t have the mics to do this effectively
2. This is hard (to my mind, impracticable) without an engineer to help with mic placement, and get an optimum balance between them at the console.
3. The sonics of the studio are not optimum for this method.
4. I would only feel comfortable recording this way (think take after take) when the house is empty, which is rare.
5. Working the way I do enables me to apply EQ, compression, and reverb (sparingly in each case) to the guitar and vocal separately, allowing greatest flexibility.
I would not hesitate to record the songs as performed in a commercial studio with an engineer to hand, but that is not the case. I’m happy with the way I work and I’m concerned only in achieving results that are sonically pleasing to the customers of my records. And I mean by that obtaining a quality of production that doesn’t get in the way of the songs. Or to put it simply: to achieve transparency.
But there it is. I have a pleasant few days mucking around with .wav files and their raggedy representations on my computer screen. I’m just glad I recently invested in a new computer graphics card so I can see the fluffs and bum notes in their digitally crystal clear, accurately colour-balanced glory.
So opined a forumite’s family member recently after listening to How Well. It must be the nasally Scottish accent. No matter. No offence taken here. None at all.
I posted How Well at a few places to get the benefit of some objective ears and some feedback on any “issues” with the recording. It seemed be liked by most of the good folks who took the trouble to listen and respond with comments. That’s always a relief and provides a little charge of confidence. Somebody heard “syllables in bundles” in the refrain. I like that. I don’t think it was a criticism.
More than one had a distaste for the “last” chord (it’s actually the penultimate chord but I guess it might feel like the last judging by the effect it’s having). On the guitar, its fingered as D major chord with a Bb in the bass. I stole the idea from the end of the 1st movement of Howard Hanson’s 2nd Symphony. Anyway, I suppose the chord is really a Bbmaj7 with an augmented 5th. I explained away its use as being a musical panic attack: “It reminds me of the occasions when I’ve almost dropped off to sleep and am awoken sharply by some trivial worry that has presumably been lurking in my sub-conscious, just waiting for the moment to strike!” I hope they understood!
Well, How Well may be, well, finished – nearly. I’ll whack it on to a CD with a few others, live with it for a while, and come back and do whatever tweaking comes to mind. It’s the third of three songs on this page:
A curious little song and I’m curious to know what you make of it.