From the Studio - Take 4

We're getting there.

Five songs down, five to go, as least as far as the bulk of the music goes. We may add some percussion to a couple of the tracks, but barring that, we've done half the music. We also had a really productive night in the studio last night, which is good, being as we lost a week last week.

The plan for the night was simple to lay guitar and keys for "From the Inside Out" "Say So." But we had hit a glitch earlier on that really didn't make itself known until this week. Two sessions ago, I did not attend, and a couple of my arrangements had been changed. No problem, the arrangements were guides, anyway. We've made a couple of on-the-fly changes on other songs. I just didn't know what changes had been made.

As I listened to the songs, We realized that that for some reason they ran long in the verses, and a couple of the transitions didn't seem to fit right. (These were just rhythm tracks, by the way. Drums and bass only.) We started trying to cut up "From the Inside Out" to take out the extra measures, but realized that we'd be better off just re-recording it from scratch. We hadn't planned on having Danny record anything, so we had to call him to grab his bass and come to the studio.

After one false start, Danny and Elyano retracked the song in one take. We may redo the bass, as Danny wasn't really warmed up, and thinks he can do better, but the arrangement is right now. That done, we started to look at "Say So." The intro was long by eight measures, and there were four extra measures in the break before the second verse. But the bassline and groove were so good that we were hesitant to try and cut it up. After some discussion we decided that we could use the extra space in the song for some vocal vamping.

We decided since we already had "Say So" loaded up, to finish that one out. We recorded keys and guitar, but in listening to the playback, I didn't really like the way the guitar sounded. (This is a problem working in a studio environment - the dreaded playback. You hear everything! Yuk!

The guitar sounded a little harsh for the feel of the rest of the song, so it was clear I had to change my tone. I had been playing clean through my modeler, and adding some overdrive with the Bad Monkey. After fiddling around a bit, I decided to ditch the Monkey and play a distorted patch through the Digitech, and switch up to the neck pickup only to mellow out the sound a bit. This combination sounded much better for this song.

These are the kinds of descisions that you have to make when doing a project like this. We had fiddled around with the voiceing on the piano as well, going with a kind of techno-synth deal. (The Yamaha has got a sweet sound engine!) Proper tone selected, and let 'er rip!

Another listen, and this take was much better... but. But something was just... not right. Gabi pointed out that the guitar and the piano seemed to be clashing in the pre-chorus. (The "To be salt and light in the world, in the world..." part) Justin had been playing a register higher than I was in the choruses, but came down to the C#m for that, and was stepping on the guitar a bit. Enormous self-sacrifice time. We pulled the guitar out of that part of the song, so that there is only guitar in the chorus (Let the redeemed of the Lord say so...) and bridge (I am redeemed...) and nowhere else. This was perfect - great dynamics, plus the song came out a little more rock-and-rollish than the original, which fits in with the feel of the record in general.

With not enough time left in the session to do another song, we instead mixed down three of the songs we had completed into rough cuts. These will be given to the vocalists, so that they can begin rehearsing for their parts, and get a feel for the arrangements and groove of the songs. The arrangements are a little different than we usually do the songs live, so they're going to need to get familar with them.

So, I've got a CD with three songs on it that I cannot stop listening to. I cannot believe how good this sounds. Being able to hear some music after all this work has really refreshed my excitement level, and I'm sure it will do the same to the other members of the team. Especially the vocalists, who haven't heard a note of the album yet. I can't wait to play if for them Sunday and give them their copies.

Here is a Facebook page for the upcoming CD with some clips of the rough cuts. Remember, these are in no way the final mix. The clips are in the music player on the right side.


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