Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recording Continues

Another day another long ass haul!  Just finished checking the masters of the recordings I did today and yesterday and I'm quite happy with the way they all turned out.  No vocals just yet.  Those will probably take another week or two to be done but I have to say that it's quite nice to have songs that all sit in a pretty comfortable place in my new voice.  What was it that voice told me a few months ago?  Write to your strengths and then the rest will fall into place.

Recorded (in 20 takes) an aggressive piano ballad that I wrote and never got around to recording in 1993.  It was part of a gargantuan project that i had envisioned being two discs worth of songs and while one of them was (kinda) recorded back in 2001 this is the first time this particular song has seen the light of day.  The meter is complicated in it although it's only piano and voice but it alternates between 1/2 time to 3/4 time back and forth during a few sections and I was terrified while recording it.  I set the room simulator to HALL, shut my eyes (partially) and imagined I was playing in a concert hall.  It took me close to 2 hours to get it done, which is saying something because the song scarcely runs 2 and a half minutes in length.  I did add strings to it but then ended up deleting them since it muddied up the song.

Also re-worked a song that I wrote two weeks ago that wasn't working out in it's original format.  I was going to save that original version and re-wrote the vocal line for cello.  That ended up not working out either because I felt that the lyrics, while a bit vague, were saying something I really wanted to sing about.  So the cello never got it's chance and I re-wrote, re-titled, re-arranged and re-recorded that song this afternoon and I'm very pleased with the end result.

In my youth I had the hardest time condensing ideas into neat little 3 1/2 minute songs.  Ask any of my old friends and they'll tell you, my idea of a pop song was a 5 minute song.  It just seemed as if I couldn't find a way to edit my thoughts back then...much in the same way I can't seem to edit this rambling blog.  Well, I've finally MASTERED the art of the 3 1/2 minute pop song and most of the songs all fall well within the 4 minute range.  That's progress for me.

Right now I'm shutting things down for the night and crawling into bed with thoughts of halfway decent vocals on my mind. La bonne chance pour demain!

Fais des beaux reves!

Harry

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Download Drops Today

The second EP is now up at Noise Trade for free download.  The second single off of RENDER, NOTHING has been remixed for this single release.  The single also features 4 non-album tracks.  CALYX which was written from the perspective of a plant, SCARED OF IT ALL about overcoming fear, NIGHTWALKHOME about what happened to me one night on the way home and THE WORD LONELY which is available in it's full length version with more violin work and distorted vocals.

The single mix of  NOTHING was edited together using several alternative mixes of the original tracks.  CALYX utilises samples acquired throughout the years including some scratching and DJ call-outs.  SCARED OF IT ALL also utilises some scratching as well as the sound of vinyl scratches to give it a vintage sound.  The bass frequency on this track is quite pronounced as well.  NIGHTWALKHOME (one word, folks) features a keyboard patch that was synthesised using a drum pattern and placed in the song during random moments.  The middle-eastern melody line is a combination of keyboards and processed vocals.  THE WORD LONELY was originally a three and a half minute song that I extended about a year after I recorded it.  Didn't want to add more verses just more music and effects which is why the result is a bit like an extended dub version.

Enjoy.  Back to mellow for the next release in 3 weeks.

Harry

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Download Drops Next Week

The next single with more exclusive non-album tracks will drop next week and will be available for three weeks only. Download while you can!

Harry

Monday, May 16, 2011

MUSIC DOWNLOADS ON NOISE TRADE

I suppose I should address the availability of my music on NOISE TRADE. I came across this site through a friend on Twitter who also has her music online with them. It seemed like a interesting premise so I thought, "Why not?" To download the tracks you only need to submit your information. There is no charge, it's basically a tipping system where you pay what you feel like, if you feel like. Obviously I'm not going to get rich this way, but that's not the objective; I just want to get my stuff heard.

SO SORRY, MY BAD: The first single off of the mother album RENDER was written as an apology for my fuck-ups in the past. This single version is actually an extended version whereas the album version is just under 3 minutes. I used to perform this live a lot with my former band and whenever we did we performed this extended version and never the shorter.

PRELUDE (NON-ALBUM TRACK): This was written for my friend Shannon's wedding. It was played just before they came down the aisle. I'd also written another piece entitled LOVE SONG that will hopefully turn up on here soon. It was just by a stoke of luck that this piece anticipates the next track because it wasn't planned.

MANCHESTER SKIES (NON-ALBUM TRACK): Written as a comment on sudden and fleeting fame.

WATCHING & WAITING (NON-ALBUM TRACK): A short piece written for someone who gives a care. Recorded live in one take with the backup vocals and additional keys added as an afterthought.

Hope you like it.
Harry

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hello 1987 and 1989

Just finished mixing and mastering one more song that was recorded today. Originally written and recorded initially in 1987 and again in 1989 "This Time" has been completely re-imagined for now and I'm very happy with the new direction. Having only one ear sometimes poses a problem when I'm mixing and bouncing tracks and I often have to stop, take the cans off, and have a little mental margarita in order to make sure what I'm hearing is correct. I'm burning a CD to listen to so I can decide whether or not to keep or dump the vocals. After a while listening fatigue can set in so I can't always be 100% certain that what's been put down isn't turd-like.

Recording in this old-fashioned way is very taxing and I finally remember why I loved recording the other way...TIME, everything would go much faster with being able to put everything down on hard disk whereas doing things live really takes time making sure everything is played correctly and if it's not you have to stop the entire take and start all over. I can always punch in but sometimes there's no clean in or out so it doesn't always work. When it's down on hard disk I can go to the exact spot in the song and delete and correct whatever's wrong. I could probably have done at least four songs today, but who's to complain? I'm just happy I got these two (actually three, but the third doesn't have a vocal on it yet so it's not finished) down. Hopefully this creative spark will continue tomorrow as I have to shut everything down now and get ready to do my exercising. Back to skinny!

Laters!
Har

Hello 1983!

Just finishing up a successful recording session! Got the vocal on the first take, which is truly something for me and the only problem I had was with the bass being too low but it turned out good since I wanted it to be felt rather than heard. This session came about quite spontaneously and I was greeted with a bit of bad news as my Yamaha SY-99 Workstation Keyboard has gone kaput! Undaunted I soldiered on and pulled out my other Yamaha and began recording the "old" way. With my SY-99 I could lay down drums, bass and keys on the hard disk and build from there either on the keyboard or on the master, which was the way I had come to record for the past 20 some odd years, well...with that keyboard awaiting repairs (I need a new internal battery for the wave card and it's uncertain whether the repair shop I called can do it or not) I'm going to have to resort to doing things the old way by actually recording everything directly onto tape (or rather, disc) and then build from there. It's going to be interesting doing things this OLD FASHIONED way and I'm anxious to re-visit my old Kawai Drum Machine to see if I can remember how the sucker works! I re-recorded a song from 1983 (Colours of Night) and it was so much fun reinterpreting it. I started at 10:30 AM and right now it's 1:24 PM and it's done. Finished. Mixed and Mastered. Ahhh, just like the old days. Maybe recording this way isn't so bad after all. I'm just grateful that I don't have to mic an acoustic piano. I actually started this project three years ago when I recorded the old Elvis Presley song "Always On My Mind" and wanted to record or re-record songs from my youth. "Colours of Night" is the first of the originals of mine that have been finished and "Dream of You" which was actually recorded with an over-produced orchestral track back in 1983 has been stripped down to just piano and voice. All told, I'm going to re-construct about 10 or so of my old songs and record some cover songs that I've loved for a long time. So glad that the voice is cooperating and I can't wait to let people hear my new (old) stuff!

Harry

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Enter Spring...exit mental anguish!

So what is an "artiste" without a little anxiety? Did that sound pretentious? "Artiste"? Really? Only another songwriter/musician or writer could possible identify with having a mental block. With painters or clothes designers you're often dealing with something tangible and while I'm almost certain that it can be just as difficult to suss out inspiration, the idea of actually being able to mold and shape something physically seems much easier and attractive to me than having to "hear" something and then try to convey that in whatever form it chooses to manifest itself as. I do not mean to say that painters, designers, sculptors have it easier, not by any means! It just "seems" like it to me that their result is much more immediate than that of a songwriter or singer. We often have to wait for things to be recorded, perfected and then mixed and then released. When I was young I was incredibly prolific and wrote and recorded basically every day, now it's a bit harder and I'm uncertain as to whether it's age or just my being too difficult to please that's gotten in the way as of late. I'm actually looking into the prospect of recycling songs from my past, which wouldn't be such a bad thing considering that no one, other than good friends, have heard these old songs.

When I was young I hadn't really "lived" so books and films were the tools I used as a basis for inspiration. As I've grown older I've sort of abandoned this process and used my own life as inspiration; the current problem is that nothing really interesting is happening in my life other than a few passing moments so there isn't much in the well to be tapped. I am, however, powering through, pulling out old score sketches and re-working past works into a few things; I am working on writing a ballet in 12 movements and also writing new material for the next album which has taken forever to take shape but the main source of inspiration so far has been Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo". I am excited to have "some" direction at this point and am proceeding accordingly and with caution.

Mental anguish take a hike, this puppy is digging a new hole in the backyard!

Woof!
Harry