Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #5 (Alchemy, Seascapes and Windy Woods)

After returning from my recent Berlin trip (see the previous blog entry) I immersed myself in a prolonged period of audio editing - sifting through, selecting, comping and refining the many takes and variations recorded not only with Markus but also additional material flown in from Pat and Troy. For two of those weeks I went 'underground' (retreating from all social media) as I periodically do when the work requires my undivided attention. It's also good for the soul to escape the digital 'noise' and stop being concerned with (and affected by) what everyone else is doing...

The audio editing process is (for me) far more than a technical exercise. Choices I make here and the nurturing of raw material helps determine the character and shape of the record (that's "album" in old money). Improvised parts get deconstructed and 'recomposed' into arrangements. Sometimes seemingly small incidental phrases are repositioned and repeated, thus becoming part of the composition. Also the written parts (which account for the majority on this project) require comping and massaging in order to bed them into a production, no matter how good the performances are (and believe me they're pretty much all of a super-high standard). Making a record is (usually) a different art to simply capturing a performance - I'm a passionate advocate of live music, however I recognise and embrace the difference and possibilities presented by recording and producing in a studio environment. Personally I aim to blend the best of both worlds with a side order of "magic"... I really do believe in the alchemy of the recording and production process.

Those who know me personally will be aware that I like to balance my 'indoor (studio) life' with regular walks and outdoor exploration, particular along the coast that I'm fortunate enough to live by. These "sea walks" are not only a good head-clearing opportunity but many of my creative ideas begin life and/or take some kind of form whilst kicking hot sand with my bare feet, wading through salt water, or walking along a windy headland. When this particular album is complete and released I'm pretty sure that the influence will be evident, with one particular (and major) composition directly referencing the experience... It's easy to become immersed in the work to the point of neglecting the outside world, but I always try to avoid that trap and recognise that these 'breaks' are in themselves very creative experiences, as long as one is present and "in the moment", (i.e. not blocking out the environment with headphones or obsessing with phones and touchscreen gadgets).

Yesterday a new phase of tracking kicked-off (to use a currently topical - though not in this house - term) with a second round of flute performances by Vivien Goodwin-Darke. Written parts were recorded for two further songs as well as a series of breathtaking improvisations for a third! It's always a pleasure to work with Viv who is not only an astoundingly good player with a distinctive musical voice but also great company. Cake (of the very recent "40-something" birthday variety) was also consumed ;-)

Whereas the initial flute sessions were recorded at Viv and husband Tim's artist-friendly country B & B (Coombe Brook) today we worked in my home studio base, also known as Studio Fletchertronics. Here's a snap taken mid-performance during the final improv...

I'm currently prepping material for further contributors who'll be gracing these compositions in the coming few weeks. I'll 'introduce' the guests in forthcoming blog entries - I'm trying to report details as and when they become relevant, loosely in sync with the production timeline, rather than dumping everything online in one hit. Plans evolve and change, so it's best to make announcements at the appropriate time, plus I'd rather put the spotlight on individuals one or two at a time... I know, withholding information in these "share everything" times is pretty retro, huh? ;-) Well I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy in that respect, and I wish more were so inclined :-) To quote myself (from 'The Inner Voice' on Faith in Worthless Things): "I know it’s out of fashion, but I’ve never been in step".

On that note I'll bid you farewell until the next update. Cheers for caring about this stuff - It's never taken for granted x


[All pics © copyright Lee Fletcher 2014]