Monday, 6 May 2013


yesterday i complete the artwork
and burn the master of the new cd
it's always a satisfying feeling
to hold in my hand that first copy of the finished artifact
my best shot at beauty, personal expression and creativity
to transfer it from its cardboard sleeve to the hifi downstairs
to turn the speakers up nice and loud
and to finally hear the individual songs played in sequence
within the context of the whole album
to hear one track melt into the next
sometimes seamlessly and almost imperceptibly
sometimes in complete contrast to what went before
the whole experience feels like crossing the finishing line
at the end of a marathon
a strong sense of exhileration mixed with a slight tinge of slight regret
'if only i could have have nailed that vocal better'
'what a pity that arrangement didn't quite work out'
oddly the hifi system seems to pick up flaws
that my computer monitors and headphones don't
it's like an external critical ear
a magnifying glass that detects the flaw in the diamond
i have learned to live with this
my perfectionist streak has struggled to accept the concept of 'good enough'
but i'm getting there
another oddity of the recording process
is that rerecording vocals doesn't generally work
songs can go through almost complete remakes in terms of arrangements
but a vocal seems to be a vocal
i've discovered that there are just some songs that i can sing
and others that i can't
at least with my raw untrained musical voice
it's something to do with the register and tessitura of the melody
and the necessary balance of power and delicacy
try too hard and it sounds raucous (not quite the word i'm searching for) or strained
hold back too much and it sounds wimpy and half-hearted
but there's also the mysterious factor of texture or timbre(?) that i can't pin down
a kind of difficult-to-fathom warmth or tone
some songs i can nail on the first take
'relationship' and 'remnants' fall into that category
others i'll never really be happy with
in a band situation i guess they'd fall to someone else to sing
if i listen back to previous albums
the vocals are always the number one weakness
although they have incrementally improved over the years
(aided by a developing awareness of production values
reverb, equalisation, compression and the like)
the first few albums are fatally compromised in this respect
(also by the rather synthetic drum sounds that i used to use)
the timescale of this album is interesting
ten years ago when i was learning the ropes
'mustard seed' took two years to record
in complete contrast i've dashed this one off in just a couple of months
a real sprint
and hot on the heels of 'coming home'
which itself took only around five months to complete
this record is a curious hybrid of five brand new songs
plus half a dozen left over from last year
and one that was kind of hanging around unloved
in a notebook from three summers ago
and needed some work to bring it up to scratch
although it seemed very prescient
as for the album title
right until the very last minute
i was going to call it 'ideology'
(partly in homage to ball and dagger's insightful book)
when suddenly as i was designing the sleeve
the obvious hit me in the face
'the sleep of reason'
what a lovely ambiguous title
courtesy of senor goya of course!

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