Grand Designs

grandesigns

The problem with thinking big and scheming big is that at some point, should any part of the big plan falter, the entire structure collapses. I imagine that this might be a reason why so many musicians work alone, managing every aspect of their art with careful control and privacy. After all, when you are the sole variable in any project the outcome is rather predictable.

I have tried the solo projects on more than one occasion. The first time was because I was tired of trying to find musicians to play the music. The other times were experiments or my way of saying that it can be done. Giving the range of technology and samples available to us these days, you can almost get away with doing everything yourself. One could argue that the degree of success also depends on the genre of music you create.

In my experience, doing everything myself is a lot of work and not entirely satisfying. I am not a drummer or bass player, so even my best attempts will never match what a skilled musician can do. I also miss the spontaneity and energy of collaborating with others. The act of giving up a little creative control and let someone else run with your ideas will always lead to unexpected results. Sometimes those unexpected events are welcome, other times they are not. The more you work with someone, the better the outcome. To this day, I have not been disappointed when I allowed someone I trust take my idea and see where it goes for them.

There are times when I do wonder if I am going too far. Have I added so many variables into my creations that their completion and success is compromised?

The venue for the album release concert suffered a rather large disaster last week that has left the lights nonoperational and for the moment, an unsafe environment. Time was already limited in the venue and now it is difficult to say when a new concert date will be available. One could argue that I perform the album at a different venue, but I already have a relationship with the personnel and we all share the same vision for the event. Venues are easy to find; people who share your vision are not.

So for the moment, Entropy remains on hold. In the coming days, I will explore options with the various members and determine the best course of action.

I do want to make the event special and memorable for all who attend.

If this means that I need to wait a little longer for things to work out, then I will.

Stay tuned…

 

 

Would You Believe

would-300Like many “greatest hits” albums, there is always one new song included in the album.

I wrote this song for my wedding in 2011 and was used for our first dance song during the reception. As a result, I am not the lead vocalist on this song. This song also allowed me to end the album on a happy note.

listen to Would You Believe

Look Around

around-300Look Around was written in early 1990 for a friend who had recently lost her father to cancer. I wanted to give her hope and some sort of comfort that it would all get better.

The first version of this song was recorded at USC on digital multitrack in 1990 and ended up becoming the title track for the album released in 1993. This early version featured Dirk Mahabir on drums, Adam Flint on guitar, and Nate Schelling on vocals. I had decided not to sing this song at the time and so I used a guest vocalist for the recording.

In 2011, I lost my father to cancer. Since that event, the song has grown to have greater meaning for me and it only seemed appropriate to include it on the album.

listen to Look Around

The Night Before

night-300In 1993, I released an album called Look Around. A few songs were recorded on digital multitrack at USC and the rest in my living room on a Tascam cassette four-track machine.

The Night Before was recorded onto a handheld recorder in a piano lab and then transferred to the four-track for the vocals.

I was fortunate enough to have access to a wonderful Bösendorfer piano for this recording. The piano was recorded without a click track and therefore I decided that I did not want to do any edits. I was lucky because I needed two takes to get it right.

listen to The Night Before

Transparent

transparent-300I wrote this song the morning after a date that had gone very well back in 1994. David Ozab was not surprised when I called him later that day with a new song to record. This song was also recorded onto a four-track in the same fashion as I’m Not Talking About and appeared on Through The Looking Glass.

This song has always been a favorite of mine and I was very excited to be able to record a new version. I did go overboard with the number of tracks recorded which made this the most difficult song to mix on this album. In the end, it was worth the time and effort to give this song a new version.

listen to Transparent

I’m Not Talking About

talking-300In 1994, I went on a writing frenzy and wrote 12 songs in six weeks. Nine of those songs ended up on an album called Through The Looking Glass. This song was a result of me trying to write dance music. The original version was recorded onto a four-track reel-to-reel deck with two tracks devoted to the sequenced drums and synths, one to guitar, and the other to the vocal.

The introduction for the new version was extended and all the original sequenced parts were kept. Even the guitar part followed the pattern originally set by David Ozab in 1994. Charlene added some spectacular vocal parts and Trevor’s drums locked perfectly with the original drum pattern. Overall, another fun track to record and mix.

listen to I’m Not Talking About

INSIDE

inside-300The very first version of this song was recorded in 1987. Granted it was just a piano and vocal track, but it was a recording nonetheless. It was recorded several times since then but each recording never captured the quirkiness of the song. This song appeared next to Make Me Bleed on the album Out The Window.

The goal with this version was to have as much fun as possible when recording it. The drums, bass, and guitar are all live takes with no edits. The vocals were recorded in complete takes as well. Overall, this was a fun song to record and mix.

listen to INSIDE

Afterthoughts

afterthoughts-300This is another song from Impressions which means that the song was lowered by a whole step. I had originally planned on recording this track live playing piano and singing at the same time. However, the logistics of the piano recordings did not allow this to happen. In any case, the piano recording is live and without edits.

listen to Afterthoughts

Picture This

picture-300In 1989 I released my first album as Instant Emotion and titled it Picture This. The original version featured a Roland TR-707 for the drum track and a Roland Juno-106 as the main keyboard track. The original version has a thick texture and a somber feel with a vocal track that struggles to remain in pitch.

For the new version, I decided to explore a new interpretation of the song. The result is a much more dramatic version of the song. The first chorus is quite dramatic and as a result I felt that the listener really needed 8 bars of music to recover from the chorus. This meant that I could add 8 measures or remove one of the two final verses. I settled for only have one verse before the second chorus. This meant altering the original lyrics. These are the two original verses:

Spare me a moment to look upon
All that we shared
Never a secret or an innuendo
Is it so far behind

And if all that remains is a photograph
Then won’t you stay for a moment
Close your eyes, make the memory alive
I reach out to you
Will you

The new version combines parts of the two verses into one:

Spare me a moment to look upon
All that we shared
Close your eyes, make the memory alive
I reach out to you
Will you

listen to Picture This

Looking Glass

looking-300Looking Glass was written in early 1989 and eventually found its place on the 1990 album, The Still Life. The song was recorded without using MIDI, so reconstructing the song took some time to figure out what each synthesizer part played. Once again, the tempo was sped up a bit on the new version. The 1990 version featured wonderful string patches from an Emulator II in the recording studio at UCSD. The new version features a Roland S-10 sampler playing strings.

listen to Looking Glass