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Some of my paintings have been used in the artwork for the new Kemper Norton album Loor, released this Monday on Front & Follow.

Here is a teaser

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02:45: Is it Day 3 now, or still Day 2? I drag myself out of bed, neck some breakfast and black coffee, close the curtains, then mic’ up and record a few takes of the piano for The Scars On Your Face; mix two takes together (more judicious cross-fading); then back into the live room for the vocals – recorded watching the sun rise across the field.

Day 3 sunrise 04:42

Day 3 sunrise 04:42

Then the planes started again, and I just about manage to squeeze in the brief verses and middle-eight vocals in the short gaps between take off.

NOTES AT START OF DAY 3
How are the recording notes looking as we creep loudly into Day 3?

I spend an interminable length of time creating 4 combinations of 6/4 drum patterns for We Didn’t Have Much Time, then painstakingly sequence them to fit the composition. I play along on the guitar to check everything is in its right place. Everything swings…

We Didn’t Have Much TIme (guitar/drums) take 1

14:45: A nasty electrical POPPING sound has me rushing into the live room. I unplug everything without any shocks and my heart is racing. I haven’t dared plug most of it back in yet, but there is no evidence of short-circuiting (melted plugs, burns, etc), so I have no idea which piece of gear it was.

I head off for a nap with the intention of rising later in the evening for another late night session.

16:15: I feel a little rested though I haven’t really slept. Might as well get on with some more work then.

One of the things that kept me from sleeping was the tragic sound of a lowing slide guitar accompanying The Fledgling And The Moth inside my head. That, and the aeroplanes and the caffeine. My first task on waking, then, is to lay down some slide guitar, which I combine with E-Bow to vicious, atonal effect.

E-Bow + Slide = atonal + vicious

E-Bow + Slide = atonal + vicious

That electrical POPPING sound I reported earlier: the only evidence I can find is a 9-volt battery which has blown up. I must say it was bloody loud for such a small thing, must have been each of the individual cells blowing…

POPPING battery

POPPING battery

After dinner, I’m back in the live room with the amp turned up to, er, 1, and I record two full takes of the wild west-style guitar, close mic’ed with another mic’ to capture the room sound.

I pack up, fingers sore, but pleased with myself. I phone my wife, poor another glass of wine and take myself to bed by 21:45.

NOTES AT END OF DAY 3

MISSION STATEMENT
To set up a lo-fi recording studio at a remote location and record over a period of 4 days*.

The intention is to work on a collection of dirges and ditties that have been drifting around my headspace over the past couple of years, working on a battered old digital 8-track and a limited arsenal of instruments.

There is no hi-tech recording console, and no software studio. Instead I have a digital 8-track recorder, which I find lends itself to a non-precious, back-to-basics working style – if a take doesn’t make the grade, I have to go back and re-do it again. And again. There will be no luxury of countless overdubs to 32 tracks in ProTools here!

*please note: this is not some “bourgeois artist-type wants to feel tortured and authentic, and so heads off to the wilderness to live in a log cabin for 3 months with just an acoustic guitar and a wax cylinder to record with” schtick. No, I just want to have a few days to myself to get some ideas on to tape, without the distractions of real life.

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So, you find me in the middle of nowhere, in the shadow of Gatwick airport. The nearest shop is a mile down the road and there is a bus about every 2 hours (if you walk a mile to the bus stop). There is food and drink, and internet (albeit very slow), TV and radio, but I am isolated enough that I shouldn’t have the urge to go to the pub, or the shops. I am also alone: just me and the sounds in my head with a load of equipment of various vintages and states of repair. (oh, and a needy cat)

Here is an overview of the equipment I have at my disposal

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10:30: SLIGHT HITCH

I have forgotten a pretty essential piece of kit – a data transfer cable – which I need in order to transfer audio to the computer. I am an idiot.

14:00: I have returned from a round trip to Hove by car, then train, then another train, then foot, then bike, then train, then bike again. I will eat lunch and get on.  Looks like it’ll be a late night tonight if I am to catch up on lost time.

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Rehearsing the 1st song, I thought I might as well film myself, so here I am bashing away at an acoustic guitar.

The Fledgling and The Moth (acoustic) – take 4

At some point, mid-afternoon, I realised the tempo of the song I am working on is a little too strident. It takes some courage, but I scrap everything I have done so far and start again (I do save the original recordings just in case). Working from the ground up, I create a click track (tempo 82bpm); record a guide track of acoustic guitar and vocal; add some swelling organ; sing an improvised three-part choral chord and sample each part; add two-part backing vocals (2 x mid-range, 1 x low); mix 2 organ takes, with a number of judicious fades, to make a (almost) perfect take.

I have no completed recordings to post at the end of play. I finish work at 03:52 hrs.

NOTES FROM DAY 1
Here are my notes from Day 1 – they will probably make no sense outside of the context of the recording. And even then probably only to me, being that I can’t read or write music and have my own set of codes and signifiers to help me piece things back together.