the new bryan helm and dave stafford ambient album

tonight has been all about the new helm / stafford project, all 12 of the original tracks are now well on their way to becoming finished pieces of music, and a new bridging piece, a 13th piece (cleverly titled “part 9” at the moment) appeared while I was playing the mellotron.

during the first two weeks of december, the work on the first eight tracks were basically finished, leaving four to work on, and I am very pleased indeed as tonight, I finished those four and created one I did not expect.

it’s always a good feeling when you have the work “fleshed out”, and if I play any more music on top of these mixes it would only be as embellishment – the main parts are complete now.

of course, that means that the agonising task of mixing is next, but it is only agonising in that I find it so, so difficult to get the right balance between bryan’s instruments and mine – this music is very subtle, very fragile, the last piece, lovingly known as “part 13” now (formerly: “part 12”) is so lovely I am afraid to breathe when I am around it.  so the challenge is set, I have never played all mellotron overdubs on an all keyboard record (although I suspect that there are some sampled ebows in bryan’s tracks, but it’s as close as dammit all keyboards) and the whole idea of mixing keyboard sound against keyboard sound is foreign to me – I am more used to mixing dissimilar sounds – not similar ones!

but overall, I am extremely pleased, I never expected to get this far in one evening, and I found a particularly beautiful mellotron voice to complement bryan’s wonderful final track, so that is a stroke of luck and good fortune indeed.

the sound of the record? …this is an album that I find so, so difficult to describe in words.  it’s very ambient – but it also has some dark passages, and one of the tracks is quite noisy and quite industrial sounding.  as a whole though, I never tire of the tracks (and that is a VERY good sign – if you get tired of music during mixing, your album probably isn’t very resilient – it won’t stand up to repeated listening).

I’ve made a real point of taking my time with this record, because it’s the first we’ve made since 1997, sure, that’s one good reason, but also, because the music will be the better for it.   so I’ve spent some months now, working occasionally on the tracks, until now when finally, all 13 are nearing completion, and mixing in earnest (as opposed to very rough mixing, which is what I am doing right now…) can begin!

more as it transpires…


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