the ongoing work of music

it’s been a very busy weekend indeed !

reviewing the rough mixes of the new helm / stafford album, parts 9 through 13, I am very, very encouraged – more good raw musical material for the upcoming mix sessions. I am particularly pleased with the final two tracks, parts 12 and 13: part 12 is a dark, powerful, loud, active loop not normally associated with the ambient music of bryan helm or dave stafford, while part 13 achieves a gentleness and beautiful ambience that all ambient looping musicians hope for but rarely achieve.

the speed with which I created the new parts also pleased me greatly, working with the m-tron pro mellotron software is such a joy, and despite using it for over two years now, every time I fire it up, I find new voices that I have never heard or used before. plus, of course, you can alter, customise and save voices too, that makes it incredibly flexible.  in this case, however, I pretty much just used the sounds out of the box, and instead of altering the voices, used reverb, modulation or resonance filters in the breeze reverb to breathe additional musical mystique into the parts that I recorded.

on part 12, bryan’s basic track is  very powerful, very dense, so I needed something with a very different timbre so as to create a part distinguishable from his.  one of the artist patches on the m-tron pro fit the bill perfectly: “ghostly fx”, which had a thick, powerful white noise wind-whisper coupled with strange ocean and feedback-like sounds – perfect to overdub bryan’s very intense track.  the resulting rough mix is most encouraging.  I applied a strange customised resonance filter using the breeze reverb, which took my very unconventional take of “ghostly fx” and moved it into a bizarre sonic space – truly odd but very musically stimulating.

for part 13, a completely different approach, bryan’s part being supremely calm, and very, very ambient – I wanted something simple, that would not overstep the mark or intrude too much on the fragile beauty of bryan’s loop. normally, I have shied away from using many or any voices that contain human voices (with some notable exceptions on “sky full of stars” to be sure) but in this case, I happened across another voice in the artists’ banks called “custron” which was perfect, and I manually played two different short melodies over the piece – and it was done, in one take as part 12 had also been done. a large hall reverb from the breeze completed the picture, and the piece – and the album’s main work – was complete.

so the very rough mixes of the five final parts are all very encouraging indeed, and I look forward to sitting down and really starting to properly process, adjust, tweak, amend, embellish and final mix these 13 amazing pieces of music that have very nearly created themselves.

I think the original choice, many months ago, to play only the mellotron (rather than repeat the obvious, my previous role in bindlestiff of guitarist or ebow guitarist – that just did not seem right) was the key – and since that decision, almost every session has gone like a dream – the parts just unfolding each time until the final session yesterday.

now if only we had a name for this band – we have agreed that this is not, could not possibly be, bindlestiff – so the identity of this new group remains to be seen.  the music itself may reveal the name over the coming weeks during the mixing and arranging process – I am certain it will appear eventually.


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