Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And Here Comes the Ice Pick in the Forehead!

Walter Freeman

This was a very productive evening, following a bit of research over the last few days, I have written and recorded the basic backing parts for a whole new song. It is an upbeat, almost 50's style, song about the antics of neurologist Walter Freeman. He came up with the idea of the transorbital or 'ice pick' lobotomy, featuring the practice of inserting sharp implements into the eye sockets of patients and waggling them about inside their brains. No, really.

What I think is more jaw-dropping is that he traveled the USA in his lobotomobile (yeah - see what Batman was missing!) performing this procedure without surgical equipment or even any surgical training. Sometimes it worked, but there are many documented examples, of over 3000 he carried out, where things didn't exactly go to plan.

Although lobotomy in general has been widely banned and replaced by antipsychotic drugs, there are still a few places in the world that practice a more refined variation. Like Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, just up the road from here.

Nice to know.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Bell Curve

The Bell Curve

Another set of backing tracks have been completed, this time for a short spoken-word piece by Sean, called "The Bell Curve". It is a very laid-back track, starting with an atmospheric build up of synth textures which give way to a gentle string-based backing. This was the first time I've extensively used my 'new' Crumar Performer on a recording - the resonant synth-brass sound sits in the background of the introduction, then the string sound was used in the main part of the track. It can be quite noisy compared to modern synths, but has a great feeling of movement which helps keep the fairly simple chord pattern interesting.

Some of the effects noises in the introduction came from the depths of my old TX81Z sound module, several of which were originally designed for the instrumental "Mick's Astonishing Megamix (parts 1-4)" back in the Deserters - slowly evolving drain-like sounds. Great fun to revisit those things and find another use for them.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dum Dum

I'm progressing well with the base tracks I'm putting together, but took a little detour tonight. Shortly after we recorded 'The Unofficial National Anthem', Sean wrote a song called 'PKD dum dum', which had a set of pretty complex chords. Not unplayable, but certainly hard to commit to memory. I've been sitting on it for a while now, digging it out every once in a while to see if I can fit some structure to the chords, but it has always evaded me. I tried again tonight, not using the guitar as I would normally, but very slowly on the keyboard instead. What emerged was a dream-like track which wouldn't seem entirely out of place in Twin Peaks. I love it when a song takes you somewhere you really didn't expect!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Busy Busy

Lunacy Board Logo


It's been a hectic month or two, mostly due to the day job, but there has been a little progress on various musical fronts. Non-Lunacy Board collaborations are ticking over very slowly. One is a duo with an electronic musician from Manchester - so far I have a handful of his pieces that I'm working through - adding, warping and generally abusing to create something new, and we'll also be meeting up occasionally for more spontaneous creations. The other is a local band which is in a fairly embryonic stage at the moment - still waiting to confirm the final line-up - playing original blues/rock material. Something of a change for me, but as they say, a change is as good as arrest.

The outside world is still holding up things in the world of the Board, so in the mean time I have been working on some basic tracks from a few songs we've put together over the last year or two, but only played in rehearsal. Fairytale Propaganda had a live airing at last year's "Hands Off 2007" gig, but the studio version builds more slowly and is a bit more complex than the original rocky take. The other song is a bit of a prog epic - the demo comes in at around 15 minutes long. We've practiced it in sections so far, and I did prepare a cut-down version for HO2007, but the looper packed in before I got to it, and as a solo piece it needs the looper to pull it off, as there are about 5 main sections to it, most in different time signatures. Once I have these together it should make the recording sessions for these run more smoothly and hopefully let us catch up some lost ground in time for...

Project Quintilis

Just a working title... suitably pompous? I'm really quite excited about this, if we can pull it off. I'm just working on the plans for it, but I need to keep it under wraps for the moment until I know we have the time to make it work. Let's just say it involves our first album and related activity. More details in June if it is going ahead...

New Songs

And finally, a significant number of lengthy roadtrips over the last two months have given me various bits of inspiration for some new songs. I have vague outlines for 5 new songs and another is almost complete. They are all character-based, rather than my other recent songs which have had a large element of social commentary. Two of them are Dunoon-centric - yes, I'm rapidly heading towards having a whole album's worth of Dunoon material, which seems to be almost writing itself. I suspect my muse is trying to tell me something...?

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