Monday, January 11, 2010

Chapter 7: Setting A-SIDes

First, I would like to declare that getting back to work with Carl (J. Carl Robinson) was truly a highlight of producing "The Mμne-Pi Parables". Carl is one of those of my friends who—though I know there was some point in time he and I first met and became good friends, and prior to that we were unknown each to the other, still—it seems we've always been friends. His first recorded work with "SIDzCarbonatedMilk" was on "Startin' Over"[on "Please Don't Harmonica" lp: SCM-I]…a lyrical mix of Blues, Jazz, and Rock performed with a vocoded melody. I told him to give me "…a little B.B. King." He gave me that, but his own J. Carl vibe was phenomenal. The next SCM song with the J. Carl-touch was "Hysoeckarpris". As a composition, “Hysoe…” was a product of my having long exited the Jazz neophyte pupa stage to define what quintessentially is my piano-playing style—combined with a writing approach I developed arranging for big band. Here instead of B.B. King, I required Carl to be one-half of the Thundering Herd [see Woody Herman].

Again Carl was the man. When we met in our twenties, Carl stood at the tallest end of 6' 4" and weighed thirty-eight pounds; I am probably exaggerating here about the weight…perhaps. It was my duty to ask if he'd played basketball in high school. He told me [American] football was really his game. I looked at him again, thinking …maybe, if forty-eight pounds even… I grew up in a house facing MVSU's "Magnolia Stadium"; I saw most every SWAC football player enroute to the NFL. There were some shorter, some as tall or even taller. But no where in the script did it call for an Eddie Kendricks body type. [These were pre-Randy Moss days] Metaphorically, RM's wideout position is how I see Carl's invaluable role played on SCM recordings. As a QB-player/coach, I draw up a play, and I can always count on Carl to make the play.

Different here on "The Mμne-Pi Parables" is that I left the track itself to run the play in to Carl. I read an article by the founder of Alesis® stating that the intention of the then cutting-edge ADAT™ digital multitrack SVHS 8-track modular recorder system, was to create a modular recording environment where ideally a drummer in his place along with other ADAT-equipped instrumentalists (ensconced in their respective abodes) could read, then print, and then distribute the recorded media to later be reassembled in the producer's main room. …this in opposition to all the one-man-band operations we currently hear too often―from musical master-baton productions happening in so many bedrooms with desktop studios.

What Carl mailed to me read like an ever-developing character in a good novel. His tasteful spicing with light arpegios and colling/harmonizing of anti-abstruse melodies flowing unencumbered unobtrusively, never giving away the upcoming melodic plot twist. Carl's guitarist presence completes the track.

The “A-SIDes…” track itself is one of those constructed confessions of a frustrated *guitarist/drummer (*ironically…in reality, Carl is quite adept playing these instruments). As have many to most of the "...Mμne-Pi Parables" selections, this one began with my testing sounds. [See "The Ten Years After Story"; I'm quite sure "Setting…" is one of those songs composed in that Red RoofInn-setting—while testing my Korg® Oasys PCI® card and software.] I'm always on the lookout for effective drum sounds; and though I lack sufficient four-way independence to unconsciously lay down a creative drum groove, I can play the role on the keys. I'm fond of off-time-in-the-groove odd beats such as in Al Green's "I'm So Glad You're Mine"; so more often than not, my favorite drumbeats tend to share that quality. As I listen back, I like to image that somewhere some nascent drummer will be dissecting my creation and organically building it into his own beat-repertoire. I usually will then test my percussive creations with a non-percussion class rhythm instrument…in this case: a modeled Jazz guitar. One thing led to another and set off/set up: "Setting A-SIDes".

I'm pleased with how Carl's live guitar blends with mine modeled to create a hybrid real/surreal fretted tapestry that bounces from organic to plastic and back again. I'm looking forward to someday listening to an entire J. Carl album. For now, there's SIDzCarbonatedMilk.

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