Monday, January 4, 2010

Chapters 5 - 6: "Settled and Due" / “In Time”

In these last days—seemingly so (based on oft occurring events in these last past days), there is conflict carving in its divisions among preaching proxy camp-captains. The three camps most easily characterized are: the "Repent ye evil sinners! The end is nigh!"-camp, the "Let's maximize our flock gathering by skipping all the scary talk, for now"-camp, and the "Rapture [or Wrap-chuckle!] What the flock are you talking about, you crazy spookies?"-camp. To be concerned with end times prophecy, doom, gloom, and hellfire…judging [which is to discern righteousness from damning sin based on Biblical truth] or not to be. That is the question.…whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slurs and errors of outrageous unrighteous fortune-hunters, or die to the challenge of unbridled deceptions, and by not opposing…end them none.

I’m a tithing member of the church of the Full Gospel Disclosure B-4 Real Tabernacle of Rev. Tellit Liketizz. I recall around the beginning of the 1980’s, we would hear so much about the rapture and the mark of the beast. Then the idea of some contrived technologically afforded diabolical omniscience was so far beyond real-world computer scientific capabilities as to be science fiction. Now that even in my recording studio is possessed more advanced technology than was invested in Hal 9000, and such to a ubiquitous dispensation, the pulpits have depressed their eschatological mute buttons. The sealed-lips soldiers of smile-smoothing inclusion at any costs have triaged the dying and opt in favor of spoon-feeding sugar to make the medicine go down—while the occurrences of teeth rotting goes up. The dilemma produces a double-minded multi-mission militia of Christian soldiers who—in their conquered state of division—produce a dismissible message. …thus adding to the frustration felt in accomplishing the Great Commission. This is “Settled and Due”.

Grace abounds in the comforting voice that reminds that it’s all about getting souls saved. And even if there remained such a wealth of time to entertain for vanity's sake pointed opinions, such perverse industry would do little for those who will fall in time without God’s love shown to them through his ambassadors. This is “In Time”.

The piano pieces supporting the lyrics and melodies of "Settled and Due"/"In Time" began as improvised test tracks for piano sounds I had purchased: S-n-D, the Korg Oasys PCI PCM [elemental pee-ano] grandé (while watching A&E's excellent "Napolean" biopic miniseries; and "In Time"—three years later—to sound-test the most exquisite Garritan® Steinway® grand piano. These pieces [like "(Humming) 'cross the Chorus of Gleeful Idiocy", "Mississippi Moonpie", and "That Said…" before them] had only filing-dates for titles before lyrics were assigned to them.

As soon as the decision was made to release "SIDon 'S'on the Map", I was busy auditioning compositions to use to fill an entire album project. The thought at first was to go mostly instrumental–as we had previously on "Please Don’t Harmonica" and "The Men in Martian Ice". My thought was, since "SIDon…" was already so out there on the world music tip…with Syster Owaye singing in that Middle Eastern vibe, we should make Mμne-Pi a musical world tour. We have a Pop/Zydeco-thing that started us on a road trip from N'arlens through Pascagoula, MS to Detroit (aboard an Electronica-Rock-a-Billy tune that missed this ride).

"Settled and Due/In Time" reflects a very Western theory-based piano-for-tuxes air. …as far removed from "SIDon…" as East from West. (…some may know this as the recipe for forgiveness). Focusing in on my Classical Music background, I became sold on the idea of going neo-operatic with melodies…a tenor's emotional pleading soothed by a soprano's lullaby soft response sung in waltz time.

The Cold War
In the winter of early 2009, we were ready to bring in the vocalists to dazzle us and eventually our listening audience. But it was not to be. …at least in January, February, March, April, May, and even the early days of June. Singer after singer called in sick; and some neglected even to call. I began to seriously second guess my decision to take SIDzCarbonatedMilk vocal. Had we stuck with the original design, we would have had “The Mμne-Pi Parables” to market by the end of February ‘09―on schedule.

On the other battle front was getting the only singer (other than myself, at the time) unscathed by bronchitis, congestion, and laryngitis…Rodney Hoskins.

Rodney is one of my favorite singers of all time, but surprisingly, he was not my first choice…at least alone…solo. I had imagined joining the two piano pieces (later to be named “ Settled and Due” and “In Time”) as musical theater-styled neo-operatic vocal pieces where Linnon Wells (a classic strong contemporary tenor) would begin a verse, and Rodney would answer. This would continue back and forth until at the end sustained notes would hold into the beginning of the attached second song. My soprano would then softly answer the heated exchange began by the male vocals.

I first brought Linnon in to work on the song that I had definitely had him in mind to do: “Happened to Happen to Happen”. To my surprise, “H2H2H2” took much longer to seal than I had ever expected. And Linnon as well succumbed to viral attacks on his voice.

I brought in my soprano, whose performance was a bit disappointing for us both, though it was good for a first try…with it mutually understood that a perfect take would be forthcoming. She then took sick.

In L.A. Rodney was waiting to hear good news from his air-travel industry-employed brother. Week after week would go by without the matter being resolved. Promises would be made and haplessly broken time and time again. It became an uncomfortable end of the month tradition.

Meanwhile, my wife Susan mentioned that a co-worker’s high school senior daughter was a trained soprano who might be an apt replacement for the singer originally slated to perform and record “In Time”. She and her mother came into the studio one Saturday morning. I didn’t need to listen long. I closed my eyes while she sang in front of me. A smile creased my lips and I heard what eventually would be recorded for all to here.

There was still the matter of getting Rodney into the studio.

In late June, we finalized his travel arrangements. Another quasi-unrelated hurdle was that the second of three songs that Rodney would lead was fully recorded in the original top-of-range key in which he’d sung it as a demo twenty years prior, and my melodic composition for him was something like he’d never encountered. He constantly, disclaimed his not knowing how or if he could sing it. If that hadn’t been enough, three days before Rodney was to arrive, my studio production computer suffered a system drive crash. Under the tremendous pressure to totally rebuild a massive system in time to record Rodney, I made the poor choice of trying something new.

I chose to move from using Windows XP, to installing Vista. I completed the rebuild the day before Rodney’s arrival. On the surface, everything worked fine, and looked even better. In actuality, Vista performed at less than thirty percent capacity of the performance that I’d previously experienced with XP. Constantly, during recording, the computer would stall. I was only able to use a fraction of the modeled compressors, reverb, and effects on the song project files already set up for Rodney. What should have taken us two sessions at most, carried on through until literally the day that we drove Rodney to the airport to fly home.

War stories aside, I feel as though SIDzCarbonatedMilk broke wondrously new ground with these conjoined pieces. I’m floored each time I listen to Rodney singing “Settled and Due” so convincingly authoritative. And every time Erin sings, “It all seems to have started going away…in time, until it’s all over”, I get chills.

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