Posts Tagged ‘#recording’

I think we started recording Project Two in May of 1996. Project One was mixed by the end of March so we had a good feeling for the next project. I will eventually dig up archives for details as I am now relying on brief notes and scribbles of information. I do not have lyric sheets for these songs but I know most of the lyrics by heart.

As you know I am really bad with names. I know Annette Rogers was the lead vocalist and I believe she wrote most of the lyrics. My notes also mention Robert Downing with the band.

This was a band I wished I had kept in touch with. At the time in my life there were so many projects and I had my own music and bands I was involved with. All this and I worked a regular full-time job!

I have a brief video of the band setting up – somewhere. Who knows, maybe I will dig it up along with my track sheets and band info.

By the middle of September we had all the recording done and mixed Project Two. We did ten songs in all and I will share a few more with you today.

jjaR at MSK Studio – Butterside Down
jjaR at MSK Studio – Paralized
jjaR at MSK Studio – My Heart Tricks My Head
jjaR at MSK Studio – Overboard
Annette Rogers from jjaR at MSK Studios

Early in 1996 I was introduced to a Cincinnati band called “jjaR”. I met them while they were playing at a popular club called Top Cats. I was really impressed with the band and their original songs. Annette Rogers was the lead vocalist and she commanded the room with her emotional portrayal of each song. The band was intense and dynamic.

March 13th, 1996 we started recording in my home studio. They were troopers. I have a small space for recording with no isolation rooms for drums, vocals, etc. The band wanted a clean demo. They did not want a lot of processing and effects in the mix. A band after my own heart!

jjaR at MSK Studio in 1996

We did two separate sessions. The first session was mixed on March 26th, 1996. I was recording on the Alesis ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) machine for the first project. We only had 8 tracks to work with back then and no computer editing or effects. They were pros. They set up, got settled in and played their songs with obvious passion.

One of their tracks appeared in a collection of bands our local radio station WEBN (102.7FM) published on CD. They were featured on the second annual CD release. Deary Me Presents – Cincinnati Scene II included “Food Chain Of Love” on the 3rd track of the compilation CD. You can still find a copy or two on on-line.

Here are a few tunes from Project 1 for your enjoyment.

jjaR at MSK Studio – Food Chain Of Love
jjaR at MSK Studio – Super Size
jjaR at MSK Studio – Aliens
jjaR at MSK Studio – Misunderstood

This is an early recording of a Cincinnati band “Chakras”. I recorded them back when I used the ADAT digital tape recorder. It does not have the ‘bling’ of modern recordings but I think you will enjoy the performance.

https://www.facebook.com/chakrasrock

As a creative person, I will often get struck with ideas or projects and even solutions to existing work-blocks without notice. (this is a good thing lol) If I can’t preserve the thoughts at the time there is a good probability I might lose them forever. So I try to get to the computer, writing pad, recorder quickly.

Invariably, I find myself in a creative mood with a great thought…….. ready to capture what will be my greatest work…….. only to have to wait for the computer to do a software download and update. Then comes the mandatory restart and my idea is totally gone. I go to record in my home studio and face load times, cables not connected for this project, something decides not to work for no reason other than it knows I am in a hurry and other events that would be funny in other situations. I can’t find a pen and the pencil point breaks and the notebook is downstairs.

When I get a cup of tea and a block of time to get things done I like to power up my computer or studio and start working. I don’t want to wait for the updates. I am on a mission.

I feel the same way about other areas. If I need to vacuum the floor, I don’t want to empty the container first. When I am ready to paint, I don’t want to stop and clean all the brushes first.

It might seem to others that I waste a lot of time on preventive maintenance and cataloging, but I know the frustration of losing something that could be wonderful.

I am a Before person. How do you look at the day?

This Tuesday I wanted to feature a song by a good friend of mine. “Denham Street” was written by Bob Enderle. Bob Enderle died too many years ago. He wrote a number of songs that I really like. I am not a fan of most popular music. I don’t need to hear one more song about boy loves and loses girl, or how the singer wants to party and have sex all night.

Denham Street and many other songs he wrote are about social injustices we so easily overlook and ignore. This song points out how unfair, uncaring and mean our social policies are. He makes the song sound sweet while the dark lyrics dig into our consciousness.

I did a simple recording of this song. I started with some drum tracks and I played my 12 string Ovation guitar for the main instrument track. I added strings to reinforce the guitar. Once I sang the melody I thought it would be a good song for harmony. I added the harmony vocals and listened to the rough mix a few times.

After a few times through the song I turned off the drum track and liked it better without them. I worked on it for days. I wanted to ‘do the song justice’ and make it fit the image I have from Bob’s version. Sweet tragedy.

Here are the lyrics and my version of Denham Street. I hope you enjoy.


            “Denham Street”                                                     Bob Enderle
 
Car alarms squeal on Denham Street     
Like coyotes howling at the moon.
Tattered grey men look for some place to eat
Teen age mothers search for her womb.
Street lights shattered near the playground;
Darkness hides an old routine.
Cracks in the family, crack in the hall.
 
There’s an overpass over Dehnam Street
Supporting Highway 95.
There are no exits for Denham Street
But it’s only a twenty minute drive.
To the shops with plywood windows
Through the alleys of despair
Just another wrong turn and you’re almost there.
 
To every city there is a Denham Street
And to everyone who grows up there
There are few exits from Denham Street
Fewer thoughts behind an empty stare.
Social programs lack the funding
Social consciousness has died.    
Solutions on the shelf have never been tried.     

“Night” was written in 1980 by a good friend of mine. I have mentioned him before in earlier posts as TR. (Tom Robinson). This is a great song from the past. I loved playing this in our group or as a duo with TR. I love the rhythm and intro motif.

The subject of the lyrics are familiar to me. Driving at night. Getting away. Pondering life and eventual death in the dead of the night are right up my alley!

I recorded the guitar track and wrote the MIDI drum parts to fit the groove and the opening motif. Then I re-recorded the guitar and added bass guitar from computer modules. Then it was time to add vocals and do the mix. I hope you enjoy this gem.

“Night” (C) 1980 Tom Rominson

Night is a ride you just get in a car and go cruisin on. On past the light of the city lights to the cool dark air. Night is a plunge into twinkling depths that can still your mind. Washing your wounds in nature’s rain, her fountains everywhere.

So let the magic continue while you search for an answer within you. And see that swiftly you fly. ‘ ‘Cause we always knew you had to die sometime.

Taking a life is a crime and you know you’re the victim everyday. They gave you a name and a story, not they’re showing you the way. Day is a desert of calendar deadlines, your life an empty phrase. London Bridges falling down, and the rent you got to pay.

But they can’t poison your fantasy in this refuge from insanity. You’ll be here till you kill the lie. And we all know you’re gonna die sometime.

Night is a ride you just get in the car and go cruisin’ on. On past the light of the city lights to the cool dark air. Night is a plunge into twinkling depths that can still your mind. Washing your wounds in nature’s rain, her fountains everywhere.

And when the story is over you will sleep in fields of clover. But your dreams will keep the night-time sky. ‘Cause we always knew you had to die sometime.

“Night” by Tom Robinson

I have been playing around with some themes, grooves, melodies lately. I have written a number of instrumentals over the years that are destined to have no lyrics. Sometimes the pieces are simple riffs and other times they can be full blown productions. I have a few I would like to share with you in the near future. Here is one I am still working on but I like where it is going.

This one I call “Another Dimension”

“Another Dimension”

Greg Stern

MSK Studio

Part of the challenge in writing songs is how difficult it might be to convey a particular feeling or message to studio musicians.  All players should be heading in the same direction, playing the same tune, moving at the same tempo and so on.  Creating soundscapes must be a lot like painting.  Drawing the lines and forms are one thing, but which color is best?  There are so many available yet each one conveys a unique mood or feeling.  Sounds can be like that.  We asked a guitar player/friend of ours to come up with guitar tracks for a project I was working on.   This was for a cable TV project looking for sound tracks for an automotive enthusiast series.  We wanted to give the guitar parts a bit of mood setting so we asked him to create tracks that would generate the feeling of …

an engine or racing car, crunchy, powerful

drive – movement – acceleration, fast, fluid

Using basically no more than the above “instructions” he gathered toys and used the word imagery to shape the sound and the playing style for these tracks.  We used the same list to come up with the basic tracks for the song.  This song is an adaptation of a song I wrote a long time ago and we called it The Big D Jam.  I originally composed this song using the Arp Odyssey synthesizer.  I programmed a pretty cool sounding bass patch and came up with the bass line and skeleton of the song.  This song in its original version was performed when I was with The Personal Touch years ago.  If it was a rockin’ crowd we would let Ric Ahlers jam a bit on the solo parts.  I put some simple lyrics to it and it was a really fun song to play out.  Recently I pulled it out of the song closet and re-wrote the chorus.  I also used new software plug-ins from my computer for all the sounds.  This was amazing for me because I have all this fancy gear with cool sounds and I am not using them at all.  In this post, I wanted to give you an idea how the song progressed. The new sounds are just amazingly clear and natural.  I will post in the near future the complete mix with vocals and effects.  When the sounds and the performance match the request or target, the song seems like it was made to order.

Some of you may notice right away that this song is a little different.  The beat is not the same as many other songs.  I enjoy playing in different time signatures.  Not too weird, but I like different beats and even tempo changes if done right.  This song is played in 3/4 time rather than the more traditional 4/4 time. It gives it more of a waltz kind of feel to the measures.  This is a straight forward recording with me and my Ovation 12 string guitar.  There is a hint of a long reverb.

Castles     To me, this is a rather sad song.  I have seen many relationships that should last forever crumble in front of me.  People that were dedicated and adored each other turned to bitter enemies.  Mutual friends and family stuck with unpleasant decisions.  Broken hearts and lives.  Sometimes there are innocent and guilty, but not as often as you would think.  The rooms themselves seem to whisper a sad tale.  Even the pictures are affected by the loneliness and help tell the tragic but all too familiar tale.  Using common excuses as cliche’s the chorus sums it up fairly well while the verses bounce from past to present.

This is not about the relationships that start out with lies or Jekyll/Hyde waiting for you.  This is more about someone wanting to mold you.  Over powering or just with  persistence.  These extreme situations would quickly spin out of control.  Some that begin with love turn vicious.  And as a reminder these are people that professed they loved each other not long ago.  I don’t know how that is possible, frankly.   Best wishes to you if you have ever had to deal with this situation.

I kept hearing a melody line while reading the poem “Hearts Of Stone” I posted earlier.  It is a haunting melody in many ways.  The music behind it is sparse and supports the vocals with open space and fluid timing.  The music seems out of place at first as the lyrics are happy, hopeful and even loving.  On the other side of the chorus the lyrics take a darker look at the conditions many people live with.  The minor key and slow progression of the instruments come into play and help paint a portrait of dismal human experiences.

As with a number of my original recordings, I wish I could sing the piece with power and passion the way it needs to be sung to convey the ideas in my head, but this is probably the best I can do.  Close your eyes and pretend your favorite vocalist is singing.  That MIGHT help lol. Comments suggested a rock song for the lyrics and I agree.  I am playing with the idea and may have another version in the future.  For now, here is my eerie version of “Hearts Of Stone”.

Heart-of-Stone