Month: April 2009

Clerical hysterical.

if i had a quarter, i'd have twenty five cents. radical.
After much copying of CDs, and much printing and folding of inserts, and much taking-apart-and-then-putting-back-together of jewel cases, the new album is now officially available for everyone to use as a coaster/frisbee set. Never let it be said that I don’t make your life more convenient in the most inconvenient way possible. I made a pretty hefty run today, spreading about fifty copies around town. There are CDs at Phog and Dr. Disc for anyone who wants to grab one, and a bunch will be going out in the mail over the next little bit as well.

I’m not sure if people will really be into this album. Compared to something like CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN it’s kind of got a case of multiple personality disorder (and it’s not as if that one was a pop album or anything). But I think I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, as ugly as it is in some parts. At least it’s honest.

I probably could have mixed some things better if I spent more time on them. Then again, I’m never going to be much of a proper “producer”, and I’m never going to find the perfect mix no matter how much tweaking I do. I think it would be a waste of time trying to achieve sonic (or any other kind of) perfection, at least in my case. That’s never what I’ve been about. So I’ll settle for a series of imperfect mixes done in the heat of the moment, along with the usual mistakes. And so too will you…because I give you no choice!

Anyway. The aspect ratio of the cover photo had to be skewed a little in order to make it proper CD insert size, but I think I almost like it better that way. The wooden gun appears a little less abnormally long and almost has a snubnose look to it, as you see above. Album information — and the cover photo with its original dimensions intact — can be found over HERE.

Also, if you’re into female artists who make kind of ethereal/sometimes creepy music, or just into music that’s a little off the beaten path in general, you should check out Natasha Khan, a.k.a. Bat for Lashes. I haven’t heard her new album yet (it’s on order at Dr. Disc, and knowing Scott Walker has a vocal cameo is pretty enticing), but I threw on Fur and Gold yesterday after not listening to it for a long time. I forgot how good that album is. If the endings of “Sad Eyes” and “Bat’s Mouth” don’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, well…you probably have no hair on the back of your neck. But fret not, for anyone can learn to grow it. And I can teach you how, for the low, low price of YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL.

Coming soon to a bordello near you.

A few improvised piano parts and a sprinkling of esoterica later, that album with a ridiculously long title is finished. Hooray, I say. Now I’ll hope my projected track list works out, venture out into the world tomorrow to get the inserts done, and early next week copies should be going out all over the place. Brace yourselves. Some serious booty-shaking may ensue. That is, if an increase in dirty words and dissonance makes you feel like shaking your booty. The sexy new-old tenor banjo only got to strut its stuff on one song, but there’s always the next album, and the one after that, and the one after that.

Again I had to cut myself off at a certain point to keep it a single disc. I haven’t pushed the limits of what I could fit on one CD this much since back in the Guys with Dicks days when I sometimes had to excise extraneous pieces of twenty-minute-long tracks in order to get them to fit on an already-packed CD.

At least I seem to be back on track when it comes to releasing albums in a timely manner, even if I’m not quite back to being as productive as I was four or five years ago. Two full-length albums so far this year is a pretty good start, anyway. Let’s see how many more I can spit out before Santa Claus starts boozing again. Maybe a good goal for now is “seasonal releases”. I’ll give you a rock album for the summer, prog-rock/hip-hop for the fall, and a death metal Christmas album to cuddle up with during the winter. Or maybe not.

At least you know the thought is there.

Shock the monkey to life.

Did you know dragonflies live most of their lives underwater in nymph form, breathing through gills in their rectums, and have the ability to “rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through the anus”? I didn’t know this. Thank you, Wikipedia, for enriching my life on Easter Sunday.

On that note, here is a picture of an evil rubber ducky.

That new album is very close to being finished. As of today, all the songs I wanted/needed to get down have been recorded. About three quarters of them are already mixed and CD-ready. I need to add some more wallpaper to a few songs, mix a few others, figure out how to sequence the whole thing (that part was so much simpler back when I made shorter albums), and then all that’s left to do is make a lot of copies and take care of the packaging business. I’m going to be tentatively optimistic and say I might be able to start spreading it around sometime next week.

I’ll be surprised if the response is anywhere near as positive as it’s been with the last two albums. I think this one is a denser, less accessible, less inviting affair. But I said that last time, and I seemed to be the only person who felt that way about AN ABSENCE OF SWAY, so I could be way off the mark. Expect a proper album page to show up on the sidebar in the next little bit, complete with lyrics, an overview of the whole thing, and all that exciting stuff.

I always find it interesting how when you’re just about finished something a curveball or three will come out of left field and add a little extra unexpected seasoning. Or at least that’s what seems to happen to me quite a bit. It happened with “Fidget” back on the NOSTALGIA-TRIGGERING MECHANISM EP. It happened with “The Ass, Enchanted with the Sound” on the last album. And today it happened with three different songs. One of them features a midsection that lurches around in a demented way, with some singing that’s the closest I’ve come to my once-celebrated (by me and the woodland creatures who were lucky enough to hear it before my throat forced me to retire) Tom Waits impression in something like ten years. One was planned as something fairly epic until I decided just to keep it as the fragment it is at the moment and let it remain a little uncertain of where it wants to go. And the most surprising song is somehow at once one of the nastiest, most venomous songs on the album, and maybe the catchiest, most rhythmic thing I’ve done since whenever it was that I last did something surprisingly catchy and uptempo. It didn’t exist at all until I started playing this propulsive Bo Diddley/John Mayall-inspired guitar/harmonica vamp yesterday. Now it might end up being one of my favourite songs on the album. It also features more nasty words than the rest of the songs combined, which I think is a pretty strong selling point.

Songs are funny things, I tell you.

It’s not you; it’s Lee.

the most expensive les paul in the world?

Thought it was about time I threw in some porn. And don’t tell me guitars don’t count. There’s a bed sheet there and everything! And it only costs $295,000 in Australian currency! I have no idea what that amounts to in Canadian or American dollars. I’m not sure I want to know. For that ungodly sum of money I’m going to guess you at least get to take the sheet home with you.

Not too much to report around here. Things are busy, as usual. Still hammering away at the next album. Still hoping to have it finished and release-ready before the end of this month. Still working on about nineteen other things at the same time, though a number of said things are still at the brainstorming stage. Good thing cranial umbrellas are easy to come by.

There are also two unexpected collaborative projects in the works — one of them a “guilty pleasure” covers album, and the other probably the closest I will ever get to making a jazz album. More on both as they develop.

Why do I feel like an anchorman when I type that sentence?

The jazzy stuff gave me the opportunity to record an upright bass for the first time, which wasn’t something I thought would be happening anytime soon. For an instrument that’s notoriously difficult to record, I was amazed how little trouble it gave me. I didn’t even really try to record it well. I just set things up in a hurry to record some improvising in case it went somewhere interesting (and I think it did).

I wanted to use the AEA R88 stereo ribbon mic on the bass, but thanks to the continued absence of the clip/adapter that’s supposed to help you position the mic where you want it there was no way for me to lower it enough to mic much below the headstock. Something tells me that wouldn’t make for very good tone. Instead, I grabbed the mic I normally use for vocals and a lot of other miscellaneous things (the Pearlman TM-1, which is one tasty handmade large-diaphragm condenser tube mic), we put it maybe four or five inches in front of the bass, I put it in omni mode, and that was it. I didn’t even put on headphones to monitor how things were sounding.

Later on when I listened back to what we did, I almost fell over. The combination of the Pearlman getting the meat of the bass and the piano mics picking up some extra ambience makes for a far better sound than I was expecting to get. I’m not sure I could have done much better even if I did spend a long time sussing out the best mic placement strategies. It sounds big and round and juicy without being tubby.

That TM-1 truly is a jack of all trades. I’ve yet to find anything the mic doesn’t sound good in front of. I bought it pretty much blind, based on the praise I’d read on the internet, after stepping up to better mic preamps revealed to me just how scary and fizzy my Rode mics really were. Talk about an impulse purchase that paid off.

I still need to try throwing socks over those Rodes one of these days to see if that gets rid of some of the painful sibilance. Worst case scenario, I’ll have a handy weapon in case someone else tries to break in over here. It would be pretty amusing to have to explain to the police how I broke someone’s jaw with a microphone in a sock. If they asked, “Condenser or dynamic?” then I’d know I had a cop with a sense of humour, or at least some rudimentary microphone knowhow.

In the spirit of giving, here is a song recorded during the “sessions” for the next album that won’t be appearing on the CD. I think some people call such things out-takes. I’m not sure how you can take out what you never put in to begin with, but never mind.

You Be, and I Be, and Therefore We Exist Simultaneously

It was recorded at a time when the piano was really drifting out of tune, and you can definitely hear it. But in some places I think that unrefined sound fits. This song is one of those places. And it’s not that I don’t like the way it turned out. It just isn’t going to make sense on the album I’m making right now. It sounds almost disturbingly optimistic about love, and I guess I really was feeling that way for the moment when I really shouldn’t have been. A lot of the songs on the forthcoming album come very much from the other side of things.

What’s funny is there were a handful of songs I deemed too unguarded to make available for public consumption, so I put them aside, and there were a few I neglected to record altogether for the same reason. When things really went sour, I ended up writing and recording some much nastier and less cryptic material that made the songs I felt were too close to the bone sound tame by comparison…and that nastier stuff will be on the album. I sort of skipped past the borderline love songs and went straight to the post-love songs instead. Maybe it’s a little acrimonious to put that stuff out there for people to hear, but it’s also honest. Why try to make the album sunnier than it wants to be? It’s not like I’m back in BEAUTIFULLY STUPID territory, though a few songs come as close as I’ve been to that kind of complete heart-and-guts-on-sleeve-ness in quite a few years.

Anyway, back to the song up there. I like the ridiculously long title. I like the ridiculous nature of the thing in general. I don’t think it sounds a whole lot like me. It sounds more like some absurd broadway musical interlude or something, minus the rest of the orchestra. It was recorded and mixed pretty quick and dirty, so the sound quality isn’t as good as it could have been, but it was just something that tumbled out unexpectedly in about three minutes. My ambitions didn’t extend beyond capturing the moment while it was fresh. I’m sure it’ll show up on something else one of these days. Just not on this next album.

I know I emailed it to a few people the day I recorded it back in January, and then to a few more people over the next few days, asking them, “What the hell is this thing?” Here it is now for anyone else who cares to hear the closest thing to a happy-sounding love song you’re likely to get out of me for the next forty years or so.

Speaking of the album this song won’t be appearing on, it’s inching ever-closer to the finish line. I don’t anticipate any last-minute scrambling this time around, since I already have the artwork and everything taken care of. Sequencing the thing is going to be a bit of a headache. It’s probably going to be about as sprawling as the last two proper albums were. But maybe I’ll get lucky a third time and the first potential track list I decide to try out will work.

This one is going to be a somewhat harsher album with more profanity than usual, so those of you who don’t care for dirty words in your music may want to wait for the “clean” version that will become available some time after my death, in an alternate universe.