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.

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