I put something “new” up on Spyspace just now in place of that new-compressor-testing sketch, just for something to do. I’ll explain the quotation marks around “new” in a moment. But first…who’s a sexy chicken? Who’s a sexy chicken? You are! Yes you are!
Sorry. The picture made me do it.
Anyway. The song on Spyspace is nothing like anything you should expect to hear on the next album. Instead, it’s one of about two hundred songs intended for the beastly in-progress project that calls itself THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE. It’s one of several things that have been kicking around for a while more or less finished but unmixed. I thought I would mix it already, and maybe by this time next year I’ll finally pull all the disparate threads together, record most of the songs written for the album that haven’t yet been given their due, and emerge with a three-CD set. Or something.
This song was written at the old house on one of those days when I was going without sleep in order to fix my sleep, at a time when I didn’t yet need to do that very often. Hence the opening line, “Twenty-one hours and then you drop,” though my day was just beginning. I started playing a repetitive lick on an acoustic guitar, a bunch of words came pouring out, and there was a song. City workers were performing some pointless menial construction work on the street outside, and a piece of machinery made a strange beeping noise mid-way through the writing process. It sounded dissonant and melodic at the same time, and weirdly appropriate.
I wish I’d been able to capture it somehow, even in a rough demo recording. Alas.
I didn’t finally take a stab at recording the song until February of 2008, when I was still trying to get my momentum back in the new house. I got the guitar part down, messed around with some vocals, and then decided I wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t feeling much of anything during that period, really. Aside from some tiny songs (some of which are also destined for THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE), I didn’t get much of anything substantial accomplished until CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN shocked me back into productivity in the summer.
More than a year after the initial recording, during sessions for the collection of tender love songs that is IF I HAD A QUARTER…, I revisited the song and built on the unfinished bed that was there already. Overdubbed a lot of additional singing, added bass, drums, and piano, and then realized all of my vocal multi-tracking and stereo-recorded guitars had eaten up most of the available tracks and I didn’t have room left to do much of anything else. I could bounce a bunch of things down to two stereo tracks as a submix and start building up more things on the “wiped” tracks, but I don’t like to do that. It makes mixing the final product a lot more difficult. Generally if I can’t say it in fourteen tracks, it ain’t worth saying.
So the song still sounds a little unfinished, like it never quite made it to the epic/bombastic place it wanted to go. Then again, at just barely three minutes long, it was never going to be very bombastic no matter what happened. I kind of like how the “chorus” is hinted at a few times and then finally appears in full just once, never to show its face again. And some of the vocal gibberish that first felt too goofy to keep ended up winning me over.
Really, it’s just a random song I aim to throw on a ridiculously ambitious, ridiculously bloated album that’s been years in the making (albeit on a very, very sporadic basis) and will probably end up being hailed by Pitchfork as my “White Album on steroids and Cialis”, assuming I ever finish it. I still think the singing is kind of dodgy, but I’m too lazy to do anything to fix that, and for some reason I feel like sharing it right now instead of anything that might actually clue you in on where the next album is going.
So there it be. It’s a very quick mix that gets kind of left-heavy near the end, but it’s good enough for now.