Monday, August 11, 2008

drums on the other side of the speaker

Tom Waits did it to me again. A few years ago, I was casually listening to the song "Jockey Full of Bourbon" off Rain Dogs (one of my favorite albums). And this drum sound, something like a large frying pan being hit with a steel rod, just popped out of the mix and landed in my room somewhere. What I mean is, it sounded like it was not coming from the speaker, but maybe something had fallen off my shelf...or a chair fell over...or a smoke detector fell from the ceiling...anyway, I jumped. It was odd. Music is supposed to stay inside the speaker and when it does not abide by that standard, things get weird.

So it happened again. This time I am listening to Tom Waits sing "November" off The Black Rider album. And, towards the end, BANG. There it is again. A bit more wooden sounding this time. But I was totally caught off guard. Looked over my shoulder. BANG. There it was again. This time I was at I had to maintain composure. God forbid the guy in the next cubicle thinks I am...well...hearing things. Fear not, kind reader, I kept it together.

Speaking of arbitrary divisions, I initially thought all the tunes on my record would be clearly either band tunes, or not band tunes. Which basically means there is a drum set or not in the mix. This is still basically the case, but almost all of the songs now have many instruments on them, making for a much fuller sound. So this dichotomy is much less apparent, to my ear anyway. It is totally exciting! So many great players have come in and made so many great sounds! The instrumentation includes bass, cello, fiddle, banjo, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, mandolin, steel guitar, lap steel guitar, accordion, pump organ, electric piano, electric guitar, an assortment of percussive sounds, and of course...a drum set....well you get the picture. Songs are blooming like wildflowers. I feel like a kid in a toy store the day before Christmas!

In sum, we are almost done with the basic tracking. A couple of vocal things, a guitar part, some edits, and then WHAM we are into the mixing phase. Where we assemble the chaos. Parse the exuberance. Organize the sounds into one big beautiful Whole. While I can't promise drum sounds that will pop out of the speaker, I think it is going to sound great! Stay tuned.