STUDIO DAY #1
PAIN AND RELIEF
There's sessions and, furthermore, there's sessions.
By 'sessions', I mean the likes where you automatically grind a tune after another of music you know has little, if any, substance worth putting any major effort into.
But not this time, no. If there ever was a session you truly want to pull off to the highest degree, this would have to be it: Timo Pratskin's tentatively titled Update, to be released around late August or early September.
Rather than revving it up from the word 'go', Pain And Relief is all about four guys in a room, getting ready for a charged ride on Timo's musical highways, barely teasing the accelerator at this point. By the second time Danu's finger hit the rec button, the atmosphere in the room was free of any anxiety, general rushing or bad vibes, whatsoever. Four guys: confident, relaxed and in full preparation.
Pain And Relief is a beautiful song. As I understand it, Timo wrote it when he was 19. Do me a favor, though; never ask Timo for the lyrics that co-exist to go with the melody of this tune. Things might get ugly and a little nasty-looking on the side... "Pain and relieve"..., ABSOLUTELY!!! (Hint: If you actually dare to think how laxatives react in combination with music as tonally dark as this song... just don't tell 'em I didn't warn y'all, thank you very much...)
DEVIL IN YOUR DREAMS
Devil In Your Dreams was another one of those where you just try to find the groove without too many alternate takes, hoping that with a special combination of people something special's going to happen anyway. As is, I hope we got a nice groove going with this more beelzebubian rather than infernous piece of music to shake your thelonusian (not a word, I know) ass to...
My two solo rounds of fame - YIKES!! Personally tried not to mess with my effects too much in order of obtaining a take that's as fine in spirit as in performance. Sure enough, I've never personally considered myself too much of a genius in pulling off the combination of these two major characteristics of a real virtuoso, not in the time span of a single solo... In other words, please don't punch me the next time our paths cross for the out-of-tune notes at the end of the quintuplet lick near the end of the bass solo, ok...?
Nevertheless, Intro/No Theme is a fun tune to play. The real treat was to listen to Anssi play a couple of incredibly cool solos for alternate takes that, I believe, weren't saved. Here's hoping that the fun we had while recording this one translates to the listeners.
By the end of the day, you just become more or less exhausted by the wealth of material thrown at 'ya. Regarding this tune, there's a number of major changes in vibe within so many minutes that it takes just that much more in concentrating on the right take - I think we ended up attempting the song some three times and basically just chose the one with the right mood and a flawless performance... Timo's overdubs on the last studio day was what really did it for me with this tune. Anssi's one hell of a guy, too - it's fabulous to see someone as persistent as he was to be given permission to improve his drum track on the take we decided to use. It's really quite unbelievable how 'live' the track sounds, knowing the drums were overdubbed later.
One that I've enjoyed playing live much in the past, Sudden Threat was a beautifully raunchous way to round up a day's worth of playing music which, I believe, could hold some special meaning for music lovers who feel passionate about the exotic timbres of the non-commercial way of doing it.
STUDIO DAY #2
If Sudden Threat required patience, Getting Nowhere called for even more. The overall changes are even more dramatic, the length of Getting Nowhere might be a bit longer, plus there's a click track with tempo changes and cue points to boot. Furthermore, it's essential for the song not to climax before the very end and, if that's not enough, there's virtually not a single note of improvisation to be found here - i.e. Getting Nowhere is all written out and it's up to the performers to put the spark to it.
As much as could have gone wrong in recording this one, it was somewhat amazing to have a solid version down with just one take. Listening to the playback, we already knew we had a usable rhythm track which could be further improved with a few overdubs. However, having been under the impression of a casual run-through with no recording involved, I was fiddling with my pedals midway through the song, applying effects in sections where they don't belong etc.. With the confidence of a repairable keeper already scored, we played the tune once more and it's the second take we decided to run with.
Subsequent hours were left for Timo and Varre plus the arduous task of perfecting every little phrase played in unison with the keys and the guitar. This left Anssi and me a plenty of time to chat and chow, read old music magazines and start feeling anxious to have a go on the next track. The anticipation paid off, resulting in a turbulent version of...
BEHIND THE CORNER
First take frenzy. An apt alternate title for the song could have just as well been We Don't Fuck Around. You can almost hear the previous hours' steam of anxiety sizzle in Anssi's playing.
I remember thinking - right as we were recording - that my playing wasn't really together and that we'd be sure to give another take a shot anyway. However, at the playback, it was obvious that the energy of the first take was just too powerful to pass by. Also, it must have been the prior idling that must have left me a little clouded about my own playing - minor scrubs that felt like major screw-ups while playing didn't really jump out of the speakers in the control room. Thus, I fixed the unison lick leading into the keyboard solo and kept to myself the notion that I should really start practicing more...
HAVE YOU SEEN THE DUCK?
We certainly didn't let ourselves get away easy before calling it a day. Have You Seen The Duck? was, despite its' playful nature, something we all knew was going to take a while to get things right and exact. First of all, the head of this ditty is in no conceivable way guitar-oriented at all. As a matter of fact, Varre pretty much learned a technique - chicken picking, in fact - which, although not entirely new to him, isn't an everyday part of his musical ammo and, sure enough, the one way of getting a guitarist over executing the bitchy unison lines. Multiple takes were cut just to find the appropriate tempo and groove - somewhere down the line we agreed on a take with the drums and the bass down solid, overdubbing the rest of this barnyard hoedown before treating ourselves to a delicious dinner in the local restaurant.
STUDIO DAY #3
With our previous night's dinner taking a little longer than expected and accompanied by a healthy dose of adult beverages, it was great to wrap up the last session day with just two tracks left to record. In our semi-worn-out states, chugging through the persistent eight-note rhythms of Path felt effortless enough a task to start off the day. However, as easy as it would be to dismiss this song because of its' simplicity and overall more-is-less-attitude, any inconsistencies in the rhythm track could simply ruin the song. Because of this exact reason, we decided to record an alternate take after our first attempt, resulting in a keeper version with a solid feel. Much to my delight, I even managed to receive some genuine praise and a couple of high-fives from Anssi for having locked so tightly into the groove. Needless to say, I guess, but such action sure is a thousand times easier with these particular gentlemen.
A last-minute addition to this bunch of tunes, recording Jollas was pretty much the perfect way of rounding it all up. There's often a somewhat sentimental feeling in the studio after a particularly successful recording session, the mood of this ballad capturing our vibes in a rather vivid fashion.
Recording without a click track, we felt it was best just to let the song take us into whatever direction seemed appropriate at the time of recording. That direction ultimately led us to a destination we shall hereby call "One take wonderland".
For our collective of four, Jollas was to be the end of the studio road. Many more paths (pun slightly intended) will hopefully be laid before our fleeting musical tires in the future. Personally, I couldn't think of a better bunch to have a ride with.