Straight from the shows with Salim to the studio, as we only have ten days left in Texas before returning to Porto. The heat continues to power through the state as we make the news all over the world and expect a week of 104°F plus / 40°C plus temperatures. Sadly, the world is more interested in the weather than the music that’s coming out of Texas, but that’s not just a Texas problem. I finally deleted my Pitchfork newsletter as I rarely find anything I’m interested in from their recommendations and have little agreement with their reviewers. But then any major publication has to pander to a larger or trendier audience, or you fall through the cracks where simply being really good doesn’t include either of the things that Pitchfork demands.
When the Guardian says it is “ranking” an artist’s albums, my thoughts are, how dare you? As if a self-aggrandized scribe in a fluorescent cubicle in London or a small flat down the road can place a life’s work on a scale from top to bottom and peddle it as truth. Who decides what’s good? It’s just an opinion by a self-proclaimed expert. We all do it, there’s music I like and music I don’t, but ultimately I’d rather share than judge, having said that, sometimes…I recently saw a review of Blondie that critiqued Angela Trimble’s singing but gave her four stars because she was so cool…I get it, I saw New York Dolls once and David Johansen was so cool, but it’s only an aspect…isn’t it? The other question is would AT have had the same success? Haha.
We had drums and vocals to do today on a particular song because we needed to send it to Tess (cello) and Rich (keys), so they have an idea of what they are coming in to play on. Then we have to work out parts on instruments that I don’t play, you guide the fingers stylistically, conceptually, but you can’t actually do what you are asking for. You hear it in your head, but can you explain it, can they understand what you want and are they and their instrument capable of doing it?
Then there’s the singing, you go into the studio to sing a song, you suddenly hear your voice so clearly in your headphones, you’d better know what you’re doing. The monitoring is so important, the level of the drums and bass for the rhythm, the guitars for the melody. You have to drop things out because they don’t help the performance, but you have to make sure that you don’t get the approach wrong if they’re missing. Then you have to sing in tune (well, not everybody) and this is where the performance comes in, you have to nail the emotion whether it’s supposed to be OTT or deadpan. You hear it back, you have to comp it, sometimes you get a whole great take (Rajan managed that the other day). Then, when you’re all done, it sounds nothing like it will because the whole track has to be mixed. You’re probably hearing the vocal too loud because that’s what you’re concentrating on getting right, it will never be that high in the track. You can’t hear the flügelhorn part or the bass properly, everything changes. It’s the ingredients before the blending and the serving of the meal to the guests.