Friday, March 2, 2012

Sounds: Empty Archipeg, Human Tree EP, Mist Giant

I  don't actually recall how "Empty Archipeg" began. It's one of our "Hits", the first batch of our songs. I know at least some of the structure came from a sample Dan brought in, at which point I was playing the cello. Back then, Fall of 2009, this song was a lot brighter, easier, lighter. We started it together and then midway through Mike G. got a chance to work for a month on Greenpeace's Esperanza (Mike schooled us when we called it a boat: it's a ship which is defined as that which can fit a boat. Confusion over). By the time he got back all the songs we had been working on had undergone pretty drastic changes: I was on keys now and the lyrics and overall tone of the song got very dark. I remember Mike standing there listening to what we'd come up with and then pausing for a moment once we finished. Then he said: "These songs have gotten a bit dark". It can be a tough challenge to inject oneself back into a song after it's changed a lot, but he did it and as you can hear, he nailed it. My favorite part is the interplay between the lead organ line and the guitar. That's the song's hook to me.

(We tend to try and hold back on hooks and payoff/super-dominant lines, trying to maximize their effect by  NOT playing them over much. The organ/guitar interplay is only in the middle and at the end, pulling out completely for the "rebuild". Mike is good at pointing out when/where we should do this [I'm always horrible and want to play the best parts over and over again], which we do on the soon to be released "D-Loop" on Glass Walls, the unreleased "The Late Keanu Reeves", and others.)

We mostly write our songs during practice, which keeps the music organic and give the songs more of a living vitality. Plus they don't get as stale since we keep jamming and discovering new parts. However, we've always said "we should use recording as a writing tool", and Dan was the first of us to really do this. After we had written and recorded the song, he came up with a whole new harmonizing track, which Mike took over, and you can can hear in the middle section after the breakdown. Eventually, since I do nothing during the breakdown/rebuild part, I started fiddling around with vocoder, but we never recorded this, and you can only hear that during our live performances.

Once again, I don't know what this song is about, because I don't pay attention to the lyrics. The meanings to all of our songs are mostly colors and  textures, for me: "what with" being this pinky orangey wanting song; "empty archipeg" being this deep brown/black/rich green loneliness, like a vortex that sucks in all emotions. But, if you want to know what Dan's actually singing about, boom:

"oh, my goodness, i've been observed by the righteous god of a billion births. oh, man, i just hope i get there first.

"after all the slightness i'm right where i belong. looking after my sins you will likely find your own. rough shod in the night winds but one more hour finds me home. sick, but once the trip's begun there is nothing for it but to go.

"oh, we hope we know, though we don't.

"my motives are garbage, and so suspect that it'd be hard to miss them. aisle after aisle of no substance and all i feel is jealousy. empty archipelago. hope i notice the harbingers in time. panic at the checkout counter. smile if you're one for smiling but all i feel is jealousy. give me what you've got."

30 seconds before Dan ROCKS OUT!!!

Originally, this song's title was "Empty Archipelago", but I kept calling it "Empty Archipeg" which is of course the internationally accepted truncation "archipelago". I think this might have annoyed Dan in the beginning, as I even wrote it out like this, but then I think he just laughed at me and decided to go with the flow, leaving the title of this song a testament to me being an ass.

One the textures that we as a band really like to play with is the live drums along side recorded/synthesized beats, which is why at the end there's just Dan playing with the drum loops all by his lonesome. Poor Dan.

Next: "Some Ophelia" 

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