Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sounds: Some Ophelia, Human Tree EP, Mist Giant

We wrote "Some Ophelia" towards the latter half of our first crop of songs, when we'd started to zero in on sounds and structures we enjoyed exploring. Besides the basic drum line that Dan brought in, we wrote this song as a band.

Originally we called this song "Modular A-C" as that's pretty much what it is: a transition between A and C (those are the only two notes I play on the bass). The Modular part came from the fact that you could play any part at any point. With C being a minor 3rd of A, as long as you don't play full chords, you can play pretty much any melody you like (okay, not quite "anything"; there are still harmonic limitations, but the point is that the song follows no real structure, so as long as you played in the A minor/C major key, you're pretty golden). We do this a lot with our songs. Our upcoming Glass Walls (Velvet Blue Music) release has another song with a similar modular structure, called "Catch & Release", which I'll eventually link to here. It's a fun way to play, not limited to strictures of structure [sounds like a shitty post-rock band: "Strictures of Structure"]). Of course, over time this doesn't hold up: you start making changes based upon when others make changes; that part leads into this part. Eventually hills and valley form and the song starts to take on a shape that is That Song. Nonetheless, it's an exciting organic way of playing and writing. 

One of the soundscapes we enjoy is live drums played alongside sampled drums. You can hear it in a number of our songs and "Some Ophelia" is an early example. There's just something about the presence. Drums coming out of speakers are just more flat. The resonance from acoustic drums, the actual beat/pounding of the air, that's not there in synth/sampled drums, which doesn't make it bad, just a different texture to explore. It also can wake up a song a bit to have a beat and then have another smackin' beat come out.

Mike and Dan share harmony parts on this song, while I laid down some cello samples I trigger throughout the song. Since the cellos are actually two cello parts there's no way to really do it live, so we decided to just trigger the samples while I play the basic A and C notes. We could have sampled those as well, but frankly the "human touch" (miro/millisecond timing mistakes only the living can make) provides a live/organic quality that would have been just rigid if it was another sample. Everything would be too locked in. 

Right before we released the song Dan came up with the title "Some Ophelia". Here's what he's singing about:

"darling, you've got eyes to make pride shy. these weak arms of mine, they would hold on to you for dear life. all my constellated archetypes i've given names like 'hesitance the toothless dog' and 'amorous the constant flier of kites'.

"oh, you make me high. and oh, then you coax me out. no, don't forsake me now, though it may be what i want.

"rehearse faces in my mirror. reach in for the real worth of shear nerves, and she will serve as the dream person. i feel love, real love (it's just not for anyone) as i build up myths of some ophelia only i can make whole.

I take it back. Strictures of Structure(s) is an awesome Post-Rock band name.

Next Up: The Human Tree EP

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