Re: The Heart You Were Given Last Christmas

Last Christmas

DUMPSHAU & FINGLE, P.C.
Garry B. Dumpshau, Esq.
Professional Relationship Mediation

November 18, 1984
Re: The heart you were given last Christmas

Dear Ms. Jessup,

My client Mr Michael, has contacted me in regards to an item which he gave you in December of last year. According to Mr Michael he presented you with his heart, presumably as some sort of Christmas gift, however he then alleges that you gave it to someone else the next day.

Mr Michael appears to still possess some fondness towards you but is hesitant to trust you with the heart which he sent you. It is at the behest of Mr Michael that I ask you to collect and return his heart as soon as possible as it is again drawing towards the festive season and he would like to re-gift his heart to someone else. He assures me that this person appears to be of higher standing than yourself and is, in his own words, “special”.

Mr Michael has also stated that you appear to have a “soul of ice”. This concerns me a little as I hope that no damage has come to the heart whilst it was in your possession as you would be required to pay some sort of recompense to Mr Michael as a result.

I trust that you understand the sensitivity of this matter and I appeal to your sense of decency and decorum in attending to the matter of returning Mr Michael’s heart in a timely fashion.

Very truly yours,

Garry B. Dumpshau

Board of Transportation: Commandant

Commandante was the last track to be written for Board of Transportation’s “Seven Bridges of Konigsberg“. I was in Australia on the Gold Coast and Dave was in Nashville and I shot him a very basic barebones version of the track. I had based the harmonic elements of the track on some “blown guitar” parts that I’d recorded over a year earlier while still in Nashville and working on a sound track with The Champion and His Burning Flame.

Recording session
Myself saying something no doubt “profound” and Dave giving the camera “the eye” at a Champion session.

I had used “blown guitar” before in my own music years before but only as an effect and not as structural element of a song. These first experiments were accomplished by gaining up the amp the electric guitar was going through and blowing across the strings at an angle which caused the most vibration. For this track however we got a little more “advanced” and used a can of compressed air – the kind you would buy at an office supply shop for cleaning dust out of electronics etc. This was also a two man affair with Champion guitarist Bryan (Bergmann) holding the chords whilst I blew compressed air across the strings at various angles until we achieved the best resonance of the strings. To help the sustain of the chord I also applied a fairly liberal amount of stereo delay and pre fade reverb.

We didn’t end up using these blown guitar parts but not wanting something sonically delicious go to waste I had in the back of my mind to you use them in a BOT track. As I mentioned earlier, I planned to use these parts as the harmonic basis for the song so I went about arranging the chords we had recorded. It worked well to have a limited amount of harmonic choices – sometimes it’s more fun to have constraints on your variables. I put down a loose drum pattern which I tried to make really natural for a programmed part. Here is “Bridge & Mountain” the original track I sent:

When I got the track back I was thoroughly excited by the addition Dave had made. He had written lyrics, vocals, added some fabulous sounding piano (complete with some broken string rattle which I love). I couldn’t wait to add some finishing touches and mix it. Collaborating like this can be extremely pleasurable – for me when I received the track it was like opening a aural present.

Finishing up the track required a stately bass track by Jesse (Palmer). I then doubled the chorus vocals and sang the second verse. Mixed, mastered and it was done.

 

Board of Transportation – They Are There

This song has been finished for a while but I kept putting off doing the final tweaks on the mix before releasing a version to the wide world of web. I guess I also had some grand plans to include a video clip for the song as well. But time has not allowed for that as of late, but hopefully sometime in the future.

This track was born out of another track that was on the cards for a sound track job that I was working on with The Champion & His Burning Flame (new album soon) and then it was possibly going to be on said album but finally ended up finding a home as a Board of Transportation (BOT) track.

Dave worked up a loose bed of reversed guitar notes to form chords as a variation of Bryan’s Theme – a thematic idea from Bryan Bergmann for the sound track project. There were 4 variations of Brian’s Theme and this was the 3rd and compared to the others it was quite “different”. Dave and the guys handed it over to me to “do something with” for the sound track project. I muted some bits and pieces and then added the vocal “ahhs” using a Logic instrument. This was a pretty loose 2 chord vamp which gave a bit more structure to the arrhythmic reverse guitar but it just started to make sense.

Keeping with the atmospheric nature of the track we recorded some stereo “noise” one sunny autumn (fall for those playing in US) afternoon just outside the studio. Tim was reading Russian poetry from his ipod touch, Dave was playing ukulele in a random fashion and I was wandering left to right rustling leaves. I grabbed that, reversed, EQ’d and tinkered to create a moving noise bed to add some depth to the track.

Next up we tried some drum parts for the track, provided by Mr. Tim Twinem. With no real “rhythm” to the track he managed to add another layer of structure with the big signature beat he laid down. Originally I had an idea to do more of a “drum’n’bass” sort of thing which was more fast paced but it wasn’t working. Plus the slower beat allowed more room for the “expansive” kick reverb and the reversed snare and kick samples.

A few weeks later Dave came around one Saturday for some “music time” and he laid down 2 vocal tracks, literally 2, and I am pretty sure there were no lyrics written. Again at this stage the thought was that this track might end up on the next Champion album.

Fast forward around 6 – 7 months and I am back in Australia and semi-settled and I figure it’s time to take another look at the song. I start fiddling with some mix ideas and cutting out bits and pieces. I finally ended up recording the harmony vocals behind the “chorus” section and some filler bits in the verse type sections. I sent through a rough mix to Dave, thumbs up, wait 3 months to actually finish the final mix which only took an afternoon of and on and voila! Fresh Board of Transportation tracks. Download a copy for you favourite listening device and h’enjoy.

New Music – “Lines and Powerlines” – Board of Transportation

A Long Time Coming

So this song had been kicking around for quite a few years now, 5 to be exact, and I only got around to using it and finishing it in the last 6 months thanks to the Board of Transportation project.

I had the first guitar piece way back in ’05 and most of the lyrics then but I just couldn’t get the song to “float”. It was going to be a song for Lout but it never really got finished at rehearsals either. Fast forward to ’09 and I’ve completed one song for Board of Transportation with Dave and we’re keen to try out something else.

Powerlines Photo
Taken about the time I started writing the song. Actually could have been the same afternoon.

Making a Start

I started by recording the guitar arpeggio part into Logic at half speed and then to give that electro-organic feel cut those arpeggios into full speed. I then doubled a synth harp under that, added some tape delay etc and we had a happening guitar thing.

Writing the chorus was like an epiphany in some ways as I had this drum loop going and I just sort of “jammed” against it and the chorus sort of wrote itself. It’s a little odd in it’s structure by being uneven bar lengths 10 then 8 but that really adds to the round-and-round hypnotic thing which is augmented by the incessant drum loop.

So I hobbled together this basic structure together so Dave could take a listen to the track and tell me whether he was keen to work on it as the next BOT (Board of Transportation) song. He was over at the studio working on some other recordings that we had going on and he heard what I had and jumped on the drums to put something down – the verse drums. When we got to the chorus I already had a bit of an idea what I wanted as far as the kick pattern went but he essentially wrote the signature off-beat hi-hat motif to create this great loop for the chorus.

Now we had some structure and some drums so I went away with the track and started tinkering and tightening things up and adding in extra production. The “guitar solo” at the end (if you can call it that) was sort of a natural extension of the song but I was second guessing myself about having it in there but once Dave came in and did his vocal parts over the last section I was convinced that it all worked. I also avoided a bridge with an obvious chord deviation because things were just moving along so well using the chords for the chorus and I didn’t want to take it else where. By adding in the “because your hope finds me” which was originally part of the chorus way back when it was written on ’05, I got the same effect of a bridge. Adding in the “stringy synth” part with some different chordal extensions also gave that variation and layering to build the track and keep the interest.

The Mix

Tascam M-312Mixing wise I did a few new things: I used up all 32 channels of Liquid Mix compression and EQ, tried out the Massey Tape Head Plugin and summed the whole thing through a new addition to my kit – my Tascam M-312.

I had the Liquid Mix so pegged out because of all the vocal tracks. Mainly using Universal Audio 1176 and LA-2a as far as compressors went and the Avalon Vt 737sp eq section. Mostly slammed the drum mics with the LA-2a’s. Only had 4 mics up Kick, snare, room and one over-head from memory. Liberal doses of 1176 on the vocals. Loved the 737, being a fixed frequency unit and broad Q it really makes you listen and mold the sound much more naturally rather than getting in a cutting huge chunks out of the frequencies.

I like what the Massey does to a track. I tried to keep the volume of the track the same by trimming back the output and really listen for what the tape emulation was adding rather than being fooled by the loudness when you plug it across a track. Once I got a feel for what it was doing I was able to be a bit more liberal with it.

The most exciting thing for me was summing the track through the new console. I sent out 4 stereo stems to eight channels of the desk. Kept the Drums, bass and percussion on 1 &2, Guitars, Synths etc on 3 &4, Vocals on 5 & 6 and effects on 7 & 8. I found that it was easier to nudge out frequencies to tidy up the mix on the desk. A subtle bit of EQ to push the vocals through, a cut of some low-mids to clean up some mud on the guitars and synths, highs for the effects to bring out a little more depth etc.

Radio Ready

To finish up I pushed the mix fairly hard into the SSL FX G384 mix buss compressor – auto release, 4:1, upto 4dB of gain reduction and found the sweet spot for the attack a-la Andy Wallace. I also ran the mix through the Massive Passive and then did some fine tuning with Logic’s linear phase EQ – I got a little over eager with the tops on the desk. If we get enough tracks together for the BOT project I will look at getting them all mastered by someone else as I really dislike the record, mix, master all by the same person thing.

Sorry to all those non-techy peeps out there who really don’t care about compression ratios and EQ’s that get me excited. Hopefully for you the track is something you like and enjoy regardless of the technicalities of how it was made.

“Gee” – Marrow and the Broken Bones – All The Possibilities Blog

While I was working on the Marrow album Aimee emailed me some new tracks that she’d been working on. We’d already sort of decided on the songs we were going to use for the album (from a list of 30+ songs) but as soon as I heard Gee I was keen to hear it on the album.

For me the track with just vocals and guitar was awesome so I really didn’t have a great deal of production ideas. What ended up as far as production on the track was Jesse and Jonathan’s own ideas and I think they work wonderfully.

View from the Studio Photo
View from the Studio window

Aimee tracked her guitar and vocal part at the same time into a Blue Baby Bottle and Audio Technica 2020 through my TAB 376 pres. I can’t remember which mic was on which but I suspect it was the Baby Bottle on the guitar and the AT2020 on the vocals. Not overly expensive mics but they didn’t do to bad a job.

I tracked the mandolin in stereo with two AT2020’s through the 376’s. A single mic on the uke, I’m guessing the Baby Bottle. Last but not least is one of my favourite bits of gear on this album, the MG-1 Realistic brand moog copy. That little guy has all the moves.

Obviously the vocals are the stand out in the track and really draw you in and take you somewhere else and then drop you off at the end. The other instruments are like different bits of scenery as you shoot along. Sort of like being on an afternoon train and looking out the windows at things as they pass by. You can choose you’re own imagery of course.

1995, a camera and some pencils/pens

Back in the day, the day being 1995, I took photography for a year. I really quite liked it and looking back at these pics I’ve grabbed I still love the grit and texture of film and paper. I’m not saying the pictures are very good, maybe a little interesting, but I was reading my “about” section and I said I’d drag out some old stuff and really, this is pretty old. I’ve also grabbed a couple of sketches I did from the same time that I thought were sort of interesting.

Chill Photo
circa 1995 some kind of SLR

This one I called “Chill” for some reason. I developed this picture in the darkrooms at highschool. I actually don’t think it was even that cold but I guess the impression it gives may say that. That light hitting water clinging to this net of spiders web and then the contrast of the twigs. Nice depth of field. It sort of like marking another persons project.

Birdie Picture
circa 1995 - mish-mash of subjects

This makes me laugh. Very indicative of the time period and my age. 8-hole Doc Marten boots and a Pearl Jam picture in the background. The toys? I’m not sure why they’re in there. My paper mache head of one of the characters I used to draw. Who would have thought paper mache could be sort of interesting. I think the use of depth of field and perspective is a redeeming feature and the colours are quite vivid. Love the deep red of the Les Paul in the background

Grunge Pic
circa 1995 friends basement

This one surmises my later teen years where music became the focus. I think I took this pic with the camera on timer. I also developed this one in the lab at school – it was a rush job by the look of the left hand corner. I really like the blur, there’s an energy there and you can still make out enough of the scene get a gist of it and to  be able to explore it. We were probably rehearsing in my friends basement at the time. Look at those pants – ahh the memories.

Mosh Cartoon
circa 1995/96 pen sketch/cartoon

I think this one came about in Art class. I had a perchance for drawing stick figures rocking out on guitars and making figures using shapes. The story is a little juvenile but captures the essence of a teenage boys passion for passionate music and some testosterone. Some good energy and sort of fun.

Pencil Sketch
circa 1996 - pencil and imagination

This last one reminds me of Beck. I used to listen to Mellow Gold and be fascinated by his bizarre lyrics which were often very pictorial. I think this is similar in the sense of gathering all these disjointed images together but getting them to work in an aesthetic way. It’s certainly not perfect but I still have fun looking at all the detail and wondering what I was thinking. Check the Foo Fighters gun in the background.

Devils In Division – Marrow and the Broken Bones

This track is taken from an album I was working on with Marrow and the Broken Bones while I was in the US. I really enjoyed working on this track because of it’s conciseness, the awkward/eerie atmosphere and the clever mathematical lyrics. The production was kept to a relative minimum with the focus on Aimee’s voice and guitar. Aimee recorded the guitar and vocal in the same take with a mic on each through some TAB v376a’s pre amps one evening in September ’09.

The additional production is provided by some soft synths from Logic – Sculpture, EVP88 – as well as some glockenspiel and Moog .

The Moog wasn’t technically a moog but was a Realistic brand Concert Mate MG-1, a consumer version produced by Radio Shack released in the early 80’s. It is a sweet sounding keyboard and really has some great sounds if you know how to get them. Jesse who owns the Moog and played the parts definitely knows how to pull out the sound you need for a track.

The Sculpture part – that odd sort of eerie vibrating sound in the background – reminds me a little of some night noises that I used to hear in the bush around the house where I grew up. In the Australian summer evenings you would go outside and the sounds of the insects and animals in the bush were often very loud and intimidating. This particular noise would always sounded rather foreboding and the memory is still very vivid. I think in reality it was just frog of some sort but with the combination of other sense it took on another character all together. While we were tracking the guitar and vocals some of the less foreboding Nashville night noises crept into the open mics so if you listen carefully you can hear it and I think it really lends itself to the tracks atmosphere.

I’m hoping to put up more Marrow tracks in the next few weeks.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.lukegarfield.com/audio/devils_2504.mp3″ text=”Marrow & the Broken Bones – Devil’s in Division” dl=”0″]

Take Another Day

This is a track that came out of a “noodle” that I was doing in Logic with some soft synths. I originally called it fidgeting hands because of the uneasiness of the synth motif. Just gave off this sort of Prodigy Breath feel – if you’ve seen the film clip with the hair growing out of the wall and all that crazy sort of thing.

Electro Voice MicThe guitar stuff was done one evening with some wine and my acoustic guitar plugged into my Adrenalinn II pedal. The wine didn’t really do anything other than afford me the head space to experiment and not be completely anal about what I was playing. The Adrenalinn provided the delay and some amp emulation to give that grit. From memory I detuned the guitar to a complementary open chord and the strings we’re exceptionally loose.

Verse vocals were done in one take after being inspired by the beds. I grabbed an Audix 6 and went for it not really worrying about the lyrics, I had an idea of what I was saying but mostly it’s mumbling with poignancy. I reworked the chorus and resang that later on this old domestic reel to reel tape microphone that I grabbed one day off ebay. Not a bad mic really which I gave away to a mate before I left Nashville. Nice and silver and solid.

There’s still few tweaks I’d like to do to the track like overlaying some acoustic drum samples to make the drums breath some more, loosen off the compression at the end of the track too. One day.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.lukegarfield.com/audio/take_another.mp3″ text=”L.Garfield – Take Another Day” dl=”0″]

Who’s Optimistic?

[wpaudio url=”http://www.lukegarfield.com/audio/optimistic.mp3″ text=”The Champion & His Burning Flame – Optimistic” dl=”0″]

This one of those tracks that I am really proud of. Not because of any special involvement on my part but more so that sense of surprising “wow, this turned out awesome”. That’s also not to say that I didn’t think it would either (just get on with it).

Basically the guys from the Champion were asked to cover a Radiohead song for a compilation and I helped tracking the drums and then got to mix the track. It was one of those things were I was involved for a little of the creative process (on the recording side) and then I got take all these wonderful tracks and turn them into a mix. As nerdish as it is, when I was pushing up those faders it was like like presents of audio – “ooow look what I’ve got here, ahhh that’s cool, oh listen to that …” – so on and so forth.Tim on Drums

It was a delight to mix and like I said at the start I am very proud of the end product. I think it’s one of those sum of all the parts type of thing where even though you are right there and have “control” of sorts of the process it turns out more than you could have hoped.

As far as any special notes about it. Drums were tracked very dry because I wanted to be able to trigger some acoustic and electronic samples. There’s still plenty of real drum there of course but layering those other timbres really lends depth to the original sound. I made heavy use of Logic’s Enverb on the vocals for that slightly odd and ethereal backing vocal sound.

Fave bits. Pretty much the whole thing. The “Hey’s” – brilliant idea. The synths – add such depth but are not over kill. Bass – smooth and melodic. Bridge section just works so well and is big and nasty. I loved the way Dave described the over powering synth in the bridge when I was mixing it and not quite getting it (something along the lines of)- “He’s like that guy who comes into the party and you can’t ignore him cause he’s so loud and belligerent”. Brilliant.

Enough talk – enjoy the music.

All These Things

This track has been around for a few years now, written by a good friend of mine Felicity on ukelele when she was just learning how to play.  She wrote it, chord book on her lap, and really came up with something that really inspired me. She bought it to me to work on and we sorted out the chord progressions a little more but essentially the lyric and melody stayed the same  I think. The details are a little hazy as it’s been a few years.

We quickly recorded some uke and vocals and those take are what you hear now. I really loved the shy, tenderness of the vocal which works so well with the lyric and hesitancy of the ukelele. I massaged them a little in Logic to get the timing a little more on. I played a really nice nylon string acoustic to complement the uke and couldn’t help but want to get some glockenspiel on the track. It just felt so right and fitted the sound and sentiment of the vocal. It also keeps that light feeling that uke brings which is juxtaposed against the break beats underneath. The original drum loops I threw in to build up the track were okay but I ended up wanting to make them a bit more original so I layered in some other loops that I made myself.

To finish off I threw on a vocoder in the last chorus as it kind of takes that fairly organic sound of the track and puts a little electro on it.

Hope you enjoy it.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.lukegarfield.com/audio/all_these_things.mp3″ text=”Felicity – All These Things” dl=”0″]