Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Haunted" Comes Together and Other Stuff

Hello, peeps!!

I'm back with another music project update. I managed to complete recording on "Haunted" Saturday, mixed a bit, then re-recorded the bass part (which I'd screwed up) on Sunday. I also re-did the vocal track on Sunday, and I'm pretty happy with it.

I just need to finish mixing, and master it, and track 6 will be complete. I believe I'm still on track to complete this project for the end of the year. I'm facing down the reality that I probably won't make 12 tracks, but 10 will probably be fine.

I've been listening to the completed work on a pretty regular basis, and, aside from the couple of tracks I really want to re-mix, as I've written about before, I really think, moving forward, I need to pick up the tempo. I'm realizing that the tracks I've finished are generally falling into a 95 to 105 BPM range, and, while I think they work individually, I wonder if it won't feel like a lot of sluggish tracks. I mean, one of my inspirations on this group of songs was Kyuss, and the "stoner metal" genre, but I don't want things to feel like a slog. I'm going to make a concerted effort to drop in some quicker tracks.

Still, that aside, I am feeling good about my work. I think that my drumming is...evolving, but serviceable. I actually get excited about how my next set of tracks will sound, having the benefit of a few months of just messing around with the kit, rather than trying to figure out how to solve the current problem...i.e. how to play under this riff and progression I'm working on RIGHT NOW. Although, that said...I have found that I respond well to diving into the deep end of the pool, and struggling my way out. I actually find it...well I find it deeply frustrating, at times, but then something will click, and I start to put things together. Then, damn it's rewarding.

Usually this comes at the point where I say to myself, "the simplest way to do it would be..." I stop trying to be complicated for the sake of being impressive. I just play, and maybe I can't drum as good as a real drummer, but it's me. I've been re-listening to the completed tracks, taking notes, thinking and considering what can be re-done, made better, and I can't help it. It's so cool to know that I played all of it. Everything I'm listening to is ME. Maybe it's not the greatest song in the world, the greatest singing, the greatest playing, but it's me, top to bottom.

I know how Prince must feel. Without that massive talent, and massive crazy.

In other news, saw Ron Howard's new film, Rush, last night, and really just flat-out adored it. I've always respected Howard's way of adapting his style to each project he shoots. I think it helps him get out of the way of the characters and story. That's an important point with this film.

It's being sold as a sort of adrenalin-rush racing film, and I wouldn't call it that, at all. It's a character study of two men who were locked in a Formula One racing rivalry in the mid-70's. James Hunt (Chis Hemsworth) and Nikki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl - who is, flat-out, Oscar worthy), if the film is to be believed, had a deeply intertwined and compelling relationship. Lauda served as a consultant on the film, yet he is portrayed in a fairly harsh light, so...I feel the ring of at least emotional truth here.

Rush excels showing the contrasting personalities of these two men, Lauda calculating and obsessed with planning, Hunt a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants playboy and risk-taker. Both actors just shine, Hemsworth pays off all the attention from his portrayals of "Marvel's Thor," and is effortlessly charming. He may have already been proclaimed a "movie star," but this film fully shows how big a star he could be. Bruhl, on the other side, is just awesome. Catching a character driven by precision and ego, and putting that into seemingly every choice he makes during the running time. Both are vastly entertaining, and neither is a "villain."

Much like Warrior, a mixed martial arts film I truly wish had reached a wider audience, the racing scenes are used primarily to illuminate the characters. They're exciting and powerful, with a couple of really horrifying crashes, but Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen, The Audience) continually bring the focus back to the characters. Who will win is important not because the story hinges on it, but because the characters have hinged their lives on it. It becomes apparent that, in racing each other, they're really battling with themselves.

There is a bit of a misstep in the coda, where a voice-over basically just spells out a relationship that was completely obvious from the performances and the film, itself. It's unneeded, and the information imparted about the men's later lives would be just as effective in a title card. The brief use of actual footage and pictures of the two men, the sort of thing that just made me livid in What's Love Got to Do With It?, for example, didn't really irk me here. In fact, I was sort of excited to see what Lauda actually looked like.

Bottom line, it's a terrific film that transcends being a "racing movie." I'd call it my favorite film of the year, so far, bearing in mind that Gravity comes out next week. Highly, highly recommended.

Yesterday also marked a release long hoped for by Rush (the band, I'm talking about now) fans.  A remixed/remastered version of their 2002 album, Vapor Trails, that marked the groups return after a long hiatus, due to personal tragedies for drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. The album has always been considered a victim of the "loudness war," where tracks were compressed heavily, so that the overall volume could be increased. Mainly because it allows tracks to sound louder on iPods and other portable devices. This results in distortion and lack of dynamic range.

...Another thing to lay at the feet of the "digital revolution."

Anyway, both the band, and fans, have long been critical of the original production, credited to Rush and Paul Northfeld, for the muddy quality and distortion. This has been a controversial issue for the Rush community for many years, the album is loved for being the signal that the band would not break up after Peart's difficulties, as well as being the first Rush album since 1975's Caress of Steel to not feature any keyboard or synthesizer parts. Yet also viewed as flawed because of the production.

For myself, I actually love the album as it was. I'm not militant about it, but I did. Yes, it felt muddy and raw, but the lyrical content, touching on Peart's pain as it does, did as well. It felt set apart from that rest of the catalog, and that felt right because of all that had happened. It sounded, to me, like a Rush that was healing, but still felt raw and wounded.

...and I REALLY like the songs.

I'm also very pro allowing artists to revisit their works. I support it, as long as the original is available to me, and I do still have my original Vapor Trails. This is why I don't get in a twist about the Star Wars Special Editions.

I've listened to the remix a few times. It's good. I like it. It sounds a lot more like the rest of the Rush catalog, and I admit there are sonic elements I've never heard before. In particular, a guitar solo on Ceiling Unlimited was either inaudible before, or the sonic qualities popped so much better that it felt like a new element. However, I just can't call the album a "revelation," as some have. It sounds like Vapor Trails, the songs are still great, and they're played extremely well. There's some new bells and whistles, but the heart of the thing is the same.

Which, honestly, strikes me as a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment