Session Prelude - No More Long Albums

Posted January 20, 2010

I'm in route to Portland as I type this. Going to work with John on the next Remanence project - Storm and Stress. This title has been kicking around for some time.

This will be an interesting experiment. John moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan where he was two hours away by car to Portland, Oregon where he's about four hours by plane. In the not too distant past, I used to load the car up with a keyboard or two and any number of other electronic devices. Today I'm traveling light with a laptop (Ableton's Live and Sampler and Camel Audio's Alchemy as my sampling software), a Korg Electribe and Kaoss Pad for the possibility of some electronic weirdness and an audio recorder (we will most likely hike and record some environmental sounds for later manipulation).

We're shooting for about 40 minutes of material. We have three tracks nearly finished for about 25 minutes total. It will likely feature dark, minimal atmospherics. We've said this a number of times and we're sticking to it - we want it to sound focused and we want to like every track on the album from start to finish.

Strange Constellation was a bit of a letdown for us. We had some great ideas but were severely impacted when we lost 1/3rd of the album in a break in. Stolen computers and hard drives can certainly alter a project. The biggest loss was rebuilding Signal Hill from scratch (though I think that track turned out pretty good the second time around). No, what really happened was we lost momentum and time. And with the loss of time, we lost being in the same emotional space as the material. We felt obligated to do our best but had moved on emotionally. To my ears, some of it sounds over produced and some I just couldn't get the mastering right. I'm sure to most listeners it sounds just fine - and I hope I'm not ruining it for anyone - it's just that I associate this album with feelings of loss and frustration.

Getting back to our current mode of operation... John and I have discussed this a lot - we want to focus more on recording shorter albums and EP's. We get ideas, start exploring, and then part way through, want to go in different directions. The other problem is always time. It was so much easier in our 20's, going to school, not worrying about family obligations, jobs, a house, etc., etc... Not to mention that we both lived in the same place. During that time we worked on music a couple of times a week. Now, we get short bursts here and there. Thankfully we've gotten better at improvising and capturing ideas as they occur. And sometimes it's possible to go directly from source idea to completed master in a few short steps.

The Lamkhyer EP is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. It's one of our favorite recordings. And I think it's solid from start to finish and has a definite vibe to it. I'd be happy putting out a whole series of EP's if they all sounded this good. We'll see what happens.

As I sit here, I wonder what we'll come up with next. We've been looking back for a long time, yet we want / need / yearn to create something new. Mentally, it's difficult to do both at the same time. Over this past year, we've been combing through old demos and out-takes and are in the process of remastering two previous releases. There are a number of Aperus projects in the queue. We have Storm and Stress 2/3rd's of the way there. And the idea of writing new material sounds liberating yet feels like more weight. But, that is what this project is calling for. And, that's what we've been passively wishing for. So, it's time to deal with reality! I know one thing for sure - from this point onward no more long album projects!

Brian McWilliams

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