GARE DU NORD
On Gare du Nord, we were both playing around with melody ideas up until the date of we'd set for recording horns. Because both of us had a melody written at the date, and we both liked each others' melodies as well as our own, we decided to record both.
In the end, we used them both too. What you hear in the tune is just one melody on top of the other. The first time you hear them it's just the pure takes, very simple and straightforward. Then, they come back again in an edited form, all chopped up and bits moved around. A different but related melody, constructed from edited fragments of the parts as they were played. In part, it was an exercise in working with the idea of acoustic integrity first, and then disregarding integrity entirely, editing with wild abandon, and making none of the usual attempts to hide the manipulation.
Portrait blends organic Jazz with a mechanical timebase. Acoustic and mechanical - The sampler breathes like an acoustic drummer, the piano and bass wind smoothly around it.
I really should let Derek write the notes for Portrait, as it's his tune. It was originally written for a young, talented jazz quintet which Derek was part of, along with Rudy, Artie, and some other players.
Derek translated it into 4/4 time signature (it was originally in 7/8) and rearranged it only slightly. He passed it to me and I went nuts with beats and things. I quite like the tune: it is so smooth and gritty at the same time. I love Derek's chords. It's the second tune we ever worked on together, and the first that really worked out. It was very exciting to both of us at the time!
It was beautiful to hear what Justin did with the piano parts. Small, subtle things, a grace note here and there maybe, but with a clear forwardness and uncomplexity which still makes me smile when I hear it.
In Ireland, when there's a sort of cool, misty, comfortable kind of day, people call it a soft day. Soft Day didn't start out as a tune at all. This is one of those times where things just fall together with no effort, turn out beautifully, and the ease of it all breathes right through the music.
We had Rudy Royston, who is a fantastic drummer, in the studio with the idea of making some sampled loops which we'd use as maybe the basis for a new tune. On somebody's suggestion, I went out in the room and just did some improv stuff on Dumbek with him on Kit, and we got into this very cool, open groove that had a nice development to it.
Listening back to the takes later, on a different date, the musicality of that groove became apparent as a piece on it's own. Derek had been working on some chord ideas which I rather liked, and we figured we'd try them out against it. Threw a couple of mics up on the piano, and rolled it a time or two, laid down tracks, and that was the basis for the tune.
I'd wanted to find some ambient sounds to act as a landscape for it, to situate it in a place. For me, the mood of the tune was fitting very well with the mood of a certain recording I'd made on a special day in northern California in spring 1997. Also fitting the mood and finding their way into the tune were some textural elements which were originally prepared for a sound installation I'd put on in '96 at Denver's Union Terminal Railway building.
Infralude came out of a couple of sample fragments from the tune Hereafter. I was listening to this dat of rough mixes at the studio one day. The dat deck had an alignment problem, so it was creating all sorts of interesting audio glitches. I liked some sections of this, so I laid them into the computer, and they became the basis of the Infralude groove.
Outside my grandmother's house in the countryside of western Connecticut, at night there are the most incredible insect sounds. It had been a rainy day, and it was rather cool at night. I took a walk around, carrying my tape recorder. On a grassy mound near the convergence of two dirt driveways, I found a great balance of crickets, tree frogs, and other night creatures. They were combining to make the most beautiful, open, shifting chord texture. Maybe something like a Miles Davis piece from the cool period, organic and shifting, but tonally centered. This recording became the starting place for the tune Khiva.
The melody was essentially already there in the recording. The notes of it arose spontaneously while listening and playing. We felt Mark McCoin, being such a textural player, and having great ears, would bring a lot of breath to the tune. Artie Moore was an obvious choice as well. It's all about the ability to listen. I sketched out a very open structure for it before the recording date, discussed rhythm ideas with Mark, and we did a few takes of the tune, improvising around the basic chords and structure, and one of those takes is what you hear on the record.
We put the insect recording from my grandmother's house up on the faders, and Gannon controlled it as we were playing. (That part being structurally important to the music, and being entirely up to him how it was worked during the take, naturally he gets the musician credit for Faders.)
Rivetgun started with this melodic kind of beat Derek had made on a little groovebox machine. We called it the brazilldrill beat. We tweaked it out with some filters and went straight into the sampler with it, and two very simple chords from the groovebox as well. It was one of those simple tunes that seemed to arrange itself very easily. It was fun working with the trumpet as a textural instrument in this tune.