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This is a blog created/kept unkempt by the band A Relative Term to express the process of recording their next full length album. They will poke each other in the eyes, whack each other's noses, butt heads repeatedly, and run in circles on the floor for your enjoyment.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Shelter Made of What Ifs

Four songs is a good amount.

That’s the rough mixes that Mark did at Jake’s request so we could get some objectivity on the sessions and probably so Jake could show them off.

Both ends have been achieved.

I have been slow to listen in any depth.  I’m a little slow in general.  Mark will attest to that.

But, here’s what I found upon close listening:

Four songs are the perfect number to get you through a day.

I’ve been listening during breaks from the first day of gradual school and they still sound as good now as they did at 8 a.m.

The songs in question are: Indications, March Forth, Undiscovered Light, and What If.

Each has been my favorite song at some point during the day.

When you walk through a crowd while listening to Undiscovered Light or What If it is entirely possible that you begin to float rather than walk.  These song carry thoughts beyond simple locomotion and before you really notice you have arrived at your destination.  It happened twice today.  Once as I made the trek down to the over priced bookstore and floated throughout courtesy of What If.  By the time a tiny woman reminded me that I’d need to leave my backpack up at the front (something that makes me a bit nervous due to standard paranoia and basic thievery) the song ended and I had no real recollection of the steps between Mark Twain’s hall and the spot where I now stood.  All the while Mark Longolucco was asking me a very pointed question via the song’s lyric: 

‘ What if you’re not what you wanted to be?’

Well, on the best days that’s a call to arms, a call to betterment.

On the worst days it’s a reason to watch season 3 of The Wire in its entirety. 

Today was somewhere in between so I heard it a bit differently. 

He sings of ‘a house built of walls turned a shelter made of what ifs.’

I think it’s about how things change, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly but when the change occurs it won’t ever ‘change back.’  I think it’s about how we hide behind ‘What if’ and how the same phrase is often that call to arms, that which betters us.  And, if that’s the case, then it’s about perspective and what you make of it.  I’m completely ready for Mark to explain to me that I’ve got it all wrong or that this is actually a Pearl Jam b-side and he didn’t want to tell me for fear that I’d refuse to play it (and I may have) but as it floated through the air, through the ether, through my ears and into my head, that’s exactly what it meant.

And, it was beautiful all the while.

We are recording tonight and while I’m not the type to be ‘excited’ about such things, I am looking forward to it.

Just don’t tell Mark.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Mapmaker" A Relative Term Recording Session 8.22.11

A little video of our last recording session, tracking "Mapmaker" otherwise known as "the song that Brandon Schmitt refuses to play anymore". We love Brandon, but sometimes he's a drunk hardhead. And by sometimes I mean most times. We hope our version will scare him into performing this song again.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Bury me deep and someplace by the water.

Hey it’s pretty much good news all around. 

Fresh ears on the ‘Tonight’ track proves that there is hope for that one after all.  We added a couple of tracks, bass and a clean electric, and the track is far from dead.  Nobody’s jumping up and down about it quite yet but that would be an unpleasant sight and, probably, grounds for my downstairs neighbors to really kick up a fuss anyhow.  Jake opted for the Tele for the clean track, the Lollar P-90 sounds really great. 

Mark then announced that we’d be tracking ‘Mapmaker’ tonight.  A sure fire crowd pleaser if the crowd happens to be Jake and I. 

In a coincidental twist of every day coincidence the very writer of the tune, a bona fide gentle giant- Brandon Schmitt.  Schmitty was calling about getting Moke Albini and the All*Stars back together up near the Canadian border and Mark let him know that we were tracking his song for the record.  Schmitt proceeded to call us ‘ass-wipes’ but it felt like he meant it with love.

So, take one felt great but Mark leaned a little hard on the old Yamaha LL-6 and we got ourselves a digital peak.  Boooooooo.

It was otherwise a really hypnotic take.

So, after being blessed by Mr. Schmitt himself, take two was damned good too.

Then came the electric guitar.

It was decided that each pass would feature a different guitar and a different close mic.  Jake was pleased that he got to play back to back the Telecaster, his SG and then the 63 Jag for clean swells. 

A cornucopia of great guitar tones and each part slightly different but highly skilled.  I can’t wait to hear the rough mix of this one.

As I tracked bass Mark discussed the need for something static, droney and before anybody knew what was happening Jake had the organ set up and we embarked on some noise-making that put smiles on faces.   There was some very creative droning and one sweet and low organ track that might be the first time I’ve impressed Mark in a decade. 

That was after my finger slipped of the keys a couple times causing us to have to retake what should be the simplest part on the entire record. 

Hey, it was the High Life I tell you, not me.

There’s talk that we’ll get Blackbeard from The Two Jakes to do his (highly unique) thing on this track but talk is cheap and Blackbeard is not.  Maybe Mark can get him some Johnny Walker Black.

All in all, it was a good night of good sounds and mediocre beer.

Sounds about right for A Relative Term.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"A Promise" Recording Session 8.16.11

I realize Peter already posted the link for this video, but lets be honest, Peter's face is at least somewhat more inviting than a hyperlink.



They’re not all golden, pony-boy.

Tonight we took a shot at recording ‘Tonight.’

Things were looking up.  Everyone was relatively on time and I wasn't asleep when the boys arrived.  The rehearsal take went really well, we have proof if you need it, and we dove right in.  It was about that time that someone uttered the phrase 'I think this is going to be easier than some of the others' or something like it.  

The kiss of death/Famous last words/Deliverance.

Now, I say‘ a shot’ because it’s uncertain how well the session turned out at this point.  You see, the long and storied process of magnetizing music often produces uncertainties.  Anyone who has ever attempted such things knows of the frustration of ‘one of those days’ where your best efforts fail to produce results.  And, it’s also well known that ‘fresh ears’ will hear things differently so I won’t say it was ‘one of those days’ yet until we listen back and decide if Thursday night was fruitful in the recording sense.

The tune is a quicker than your usual Relative Term hymn of beauty and sorrow.  The BPM clocks in at over 130, which almost qualifies it as dance music in some circles.  Its future holds electric guitars, bells/whistles/handclaps and a full drum kit but, for now, it’s a lonely collection of acoustic guitar takes accompanied by only our state of the art click track and a single electric guitar take that, while remarkable for its sound, was muddled by conflicting direction. 

Our fearless leader, the ponytail himself, rose from the engineer’s chair in the great green room of the Hopeville Penora and declared that we’d let it lie for the night and pick up again on Monday.

None were opposed.

- Peter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'A Promise' is a three minute killer

Day four (or five-depending on you who trust) of recording has come and gone.  Last night we did basic tracks for ‘A Promise.’

This led me to utter the title of this blogpost due to the sometime difficult nature of recording. 

Some songs go pretty easy and others take a bite out of your ponytail (or in this case, the entire band.) 

The good news to report is that after some early struggles we actually escaped the Hopeville Penora with a very nice sounding track and a nifty little video to boot. 

See, Mark brought the ‘good camera’ yesterday and it was so good that I was a little afraid to touch it for fear I might end up breaking something.  He and Jake shot some footage that Mark assembled into the short clip. 

This puts the basic tracking up to five now to go with our earlier work on ‘What If’ ‘March Forth’ ‘Indications’ and ‘Undiscovered Light’

The record is shaping up very well thus far and here’s hoping that bragging about it doesn’t jinx anything.

I’ll keep you posted since the other two have trouble with complete sentences.

All the best