It is with some regret that I am, to a certain extent, throwing in the towel. Not the whole towel. But a good chunk of towel. Basically, I’m abandoning attempts to flesh out the demos with elaborate multi-instrument arrangements.
I’d been finding the whole process hugely frustrating. I suspect it may be because of the write-the-songs-first approach I took on this project. Having recorded them in a simple acoustic fashion straight away and then leaving them, I allowed them to get kind of locked into how they sound.
Usually, arranging and writing are the same process for me, so the writing is completed and the songs arrive in their finished form simultaneously. There are only one or two prior instances of me demoing songs and then arranging them – and in those cases, the gap between the two stages was minimal. Like, the song might be demoed on one day and then recorded the next.
Cases of me developing new versions of existing songs has almost always gone in one direction – from more complex arrangements to stripped down ones (usually to be played live). I’m now finding it too hard to add stuff to songs that, having been left alone (even for a week or two), now sound “finished” (despite being incredibly bare). All the bass lines, beats and synth parts I’ve been throwing on top of them over the last few days seem incredibly gratuitous and arbitrary.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was late this afternoon, after doing some uninspired work on a couple of songs, I tried to boost confidence by listening back to one of the tracks I worked on on Thursday, only to realize that 1) the added elements made it now uncannily similar to a track I did about six years ago. and 2) It did not sound very good. At all.
So, the plan is now to halt arrangement work, cast the material from the last few days aside – and record what will essentially be (slightly) polished versions of the demos: one or two acoustic guitar tracks, with one or two vocal tracks on top. It’s how the songs just sound to me now.
It’s possible that I’ll try to rework them (or some of them) at a later date. But for now, a simple, acoustic album is what it’s going to be.
Apart from the wrench-in-the-works that was trying an alien method of working, two other factors have definitely played their part this RPM – and differentiated it from my previous experiences:
While I was in full-time employment for all of the RPMs I’ve done, in 2007-2009 my journey time to and from work was about 15 minutes. At the moment, I’ve got an hour commute each way. That’s two hours of day gone. (Admittedly, I could have been bringing my laptop with me and programming beats/mixing stuff on the train. I guess I’m not as dedicated as I thought…)
In 2007 and 2008, I was living alone. In February 2009, I was sharing an apartment with someone, but we worked completely different hours, so I had the flat to myself for the bulk of my non-working, non-sleeping hours. February 2012 and I’m sharing living space with similarly-scheduled individuals. And though I’ve been able to temporarily take over a whole room for music stuff, there is still a huge amount of non-music space in the gaff that I can escape to. The beauty of 2007 and 2008 especially was that there was no part of my apartment that didn’t have some musical equipment in it.
On top of this it has, as I said, been a fairly hectic month. This unfortunately included some medical stuff that, while not life-threatening or anything, did render me incapable of making music for the bulk of two weekends. And weekends during RPM are precious.
So those are all my excuses.
Of course, there are loads of should-haves and could-haves and if-I -hads, but this is how it has turned out.
Three days remaining to (re-)record ten acoustic songs. Nebraska was mostly recorded in one day. But then I assume that was a full day – I don’t think Springsteen had a day job on that day, with an hour commute each way.
It may be tight.