Monday, June 04, 2012

“Naturally, In Interviews Of The Time”

By the time we began work on Built to Last, Jerry, to the distress of us all, had started using again. Given that emotional climate, it’s perhaps not surprising that the recording process, originally envisioned as starting from where we left off with In the Dark, i.e., recording the songs as a band, all playing together, dissolved rather rapidly into Total-Overdub Land, a nightmarish brier patch of egotistical contention. It was agreed that we would proceed by accretion of layers; it was similar to the normal recoding process (rhythm section; basic guitars and keys; lead vocals; instrumental leads; percussion; backups and sweetening), but instead of doing one song at a time straight through, we recorded “sub-basic” tracks for everything—drums and guitars or keys—and attempted to overdub everything on top of those tracks, one at a time. Bill would come in and do all the drum tracks, then it would be my turn for bass parts, etc. None of the songs were performed as an ensemble; rather, the pieces were slapped on an assembly line and the songs were manufactured—sloppily at that—without any development in live performance.

The material, which I felt was surely as strong as that of In the Dark, was never given full value by the band—not even later, in front of a crowd. The grooves never came to life, and the playing reflected that lack of unanimity. The total isolation of the recording process locked everyone into his own part in an unusually rigid way, as if we were listening too hard to one another, instead of to the song itself. Naturally, in interviews of the time we were full of pompous pronouncements about the aesthetic glories of this approach to recording; unfortunately, the result was something so sterile as to defy description. No one in the band was satisfied, either with our individual performances or with the total effect—six soloists, walking on eggs, taking no risks, and never, ever, playing together.

Phil Lesh
from Searching for the Sound

It’s not unusual in Hollywood
to film a movie as “performances”—
Actors will come in to the studio
when their own schedules permit, film their part,
then the parts are edited together
or special effects superimpose them
to construct a scene. And then a movie
is a construction made up of the scenes.

Today technology—and good actors—
make it almost impossible to tell
if actors in a film worked together.

And this happens even in well-known films.

Many pop songs bounce around cyberspace
from musician to musician, growing
instrument by instrument, track by track,
until someone sits at a computer—
sometimes it’s not even a musician—
and picks and chooses from among the tracks
and sometimes synthesizes a new track
from data abstracted from an old track
and a song gets constructed from all that.

These are both cost-effective ways to build
products since people only see products,
the product assembly lines are off stage.

Phil Lesh once called an album, “ sterile
as to defy description.”
So sterile.

If it was sterile, how did it give birth
to our world? What will our world give birth to?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yesterday was the third of June—

“Another sleepy dusty Delta day”

—so I’ve been thinking a lot about music
lately, and about the way the whole
entertainment business has changed
over the last few decades.

“Seems like nothing ever comes to no good
up on Choctaw Ridge”

On Not Playing A Synth Workstation #1

On Not Playing A Synth Workstation #2

The Question For Frankenstein’s Friend

The Other Way Of Making A Frankenstein’s Monster

Return To The Other Way
Of Making A Frankenstein’s Monster

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