Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Dreaming

I was getting ready to write about the beginning of Naked, but I keep finding things to say about Emergency Broadcast System. Indulge me one last time...

In 1993, EBS "released" an EP called This Is Not A Test. It was my first attempt at totally DIY production. I've already talked about the actual recording process in earlier posts. We would mix the songs from the four track down to a TEAC home cassette deck, then duplicate them on that same deck. I then designed the cover and little cassette labels on my Tandy computer and we hand assembled everything. We were so not high-tech - I almost trashed my printer by feeding white contact paper though it to make the labels! The labels then had to be covered with clear contact paper... you get the picture. Ghetto style.

We had been ordering blank cassettes through Bob Moore, then owner of Exeter Music (great guy - Bob had encouraged me and my brother in our musical endeavors during high school). It was cheaper to buy standard-length cassettes rather than custom-length ones. Money has always been tight in our musical projects.

As it turned out, we ended up with way too much blank space on side B of the master tape. Rather than rip off our adoring fans (um... our mom... um... wait--fans?), I went nuts on a four-track piece of my own. I laid down a gurgling sample-and-hold texture on my beloved (and, sadly, long-gone) Rhodes Chroma synthesizer. Then I cut a percussion track by throwing a Radio Shack mic into my trusty Kent Bonanza acoustic guitar. I flipped it over, muted the strings with my legs and went for it. A little Alesis Microverb and it sounded pretty cool. Over this back drop, I improvised a melody on my (also sadly long-gone) Roland SH-09 monosynth, then doubled it with strings off of the Chroma.

The track was sounding pretty nice in a trancy kinda way, but it needed something more. Bill stopped by, plugged in direct through his pedals, and laid down some sick Alan Holdsworth-meets-David Gilmour solo lines. I had instructed him (in my fledgling producer way) to just play whatever he felt. Then, I fished through the solo and found punch-in spots, literally recording over sections of his performance (how arrogant was I?!!) with my own synth solo (again on the SH-09) in a Joe Zawinul-esque approach (this YouTube clip should give you a pretty good idea of what I was listening to when all my classmates were into Bon Jovi and Cinderella). What we ended up with was a pretty convincing prog/fusion jam that sounded like Bill and I had a live duel:

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Not bad for a filler. I titled it "The Dreaming" as a companion to "The Awakening", which is the sonic synth extravaganza that opens the EP and leads into the track, "Be Yourself" (which you will hear again later with Naked):

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"Be Yourself" was 100% Bill White lyrically and compositionally. An early song in his catalog (and he's no big fan of it now) it showed a new potential for where we could go musically, given a different line-up.

It didn't occur to me until I was converting tracks to mp3 for this blog that I composed "The Dreaming" around the same time that I composed "It Didn't Move, So I Ate It", my Zappa-esque instrumental. "It Didn't Move, So I Ate It" lived solely on staff paper for another sixteen years until I finally recorded it for my first Eutoxita album, trainwreck. You can hear a clip of "It Didn't Move, So I Ate It" here, or you could always buy trainwreck...

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