Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Can See Clearly Now My Brain is Gone

MikeDot and I sat down for another writing session last night at the studio. Once again, the results were promising. In Ted's honor, I am calling the nascent song "Please Hamer, Don't Hurt 'Em."

Mike hates that title.

What was interesting about it was that I really feel like we have sharpened our focus on what we can make the band sound like through the songwriting.

Ever since we became a three-piece, creating the band sound has been a bit of a conundrum for me. Mike and Joe can vary their sounds somewhat, but the guitar has the most options available for different sounds and approaches. The problem was that I was growing tired of the sounds and approaches that I had used in the past because they were so heavily indebted to mainstream rock. As satisfying as it is to play a lot of big, thrashing chords, it was getting kid of dull for me.

It was "Paper Airplane Crash" that set off the lightbulb in my head. We played it on Sunday at Tedstock and I really felt like it was the most original and satisfying song in our set. It builds on the minimalism that we explored in "Beauty Mark" and it includes time-honored Microdot techniques like different instruments playing in different time signatures. Most importantly, the arrangement itself is a centerpiece of the song. All three instruments have a lot of independence in movement and the result is more of a weaving of sounds, as opposed to the big brushstroke of one color you get when the bass is holding down the root, guitar filling the air with big chords and drums laying down a backbeat.

On the way home from Tedstock, I felt like the light had been turned on and I could see the map at last. It's hard to put it into words, but I had a clear conception of how we could sound as a three-piece that didn't amount to a retread of a lot of 1990's indie tropes and 1970's prog tricks. Mostly, it involves weaving the instruments together and using that weaving to create patterns of tension that resolve into beauty.

What was cool about last night was that I think Mike is looking at a pretty similar map, which is exciting. Nothing beats working with somebody who is on the same page.

Stay tuned.


Chrispy said...

All the instruments playing in different time signatures?

Sounds like the Noodle at Tedstock.

We even added the occasional "playing in different keys" as well.

Not by design, of course.

Dave Cavalier said...

It's that intentionality requirement that turns out to be such a bitch.

Chrispy said...

Just forget about intentionality.

Lots of "social lubricant" can often nip that one in the bud.

Jackson said...

My own Microdot Lightbulb lit up when I was listening back to the TEDSTOCK tapes. In a nutshell - where everything belongs - it comes down to this:

Microdot is a great live band. Knowing that you and Mike are writing suggests that Chris and I may have the pleasure of recording the Dot agin sometime soon. I suggest we attempt to retain the sense of inspired urgency that the live show has, i.e. let's not kill the record in George's room.

Dave Cavalier said...

Mike and I have had many discussions about working with you and Chris to see how it would sound different. As I said before (on this very blog), Islam is the, wait...

I mean, what I said was that the greatest asset for Smoke & Mirrors is the atmosphere you guys create. The reason I loved working there was that you and Chris were genuinely interested and we could feel it. After having recorded in many places where the guys looked like they were bored out of their skulls, this was a revelation. Making any of this is a soul-baring moment. I guess I felt a little better cared for at Smoke & Mirrors.

Jackson said...

We love to fly, and it shows.

Tony Alva said...

"Simple lines intertwining..."

So despite what Ted says, Chris DOES in fact care.

In fact they do care a lot and you're right, it is what make S&M the place to make music.

Record more f**kin Microdot damnit!

Hold on, now I have to enter my German word in the word verification box. You're out of town for one week and you come back to find all your blogs completely changed...

stinkrock said...

after reading the French Islam thread, I'm quitting Microdot, Smoke and Mirrors, music, America, and maybe the human race.

See ya!

Chrispy said...

No, Ted's right, I don't really care.

I do it for the money.