Almas Buenas Launch Night – Oct 27th 2010 – London

Almas Buenas Launch Night @ Barrio North, Islington, London.

I’ll be playing some of the songs from my latest album (in Spanish) at the delightful Barrio North which provides the right chic Latin ambience for such a thing.

I’ll be doing a solo acoustic set and flexing the songs in a different way than the recording from Buenos Aires.

All those that attend get a free When You Go You Take The Garden With You CD single.

7pm

Wednesday, October 27th 2010

Directions: Nearest tube stop is Angel. Come out of Angel and turn right, walk down ‘Upper Street’ until you get to ‘Islington Green’, then bear right. You will pass a Tesco Metro on your Right and Barrio North is a few hundred yards further up, on your left. It should take a 10 minute walk from the station.

Advertisements

Edinburgh, Magrite and how the cover of ‘Garden With You’ came to be

As a teenager I mostly grew up in Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline and would always be excited when I could somehow get across the Forth Rail Bridge to see Edinburgh the capital of Scotland.
Over the years I developed regular haunts and one of them I indulged regularly was a visit to the Modern Art Gallery in Edinburgh. The collections didn’t change a huge amount but I just liked the building, the setting and the mood it put me in when I was there. I
was/am big on the surrealists and they had plenty of good content in that direction.

Time passed since then and in May of this year (2010) I was experimenting with different ideas for imagery for a single I was completing. I was in Argentina recording another album and was completing the artwork and remixes for this other single – ‘(When You Go You Take The) Garden With You’.

As the single was a dance single I thought that I could try a geometric idea and keep it simple in the way the imagery of electronic dance music often translates the music maths of sine waves and frequencies to their artwork.
I thought of a green triangle simply communicating the pubis of a woman but it was boring when mocked up and the idea had been done before. Then I thought of cutting out grass in the shape of a triangle and slowly the idea developed and crystalli
sed when I remembered a wonderful painting by Magrite (Belgian surrealist with a penchant for bowler hats) that used to hang in the back room of the Edinburgh Modern Art Museum. Using the painting as a launchpad I had the specification below for the artist that was going to work on bringing the idea to life.
Here is the mail I sent to the artist….
Specification for ‘Garden With You’ Cover Art

The song title is a reference to a womans body as a garden – specifically her vagina/pubis. The idea for the cover is to have a picture frame shaped like a womans hips and the picture frame to contain green grass with one triangle cut out (like a womans pubic hair shape) showing the brown soil underneath.

There is famous painting by a surrealist
Magritte called La Représentation (1937) that used a picture frame shaped like a womans hips and it would be good to use this shape (not the actual frame) for the picture frame.

I have done a very rough mockup in photoshop to give you an idea but I do not consider it to be anywhere close to a finished piece because :


  • The picture frame is not shown squarely i.e. I used the photo which shows the frame at an angle. I have not taken the frame shape and created a new frame. A new frame shape is needed not a photograph using wood or branches for the frame
  • The grass is not attractive enough (I used quick stock footage photo) and is in much too low a resolution. The grass should be rich, green, natural and shown from an aerial view.
  • The soil is not rich and warm or complementary to the colour of the grass. The triangle should look like it has been cut out of the grass.- the pubis triangle shape could look more like a womans pubic hair
  • Proportions are not correct and the elements do not look like they belong in the same composition
  • It doesn’t look sexual or erotic

It should be immediately clear to viewers that the picture is a representation of a womans hips and pubis using grass/soil and natural elements.



And this is what Santiago Carosella managed to come back with exceeding my expectations by some margin.

Single is available now directly from drongomala.com and also available from iTunes and other online shops around July/Aug 2010.
More exciting artwork coming for Almas Buenas, a record recently finished in Buenos Aires due out later in the UK summer.

Autumn, Ephedrine and Rolling Tape

Recording is complete for Almas Buenas. I know I am a lucky man to have had the idea grow over 5 months and for it to flower like this.

The idea for the record was simple: take songs from my back catalogue that lend themselves to different styles of Latin Arrangements, sing them in Spanish and record acoustic musicians live.

I wanted the recording for Almas Buenas to be completely live with a whole group playing in unison as it is a romantic and dangerous thing to do and if done right then this magic translates into what is recorded. Unless you have top quality musicians this approach can end in chaos and the truth is that most records are made using a sucession of overdubs because it is simply easier to do and runs less risk.

The studio, Moebio, is a mythical place not listed on many maps or findable on the internet due to the slightly eccentric nature of the owner but is a hidden home for acoustic recordings for those in the know. It is one of the finest studio rooms in Argentina specially designed by Carlos Piriz – an acoustic engineer recognized throughout Latin America as one of the best.

Some of the greatest artists of recent times have recorded in this room, including Mercedes Sosa, the guitarist and composer Juan Falu, the guitarist Luis Salinas, the violinist, composer and conductor Antonio Agri, Soda Stereo, Fito Paez, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Charly García, La Camerata Bariloche. The historic album “200 Years of Argentina Music” by the Salta Symphony Orchestra, was also undertaken in Moebio.

The change to Autumn in Buenos Aires caught me by surprise and three days before the recording and I foolishly left a window open at night in my bedroom which saw me waking up with a cold and lots of nose gunk. Thankfully Jorge had a special remedy including Ephedrine which instantly cleared my head but it was strong stuff.

Oscar Magariños, came recommeded as a recording sound engineer for the project, by Jorge, and it was Oscar that suggested Moebio Studios to record. Oscar had prepped the room before with layouts and microphones so when we arrived things were smooth and enginnering effort invisible to the performers which is the way it should be.

The musicians arrived and gelled very quickly. The double bass player had been changed at the last minute and was replaced by the legendary Juan Pablo Navarro who, until the sessions, hadn´t worked with any of the other musicians on the songs. Juan´s calibre was such that this didn´t matter and he anchored the rhythm and the music perfectly. Carlos Corrales on bandoneon proved to be a focal point for the group due to his outstanding musicality and charisma.

Jorge Soldera conducted the arrangements in the centre of the room and for separation I sang from the control booth.

Monday
We only had the bandoneon and piano player for one day but we managed to get all six songs they featured on recorded.

As some songs had many mid frequencies to deal with from bandoneon, guitar, piano, voice and percussion it was useful that the piano in the studio had been chosen especially to have a dark tonal quality allowing it so sit alongside some of the brighter instruments. It was a ´tango piano´. Matias Chapiro, a young pianist and composer, played extremely sensitively and framed the songs with an inspired touch.

The day was finished off with an eyeball to eyeball tango performance by Carlos and myself. Jorge and I had reworked the song Blowin´ Up Tryin´ 2B Somebody (Exploto Mientras Trato Ser Alguien) into a completely new tango variant and Carlos had written a new arrangement for it. It was a great honour for me to have Carlos undertake this arrangement as he is one of the most famous bandoneon players working in the world today with performances and credits across the world. The first time I heard the new arrangement was at the session and after a trial run we managed to get synchronicity with an explosive take. One of the tricks of tango is that it is not in strict time and the performers are expected to push and pull the timing to suit the mood. One final thing about Carlos – he used to box in the same club I have been going to in Almagro. Perfecto.

Sergio Carrera the graphic artist also came down to the session to do photo studies of the musicians for his album artwork composition.


Tuesday
Focus was on the guitar led tracks and with only two remaining we manged to get through them fine along with one or two percussion overdubs. The track Don´t Get All Stuck (No Te Dejes Atrapar) was electrifying. There are tonnes of words for this track and during preproduction we had to move the tempo down from 115bpm to 112bpm so I could blurt them all out successfully. However during the recording the flamenco style had the musicians excited and we did a version even higher than 115bpm. Victor Piseta, on spanish guitar, dazzled with his virtuoso playing inspired by Paco de Lucia and Astor Piazzolla. Victor´s current direction is primarily folklorico with Duo Matices although he has also toured with the trio, Guitarras de Fuego, and recorded as a solo guitar artist. There are big things to come for Victor.

http://www.youtube.com/v/d-EDYgiu3TQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1

Wednesday
Vocals. Ephedrine. Honey. Lemon. Spanish language Gods were looking down on me on this day.

Thursday
Trumpet track for Let the Credits Roll (Que Pasen los Créditos). This track needed a muted trumpet to give it a New Orleans funeral procession inkeeping with the sentiment of the song. I wrote this song a few years ago after my band The Good Hurt broke up.

Patricia Zania, a BsAs fashionista, took photos and video footage leading up to and during the recording. I hope to get some of it edited and translated back in London.

Thursday night was strange. My whole calendar had been focussed around this record and it was only after finishing at the studio that I realised I would be leaving in a week. The mixing will be done over the next few days and before I know it I´ll be back in London.

At least my girl and the sun will be there 🙂

Elemental by Elemental (aka Drongomala +4D) now on iTunes

You wait for one bus and then they all appear at once….

People of Earth Elemental by Elemental (aka Drongomala+4D) is now on iTunes .

You can buy the whole record or do it track at a time.

Click the album cover below and it will open up your iTunes application (normal) – then you can preview tracks and buy.

Enjoy!

Drongomala

Take 10 mins and go and preview some of the album tracks that haven’t been on the net until now including the poetic ‘Bow Down Like a Prostitute’ and the massive hiphop jam ‘Countdown’.

Here’s a freebie in the way of “When I Was Young”