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 🙂

Advertisements

All is Calm?

Dear Reader,

Hoping you are having a good December so far!?

I’d like to invite you to download, for free, my version of Silent Night.

Silent Night – mp3 version

This version of Silent Night was recorded when I was living in Kerala for 2 years recording with Carnatic musicians. When I recorded it the backdrop was the unfolding US policy as a result of 9/11 and it seems all these years later there are still problems all over the world.

Recently in Bombay there were terror attacks and there still continues to be demonisation of whole ethnic groups on all sides across the world. This track, from the album 100 Fields, was made with 2 Hindus, 2 Christians, 2 Muslims, 1 agnostic, 1 spiritualist and a Drongomala – it’s easy to make music really.

The track Silent Night will be free to download from this blog post or from www.drongomala.com all through Dec 08 until 2009. A notably wonderful Veena part played by Biju is a must listen on this track.

  • Drongomala : vocals, acoustic guitar and arrangements.
  • Balu – mridangham
  • A.R. Biju : veena
  • Jon Thorne : double bass
  • Ian Holmes-Lewis : percussion
  • Sanjay/Merlin/Lenoy/Sandra/Ramesh/Sujith – choir


“NOW AVAILABLE TO BUY!” (iTunes, CDBaby, FM)

Album Title : 100 Fields

Artist : Drongomala

Catalogue : FMCDA003

Label : Flying Mountain

For more information

Visit us at: www.drongomala.com

Email : silentnight@flyingmountain.co.uk


Scale by Drongomala for Sale – Press Release and BUY link


Drongomala is set to release his first solo album Scale on Flying Mountain Records. Scale came to life in many locations including Southern India, a Greek island and the UK, before being mixed in the famous Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco – a life-cycle that gives the album a truly border and genre-busting feel.

This exciting new release makes a break from the hyped dynamics of today’s records, taking a particularly strong lead from collaborative performances by some of the top Indian classical musicians in the southern Indian region of Kerala. All is finally unified by Drongomala’s powerful emotive voice and acoustic guitar.

Opening with the fanfare of Rise and Fall the stage is set for the album’s themes of power, love, addiction and disconnection. ‘Be A Bird’ has a Nick Drake influenced mood of gentle introspection, ‘Money’ hosts a broken and bluesy feel reminiscent of early Beck records, ‘Poppy Flower’ phases in and out of focus like a drug dream surrounded by beautiful Santoor playing while ‘Out of Them All’ takes an 808 drum machine and flute for a ride through dreams of gold and the confusion of choices in life. The record is stuffed with jewels.

Drongomala was born in Manchester,UK, to an Irish mother and Scottish father. He spent most of his childhood in broken mining towns in Scotland and on the border in Ireland. Playing in indie rock bands during his teens he led the Scottish band Baby Bartok to great heights before they spectacularly imploded after an appearance on a primetime weekend TV show hosted by the enimitable Jonathon Ross.

After a period of recovery Drongomala went on to work in the drum and bass scene in Edingburgh with turntablists and musicians releasing through compilations and online communities, but soon the double time beats of jungle gave way to the percussive flurry of Indian tabla beats.

Scale is the record that captures Drongomala’s fascination with all things Indian. It is a unique love letter from India – a must for World music fans and a door into Indian music for those who find fusion to be too spicy for their taste.

Track Listing
1 Rise and Fall
2 Be A Bird
3 Out of Them All
4 Fear Is a Tree
5 I Am Me and She Is She
6 Love Is a Lifeboat
7 Money
8 Dig Up Yer Ancestors
9 No Man Is An Island
10 Poppy Flower
11 Stay Before I Go (aalap)
12 Stay B4 I Go
13 Pieces

BUY SCALE FROM THE FLYING MOUNTAIN RECORDS WEBSITE