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.

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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 🙂

The condor has landed…

After a two month tour of Latin America I have now settled in an apartment in Buenos Aires in the Almagro area. I will be here for 5-6 weeks rehearsing and building up to a Spanish language recording of some of my songs from the past 8 albums as well as some new ones.

There is a lot to do not least of which is finding the musicians that can play on the recording and help me bend some of the arrangements to have a more latin feel and punctuation. I am looking for three key players to work with me : a piano player, a flamenco guitarist and a bandoneón player. The bandoneón is the accordian variant favoured by tango players.

My girlfriend leaves tomorrow and the project rehearsal will begin in earnest. In order to keep my ying and yang balanced I’ve already joined the oldest boxing club in Buenos Aires and have been going for the past 4 days or so. The place is wonderful and full of atmosphere, history and sweat and I am the only gringo there which suits me fine. I chose to live in Almagro because of the Almagro boxing club , which my lyric translator and B.A guru advised me of, and as it is only 3 minutes away it allows me to start the morning with gusto. Almagro isn’t one of the tourist barrios (barrio is the term used for a district) but it is perfectly located to get anywhere in the city. Tango’s home is said to be in Almagro and the Carlos Gardel (poster boy for tango) museum is in the Abasto section of Almagro.

Lots of work needed from me….singing in Spanish, morphing songs into Flamenco rhythms will be a head bender, getting the tango-like punctuations and pushing beats on thirds of beats is all new to me. Wish me ‘suerte’.

I’ll try and keep this diary regular.

Other music news : multiple mixes of my house track ‘Garden With You’ should be ready in a few weeks!