28 Sep 2016

The fourth of UNSHINE: Part 6

The synthesizers for our 4th album. Done.

This massive amount of work which has been done so far is finally coming to a goal.

The guitar mixings were compiled few days ago. This time we had around 60-70 tracks of guitars (and basses) for each song. We had several micings from our Churchboat home studio (with amp isolation) and we made also few re-ampings for the rhytm guitars in the D-studio from the DI-tracks from our home studio.

The next bigger thing will be the final mixing of all the tracks, this will take place as soon as we will get the time slot to do it.

What comes to the synthesizers and keyboards, we have used a pretty different approach each time with our three albums.

In the first album, Earth Magick, the synths were recorded (due to lack of time & money) in around 3-4 hours with presets of just one synth, Yamaha S30. However, it is actually a very good synth with few incredible sound banks the sounds and it can be adjusted in real time when recording with it.

In the second album, the Enigma of Immortals, we used Yamaha again, but also Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestra from IK Multimedia trying to achieve a more symphonic sound. We think it worked very well. 

In, Dark Half Rising, the palette was expanded with virtual Korg M1 and Sonic Synth. The amount of keyboards was not as layered as in the previous one. 

And now, with this forthcoming music, there are also some new synth additions, including Roland Fantom-X7, which is a great workstation. So, in the beginning of the recordings for this album, I thought that there would be less synthesizers because there are many different types of guitars included in this one (and I thought that this would kind of a compensate them). Ah, it seems that this was not the case. More guitars meant also increase in the synths. So far, I've used all the synths in our home studio, including physical and virtual ones, most of the banks and programs within them.

This time, the general idea has been to rethink the whole approach to the synths, as there are so many ways to use them and I am not talking only about different sounds. You can approach also one single sound in countless ways and try to produce something new. I think that the synth section sounds now quite unconventional for us and doing it has been great fun. The stylistic variation is probably larger than in all three first albums altogether. So, the aim has been to find music that sounds like us, not anybody else. To make music just for the music, not for radio or social media fame and attention, that is the idea behind. Of course, this does not mean that possible listeners should be alienated from it.

Remember (or listen to the) the mid 1970's, which gave birth to considerable amount of classic electronic, prog and rock albums. These albums are still considered the best albums of all times and some of them are still actually the most selling albums in the world, because new fans find their way to their uniqueness of year after year. In these albums, musicians of those days used also their instruments in much more unconventional way than today. Those composers had surely some secret ingredients from the universe in their morning coffee, tea or whatever. Maybe their general concentration was also more on music itself if we compare those times to the state of music industry today.


30 Apr 2016

The fourth of UNSHINE: Part 5

Enhancing song writing by jogging:

Have a nice Beltaine everyone,

the 4th album is progressing, synth recordings are almost done soon and the first mixing sessions will finally happen in the middle of May.

In this blog text, I describe something about the progress of crafting the recording parts in studio.

A whole lot of ideas were laid down for this album. I have already before examined the sources behind the whole songs including main ideas, melodies and structures.

Three albums behind, you start to see your own progression in the development and in the course of your own music. Of course, within the band we’ve noticed that the musical communication and intuitive idea-swapping is much more easier year by year, record by record. On the other hand, you and the other guys tend to get also more critical towards the music we make, the way we play.

I think it’s not a good idea to force songs in to a certain expected form. As an example, I’ve sometimes tried to make a song thinking that ‘this will be an easily-recognizable radio-hit when it’s ready’. What eventually turns out, is that the final version of the song is flattened by ‘supposed-to-be-great’ elements, such as overfocusing on chorus melody, or an expectable hit-song structure with 2 verses + choruses, followed by part C and the final climax of chorus repetition in transponed version with song length of 3:59. Or you to try to create a new ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in a stub-born way only to come up with a massive headache and a tedious, overlong and meaningless wandering.

Sometimes that works, of course, but I think that then this has to come out in a natural and unforced way. The very first original idea is the most important one, grab that one in your pocket and never leave the most important original ideas in the bin. They are the primal creations of your unconsciousness, language from the invisible ether, spirits speaking to you.

The songs and their structures will be always tested in our rehearsals. Sometimes, somebody or several band members suggest bigger changes to the original structures. As we have tested them, sometimes they change the whole context of the songs, i.e. a folk-metalish song turns in to something that resembles more like death metal. But we’ve also seen that the most usual case is that the return to the most original demo version works the best. In this album, we tried some songs, which were then changed in to really different ones – at the same time, the band wanted to keep that change, but somehow, the original spirit of the song was also lost. Those songs are now in the reserve and I think I might release them in a way or another. And I will stick to the original ideas.

The recordings of this album were done in bits and pieces during around one year. This gave me lot of time to think about individual details of the music. I have re-started my old hobby, running, and this, quite surprisingly offered me a new way to examine the songs. Plus running is good for your health, also mentally. I run mainly in forested areas to connect better with nature. Now, in April 2016, I've  observed the seasonal change of Finnish forest from winter to spring. Every time nature wants you to pay your attention to different things. Yesterday, I felt the forest as a whole organism, one that is getting ready for the summer. During the run, I even saw a deer and a hare - my favourite animals (must mean something).

During the long running sessions I listen to my own iBrain, I think about individual parts that are under construction. These often include arrangement of melody guitars versus rhytm guitars or, for example, the progression and lifting of one melody element throughout the song. I once went over and over in my head a piece of music that was in total a 10-second instrumental part in one of the forthcoming album’s songs. I think I played the part at least 100 times in my head and then after the run, I was happy with the part and I recorded it in my home studio. 

Apart from your normal family life, this kind of working method spends time and it really effectively crafts the song. Or sometimes, in the rehearsals, we take few beers, connect musically really well and just hit some unplanned great things in an unintentional way. However, I do not believe anymore nowadays that hangovers boost your creativity. That’s just not true. They might boost your willingness to start doing useful things, but that’s the only thing. Still, a beer now and then does not hurt anyone.