Seams (vocoder bringdown edition)

April 5, 2007 8:51 AM

A recording from 2004 of a song from 1998. I really like vocoders: I think that they are very awesome. More inside!

posted by cortex (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite


I wrote this song during my freshman year of college; my first serious girlfriend, highschool sweetheart as it were, had broken up with me a couple of months after I left for school, and this song is one of the more well-constructed things to come out of that.

The ambiguous layering of "seams" and "seems" in that fulcrum point in the chorus struck me as extremely clever at the time. It still strikes me as a little clever, but I'm glad I didn't write a thesis around it or anything.

It was the title track of a very, very spartan album I recorded the following summer—basically just 19-year-old me and a guitar and a couple nice mics in my neighbor's basement closet recording studio. Most of that album was simple one-takes, and I recorded a version of Seams like that.

But I had wanted to something more atmospheric with it, and so we went back and retracked it, including some spacey guitar drone stuff blown through about five miles of digital reverb. That version became the canonical version on the album. Shades of A Warm Place, as I listen again now.

A year and a half later, I played a full solo show on campus, including a live rendition that I fucked up considerably, as I did almost every song at that show. Protip: rehearse at all before doing a two hour show. You can also hear, in that recording, the hand-cramping nature of the song in evidence. Barre chords up the wazoo, and a lot of mischordings on my part.

I don't remember what inspired me to rerecord this in '04. I had just started fiddling with Reason and FruityLoops, I think, so it may have just been a random project. And I discovered the vocoder support in Audition and just layered harmonies all over the place via that. That breathy, ghostly mechanical vox shimmer: heck yeah.

Plus, hey, a beat! I've never really had drums on recordings, so I really like that aspect of this version. They're amateurish—fills are overwrought, and I didn't spend time on the dynamics like I should have—but I still feel like it adds a dimension of momentum that wouldn't be there otherwise.

The right-channel counterpoint of melody timeshifted against itself late in the song started as a happy accident in mixing and I just ran with it. It pleases me immensely, as it turns out.
posted by cortex at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2007

Lyrics (though from which rendition I cannot recall):

If I were a computer
I would be full of bugs
If I were a recovering junkie
I would be full of drugs
If I were the night watchman
I would be fast asleep
If I were a charity
I would be trying to keep
My hands on my cash

I think I’m breaking down
I think I’m falling apart
At the
To me I’m made
Of a less stern brand of stuff

If I were the DA
I’d call the defendant a pile of shit
If I were a genius
I’d slice people up with my razor wit
If I were the President
I’d screw the world and then have a bath
If I were metaphysical
I’d pig out on the grapes of wrath
And then spit the seeds in Mankind’s face

If I’m a diamond
Then I’ve lost a little shine
If I’m a phonecall
Then there’s no one on the line
If I’m a treasure
Then I’m lost beneath the sand
If I’m your love
Then you’ve lost me to the land
Of weary lonesome dry-eyed tears

I’d ask you to carry me
But I wouldn’t ever want to
Stand up by myself
I hate this
Being by myself

posted by cortex at 8:53 AM on April 6, 2007

Sometimes your singing voice reminds me of Beck. The guitar solo sound is amazing. The lyrics are interesting. I like that tremolo tone you pan around. The overall execution is what one might call "artsy-fartsy" (it's a technical term). I loved the seams/seem thing. I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff.
posted by edlundart at 11:57 AM on April 6, 2007

Damn, cortex, I'm gonna have to buy you a beer someday. This is just sweet.
posted by snsranch at 5:27 PM on April 6, 2007

Wow! That was incredible. Gots it all, great lyrics, phenom recording, great guitar, voice. Usually I analyze while I listen, but it didn't kick in and I just got into it.
posted by sluglicker at 2:40 AM on April 7, 2007

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