Blackbox Blues

April 22, 2008 11:07 PM

Piano! Mellotron! Squealing guitars! Stewardesses! I've been working on this for a few weeks now. It's one of the more complex arrangements I've attempted in a while. I think I'm getting close to done, but I could really use some feed back. Thanks, folks!

you irregular? 'cause i'm irregular, too. we've all been cut to fit and there's nothing that you can do for it. you see, the trouble with trying to sleep like this is my head's hard tack and ac hiss. my head feels like a dead-end Darwin tree. that's what it's like for me.

you're gonna top yourself. you're gonna price yourself out.

are you a regular? yeah i'm a regular, too. the ground is coming fast; there's nothing that we can do about that. the flight plan's lost and you know the blackbox is laughing at us (it won't be erased). the stewardess is married to the sky each time that she walks down the aisle. it's the miracle mile.

you're gonna top yourself and you will price yourself out.

posted by es_de_bah (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Wow. I really like this tune a lot, es_de_bah. I'm such a sucker for mellotrons and vibes layered with guitars. It has this dream-like quality to it, the lyrics are intriguing, and the arrangement is ambitious.

I know it can be a fool's game to cite the groups that come to mind when you hear a song, so forgive me if you're not a fan of these bands, but I hear echoes of Sam Prekop/The Sea and Cake and TV on the Radio.
posted by umbĂș at 4:24 AM on April 23, 2008

I dig this. I don't know what you're going for, but this is more the sort of song that I hear as opposed to the sort that I listen to. It's very, as umbĂș says, dreamlike (it sort of wanders and doesn't go anyplace). I dig the textures, for sure, and the mellotron, and the groove.

I'm not too crazy, though, about the vocal treatment; the rest of the instruments are sparkly and present and the vocals are boxy and swirly and I'm not sure I like the way that goes.

I do like the fact that the end is so much bigger than the rest, and I might like it even bigger. Some really raunchy, sustained chords swelling and swirling around underneath, maybe.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:24 AM on April 23, 2008

umbu, actually, kinda funny you should mention sea and cake, cause i've had them on in the background a bit lately. and tv on the radio has had a lot of influence on how i think of using voices (esp using layered voices as instruments, like here). i think cloud cult had a lot to do with this particular arrangement as well, and stephen malkmas definitely gets a nod for inspiring the lyric writing stlyle and the arrangement (it's an attempt to create flow out of three three fairly disparate parts, read: terror twilight/wowee zowee)

uncleozzy, thanks for the tips. i think i got a bit lazy after working on this for too long. i will definitely return to it some day and retool the vox / beef up the climax.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:32 PM on April 23, 2008

i actually really like the way the song kind of wanders around a bit... lots of nice sonic details to appreciate here, too. i agree a little with uncleozzy on the vocal effects. but i don't necessarily think i have a serious quibble with the way the vocal effects came out, just think they could be refined a little to get just the right quality. very cool. i especially like the lyrics.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2008

The Mellotron lends nicely to the treatment you've given it here, where you wash the sharper elements over with it's smoothness. I think it gives a nice wrap around it. I like playing fools' games, so I'm going to go ahead and say it reminds me very much of Broken Social Scene, especially the guitar in the beginning (before the first chorus), and the repetitive nature of the lyrics.

Unfortunately my monitors are back home, so I only have my laptop speakers to go by, but the mix sounds pretty nice (which says more since I'm on tinny speakers).
posted by pedmands at 6:38 PM on April 23, 2008

saulgoodman, if you get a chance: what would you consider the right quality? i've been banging my head against them a bit.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:58 PM on April 23, 2008

saulgoodman, if you get a chance: what would you consider the right quality? i've been banging my head against them a bit.

i think if they had just a little less of a 'boxy' quality to them, if that makes any sense... there's something in the vocal processing mix that sounds like a small room reverb of some kind (wtf? is 'reverb' really not in the firefox spell check? anyway...) and that makes the vocals come across as if they're in a different space than the rest of the mix to my ear. sometimes that kind of disconnect works really well, but in this case, it doesn't quite work out, i think. you might try to take some of the spatial depth out of the vocal effect, flatten them out a bit. or just experiment with different room sizes. i like some aspects of how the vocals sound a lot, i'm just not totally crazy about the aural space they seem to inhabit.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:17 PM on April 23, 2008

FWIW reverb is a slang-truncation of reverberation, not surprised the spell checker picked it up. I agree with Saul, and will throw in the suggestion of re-thinking their EQ, they sound a bit too high-end. Also, what are the compression settings on them? They tend to sound like they have that over-used radio effect on them.
posted by pedmands at 7:31 PM on April 23, 2008

thanks guys
posted by es_de_bah at 8:32 PM on April 23, 2008

I like it!
posted by mattbucher at 2:49 PM on April 24, 2008

This song is pretty awesome. I'll have to hear it with headphones when i get home.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:23 AM on April 30, 2008

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