Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)

August 30, 2009 8:52 PM

I'm catching up with myself, finally.

This is track 1 of 8, in what I plan to become a complete reimagining of the Talking Heads album Remain in Light (1980)—It’s probably my #1 favourite album, ever, both from the standpoint of great songwriting/performance, and especially from a recording/production standpoint. Having already done an album I had never even heard before doing, it's time for a labour of love on one I know by heart. Man vs sun and I spent more time recording and mixing this track than we did crapping out the whole VU+N album.

The goal here was dense minimalism. The lyrics don’t make sense—they're not intended to do so, serving simply as another vehicle to move the song forward.

The harmony vocals are all me (17 of me, to be exact), all recorded in single takes—no sequencing at all. I had to sing the words “And the heat goes on” many, many, many times. The lead vocals were live. The DS-10 part was sequenced, just a loop of 2 measures repeated throughout the song, and the rest of the performances were improvised together, live--the only parameters I gave were "it's in G minor, and I want a triple solo section in the middle." I have to commend the others on their fantastic performances, as well; you’d think they knew when, where, and how the background vocals were going to be. I didn’t even really know, at the time.


: Vocals, Korg DS-10 (Nintendo DS)
Tréteque: Alesis QSR (Zoo Lead) w/ Casio AZ-1 Keytar
Pheatherwäit: Bass Flute
Maĵor Tom: Viola

We've already done another track from this album, but I haven't yet decided if we'll revisit it. We probably will.

posted by askmeaboutLOOM (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Jesus - you're a brave man LOOM. I approached this with a little trepidation - not because I thought you'd fuck it up but because RIL is one of my top 10 favourites too - it's verging on sacred. But I tell you what - THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT!! It is indeed a reworking rather than a straight cover. Best thing I've heard from you guys by a long chalk. Can't wait to hear more!

A few minor notes of const. crit.:

- I think the lead vocal is a little too forward in the mix - only a small amount - there is some really interesting textural stuff going on in the background that sometimes is getting masked;
- a little heavy reverb on the lead vocal might be cool in places;and
- I think you could have done with introducing some heavier, deeper percussion maybe about halfway though - this is a long track and, to me anyway, it needed a bit of a kick at around midway to keep the momentum going. A gradual build-up of percussion would have imperceptably increased the tension that's at the heart of this track. Particulary if you placed some of it at the back of the mix with a lot of reverb - this would make for an even more three-dimensional sound.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:31 PM on August 31, 2009

Yeah, I have to agree with the lead vocal. Unfortunately, I could only back off so much because it was both the direct channel from the sm-58 (which I could change a lot easier) and the room pickup from the Oktavas, which was also getting the flute and viola. There was only so much I could do with that channel without awkwardly reducing the others, as well. This problem should be less prevalent in the future, once the monitoring amp is rendered obsolete, and taken out of the mix (waiting for a headphone/amp set for all of us to be able to do individual monitoring, first; then the amp will be relegated solely to the Telecaster that recently dropped in my lap)

The only reason I don't have the reverb on the lead vocal is that same reason, really.

As far as adding percussion, I could see that, but honestly, even though it's almost 9 minutes in length, it never feels like it's going on too long. It develops while staying in the groove. If we'd had a fifth person, or I had been able to do perc and vox at the time, we might have done so. I might go back and track on some additional perc, later.

Thanks for the critique, I'm glad you liked it! It's really a labour of love, and the guitar solo from the original studio version of this track is perhaps the best thing ever. Eno is also my hero, when it comes to record production, so this is a natural fit for me.

The fact that it's just one chord, one key makes it easy and beautiful and fantastic to improvise to.

I wanted this to be faithful to the original idea, while still being completely different--unlike the VU stuff where we just crapped out things to go with the lyrics. The rest of the album will follow, just you wait!
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 3:39 PM on August 31, 2009

I just noticed that there are some weird (read: stupid, obnoxious) artifacts caused by the compression to under 10MB. Higher bitrate mp3 available here, FLAC (best quality) here.

(of course, for FLAC, you'll need something like VLC to play it, but it's significantly better)
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:49 PM on August 31, 2009

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