Kodachrome Ghosts (demo)

November 15, 2009 3:28 PM

An unfinished guitar-free thing I keep coming back to. Kind of old-fashioned I suppose, but it has a cleanness of line that appeals to me. Suggestions for improvements very welcome - I already know the vocal needs re-recording. But does the track modulate enough? Does it need to have more oomph?? It is really a wee bit linear and.......boring???

Started as a deliberate attempt to write something based on the kind of triangular rhythm (bossa nova?) that was popular for a while in the pre-rock and/or roll '50's - you know those old records that have that lovely booming string bass that's kind of soft but solid at the same time? Things like Dean Martin's "How Do You Speak To An Angel", "Serenata" by Nat King Cole (aided by the wonderful George Shearing Quintet) and loads of others. Of course, this track doesn't sound anything like that.....which is kind of what normally happens....things just go in their own direction....you just follow along and hope for the best.....

posted by MajorDundee (7 comments total)

Exceptionally clean production. I love the wide stereo effect it totally works well. I know you mentioned you need to re-record the vocals... I would keep that key and tone though it was beautiful. As far as modulation, Perfect the way it is. I think its the vocals that carry the song don't worry about the repetition. It's hardly noticeable unless that's what your looking for.

A great timeless song. Excellent work.
posted by The Audio Invasion at 4:03 PM on November 15, 2009

I would try bass drum on all four beats, rather than on 1, 3 & 4, for a Whitest Boy Alive feel. It could be "old-fashioned," or it could be retro-'80s.

Biggest problem I hear is that the orchestration maintains a consistent density throughout, and the percussion never changes. You might want to try starting out with a sparse orchestration, then adding parts later. Have a new instrument appear at key moments, like a chord change or new vocal part. If, say, a cycle of chords happens twice in a row without a change in instruments, maybe change it up a bit.

Also, maybe drop the hi-hat at the very beginning. Then the start of the song will have more impact.
posted by univac at 4:06 PM on November 15, 2009

Thanks guys - appreciate it. I hear what you say univac, but the triangular rhythm is actually what holds this track together - if I change that to straight 4/4 it will almost certainly fall apart.

In truth this demo is a "cut and paste" job. The second go-round and the repeats at the end are simply copies. I tend to do that sometimes when I'm trying to sort an arrangement out. Probably explains why it sounds a bit "samey" - because it really is the same!
posted by MajorDundee at 4:14 PM on November 15, 2009

I actually liked the vocals a lot. At parts in the verses they made me think of Bowie in a very good way, not derivative but something of the old, haunted sound he got on some of the songs on the Eno albums. I didn't like the "take my name what's my name again" part so much (is that the chorus, I guess?) but I wonder if I would like it more if, as univac suggested, there was a new instrumental part underneath it for variance -- there's that slight breakdown that happens under the lines just before the "take my name" part that I like but then there's just something about that part I find unappealing. Maybe if it was just done once instead of repeated (with some instrumental vamping after?)? "I don't know." (ha) Otherwise, I think the instrumental is great. I love the little descending riff before the chorus, that's my favorite part.
posted by raisindebt at 7:18 PM on November 15, 2009

There's a lot to like here, but it does end up being rather samey, for reasons you're aware of. But if I were to suggest an arrangement tweak here, it would be to really change it up for the "name" parts -- either with much more hectic percussion in that part, or by adding some kind of oomph maybe through distorted guitars or something.
posted by edlundart at 12:12 AM on November 18, 2009

I think this is really good, but I agree with edlundart: the main thing that makes this seem samey is the fact that the rhythm and instrumentation during the chorus are basically the same as the rest of the song. You might experiment with: (1) a tweaked rhythm, possibly stripped down since the vocal part is so rhythmic; (2) introducing a new instrument, possibly a nice pad that fills out the sound without stepping on the vocals. Nothing dramatic necessary, just a tweak to mix it up a little bit.
posted by googly at 1:31 PM on November 18, 2009

I won't presume to tell you how to change your song. Instead, allow me to just say that I really enjoy the overall feel of this track! Everything about it is attractive to my ears. It's consistent, percussive, groovy, and smooth. Well done!
posted by zhaytee at 10:07 AM on November 22, 2009

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