Ramblings | November 24, 2015

PatCo2 update:

With Patchwork Cacophony 2 very firmly under way, I thought I’d write a short blog about where I currently am and what needs to happen before the album is finished.

As of a few months back, the track list is complete. Of course, until I actually release it it’s still notionally subject to change as things progress but I have what I believe is a strong set of tracks and I know what order they will be in. I have a couple of places where I want to¬† write some more lyrics or otherwise develop a section a bit more but for the most part I would say I have a pretty complete demo of the album now. What’s more, I think it’s a stronger, more consistent album than the first Patchwork Cacophony.

I have deliberately approached the follow up in a more structured way. While Patchwork Cacophony really was a patchwork of ideas recorded at various points over several years, I am deliberately trying to keep tracks of this album at roughly the same stage of development as each other as I go along. On PatCo you can hear (I would say) the difference a few years’ practice made to my drumming, for example, and there’s a definite shift in the influences and styles of arrangements between tracks.

With PatCo2, I’m intending to try to record each part in one extended sitting. So there will be a period when I’m tracking the drums, there will be a period when I’m doing keyboards and vocals, and so on, until I’m at the point where everything needs to be mixed, and then mastered.

So what do I need to do next?

One of the things I want to try to do is get the drum parts more written and less improvised. I usually take great care with making keyboard and vocal parts weave in and out of each other but, with the exception of Brinkmanship, most of PatCo was approached with a fairly basic mind set: keep time, emphasize the rhythm and play the fills in the right places. With PatCo2 I want to push my drumming a lot harder and consciously compose and learn more parts. This is even more of a challenge in a one man band because you have to do much more in your head or against fixed practice loops rather than developing parts organically with other musicians the way I do in Fusion Orchestra 2.

The other big thing on my list is that I want to introduce more fretless bass work. The fretless made a shy background appearance on PatCo but it’s a sound I adore and there are deliberately a couple of places in this album where I want to really feature it as an instrument, so that’s going to require quite a bit more practice.

And now to the elephant in the room: the guitar.

A fair amount of PatCo (all of Dawn Light, for example) was recorded stubbornly without any guitars at all, and for most of the rest the guitar parts were very much secondary to the rest of the instruments. I had intended that PatCo2 would have a more significant guitar presence, but with my todo list as long as it already is I’m going to take a pragmatic approach and invite a guest guitarist or two in to contribute the parts I’m not yet up to playing. I’ve proved to myself what I can achieve if I record an album by myself but now it’s time to see what I can do when I let other people take my ideas and interpret them with their own talent. The control freak in me is twitching, but the musician is really very excited.

So there you have it: finish writing the tracks, practice the drums, learn the fretless bass, record everything well enough that guest musicians can contribute their parts, then mix, release, publicise and relax. That shouldn’t take too long!

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