A Window on the Din Machine - May 09

Steve, Manda, Christine, Nick, Roger

Steve, Manda, Christine, Nick, Roger

Just to put you in the picture regards recording progress, my album's reaching that stage when the team gets to do all of the things that change it from a sketch into a proper painting.

Ponder if you will the updatable demo. Violins, violas and vocals take on a more homo sapien feel, probably because real people played and sang them. Samples have their place when fleshing out the cartoon and might eventually serve as extras in a crowd, but the full treatment needs humans in my book. The issue is about real performances in real time. But there are those who will tell you there's nothing like a real mellotron and who could disagree with them? That Frankenstein of disembodied parts originally driven by chains brings to mind the audio equivalent of the portcullis clanking upwards to loose a screaming beast upon an unsuspecting public. Don’t forget the mellotron MKII as used by Beatles, Genesis, Crimson et al took four grown men to lift - one on each corner.

These days everything’s smaller - the keyboards, the cameras, the egos and the orchestras, but the fun is still just as big! Might as well face it, you’re addicted to... music itself and there ain't no cure for the summertime greens. By the way I do like to get guitar performances down as early as possible, even if there isn't much detail to play against. On a gut level it's great to hear the effect of multi-layered vocals mixing male and female harmonies on a bluesy tune, which seems to start taking on a kind of gospel quality - definitely an area I've not covered before.

Exceptionally talented Manda Lehmann is the predominant vocal colour in the first excerpt section. Have a listen to a bit of it here...

While we’re in the habit of cloning individuals to create choirs and orchestras check out Christine Townsend’s string work (violin and viola) on the electric guitar instrumental section. As with Manda, Christine is a true professional who manages long faultless takes, whether she’s operating in a pop, rock or classical genre. One of Sir Neville Marriner’s finest and no stranger to records by another knight of the realm, Sir Cliff himself. Listen here...

Nick Beggs has been coming up with fascinating stuff at very short notice on several of these songs with both bass and stick, at times creating an army of basses in league with Roger King, who is at the helm of this and many previous projects. You’ll hear some of Nick’s contributions here...

This is just a taster of some of the work of a few individuals involved with the latest project which is a solo record in name only. More realistically it’s a team effort, being honed and cloned for your delectation right now, even as my quill gently scratches the parchment - virtually of course!