Donovan’s Brain Looking Forward
01. Paper Pilots Pushing
02. Break In The Weather
03. Sunshine Days
04. Holding My Own
05. They Are Not Here 8:04
06. How To Leave CT 4:43
07. I Don’t Wanna Anymore 3:07
08. Sunday Snow
09. I Don’t Dream
10. Disappearing Firelight
11. Faith In Failure
12. Future Under Ice
13. Unexpected
14. Designer Fabric
15. Bancroft Way
16. Piano For Tom
17. Hated
18. Scram The Reactor
19. Charging Confusion
20. A Promise Sold Cheap
21. Distance Is Created By Time

22. Last Night I Had A Dream
23. Making Time

Armchair Explorers
01. YMG
02. OB Test
03. Cultured Memory
04. Seven Layers Of Security
05. Theme For A Special Place

1 October 2021
Progress on two song fronts. Scott has tackled Bancroft Way today. He’s adding some 12 string and will contribute harmonies once I do a proper lead vocal. I’ve asked him to consider a variation on the verse chords. I’ll know when he returns the tracks.

I had a little time to work on Distance Is Created By Time. My review the other day led me to think the first chord of the verse needed to be twice as long, four bars. This was just a matter of cut and pasting in the extra two bars. There were no issues with the drums so the edits were approved. I don’t think I had tried very hard singing it on my first and only attempt. I decided to not revisit the original vocal and start fresh. I struggled with the first verse on my lyric sheet, so I moved on to the second. I did a bit of cut and paste while at the microphone and it started coming together. It took a few tries but it fell into place. Now I’m wondering if I need the last chord of the verse. It resolves a little clunky. There is a two chord filler before the next verse. It might better finish up over that. I’ll experiment tomorrow and then see about the other three verses. I’m thinking one verse might be the guitar solo. That might mean simplifying the chords. It can be done.

11 October 2021
The song Distance Is Created By Time is getting a second look. It had gotten pushed off the active list a while back. I pulled it up today while unsuccessfully searching for a missing synth piece. Hearing it again I think the problem is the vocal arrangement doesn’t fit the track. The lyrics have a lot of good ideas, but they aren’t sung in a way that fits the music. That is easy to fix. The track is good. A proggy Brain tune. Ric plays some nice drums. I’ll have a look at it tomorrow.

9 October 2021
A Promise Sold Cheap is now ready for drums. I redid one of the guitar parts and did a new vocal tracks. I altered the words a little, so I needed to match up the two tracks. I’ve now returned my attention to Bancroft Way. Until now it was just one verse and chorus. I had to decide what the arrangement would look like. There are three verses, which I wanted to keep. I cut up the track and laid it out with three verses and three choruses. It really felt like it needed a bridge, so I dropped in a one chord middle eight for now. In the end I ditched the last chorus and trimmed the intros to the verses. That flows a little better and brings it in at just 5 minutes. I wasn’t sure about the chord structure for the verse and chorus. It works but seems a little static. I’ve handed it off to Scott Sutherland to give a listen. He has a free hand to do what ever he thinks will improve the song. That freed me to learn his two new songs. I don’t really need to do anything before the drums are added. It’s just handy to make sure I know the structure. Hated was the first one up. I may start working on that right away. Scram The Reactor is a different beast and will take some time to find my place in the song.

This evening I sorted through all twenty songs to make sure I had updated rough mixes. The test cds I made a couple of weeks ago accidentally used the wrong mixes and were missing parts. I loaded the whole lot into the CD software. There is about 95 minutes of music. I put together ten songs in some sort of running order to listen to and review. The final track listing for the next album is a long way from being decided. I have another idea I’m going to try. This one would make for a very different album. There is plenty of time to think about it.

3 October 2021
Yesterday I sat down and banged out lyrics for the 2004 Demo. Today I got into the studio and worked up and arrangement. I had to try a few things that I could sing over comfortably. A tricky lick took a while to learn. In the end, this became the main riff for the song. The words fit with only minor changes. A second part in the demo became the chorus. The whole thing was worked out and recorded in just three hours. It’s just a framework now. Bass and final guitars will be added.

This means there are now twenty new songs for the next albums. This was the goal, though writing will not stop. A drum session will be booked for later in the month. This means plenty of work to do over the long Montana Winter.

30 Sept 2021

The last month has been mostly dedicated to promotion for the new album. I’ve reached out to a couple of friends in Europe who have offered to lend assistance. This had freed me up to return to the studio. I did a search through the files and turned up two simple guitar demos. One was called Hello and the other 2004. I fooled with the Hello chord changes and worked up an arrangement. I’d written some lyrics at the same time, which fit the new song. The arrangement went through a few attempts. The middle section got a rewrite. It’s now in reasonable shape and ready for drums. Scott took up the challenge and sent over two songs yesterday. Hated and Scram are first class Brain material and are ready for drums. I may review them before Ric returns, but I’m feeling these will work as presented. The plan is to have five new Brain songs ready for a drum session before the end of October. Kris has a song she’d like Ric to play on too. One for her own use. This is all good.

29 August 2021 the last few weeks. I finally returned to the studio for some music therapy. A string arrangement has now been added to the instrumental currently titled Piano For Tom. I spent the last two days sorting through the new songs and recording rough mixes for review. All the new songs will be collected into two groups. The synth ones which are being held back for the Armchair Explorers album and the Brain songs. This latter will also includes two older songs which have been pulled off the shelf for consideration. The new songs now all have proper titles.

Words have been written for another new song titled Bancroft Way. A demo will be recorded today and passed on to Kris who will add to the song. I’m looking forward to this collaboration.

15 August 2021

Sandbox Shadows finally arrived on Monday the 9th. Advance orders were shipped on Tuesday. Tuesday was also the day scheduled for the start of a two day drum session. We had a fairly easy schedule; seven songs in two days. Ric quickly managed the first two songs on the list Piano, and instrumental and Unexpected. After a nap and dinner we returned to the studio and nailed down two more.The only one I was concerned with was the one known as Slow Jangle Synth. This is a nine minute synth piece built on top of Bobby’s chord changes from the one called Jangle No.2. I explained to Ric that there was one cue he had to listen for. He asked to hear a little of the song and then did it in one take. In the end, Ric only needed two takes on two of the seven songs. A productive session.

The business of a new release is now the primary activity. I did a couple of quick mixes to see what we got. The sounds are all good. The songs are now ready for completion.

3 August 2021
The last month has been full on trying to get this new release out. No time to sit an worry. The new song built on top of the EHB drum track is now called Future Under The Ice. Another new song was written and recorded over the last week. the working title is Reflections. Ric Parnell will be in the studio next week to add drums to seven new songs.

An inventory of the new songs and the two or three older songs show 15 inline for the next album. There are also two covers we’ve recorded for future use. On top of that are three songs which will go into the Armchair Explorers folder. That concept will see light of day sooner than later.

4 July 2021

It’s a case of hurry up and wait. The complicated cover for Sandbox has apparently caused some issues at the pressing plant. I’ve been promised that it will be resolved. Right now we are three weeks behind schedule. Ratter than worry about it, back to the studio.

Bobby Sutliff has been working on a solo album the past two or three years. As a result he didn’t contribute any songs to the new records. What he has done is offer up tracks he’s not been able to write lyrics for. The song Telegraph Ave on Two Suns, Two Shadows is one of those. River Of Tears used a riff that Bobby had created, but never used. Our collaboration efforts are now in full swing, and it’s in both directions. A while back I gathered up all the New Idea pieces Bob had sent over the last few years. I thought Bobby might like to review these to see if it stirred any song ideas. More recently I discovered a completed song for 2012. I wasn’t sure why it wasn’t on Heirloom Varieties. I returned it to Bob for his own use. In return he sent me a track called New Jangle. I listened to it and told him I could have a go at adding lyrics. I asked for the raw tracks, which he said he’d send. I was accidentally sent the wrong tracks. When I started working on them, I noticed the guitar solo was missing. That’s when Bob realized it was the wrong song. This one was just a short demo. I cut it up into an arrangement and wrote some words for this one too. They are pretty much done except for drums. The Wrong Jangle as we’ve called it suggested something very different to me. I recorded a new track based on those chord changes. This 9.30 minute synth track has been added to the ever growing Armchair Explorers folder for future use.

Once these three songs were in satisfactory shape I decided to move on. Our recording file has a number of unrealized song attempts. I decided to inventory the drum tracks to see if there was anything I could salvage. There are several pieces that Deniz Tek recorded he’s not returned to. I checked two of those. One had some drum sections I might use. One of Bobby’s from the Turned Up Later session called EHB had a very nice drum part. I mapped it out and recorded a new set of chord changes over the structure. I decided the verses and bridge could be longer, so I doubled those sections. The results are promising. I’ll now work on some words for this one.

This new songwriting activity is encouraging. Bobby seems happy with his progress and I am always happy to have some challenges.

8 May 2021

As is the case with Donovan’s Brain, there are always songs that don’t fit the album under construction. At least three songs on Sandbox Shadows were recorded during the Heirloom Varieties sessions, but held for later use. I often review the archive to see which of these orphans can be polished up and added to the A List. There was a lot of this sort of activity in 2020, when I had a break in the work on the new albums proper. There are still one or two that refuse any effort to bring them to life. The current list of keepers here is the seed for the next album. It remains to see which will make the final cut. Once the new album is released, I’ll return to these. Bobby Sutliff and I have been collaborating again. These new songs could help to point out the direction of the next Brain release. Watch this space