Paper Pilots Pushing 2021 – 2022
Chiêm bao thấy bậu Original Soundtrack (2022)
01. Première Rencontre (Sanchez)
02. I Am Not (Hughes – Sanchez)
03. Connexion Complète (Sanchez)
04. Unexpected (Sanchez)
05. Holding My Own (Sutherland)
06. Cultured Memory (Sanchez – Sutliff)
07. Distance Is Created By Time (Sanchez)
08. Knives (Sutherland)
09. A Story In A Story (Sanchez)
10. I Don’t Dream Anymore (Sanchez)
11. Des Formes Qui Changent Lentement (Sanchez)
15 March, 2022
The rebuild of the song still known as Ghosts was successful. I’ve got it far enough along for now. The other castoff, Not Coming Back deserved a second look. The drum track is really crackin’. It’s too good to be abandoned. This one clearly needed a rethink. First thing I did was revise the chords for the verse and open up the way I played them. The original chords forced the vocals to follow a rigid structure. Too many changes.
For reasons unknown, I stopped my work to see what was wrong with my old Digitech Chorus/Flanger pedal. I spent an hour taking it apart and cleaning the pots. That did the trick and it came right back to life. I decided I’d use it for the verses. After a day’s work, I discovered a different way to play the four chords of the verse. The chorus section seemed ok, but the middle section didn’t feel right. I reworked that too. I came up with some temporary words for the verse. When I sang it, I realized the verse sections needed to be longer. I simply cut and pasted it to double the length.
With the arrangement in place, I could now try to sing something. The trick was to find a way to sing across the brisk, steady beat. It took a few attempts to find the feel. I wrote enough words for one verse and sang them. The results were satisfactory. With that, the song went back on the shelf for now. These two remakes are not on the short list for the new album. I will return to them later.
Now back to the songs for the new record. Three, maybe four songs are now mixed. There will be a review of the work at some point in the near future. Will You is nearly done now. I redid the piano on the chorus section. It needed a little bit of movement, but still not step on the vocal. That came along quickly. Now I’m considering an acoustic guitar idea that would fall in a few transition sections. The song will also be handed over to Bobby Sutliff to see if he can work up a string arrangement. He’s got the tools to get a nice lush sound.
The new album art has now been set up and approved for the printer. This is the bottleneck in the process. Like many things these days, printing has a long waiting list, and limited capacity. The cover is a standard design, so it should go smoothly. The word now is four to six weeks for delivery. Considering that this project was started in December, this is a very fast moving release. The plan is to have the next one in January 2023, if not sooner.
4 March, 2022
The last three weeks have been full on work. I finished work on the new version of Seven Layers on Thursday the 18th of February. Ric added drums to that one, Will You and Scott’s Knives the next day. I got the tracks loaded in on Saturday. On Sunday Kris and Joe’s contributions for the song known as Piano For Tom. Joe’s bass was the most important request. Kris offered to try to come up with some words and a vocal. She did. The meant the plan to have two versions of the song was now possible. I spent Sunday and Monday mixing Story In A Story, then I Am Not, Kris’ vocal version. I returned to Story In A Story and added a couple of mix moves I’d used on I Am Not. On Tuesday I reviewed my work and assembled a mock up of the album. It all seemed to work as planned.
The album tracks were sent off to Gary Hobish for mastering on Wednesday. He got to the job on Friday and delivered the master on Saturday. I reviewed that and it was of course approved. I left a couple of details for Gary to work out how he thought best. He sent the files to our pressing plant, so they would have them first thing on Monday.
The addition of I Am Not was expected, or at least hoped for. This meant a slight revision of the cover art. This update also gave me one more chance to review the text. I found a small formatting error that I could easily fix. The artwork and forms were sent on Friday, ahead of the audio. The art director at Furnace now has the files and is preparing them for printing. I should see a proof early next week. Once that is approved the clock starts running. They are saying four to six weeks now.
In the background, I’ve been doing the business of a release. Updating websites, building a Bandcamp page and dealing with our distribution. It’s the necessary work required.
Now that the business is managed, it’s back to the studio. Once again, I returned to the reject folder to see what, if anything could be salvaged. I reviewed two of mine: Ghosts and Not Coming Back. Ghosts seemed to offer the most hope, with the least amount of work needed. I felt the original was sort of ordinary. The chords and the melody. The structure seemed solid. The chords weren’t the problem, it was the way they were played. The song just marched along. No swing. First thing I did was add a simple organ part. It retained some of the chord movement, but less apparent. The bass was the next task. I spent a couple of days experimenting with different idea. It really wanted to just hang on the B chord.
Now I needed some new words. The first verse came quickly. I stepped up to the mic and had a go. It worked. I had the idea that the third attempt at the bass line might work for the second verse. I wrote the second verse and had a go. Nope, the bass part was too busy and worked against the vocal line. I redid the bass for verse two and did verse three while I was at it. The third verse was written and I sung both of them. The chorus had the same issue, it was too busy. I reduced the bass part to the root notes. Some words were written and sung. I’m still not sure about those, but the phrasing was ok. I’ve kept the guitar on the chorus and bridge for now. I have an idea for guitar on the other part. I will return to this soon.
Back to the primary list of songs. First up was the new one, Will You. The bass part was not steady. I was just playing a steady eighth note. I came up with a line that had a little groove and followed the harpsichord part. That worked and tied the song together. I was hearing an electric guitar part. For this, I ran the guitar through the Leslie pedal for a bit of George Harrison sound. I also added some Hammond organ to hold the verses together. I’m not sure if the song needs anything else. I may try an acoustic flourish on the chorus. If that works, I may do a test mix. Unless I think of something else to add, I’ll leave it there for now and move on.
12 February, 2022
Fhe final work on the soundtrack songs is in the very last stage. Kris and Joe Hughes have Story In A Story and will add the last overdubs, bass and vocals. Bobby Sutliff has done his work, a guitar solo and strings. There may well be two versions of this song on the album.
Work is now moving forward on the next albums. Faith In Failure has seen a guitar solo added and a final mix. Future Under Ice has also been given a new guitar solo and mix.
A week ago, early on Feb 3rd a new song came to me while staying in Yellowstone. The song emerged fully formed. Words were transcribed into my phone and the melody and feel were noted. I wasn’t able to get back into the studio until Saturday the 5th. The song was completed, arranged and a demo was recorded in a few short hours. I felt the need to created a detailed drum machine part to help define the sections of the song. Bass, strings organ, harpsichord, acoustic guitar and a solid working vocal were added over the next few days. A new song suggested a drum session might be in order. I checked with the others. Scott offered up two songs, one of which I thought was prefect for Donovan’s Brain. A third song was needed to make the session feasible.
I decided to revisit Seven Layers Of Security. This piece was written when I was traveling to Jackson MS to sit in with the Windbreakers. When I put this up in the studio, I though it might be interesting to play the guitar chords on organ. The song took a sharp left turn into Neu! territory. Now is time to return to the original concept. I’ve got a drum loop recorded. Now it’s a matter of playing along and trying out words and phrasings. This will be the primary project now.
22 January, 2022
Nine of the ten soundtrack songs are completed and mixed. Bobby Sutliff has Piano For Tom to add a new string arrangement and guitar solo. Des Formes Qui Changent Lentement (Slowly Shifting Shapes) formerly titled Theme For A Special Place was the last one to get a fresh mix. I was concerned it might be impossible to remix as it was recorded using Logic. This meant the tracks with effect had to be exported to Digital Performer where I could do a remix. In the end there were no issues and the remix was successful. It has been quite the effort to get this soundtrack album assembled on short notice. A little more than a month after the wheels were set in motion, the album is complete. Scott’s song Knives was finished five days after it was submitted.
With this album substantially completed it’s now back to the new record. Three songs are now mixed and a fourth is now ready to be mixed. The second guitar solo was added today. With only one exeption, the songs are pretty far along. Some bass parts may get passed on to Jim Dickson. A full review of the nine songs will determine what additional work needs to be done. The plan is to have this ready for a Spring 2023 release.
7 January, 2022
Ric added drums to Scott’s Knives and my Biscuit Tin today. The recording was done at Matt Stiver’s studio in Missoula. the weather here would have made the 210 mile trip to Bozeman risky. I’ll be mixing Knives over the weekend. I did some overdubs, but getting drums on it helps to work out the final additions. This puts up one step closer to completion. Tbe final song “Piano” is now in the hands of Bobby and Kris. I’ve asked Bob to ad a guitar solo. He wants to try some lush string arrangements. I’d done some, bt welcome his ideas. Kris has been tasked to add her voice. I suggested Joe Hughes might want to add a bass part. At this point the song only has a basic synth bass line.
Buscuit Tin is a very new song. Ric only got a very basic framework with the instructions to recognize the sections. I can now go back and build around this foundation.
1 January, 2022
The next Donovan’s Brain album is going to be a soundtrack. Details are vague at the moment. I had assembled a collection of songs and music that seems to hang together. This third album was not on the release schedule until this week. It was just some stray songs and instrumentals that had a cinematic feel. This new plan does not impact what I had been working on for the next release. This interlude will give me more time to perfect those nine or ten songs. Scott Sutherland has offered up a new song to considered for the soundtrack. It’s a perfect match and has been added, replacing an instrumental piece I had penciled in. The current ten song running order will feature two of Scott’s songs, three of mine, plus five instrumental pieces. I mixed three of the songs in the last couple of days. Another is about to get a guitar over dub and then the mix. Two others are considered mixed. One song is still in need of some serious work. Both Bobby and Kris have offered to help with that.
In the middle of all this, a new song has been written currently called Weston Garvey. It is based on a short idea I found in the folder. The original 56 second piece will appear on the soundtrack. I expanded that idea and came up with a real song. It’s now on hold while the finished songs get a mix.
12 December, 2021
Yesterday I pulled up Unexpected. The song is pretty much done. Maybe a bass part to give the synth bass a little movement is needed. The problem was with the vocals. I know I spent a lot of time on it when it was written. When I reviewed it, I could hear it was out of tune. I did hear something for the first line of the verse. I spent a couple of hours working on the two tracks of vocals. The chorus section seemed fine, so I made no attempt to redo those. After completing several passes I took a break. When I returned, I found it still wasn’t working. I did what I should have done in the first place. I sat down with the chords, lyrics and a guitar and worked through it. I finally discovered the proper drop in to the verses. Once that as set, the rest followed a lot easier. I still did a couple of passes. In the end I had found the feel for this song and got it in tune. The choruses have been split out so they can be handled separately. Efx have been set up for a rough mix tomorrow. That will be dropped into the sound track album mock up for further review.
9 December, 2021
Mirrored Pieces is now the title of Harvest Zoo-UFOs. I decided to redo the vocals yet again. I’m much happier with it now. The tracks moves along very well now. I also did some work getting a keyboard part to fall into time. I debated adding a guitar solo, but I’ve decided to wait for now.
With that under control I returned to Distance Is Created by Time. The rough mix I had didn’t have vocals. I decided to redo my earlier work. The chorus still needs attention, but the verses are steady. I’ve since added Rhodes electric piano and a synth part. Another synth part will be added today. Now that the problem children have been sorted out, I need to turn my attention to the primary record. The songs are all pretty far along. I will work my way though them and make some notes so I can think about bass parts and guitar solos. There are two or three that might just need a final mix. A serous review will tell.
7 December, 2021
A week ago I spent some time doing some archive research. I’m always curious to find why a song didn’t work. In this case it was the song which began as Harvest Zoo Fireplace. That one got a major rebuild and became UFOs. For that version I rerecorded the track in a different key, edited out a bit and wrote new lyrics. After working on it for a while I lost faith in my work. The sound seemed muddy and dull. I began work again first seeing if I could get the sound up to speed. I spent a day just getting the drum and bass sound dialed in. With a little work, it started coming together.
There were two issues to be resolved. I wasn’t happy with the lyrics and one of the guitars wasn’t sounding very good. I quick order I replaced one of the acoustic guitar tracks and one of the electric guitars. I assembled new lyrics from some recent notes and bits from the original set of words. With that worked out, I sat at the piano and recorded vocals and piano live. The results were satisfactory. As soon as I was done, I realized I’d sung it in the wrong octave. The vocals didn’t match the power of the song. The next day I sang it again, moving down to a lower range. That was what I needed to do. A string synth part and organ were added. I now had a cracking track. I listened to the work for a day and decided to add a second vocal. That filled it out and took some of the rough edges off. I then did some editing of the guitars. One of the original guitar tracks had a leslied effect on one section. I cut that and moved it to a new track so I could work with it better.
At this point this song is now back into the active folder. My thought is this one is destine for album number two of the three under construction. This means one song will be moved from album two back to the sound track album, album three. Now I’ll see about that new song I have brewing.
I took a day off from studio work to create the Eden Pariah video. You’ll find that on the home page. That has inspired me to do a third one.
16 November, 2021
Now that the promotional work has been done, it’s time to move on to the new albums. Quite a lot of work has been done on the newest group of songs. Enough so they can be reviewed for future planning. There are three possible album configurations under consideration. Ten songs have been selected for what will probably be the first of then next albums. It’s a dark and moody mix. Nothing is set in stone at this point, and new songs are already starting to surface.
Considerable work had been done on Paper Pilots Pushing this week. The song had gone through a major overhaul after the drums were added. A section was deemed unnecessary and removed. When I returned to it this week, I decided that the intro section was too long so it was reduced to just two cycles. A new string arrangement was added on top of that, and the other to instances. It was clear that one of the guitar parts wasn’t working. The 12 string was good, but the second guitar seemed to be fighting the riff. It took me a while to learn the part and then simplify it. That was the answer. A new round of vocals were added. I decided to keep the original bridge section and just double it, so there are now four voices. It’s working. The song still will need a guitar solo.
Next up is attacking a new song idea. Words have been drafted and the musical idea is forming up.
24 October 2021
Ric was in the studio on Tuesday and Wednesday to add drums to the five newest Brain songs. Kris asked him to drum on one of her own songs. The work went quickly. Ric got each song in one take. The surprise song this time was Scott’s Scram The Reactor. I liked it when I first heard it and knew we could use it. While we were listening to the track both Ric and I realized it is a very funky, swampy tune. I suggested a Muscle Shoals feel. Ric agreed and just got a little back on the beat. That transformed the feel considerably. I was hearing electric piano which I added yesterday. I’ll now work through the others. A Promise Sold Cheap is the title for the 2004 demo. This one comes as close to a blues heard on a Brain album. Ric captured the boozy, druggy mood perfectly. Charging Confusion and Bancroft Way have turned out as planned. Ric quite liked the latter, which was the most energetic of the bunch. I suspect this is the last drum session for the year. Ric’s efforts have held build up the stock of new material. It’s a safe guess more songs will appear. The focus now is on finishing what we have.
18 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 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