Greg's Notes: Letter to DM, 1/9/07



Here, finally, is your "test pressing" of our CD. If everything's jake and on the trolley, I'll tell the boys in the back room to get it into production on the double. (Wait…I am the boys in the back room…sudden displacement of personality via bad '30s lingo…givin' me the heebie jeebies…the screamin' mimis…pull yourself together Segal…this ain't no time to go to water….)

A bit about my modus operandi on the tracks: I let the poems tell me what kind of music to make, except in the three instances ("Changed", "Free The West Memphis Three" and "Thief") that I received suggestions on.

Now for the rest: First off, I would suggest that you read the next couple of pages AFTER your first listen. Let the CD just hit you, and then you can read why I did what I did.




OK, I'll assume (ass of u and me) that you've just listened to the CD and are ready for the story on what gives with the noisemakin'. So here goes.


"And Alive": The poem was grotesque and horrible and dread-inspiring in the way that only particularly ugly truths can be, and I thought it deserved music to match. It gets a bit funereal and martial towards the ends, in keeping with the times.


"Bound": The poem is about an internal state and is delivered at a quick pace befitting that kind of emotional turmoil and helplessness; I thought that by making the music slow to contrast that, it would accentuate the anxiety depicted and build even more tension.


"Before You Came To Me": A love song oughta have pretty music. It made for a good contrast to the previous two tracks. Which makes this a good point to say, good job on the order of poems, which you'll notice I stuck to.


"Requiem For Gwen": At this point, I wanted to do a piece with just one instrument, so that we'd have something that sounded like what we used to do live together- a guitarist and a poet. It's kind of Sabbath-y sounding, creepy and doomy, which is what a disturbing subject like this deserves. This was one of many times over the course of making this album that I was proud to help deliver your message. Very powerful stuff.


"Punch Line": This one presented me a bit of a problem- what was the appropriate music for a punch line for an old romance? I settled on something jazzy (in a skewed sort of way), thinking "night club", I guess. This one has one of my favorite lines that never fails to make me laugh: "When we had finally made good on our threats of mutual poetry".


"Everything Is Everything": The hugeness implied by the title- and the poem- sort of demanded a huge treatment, which I hope isn't too "produced" for your liking. One of my favorite poems on the album, and one of my favorite pieces of music on it too.


"Shadows And Silence": As soon as I heard this, I knew what I wanted to do. I'd attempted similar things on "Night Circus", but I think this comes closer, and I absolutely love the poem. I wanted to suggest the sounds, feelings and thoughts, that kind of "empty, quiet world" feeling, of that time of night, in that frame of mind. I have certainly been there myself, too many times to count over the years- which was why I felt it was essential to get what was in my head out there to hear, to go along with the poem. It worked for me. I hope my aural representation comes somewhere in the ballpark for you too.


"Come In And Burn": I tried something different for this one. I made the music first with a vague idea of how I was going to fit the poetry in, and I figured I'd put the poem in the middle, rather than starting off with it right away. I did know I wanted something texturally and sonically very different from everything else on the album, and I went with a percussion-based music, with a little recorder and bowed device thrown in. I did make the music with the idea of anxiety and inner turmoil in mind, I just needed to do this in a different way than I had with the other pieces.


"Fair Warning": This one got a kind of Crimson-metal treatment, and I purposely felt, rather than counted, the weird meters that the three instruments overlap each other with. It's sort of an unconscious musical tangle that somehow functions coherently, and presents a face of composed assuredness, while the underpinning is full of doubt, bluff and flying by the seat of the pants, as the poem indicates.


"Changed": "punky", as requested. I thought it ought to be anthemic too, in a way, because it involves memories of people and times that have become big, symbolic, and yet…nothing has changed. And that continuum in itself is big and symbolic and anthemic, I think.


"History Lesson": The imagery suggested a very cold, scientific handling of a very tragic human event. So I let the voice be the human side, and the music be the removed/analytical side. At the same time, the sounds suggest ethnic percussion, distantly mirrored in this mechanical way. Somewhere in there towards the bottom, the identity gets reflected back up, maybe like a bump of foreign matter accidentally in the way under a teflon coating.


"LD50": Similar to "History Lesson" in that it seemed to need an organic/mechanical mix, only this time I reversed the positions; the animal/organic percussion feel is up front, but some of the tones used are very sterile and synthetic sounding- animal soul extracted and processed in a clean white room.


"Free The West Memphis Three": Metallic(a), as requested, but it still sounds like me (there's no getting away from it). I tried to make this one anthemic too, suggested of course by the rallying-chant quality of the chorus.


"Thief": "acoustic-y", as requested. The poetry section is just clean acoustic guitar and vocals, followed by an instrumental section where there's a little stereo delay and reverb filling out the guitar, and with two recorder tracks soloing. All acoustic and very simple, I didn't think it needed anything else. It felt like a nice way to end the album.


So that's it......Sorry it took so long to finish, but I'm very proud of it, and I feel I didn't skimp on it or just throw it together, which wouldn't have been acceptable to me- you and your work deserve full and proper attention.


Hope you are digging it. Lemme know!


Take care,