there’s a subtle line between editing sections out of a tune to make it more radio-friendly and jiggling the parts around to replace imperfect sections. the first can be seen as a form of streamlining, the second interference!
with the tracks on cubest 016, i have administered both and none.
there are times when all the members of the orchestra are playing together, but someone is out of sequence. i sometimes do this when drumming, latching on to a bass line at a different point to the rest of the musicians, often to my horror when listening back, though these out-of-sync passages can remain listenable. we are out of sync, not out of time. on ‘brain melt’ the drummer mysteriously adds a beat about a minute in and the out-of-sequence beats continue for about thirty seconds, then just as mysteriously fall back into place [Orchestra_Session_1_July_2015]. when faced with editing the track i tried leaving it all in, as it contained vocals, something i’m usually at pains to keep in a track, but it sounded too disjointed. my first fix was to try moving the drum part into place, to maintain the beat, forcing the rest of us out of sync and it kinda worked, but still felt unsatisfactory. then it struck me to try simply cutting the offending section out, probably a first move in most cases, and this gave the best result. i had been trying to be too clever
on the second track, ‘mikolaiv’, i made a few mistakes on melodica. the first was when i burst in far too loud in the mix and you can hear me beat a hasty retreat in the sound on the original take [Orchestra_Session_1_July_2015]. i was able to cut this out quite easily. later on though, i was doing pretty well delivering some melodica lines, when i hit a bum note right in the middle of my playing. cutting it out would have created a jump in the timing, so i ‘cheated’ by using a short section from another part of the track and dropping it in, effectively removing the bum note with little modification. it created a good take, something which is not always possible when recording 10 musicians improvising live
‘pass the mustard’ came pretty well formed, having a simple repetitive refrain, given its dynamics by the top-level instruments. all i did was cut a few bars here and there to help with the evenness of the structure and my only ‘cheat’ was to move a single bass note at the beginning, tightening the timing a tad. easy
‘these strange feelings’ presented a different opportunity to ‘cheat’. because of the elastic nature of the timing, driven by marcus on piano, the other musicians were forced to pay close attention to the feel and strike at the right moments. this adds a lovely feel to the motion, but can be a bit tricky. it’s fair to say it caught one or two of us out here and there [Orchestra_Session_10_June_2015]. luckily, the sparse arrangement allowed for some nifty snipping and replacing of out-of-time guitar notes and kick drum strikes, along with the odd moving of strike points to tighten the timing further. this really is messing with the recording, but i’ve been pushing these cubest edits closer to this point for ages, not pretending to be straight presentations, but re-imagined variations
‘freaks’ presented me with a different dilemma – censorship. ramon is blessed with the gift of the gab, able to contribute steam of consciousness lyrics that often border on genius. improvising at this level can lead to some unexpected outcomes, something that can prey on ramon’s mind, whether at the time or subsequently, as all of us are aware of the ever-present recording device and its unforgiving nature. you do it and it’s recorded forever. or maybe not in this case. i’d been prattling on in a silly voice, at first admonishing the freak, then showing attrition and extending my hand in friendship, while ramon had been supplying lyrics based around what was being projected on the screen, in a say-what-you-see approach. this lead to a line that i felt was out of context and unsatisfactory. however, cutting it out created an imbalance to the structure, perhaps payback for the act of censorship. i then ‘cheated’ by taking the second half of the segment and copying it into place where the first half had been, restoring the balance. i took tiny snippets from the cut segment and dropped them in here and there to make it sound subtly different, cheating the uninitiated ears into thinking what they hear is how it was
the closing track on cubest 016, ‘prelude to a quaalude’, has neither censorship nor cheating going on. the original take sounds so perfect to my ears i didn’t want to change a thing, so it’s as long here as it is on the original recording. perhaps a final act of reparation for all my hacking in the previous five tracks
so maybe the question is, is my interference justified, or is it a step too far? from a personal point of view i’m happy to have hacked at the recordings as i have and think the result is very presentable. others may consider this to be sacrilege
cubest 016 can be auditioned and downloaded for free on the cube orchestra website, complete with further ramblings about the editor’s dilemmas: Cubest016