Tuesday, 20 July 2010
The othe day was surely one of the most intense to date at Soho Studios.
Stuart and I decided to try to record vocals in the console room rather that the live room. After a most enjoyable vocal warm-up during which I played guitar and sang Dylan's I Shall Be Released while Stuart played some great trumpet parts, the lights were dimmed and we were ready for take one.
Stuart's head-torch helped me reading the lyrics on the wall. I look like an explorer, and to some extent I like to see myself as one!
Since my last post the album has definitely taken shape. The playlist is now pretty much sealed. I can now reveal that there'll be 11 songs, and if you've been following this blog by now you should have a rough idea of what the album sounds like. I can say that there'll be many surprises!
Despite the throat problems which prompted me to avoid recording vocals for a few months, I still managed to keep busy recording all sort of instruments. I'm proud to say I've finally fulfilled my life-long ambition, playing ...the wine glasses!
I know I've said many times that you will never see me using a Marshall amp. I must admit that I wouldn't plug my Fender Strat into one of them, but they surely make a great wine glass stand ...and that's pretty much all they're good at!
While we're on the subject, let me introduce you to my new red Fender Strat. Here she is in good company.
She looks great and sounds even better! After many attempts I feel I might have finally found my ideal electric guitar!
Before I go, I'd like to write a few lines about last week's performance at the International Guitar Festival in the South Bank in London. Our Stuart McLean in not only a great producer, performer and sound engineer, but he's a great promoter too, as he put together a great line-up for the Sunday stage at the Foyer on May 16th.
I was honoured to be asked to be part of the line-up. For the occasion I invited my great friend and top guitarist Gianluca Corona to accompany me. Together we performed in front of a great audience and premiered 3 songs from the forthcoming album. It all went really well! Playing with Gianluca felt great and we both hope we can do it again some time soon!
Here's a few pictures from the event!
I must head back to the studio now but I'll be in touch soon!
Saturday, 13 March 2010
The recording of the new album gave me the chance to team up once again with two of my dearest friends and musical partners, Silvano Lobina e Claudio Corona.
The three of us, together with drummer Giovanni Collu, were a band in the nineties. We were called Vintage and together we'd travel on an old blue Ford Transit van up and down Sardinia, carrying a vanful of gear. In details, our usual set up consisted in: 1) one Hammond Organ + an old Italian Lombardi leslie amp, big as a wardrobe. 2) One or two bass amps. 3) One Fender head + x12 Marshall cabinet 4) One Marshall amp for my slide guitar. 5) Two or three guitars. 6) One bass 7) Master keyboard. 8) PA system + 3 speakers. 9) All kinds of cases and boxes. Pink Floyd Live at Pompei probably needed less equipment and I suspect my back-ache might be a legacy of those gigs! But how great it was!
One problem we had was that for some reason the best jokes were always told whilst we were carrying the Hammond. Ever seen 3 fools and an organ zigzagging around a van on a busy road?
Our drummer, I should mention, lived in a different town and could never share the fun of carrying such heavy goods up and down the hill. Mind you, he had his drum-kit and monitor speaker to care about.
In the last months I've kept him up to date with the progress and sent him rough mixes for him to add his bass lines.
I've known Claudio Corona for over 30 years. Together we played football and tennis, went camping and cycling, travelled across Europe, shared the same flat and had our hearts broken ...occasionally by the same girl!
The vibrandoneon is a rare instrument that Claudio bought directly at the factory in central Italy. The serial number on his speciment is 00018 or thereabouts. Follow this link if you want to know more about the instrument. If instead you would also like to hear it in action, well, just pre-order a copy of my album.
Claudio Corona and Silvano Lobina are both composers, and very good too! Check them out on MySpace http://www.myspace.com/claudiocorona and http://www.myspace.com/silvanolobina
Registrare questo nuovo album mi ha dato la possibilita' di lavorare nuovamente con due dei miei piu' cari amici e colleghi, Silvano Lobina e Claudio Corona.
Il motivo per cui vi racconto queste cose e' che, a distanza di dodici anni, son felicissimo di registrare un album con i miei due amici. Putroppo questa volta non è stato possibile avere anche Giovanni in studio. Magari in futuro!
Nei mesi scorsi l'ho tenuto aggiornato sull'evoluzione dei brani e gli ho inviato i mix delle registrazioni londinesi affinche' lui aggiungesse le sue linee di basso, che ricevevo immancabilmente pochi giorni dopo, annunciati da una email.
Musicalmente abbiamo condiviso la sala prove o il palco con vari progetti, compresa una band tributo ai Deep Purple nella quale io ero il bassista.
Nell'occasione abbiamo anche sperimentato con il mio vecchio organo Busilacchio, una specie di fisarmonica elettrica. Stavamo infatti cercando quello che io chiamo 'suono ignorante' sul brano ISSYF poichè la fisarmonica ci sembravo un pò troppo hi-fi.
Per rimanere in tema di link: sia Silvano che Claudio oltre che essere ottimi musicisti, sono anche compositori. Se vi va, seguite i link che seguono per sentire la loro musica.
Thursday, 25 February 2010
SOHO STUDIOS 24.02.2010:
The long anticipated session with drummer Andrea Marongiu finally took place last night.
We left the studio at 3am ...but boy was it worth it!
There are nights that won't be easily forgotten. Last night surely was one of them!
Our target was to record 6 songs in one long session. Not an easy thing, which could only be accomplished thanks to the experience and skill of a great team. Cheers guys for being so fab!
Getting all set up and ready for Take 1
A smiley chap right before Take 1
During Take 1
The kit sounded great and Andrea once again proved how good and inventive a drummer he is!
They were both so efficient that all I could do was make teas and coffees, discuss the drum parts with Andrea and Stuart ...and watch a terrific documentary about a killer whale called Luna on the BBC.
mmhh... which kit should I use tonight?
Stuart audio & video linked with Andrea. As Tom pointed out, this is much more entertaining than Big Brother!
Tonight we had egg fried rice, mixed veggie, extra hot chilli sauce and ultra spicy fish in coconut sauce.
As usual, the delicious food was courtesy of the wonderful Mrs. Sanna. We all love her Thai dishes, and the one who tries the never fails to point out how good we eat at Sanna House!
Ci sono notti che non si dimenticano mai. Questa è senz'altro una di quelle!
Come previsto la batteria aveva un suono stupendo e, ancora una volta, Andrea ha dimostrato quanto sia bravo e creativo!
Grazie ragazzi per aver fatto un ottimo lavoro!
In questo caso Stuart si è avvalso dell'aiuto dell'assistente di studio Tom Brown.
Tutti son stati così efficienti che tutto quello che ho potuto fare è stato preparare thè e caffè, discutere arrangiamenti con Andrea e Stuart ...e guardare un bellissimo documentario sulla BBC su un'orca chiamata Luna.
Come spesso capita, il cibo favoloso è stato fornito dalla gentilissima Mrs. Sanna, ovvero la mia signora.
Noi tutti adoriamo in suoi piatti thailandesi, e chiunque li abbia provati non fa a meno di rimarcare quanto si mangi bene a casa Sanna!
Friday, 19 February 2010
Lately we've been experimenting quite a lot in the studio. Sometimes technology has been used in order to 'get that sound'. Other times empiric solutions have been implemented. This time around though, the constant quest for THE TONE, took us to more familiar territories.
On day 4 I borrowed a steel guitar from my friend Bob Benge, as mine is in desperate need of love and care from my luthier.
After a few failed attempts it appeared clear to me that the tone I had in mind could only be achieved by using steel picks on thumb, index and middle fingers.
Once the guitar part had been cut we doubled it with a piano doing exactly the same notes. We then mixed the two instruments and then Stuart, our great sound engineer, added a bit of this, reduced a bit of that, eq-ed the whole thing and then ...well you got the picture, until it all sounded like it ought do.
The result left us very satisfied with our session, and slightly amazed that, after all, the steel guitar (and all that goes with it) sounds very much like ...a steel guitar! A very good one, if I may say so!
In studio negli ultimi tempi abbiamo sperimentato parecchio. A volte ci siamo rivolti alla tecnologia per ottenere 'quel suono'. Altre volte sono state adottate soluzioni più empiriche.
In questo caso, la costante ricerca del timbro giusto ci ha portato in un'area a noi più familiare.
Nel quarto giorno di registrazioni ho preso in prestito la steel guitar (chitarra in acciaio) del mio grande amico Bob Benge perchè purtroppo la mia ha disperatamente bisogno delle attenzioni e dell'amore del mio liutaio di fiducia.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
I had a great session the other night with Sebastiano Dessanay, a talented double-bass player and composer, born in Sardinia and now based in London.
He played some astonishing parts, both with the bow and pizzicato. It's always a privilege and a real pleasure to see what tones, notes and rhythms talented musicians add to your songs.
This session almost never happened though. Three times in the last few months it was cancelled due to heavy snow. When last week Seb emailed me saying 'I'll see you on Monday, snow permitting' it was meant as a joke, after all London has enjoyed a rather mild weather of late and we all thought we'd already had our fair share of snow this winter. Not so! Monday morning comes, I look out the window and, guess what? ...yep, snowflakes were falling with glee on my window sill. I took it as a sign and accepted the fact that the session would probably never happen.
Thanfully the snow didn't settle on the roads and I could safely drive to pick Seb and his big instrument up. Great thing too as Seb is a very busy man as he's also working on a new album.
Sebastiano and his too-old-to-mention bass
The track we recorded was extremely challenging as it requires great precision with the bow as well as the use of harmonics on the high part of the fret board. It was very fascinating to sit there and watch Seb's hands gently touching the string and producing more harmonics than I thought it was humanly possible.
Snow storms and commitments permitting, Sebastiano and I should have at least another recording session to work on ISSYF and SEL.
In the meantime, please check out his website at www.sebastianodessanay.com/
VERSIONE IN ITALIANO:
Grande seduta di registrazione l'altra sera con Sebastiano Dessanay, grande contrabbassista e compositore sardo, anche lui residente a Londra.
Seb ha registrato delle bellissime parti, sia con l'archetto che con le dita. E' sempre un grande onore ed un piacere vedere quali note, suoni e ritmi musicisti di talento riescano ad aggiungere alle tue canzoni.
Questa registrazione stava per non accadere. Nei mesi scorsi infatti per ben tre volte il nostro appuntamento è stato cancellato a causa della neve. Quando la settimana scorsa mi ha scritta una mail dicendo 'Ci vediamo lunedì, neve permettendo' entrambi ci siamo fatti due risate, se no altro perchè nell'ultima settimana a Londra abbiamo avuto temperature piuttosto miti, e pensavamo di aver già avuto la nostra buona dose di neve per questo inverno. Non esattamente! Arriva lunedì mattina, guardo fuori dalla finestra e, provate a indovinare? ...già, fiocchi di neve cadevano allegramente sul mio davanzale. L'ho interpretato come un segnale divino e ho accettato il fatto che le registrazioni con Seb probabilmente non avrebbero mai avuto luogo.
Per fortuna la neve non si è accumulata sulle strade e son riuscito ad usare la macchina per prelevare lui e il suo enorme strumento. E per fortuna, visto che Sebastiano è un uomo piuttosto impegnato, anche perchè lui stesso sta lavorando ad un nuovo album.
Il brano che abbiamo registrato è partircolarmente arduo perchè richiede grande precisione con l'archetto e l'uso di armonici nella parte alta del manico del contrabbasso. Per me è stato bellissimo osservare le mani di Seb toccare lievemente le corde producendo più armonici di quel che ritenevo umanamente possibile.
Tempeste di neve ed impegni permettendo, io e Sebastiano dovremmo riuscire a vederci almeno un'altra volta per una seduta di registrazioni per lavorare ad un altro paio di brani.
Nel frattempo, date un occhiata al sito di Seb http://www.sebastianodessanay.com/
Friday, 5 February 2010
The session marked the return of my beloved Fender acoustic, which is my main axe on this project. Just as it was on the previous album. As you can appreciate on the picture below, it's still in a pretty good shape!
The one & only Fender Sannacaster
The first session turned out to be very good indeed. In a few hours we cut 7 solo tracks. Here's the list, although I must mention that for the time being I will only call the songs using their initials as titles may be subject to variations. A bit of secrecy is needed as to this day I have yet to decide what songs will make it to the final product.
1. C (take 1)
2. C (take 2)
3. NNC (take 1)
4. NNC (take 2)
5. NNC (take 3)
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Meanwhile, here's a couple of pictures for you!
The album is being recorded at Soho Studios in central London. Here's my classical guitar resting after a session in the live room. The live room is some 15 meters from the main room. A video and audio link allow you to communicate with the sound engineer.
I use my little home studio for additional recordings. Choosing the right guitar for a particular part can be a bit tricky, particularly when you're surrounded by more than twenty. So far I've only used 7 or 8 guitars.