Monday, 19 January 2015

Baton down

Today found us finally putting the proverbial baton down on Brass recording sessions (well, that is, of course, until we have to pick it up again to do vocal drop-ins on one of the songs).

It's been an extraordinary roller-coaster with scores of death-defying highs and thankfully only a few passages of track needing serious maintenance work!

We were recording within the ├╝ber-familiar surroundings of Sonica in Clapham. This is where we recorded the Pepys Motet, Songs From Hattersley, Four Colours and overdubs for the London Requiem, including Tanita Tikaram's haunting solo in the Offertory. At one point today, I asked Rosie to sigh into the microphone at the end of one of her numbers, as a sort of ode to Tanita. Those who appreciate the slightly quirky sound-world of the Requiem's Offertory will often mention the sigh which signifies the end of the track. It was something we simply threw in at the end of the session and I think it works rather well.

We were focussing on solos today. Starting with Ruby, and then oscillating between Ben, Rosie and Laura for the rest of the day. All four made me cry. I was already exhausted by the time I entered the studio, so had no cynical reserves to deal with the emotional tumble drier of hearing my music sung back to me the way I'd written it.  Ben's interpretation of Brass, which is a song I specifically wrote for him, made me particularly proud. His commitment to detailed work was way beyond the level of all but the very best session musicians I've worked with in my career. Rosie's Shone with the Sun will kill all but the most heartless listeners, and Laura's I Make the Shells will get people feeling excited beyond words. Ruby dazzles with virtuoso coloratura singing.

The best compliment I can offer any of them is that I stopped listening to what they were recording and simply started to enjoy the experience of hearing the music caressing my eardrums!

We finished the day doing overdubs on tuba and trombone, which, on a show called Brass, feels somewhat appropriate, and now we're heading home for a night of pasta and telly. Actually, we're going to pop in on the Fleet Singers en route who are performing The Man in the Straw Hat at the end of March. It's their second rehearsal on the piece and I was hoping to go in today and run a sectional rehearsal, but I hope they'll not mind too much if my visit is fleeting because my head is genuinely not functioning tonight.

I haven't slept properly for a few days now. I'm dealing with a psychological drama which is as dull as it is perplexing. Essentially, as soon as I fall asleep, a bolt of energy passes through my body, which immediately wakes me up, and makes it impossible to fall asleep for another ten minutes. To make matters worse, in the dead of the night, the issues I've been having with tinnitus suddenly kick in again, so, as I lie there trying to will myself to fall asleep again, I start to hear a super high E flat, which occasionally dips down to a D. It's beyond infuriating. In the middle of the night last night I found myself standing in the centre of the bedroom, genuinely not knowing where to put myself. The only explanation is a mixture of stress and too much caffeine in the studio, following a period of illness. With any luck a sleeping tablet this evening will break the cycle. Something has to. I simply can't function on this little sleep!

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