Drinking It Down

Sometimes you just have to walk away from something that’s not working and come back at it with a fresh mind. For all the trouble I had with this one yesterday, the writing process clicked into place fairly quickly for me today. I gutted the initial chord progression and got rid of about 75% of the melodies I’d started with. I’m not 100% happy with the composition/melody, but it’s very close.

Synth selection/programming and arrangement and the drums went very quickly, especially given that there’s a lot more going on in this one than any of the other tracks so far. A lot of the time I’ll play things over and over to make sure I like them (or because I like them too much and I’m just enjoying the groove).

  1. Drinking It Down Ray Toler 4:16

It’s also difficult for me to commit and press record, but I seemed to be in the right mindset. It was rarely more than a few minutes between finding the right patch, recording it, and moving to the next section. I recorded the synth bass you hear from the beginning as the very first thing and set the entire song structure in one pass. The rest of the order was: 

  • synths on the verses
  • bass guitar for the entire track
  • guitars and drums on the chorus
  • Some additional “decorative” synths and sounds in verses 3/4
  • a supporting heavy synth under the guitar riff

I am definitely not a guitar player, but riffs like this are really fun to play. My fingers are back to “beginner mode,” though, so I only had a couple of takes in me before the pain started. I’d say I had the instrumental recording and arranging done in about 90 minutes, and probably spent around an hour recording the vocals.

Ah, the vocals. I don’t know why I’m struggling so much this year, but I haven’t been happy with anything so far. This is also a difficult style for my normal voice. I’m not a screamer, and my voice is too clean for the dirt of the chorus. I spent another 60-90 minutes trying to get things right and then had to just move on.

Upon further listening, part of the problem is the melody itself. It needs a little surgery in places, and maybe replacement in others. There were also supposed to be harmonies on the bridge, but time ran out. We’ll see what comes out when I’ve been singing this one in the car for awhile. That’s normally where a lot of my refining happens.

It was now time for mixing, and boy did I do a hack job on this one. There is a lot going on sonically, and I have all sorts of things interfering with each other. The first thing to do will be go back and start slicing away frequency ranges that are running into each other, as well as carving out space for the vocals.

In trying to really get the chorus to punch hard, I ended up sucking the life out of everything else. I also set the initial vocals too low, or didn’t adjust them up after doing the rough mastering.

In all, I spent two or three hours mixing, it’s overworked, and my ears were clearly fatigued. I haven’t decided if it bugs me enough to fix it now or if I’ll treat this as a dirty demo and revisit it later. If I went in with fresh ears, pulled all the faders down, and started again I suspect I could get it in much better shape fairly quickly. I’d also like to go in and do some of the production polish that makes this style pop a lot more.

No time, though. On to the next one!

Lyrics

Shards and splinters scatter through the universe
Shredded, sintered matter as the data bursts
Without a sound

Spinning endlessly without a reason
Dervishes appearing out of season
Dusting the ground

Glittering in the darkness
No observer to change the past
Travel far away to find
That nothing lasts

Bleach removes the stains
Until nothing else remains
I’m drinking it down

Bleach removes the stains
Fractured into grains
I’m drinking it down

Vacuum all the monuments who vanished
Digging through the dents to find the banished
Alone in the dark

Sifting through the fragments of memory
Grasping for the echoes of  history
Adrift in the arc


Copyright © 2019 Ray E. Toler, Jr. All rights reserved.

Colophon

  • Synths: Omnisphere
  • Bass guitar: Trillian
  • Guitar: Squier strat through a Rocktron Chameleon
  • Drums: Stylus RMX
  • Vocal effects: Butch Vig Vocals, Valhalla Plate, Nectar 3

Next up: The Music I Want You to Hear

2 thoughts on “Drinking It Down”

  1. Ok, so I couldn’t put my finger on this one. In a weird ass way this song is somehow….sexy. I’m cray-cray right? So I grabbed my youngest kid and told him to listen. He said it sounded like the background music for someone walking away from a burning building that they just set fire to. YES!

    • It does have a (no pun intended) smoldering quality to it. It reminds me here and there of mid-90s Depeche Mode. Sexy is completely in the ear of the beholder! As is arson, I suppose. 🙂 Now that I’m back in practice, I may go back to this one after the month is over.

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