The new Helicopter Quartet album “Leading Edges” is now out on bandcamp.
We’ve gone for a minimum charge of £3.00 for this release partly because things are getting expensive and partly because the ‘free’ option seems to mean you get taken less seriously in many places – especially after several releases. If you would like a copy for review then please get in touch with me (in the comments here, via @chrissie_c on twitter or the Helicopter Quartet facebook page) and I’ll send you a free download code.
This album has a couple of very obvious influences on it. The opening track The Way It Never Was is a craven homage to Curved Air’s Vivaldi by electric violin pioneer Darryl Way (geddit?). In essence it’s a reversal of a famous version of the track on YouTube that starts in chaos (Darryl Way playing his violin through a VCS3 synthesizer) and ends up with the main track. In our version we start with the main theme then have a slow, mournful ‘cadenza’ which then descends into chaos.
The other obvious influence is Shostakovich’s 8th String Quartet which we have recorded as 110 (its opus number). This piece is a huge favourite of mine and it struck me as a good source of interesting material for our style of playing. The first movement in particular is full of drones, power chords and restated doleful motifs. I have vague plans to do the fast, second movement too, but that might be another project as it’s *very* hard to play!
We’ve included the single, Refuge, on this album mainly for completeness, but it’s also had some gentle remixing to make it more like what we would play live and, of course, remastered to sit nicely with the other tracks on the album.
There is also in the download, a rather nice remix of Refuge by Pierre Masse (@pierrotechnique) which I’m sure you will enjoy.
Oh, there are a couple of other tracks too, but I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about them … there’s a video for Hothouse posted at the end of this blog post.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times in this blog the issues we have had recording the band, with the conflict between wanting a ‘live’ sound by playing the whole thing through together (as we did for the first two albums), and the flexibility of tracking (as we did for Refuge) especially on looped passages. We have settled on the inevitable compromise that seems to work well.
I managed to split my loopers onto their own circuits so we could record them on their own tracks in the DAW – this mean that they could be isolated for later mixing while still being played as part of the main music. Also there are slightly more overdubs than we’ve done before – though many and mainly to thicken the guitar sound in places or to fill in for a looper. The bulk of the tracks are recorded ‘as live’ which I regard as very important to our sound.
The recording and mixing was done by me this time. All the studying, training and equipment buying I have done for Woodside Recording has enabled me to do this competently and confidently. Mike was, of course, involved in mixing decisions too.
At the recording sessions I miked up both of Mike’s amplifiers, a Fender twin and the studio’s bass amp, as well as taking a DI from his pedalboard. For my violin I just recorded three DIs (main, looper, and superego drones) and re-amped the needed parts later using my Marshall combo. This made recording and playing at the same time a little less stressful for me! The synths were all DI’d afterwards in my studio so that was one less thing I had to carry around.
The tracks were recorded over three separate sessions at our usual rehearsal studios, Rock & Roll Circus in Armley, Leeds.
We will be playing the whole album live at Divided We Fall at Eiger Studios in Leeds this Saturday 24th May, so come down and see how it compares. We’re on around 8:30.
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