Zen and the art of Banjaxeling Zen
During the span of your lifetime you will live though some, if not a number of human historical events that shape not only the culture of the world we live in, but the very possibilities of the survival and evolution of our species. Maybe some of these events will resonate with you and will have some significance within their own time? Maybe some will be direct experiences, communal participation, or witness by personal perception, coincidences that flip the coin of chance? Maybe some of these events will have slipped quietly by your awareness, or will have no immediate meaning or impact on your personal bubble?
It’s disappointingly common these days to hear people say ‘I remember where I was / what I was doing when…’ a particular ‘event’ took place, as we strive to identify certain landmarks that define our cultural justification and often misguided conception of what actually is ‘history’. The reality is that the world now has been changed by the phenomenal growth of communications and consequential unimpeded spread of opinions, propaganda, and ‘free’ information, most of which sites its justification in its own existence on line and the disturbing development of ‘conspiracies of belief’ as a quantifying instrument.
Its very ‘small pond’ mentality to think or even believe that an event that is important in one’s own little life must echo true ubiquitously, and yet in the ‘universe of music’ we are guilty of perpetrating this very disrespectful crime against our fellow insignificants. In the same way that an over privileged, socially brainwashed adolescent believes that the death of their favourite pop star has the historical equivalent of the impact of say, the Second World War on humanity, for example.
So we are attempting to ‘keep it in perspective’, but bearing all this in mind, please forgive us if we occasionally feel just a little proud of our creative work and achievements so far.
Puppylicity hounds the lazy dog groovers
There was something very ‘Zen’ about today, a completely relaxed and yet productive atmosphere enveloped the day’s recording session, and a sense that lessons from previous sessions had been identified, accepted, and understood.
Sack and Jeff arrived at Matt’s for our ‘harmonies recording session’ just as Gary Frost was unloading the last of his equipment from his car. This single fact was enough to turn our attention to Matt’s coffee maker and its immediate employability! We don’t do rituals but we do do caffeine hits… especially at 9.30am (…and indeed at any other time that has an ‘am’ or ‘pm’ to define it). Then, wandering into the recording room we were greeted by the sight of seven smelly little cute puppies penned in by a selection of flight cases and a fender guitar case! However, Matt and Emma did move them upstairs out of the way whilst we got on with the recording process!
There wasn’t a lot of stuff to be set up today, just a couple of microphones, an acoustic shield and a coffee maker. Gary still had to set up his full mobile desk unit though. The main thing sound-wise was to try to replicate and match the harmonic ambiance of the room as faithfully as possible to the original recording done in the same room. Taking this ‘quality continuity’ thing as the standard for the session, we were able to replicate and possibly even exceed the liquid stimulants of previous sessions.
All set up and ready to go… when Gary’s laptop fails due to the battery running out before he could plug the charger in… so time for another coffee, and to say hello to Jimmy who wandered in with his lady Grace. After a short delay we were ready to start getting the harmonies down. Vinny wasn’t available for this session as he was still away in the multi-cultured metropolis that is Leicester with his lady for the weekend, but with most of his vocal in the can already there was little for Matt to do to cover for him. Matt also had his own harmonies to lay down, as did Jimmy and Jeff, and gradually the songs started coming to life and another step closer to fruition.
Gary also had a couple of surprises for us, not the least of which was a lovely little Hammond organ track he’d added to ‘Rolling Home’. I think we may end up keeping it on? As Jeff put it to Sack on first hearing it… ‘You’d better make some space to add Gary’s name to the musicians credits on the album cover’…! I think there’s a pretty big clue in there somewhere. He also added a piano to ‘Will I be’, to compliment Sack’s bass guitar work and it really brings the track to life; again I think we’ll be keeping that one on there.
Overall the day ran fairly smoothly, we managed to get all the harmonies down except for ‘Will I be’ which we are looking at in a different light since recording. There’s about three weeks until what we intend will be the final day of recording, which will mostly be Matt’s guitar parts, so there is plenty of time to try out a few ideas. Jeff also managed to get his ‘radio friendly’ versions of ‘Kickback’ and ‘No Fear’ done, but they will still be the original unexpurgated versions on the album… so you can stick that in your outraged establishment pipe and smoke it (outside in the cold damp air, of course…!). Nevertheless, I do think it is sensible to remove any potential ‘barriers’ to getting radio air-play, and I think the songs are more than strong enough in their own right to cope with it.
Title deliberations and respective philosophies create self-imposed limitation culture shock… Ascend without a rope.
An unbelievable amount of thought, consideration, debate and suggestion has gone into deciding the name for this first Banjaxeld album. We have kind of put it off as a serious issue up until now, but decision time is looming… art work to be done… plots to be plotted… and plans to be planned.
Criteria we set ourselves from the start were;
a) The album shouldn’t just be the band name.
b) The album shouldn’t be named after a track on the album, as there is no ‘title track’ as such.
c) The album being our first one should be named from within the band.
d) No cheese.
e) No local geographical references… we’re not just aiming for the local market, and we’re not all natives of were we live.
f) Must be agreed upon unanimously by the band.
…And we wonder why we might have trouble coming up with a title…!!!
We’ve had a few people suggest we call the album ‘Kickback’, but that would suggest that ‘Kickback’ the song is the title track of the album and that’s not what we wanted. Also we felt that the term ’kick back’ may have certain less savoury connotations to some people than what we innocently aim to imply! To try to put it more in context… the album has thirteen of our original songs on it, and it could be argued that several at least would have the shout for being a ‘title track’, so we thought we’d be better to call it something else, and let people make their own minds up about which track they feel is their ‘personal title track’. We really want to use something that has the essence of the band, or conveys some of the personality of the band, the album says ‘this is who we are’, the tracks say ‘this is what we do’, and the music has a sweet voice and a sound of its own.
Actually, Vinny came up with an interesting suggestion for a title that he got from a dream he had; ‘As broad as it’s funky… as old as it’s long’. We like the concept, and the references, even though the ‘broad’ in it may refer to the local ‘Oulton Broad’ on which Vinny floats his boat, and the ‘long’ could conceivably be construed to refer to Mr Long, whoever he may be? And we don’t like the notion of putting ‘old’ in an album title! So that kinda dismantled the original idea. We played about with variations on the basic theme, because as we said, we liked the concept and the basic idea, but the suggestions became increasingly contrived and we had to concede that it probably wasn’t the right fit.
Another mooted idea was ‘Loose Grooves and other moves’, a title Sack used on a compilation CD he put together from Banjaxeld jams and edit mixes of ideas. But it does actually refer to the jams and edits stuff that we’re producing, so it’s already been used in an effective and appropriate way, and it’s probably something we’ll be using for the jam sessions recordings and other creative side bits we’re doing.
You can get a better idea of what we’re harping on about by having a listen to some of the recordings from ‘Loose Grooves’ on our Soundcloud page:
One of Jeff’s favourites for the title of album title was from a previous blog on here; ‘The Legend of the eld’… an exasperated reference to the many entertaining, though no less frustrating, spellings of the ‘Banjaxeld’ name. Problem is, that as a potential album title it really sounds so ‘prog-rock’ and dungeons and dragons etc…. and that kinda misses the ironic two fingers it brazenly sticks up in the direction of self-serving ultracrepedarian ‘passive-aggressive’ utopias. And, in terms of communicating the personality of the band, it’s possibly a littler more concave than convex…!
But all that said… Jeff does seem to have fallen for the idea of calling the album ‘16,000 Feet of Groove’, or ‘16,000 F.O.G.’! Sack (who originally responded to this suggestion with ‘16,000 changes of Key!’, a band in-joke relating to the many different keys some songs had initially been changed and tried in) played about with his brain cells and corrupted it as a partial trade off, with it actually being the title of a song on the album, to either
‘Sixteenthousandfeetofgroove’ or ‘Sixteenthousand.f.o.g.’ …with the forces that drive the ethereal processes of decision making, leaning somewhat toward the former, as opposed to the latter, at this stage. This then of course, opened the floodgates for more surreal variations such as ‘92.85% Original… 100% Groove’, etc. …It all started to get a bit strange after that and so we won’t really bother going there here.
Of course we could yet revert to something relatively ironic or even sarcastic like… ‘Made Near California’ or ‘Not the title track’…? Who knows…? Well you will in the next post on this blog! In the meantime the decision is now in the process of finally being made.
The virtual cheque is in the post… honest!
One final item for this post to share with you, from a post on facebook by Lee Pally Pallett, Matt’s partner in crime at Broken Seven Events Promotions, but nevertheless a man noted for thinking his own thoughts, and making his own mind up. It was one of those nice surprises to find this. Totally unprompted, in fact he wasn’t even supposed to mention that he’d heard any of it… but here’s the post in full, see what you make of it:
Sounds to me like we’ve got our first ‘unofficial review’! In fact it was such a ‘big up’ that Sack though he’d better get his act together and give people another little taster of progress so far… once again this is now on our soundcloud page… but here also for your convenience… give it a listen, and if you feel like sharing your thoughts, please do, but please bear in mind that’s not yet the finished article…
Banjaxeld Album teaser #2:
This is progress…! Oh! You might also have noticed that we have included the keyboard talents of one Mr Gary Frost on a couple of tracks. How does he manage to do that and twiddle all those knobs…?
Next, and hopefully last recoding session day pencilled in for 13 March. This one’s going to be mostly about finishing the guitar work, although I believe Jeff wants… sorry, needs to correct a certain word, I won’t mention by name, in a certain song I likewise won’t be tempted to reveal, that’s going to haunt him for the rest of his natural days if he leaves it…! The rest of us find it a bit mind ‘numbing’ but we do understand really. So very nearly there… at last!
Get funky people!
Gary Frost (MDM Recording / Icecube Records Ltd): http://www.icecuberecords.com/Home.php
Broken Seven Events: https://www.facebook.com/pally69?fref=ts