The Brink of Something

Anyone who’s listened to my music here will know that I haven’t put a vocal song up in a few years. That’s changing with this. I’ve decided to try to “use it, before I lose it”-my singing voice, that is. I’m getting on in years, and I’ve heard most of the singers I’ve admired sound a bit different as they get long in the tooth. I’m hoping to now record some better versions of vocal tracks I’ve done over the years, and maybe even write a few lyrics to go along with some yet unrecorded music.
I’ve started off with a re-visit to something I first wrote and recorded about 30 years ago. This was written around the bass line. That was the first thing I came up with, and the rest of the song came out of that. That might explain to some who are wondering about why it is as it is, and not simply playing the root of the chords.
I first demo’d this on a port-a-studio and did it with an original project I had back then. I always thought of revisiting this with a modern DAW and the knowledge I’ve picked up since those port-a-studio days.
You’ll hear 2 separate electric guitars, an electric bass, a 12 string acoustic and Halion, Retrologue, Padshop, and Prologue soft synths along with Groove Agent drums. The guitars and bass all went in direct and were sculpted using Line 6’s Helix Native. I also used Helix Native for the vocal tracks, and sang through a Sennheiser mic. My old recordings of this from back in the day were definitely not tricked out to this extent. I wound up writing all of the synth parts for this new version, along with the part played by the 12 string. The song picked up a new 3rd verse along the way too.
The basic idea of the lyric is one of optimism and hope that better things are just ahead. Easier perhaps to think that as the Cold War and Apartheid were ending, than it may be now. Nevertheless, I hope the hope in this song might effect anyone hearing it.

A very early Genesis feel to this song, like the instrumentation and the song never gets boring, my only crit is that the vocal gets lost amongst the instruments quite frequently…otherwise, good stuff my friend.

Thanks for the listen and the nice words. I’m fairly happy with the vocal as it is in the mix. I usually am a little bit of reluctant singer, so I’m more apt to place my vox back a bit farther. As for the early Genesis reference, you’re the 2nd person to mention that to me regarding this recording. I take that as a good thing, since I liked and listened to them in that stage of the band. It was totally unconscious, though. Maybe it’s the 12 string guitar. They did use that a lot on their earlier records. I thought that if anything came over to a listener, it might be the slapped bass part under the solos and at the end. That’s right out of my days listening to Stanley Clarke, Dougie Rauch, and many others in the mid 70’s. It’s always interesting to see what surfaces from the deeper recesses of our listening life as we write and record.

Hey, I didn’t know that you sang! This is pretty interesting. I like that you are comfortable to change the time signature (6/8 to 4/4 and back I think). Now this is prog-rock (Kevin, if you’re listening!). You’re getting a really good sound on that bass. I always say louder on the bass, and this is no exception. Really love the sound of your bass. It’s outstanding.

The voices are kind of forward. Maybe too loud? I wouldn’t know since I’ve almost never recorded voices, but sounds to me more distance with reverb is called for. They should sound like they are in the performance space, rather than right in my face.

Drums sound pretty good. Maybe a little more reverb. Maybe some compression. I like the synths.

You’re also getting great sounds on the guitars.

I also think that when you have to overdub parts, it’s very fair to use Cubase tools to line them up so they don’t sound so loose. I mean, if it was a live band recording, everyone would automatically find each other’s pulse, even if they were not on the click. But when you overdub, you don’t have that advantage. So go ahead and edit.

So the main thing I would say is the voices need to sit in the mix better.

Oh I forgot to say, I think this is a cool composition. I have no negative remarks to make on it. That’s a big plus. I hear all your influences, and many are the same as mine!

Oh Yeah! For me, i think that the voice should be little bit ahead. To make the words more clear (at least to my ears) and also to create more movement. So, i would lower the instruments when the voice is on, for instance , starting 0:39 then back from 2:29 until 3:29 (for the solos).
Don’t be shy John! your voice is really good. In fact, i think that the layering of voices gives a wonderful boost to the song.
Excellent… really. Top Prog!

Thanks, Leon. I hadn’t looked at this thread in a few days due to a full house over the Easter holidays, and it’s interesting to see the varied comments relative to the vocals. Too in front, too far back. It’s kind of the audio version of Goldilocks with the goal of them being “just right” for everyone. I was pretty happy with how they came out, as I was rarely the lead singer in bands I played in. I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of the old throat, when it came down to it. Your ideas about toying with the reverb are good. The drums gave me more trouble than anything else here, and I did have some issues with compressing them which led me to leave them as you’re hearing them . That’ll be something to toy with on another future recording.
I am happy with the bass sound. It’s a Sire Marcus Miller P7 5 string that I recently got. The reviews I’d read made that relatively inexpensive bass sound too good to be true, but I’m really happy with it. The Line 6 Helix Native now has a MarkBass IR, and that’s what I used for the speaker cab along with their Aguilar head. I play a lot of fretless usually, and this gave me a fretted sound that almost sat in that space until I did the slapping part under the solos.
Glad you like this, and thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts.

Thanks, Stephane. I was generally playing around with a vocal recording for the first time in a few years. I’ll continue to tweak this kind of thing in a few other things I’m planning to do soon. It’s pretty tough to know exactly how it’s going to sit in the mix, and this particular song did have a pretty “busy” bed for those vocals to lay on.
Thanks for the encouraging words and ideas.