the complete unknown
recorded: between May 31, 2015 and December 31, 2015
type: progressive rock
description: this is my very first full-length progressive rock song, wherein I play all of the instruments in the style of Todd Rundgren, but applying his technique to prog rather than pop or rock.
I've been wanting to make this song, for a long, long time, and I can't believe that it's finally here.
Probably the easiest way to describe this piece, is to point you to my blog, where I recently wrote about working on the first half of the piece (in part one of "the making of an epic prog monsterpiece" - to be continued soon) and you can find that at:
I will add to what is already written there, and what will be written there when I tackle part two, by saying this was an absolute labour of love, and I spent many, many happy weeks, days and hours working on it, piece by piece; I really relish playing all of the roles, starting with drum programmer - can I make a convincing "prog" drum track? then, onto the bass (RIckenbacker, of course!) played on a MIDI keyboard, which made it very interesting, it meant that I could make the "Rickenbacker Bass" do things that you can really only do on a keyboard, but - they sounded fantastic in the context of the Scarbee instrument samples - a great sounding sample if there ever was one.
So the drums and bass, are somewhat artificial, although in both cases, they are truly superb samples, recorded in excellent studios, and I think the rhythm section (D. Stafford, drum programming, D. Stafford, keyboard bass guitar) sound pretty good - all things considered.
Then there came the hard work, playing all of the keyboard parts, this took a few months (although the intro / outro piece was made early on) and it was actually only recently, in November and December, that I was finally able to work on guitar parts - and I had a blast doing that, working on getting interesting guitar tones, working out parts that work with the existing bass and keyboards - guitars of every type from acoustic to electric to kaoss guitar to ebow guitar and back again...
a couple months of guitar playing, including a central "middle eight" (for lack of a better term, it's a bit more than 8 bars actually!) that has at it's core an acoustic guitar duet, sometimes trio, accompanied by many different species of songbirds, which is followed by a short section performed on the iPad (I mean, come on, it was 2015 - you HAVE to include something modern!) and at that point, more alarming birds arrived, including the jackdaw, and the sweet sound of songbirds singing gives way to ominous warning calls.
eventually, after a one-minute interlude of "hackett guitars" (I will let you work out why they are called that) I rejoin the song proper, which has a grand "outgoing finale section" in the form of a long, long glorious ebow solo, hammond solo, and a little bit of reverse guitar, too mixed in with loving care.
I have officially been through 14.0 full versions of the track, but a few of those had multiple versions of 1.1 and 1.2 type (the smaller counter, whatever that is called!), so I am now not quite sure how many iterations it did go through, I tended to burn a rough mix almost every time I updated the piece, so I do have a very large collection of unfinished versions - more than I could ever need, but who knows?
as far as the title goes, it was really just an accident, I typed "Komplete - Unknown" on the folder in my Sessions folder, and very soon I realised that it wasn't just an "unknown" project involving "Komplete" but a full-fledged prog instrumental anthem involving many, many real keyboards, virtual keyboards I mean, and a lot of real guitars, too.
I could have played the bass guitar as I have on past recordings, however, I couldn't do so and get that Rickenbacker tone, so I felt it was worth the sacrifice, and I truly enjoyed working out the bass part - which I spent several weeks on, way back in August or July - a long time ago now.
I can state quite happily though, that really, the drums are the only instrument where I didn't "play" - I played the bass parts on a MIDI keyboard, and I played a large selection of keyboard samples from Hammonds to Mellotrons, and a few odd vintage synths on the opening / closing intro / outro piece - which was a fully complete composition done just before the drums and bass. I also played every single guitar, from acoustic to ebow to kaoss and back again - what a hugely fun opportunity that was!
the bass samples stood me in good stead, the parts I recorded, work beautifully with all of the later overdubs, and I couldn't be happier with the piece - I started out, having no idea where it was going, and for the first time listener, it will be a journey into "the complete unknown" but for me, I found the pieces, I worked it all out - and it worked out as well as could be expected, given that I started with nothing, on my journey to the complete unknown - and this is the result of that seven month journey.
I hope to do more songs in this genre, or, in similar genres, but I do not know if I will have the time to create more pieces of this size and complexity ! But I had to do it, just once, to prove to myself that I can **be** a band - a progressive rock band - and, that is exactly what I've done. For seven months - I was a Progressive Rock Band.
I highly recommend the Todd Rundgren Method to anyone who likes things "just so" - why hassle with other players when you can just play all the parts yourself !! :-)
It was brilliant, brilliant fun!
from progressive rock - an eternal album
released January 1, 2016
all instruments and sounds, including but not limited to;
Drum Programming, Komplete, Abbey Road Modern Drums
Keyboard Bass, Komplete, Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass
Hammond Organ via the Komplete Vintage Organs package - classic rock, Hammond B3 tonewheel emulation - preset "j'taime" [leslie effect applied in real time with mod wheel during performance]
M-Tron Pro - Mellotron - Mark II Vintage Violins Basic
M-Tron Pro - Mellotron - Flutes Basic
VINTAGE VIRTUAL KEYBOARDS SECTION (Used for intro / outro):
Sonicouture - Ondes Martenot
Sonicouture - Bowed Piano
Sonicouture - Broken Wurli
Sonicouture - Novachord
GUITARS & SUNDRIES SECTION:
Acoustic Guitar, Ovation Balladeer (duet and trio)
Electric Guitar, Gibson SG - lead guitar, rhythm guitar, energy bow guitar
Kaoss Guitar, Ibanez RG series Kaossilator Guitar (the Kaoss guitar was also used for some of the lead and rhythm guitar playing as well as for Kaoss Pad effects)
Ipad - Music Applications: TC-11 (Touch-Controlled Synth App), Poseidon Synth (Synth App), Chirp! (Bird Calls App)