11 lyrical story-based songs, quiet musings set to an unusual mix of familiar and unfamiliar resonant acoustic sound sources exploring hidden emotional realities concealed in the narrative of adoption and otherness.
Recorded in five sound studios in Vancouver, Banff and Toronto. Minden and Hallett’s music evokes a rich cinematic quality. Wonderfully layered arrangements reveal a colourful palette of acoustic sounds (blown tuned glass bottles are used extensively.) One finds oneself taken on a journey through an unexpected sonic environment interspersed with the affecting sound of musical saw and the whale-like watery calls of the waterphone that sometimes feels like a music from an imagined place. Hallett’s natural, delicate vocals are sensitive in timbre and resonance. And the songs speak with a quiet, rebellious intensity.
The CDs have just arrived -soon to be available online at all the major download places. Its handsome and sounds wonderful…clear voiced, open sound with a grand acoustic dynamic. Dynamite through good headphones. A tip of the hat to engineer Jeff Wolpert for a meticulous mix and mastering.
The actual CD (opposed to virtual) is in limited supply. Only a small quantity of glass mastered CDs were manufactured. If you are one of those who still like the actual you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and one will be reserved for you.
Twenty dollars covers everything. Send cheque to Otter Bay Productions, PO BOX 72041. Vancouver, BC V6R 4P2 and the CD will be sent to you immediately.
Minden & Hallett – listening to final mix-Desert Fish Studio, Toronto/photo D. Minden
Almost 1 year to the day, the recording is complete. Now, its all about listening. Letting some time go by to give perspective and listening to what has been recorded with fresh ears. We’re iistening now: the balance between sounds, the clarity and placement of the music and vocals, trying to find the best order and sequence for all the pieces that will make up the whole. It’s coming together as storytelling and the music and lyrics connect to each other in intricate ways, so that the sequencing becomes essential. We still imagine the wholeness of the album, rather than a set of individual songs. Do people even llsten this way anymore? Or is the internet with all its devices encouraging us to hear individual electronic downloads of separate pieces?
We thought we had finished all the recording last June and were close to wrapping up the album. A few days later Carla realized there was one more song that needed composing. The story wasn’t complete. This one took longer than usual to come into focus. Piano, insistent yet delicate, was going to be the centre of the music and words were going to tumble down and around the repetitious notes. Spoken, intense words against a texture of tuned glass bottles, struck metal bowl, musical saw, wordless vocals and piano. It’s October 1st and we have been immersed in this music for the last year. Today we recorded the piano tracks on a dusky, mellow 38 year old Grotrian-Steinweg.
We are now working on the last composition of the song cycle. It will be a quiet mix of piano, understated vocals, spoken word and musical saw…perhaps with the addition of a repeated struck metal bowl tuned with water. The found sounds that orchestrate much of this recording are being selected for their particular timbre and presence. They are unlike any other sound with their certain rough edges. When we record found sounds the goal is not the electronic manipulation of the sound. We record them to sound like what they are: physical, tangible sounds with substance.
just finished a complex mix of found sounds, voice, & piano. It was carefully constructed and built up in layers of repeated sounds of clay flower pots, struck tuned glass bottles, struck PVC pipe, carpenter’s saw, blown tuned wine and miniature liquor bottles and percussive piano with spoken word, then interrupted with lyrical piano and vocals. From one perspective it might be the soundscape of a modern dance work; from another it illuminates the space between theatre and music. It stands as the dramatic focal point of the album. “The Courtroom”
The search for low sounds in the universe of found instruments is always a challenge. It usually means finding something big, like long lengths of PVC pipes, which can be difficult for touring. For bottle sounds, the depth and low range of the perfect gallon jug is worth the trouble of collecting, cleaning, and carefully transporting.
The range of a glass cider jug extends below a wine bottle or an old vinegar jug. It takes an enormous amount of air to produce a good clear sound. And to get enough air, one needs to take deep noisy breaths. But this is actually a bonus, because the sound of the in-breath just before the articulated note, can form part of the music. The in-breaths are quite audible, especially when the mics are close and hot. So using this sound will be an interesting way of allowing a natural percussive line to be heard while producing the pitched sounds from tuned blown jugs. The real breath sounds produce a sense of necessity and energy in the music. This technique is used in the song “Why Don’t We” from the album “Whisper in My Ear”.
Another recording session: different room, different sounds. This time at The Farm Studios (once Vancouver’s Little Mountain Studio). The room was smaller and less resonant than our first session and for some of our sounds, especially clay flowerpots, this allowed for a more distinct recording, the sounds of the pots more precise than if they were in a more reverberant setting. The placing of PZM mics on the table between the pots proved to be the best way to capture the special sound of struck clay. Completed another two songs. Gathering momentum.
Our unique instrumentation makes for a compelling array of varying timbres. Always seeking to expand the predictable sonic palette found in contemporary music, our recordings concentrate on the colour and texture of acoustic sound. Much of the Duo’s focus is on timbre. The musical saw is an excellent example and is explored in all of our recordings. It has an unexpected voice and when placed with other sounds can offer acoustic surprise.
Listening to the sound of the musical saw in live performance is uncanny, the sound feels like it comes from everywhere/nowhere. Unlike a trumpet or a piano or a vocalist which have a direct point of origin the musical saw is strange because it seems to originate in the air itself. In live performance the rubbing sound of the bow is diminished because the listener is not that close and one is not required to pay attention to it. If one places a mic in front and close to the saw it amplifies the sound caused by the bow rubbing the blade and the delicate, mysterious sound of the saw is compromised and becomes confined.
The difficulty in recording the bowed saw is to recreate its ethereal experience. Experimenting over the years with many different mic positions and different ways of recording the saw, what seems crucial is the sound of the room itself. It is important to record in as resonant a room as possible using two microphones. Mic the sound in the room, as well as the closer sound coming from behind the player and the blade of the saw. Mixing both tracks together comes close to reproducing this extraordinary resonance.
Carla Hallett & Robert Minden – Trent University concert
The album we’re working on alludes to film music – the music suggests images, scenes, narratives. It feels like we are scoring a film, the music evocative and cinematic, the movie becoming visible by the listener.
In a more literal sense, the mixing of the sounds creates a landscape – on the left, on the right, in the centre, coming in from the back of the listeners head. Will a sound move? How will it move? Which sound will stay anchored in one place? And how will each sound be coloured, and in what space are they happening/seen? These sonic decisions are also visual decisions; the music suggesting the movie imagined in the mind.