music ©1993,2015 by colin nicholls and walter nicholls
lyrics © 2015 by colin nicholls
title and inspiration by lisa
In its original instrumental form, I think this might be the last piece that Walter and I wrote together, jamming in our Grey Lynn flat. The earliest archival recording I have is from 1993.
It was based around a couple of synth patches: The Korg M1 E-Piano transposed down an octave to make an ominous bass note, and a nice velocity sensitive patch on the Roland D50 that could have its response slowly dialed in with the expression pedal as we played a repeated four-note phrase (which now I think about it, is very reminiscent of the Tubular Bells piano... oh well).
I may be mis-remembering but I think Walter wrote the slow intro chord sequence, and I provided the counterpoint on guitar, definitely Discipline-era Fripp-influenced.
The main section with drums and bass I sequenced on the Korg M1, and I had a sinuous lead guitar part that went with it. I was listening to Satriani at the time. I think we worked together on the chord sequence under the keyboard solo, but the key solo itself is all Walter.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and a comment from Lisa inspired me to write a set of lyrics. In 2015 I challenged myself to take this venerable instrumental and refactor it, adding the verse and chorus sections. Now, it's really a whole new beast.
I managed to reconstruct the Korg M1 and D50 patches used in the original instrumental demos, and practiced the heck out of the keyboard solo in order to do justice to Walter's historical performances.
The trusty Korg M1 set to our custom "Melange" patch provides most of the string/pad tones, but I see I have also mixed in some Cakewalk Dimension Pro VST using my tweaked "string quartet" patch, just to add a little rosin, I guess. Although, as I listen to the string bus in isolation, I can't honestly say that Dimension Pro is adding very much here. Let's just call it Korg M1 "Melange Strings".
The rhythm guitars are six tracks of Fender Telecaster and Carvin HF2 (providing some sparkly piezo tones). They aren't playing all at once and are mixed pretty severely hard left and hard right. It's a pretty nice soundscape. I'm listening to the isolated Drums, Bass, and Rhythm guitar busses, and I'm really feeling the urge to work on a 12" remix.
The Carvin HF2 is also providing the counterpoint ostinato during the introductory 7/8 sequence.
My Ibanez 540s is used for the leads.
I used the Agile Defiant 53734 for this, it's a fanned-fret (multiscale) 5-string bass with a 37" scale low B string. Some folks seem to get used to the fanned frets very quickly but I confess I had some trouble navigating them without a lot of practice. Ironically the one place in the song where I did go down to the low B note, I ended up muting the track because it really wasn't adding much - there is a lot of competing parts in that frequency space and the production didn't seem to miss the bass at all.
I recorded the output from the bass via a SansAmp Bass Driver DI, a nice hardware "stomp box" that adds some nice grunge.
The Novation PEAK synthesiser plays the role of the classic Moog Taurus bass pedals.
The meat of the drums is all XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2 providing the sounds, triggered by sticks on a Roland SPD20 and associated peripheral pads.
There's also real shaker, tamborine, and some wide-panned sequenced stick samples for the introductory percussion.
GSi VB3 virtual instrument is used for the "hammond organ" parts. For a while I switched over to using the VSTi instead of my physical Roland VK8 keyboard, and this production dates back to that period. I could re-record it but I don't see the need. This is fine.
I used the VK8 as the MIDI controller for organ parts, because of the keybed which is a "waterfall" design with a high note trigger point, making smears and note fluttering dead simple. And although the VSTi's do tend to sound pretty great (in addition to VB3 there's Blue3, and Arturia's V-Collection includes a good one as well... so, lots of options), none of these will respond to drawbar or other settings changed in mid-performance on my VK8. Also, I've had dropped notes and other defects with performances with dense flurries of MIDI notes (such as windmill sweeps and stuff). So these days I record the VK8 output directly and with care and attention it still sounds pretty good.
But in this production, you're hearing the GSi VB3 VSTi "in the box".
The Roland D50 (or actually D550 rack module) shines on this track. It's providing the expressive 7 note sequence (a patch called "Touchy Lead" which may have been tweaked by Walter or may be a factory preset, I don't know). That same patch is used for the mighty solo lead synth part from 6:46 - 7:34. Quite a capable preset.
Modartt Pianoteq is used for piano and e-piano (rhodes) parts.
Arturia CS-80v (using a custom "GX-1 brass" patch) is used for periodic synth stabs, but it isn't a major character in this production.
The Novation PEAK synthesiser is used for the slapback delay ARP sequences before each verse and in the middle section. It's a pretty generic two oscillator sawtooth patch with portamento, and sounds wicked at speed with a delay on it.
And of course the afore-mentioned Korg M1 low E-piano note in the introduction.
We have about 5 or 6 tracks of vocal parts here, usually each part has two takes, panned various degrees left and right, and with various FX on them. I hate recording vocals, but I remember enjoying figuring out the harmonies and then compiling the backing vocal takes. Less is More is the lesson here.
One day when I was recovering from the 'flu I recorded some low, low "monk chanting" notes because it sounded good (about the only decent outcome of a week of chest cold, coughing, and no voice). At the time I had no specific goal in mind, but it nicely appoints the section at 5:18, with a metric tonne of delay and reverb on it: A fricken First Fifteen of monks coming to, I dunno, meditate you into oblivion.
When this 7/8 riff first came to me, I wanted the bass line to be incorporated into the finger-picked guitar part but it was beyond me. The two rhythms are definitely two parts of a whole. I remember sequencing the drums and bass so that I could play the simpler guitar part and see if the combination of the two parts together was worth persuing. It had promise.
Here's a more-or-less complete version, in instrumental form, from 1998. Possibly dumped from an 8-track reel, and definitely a demo. This was what I had to work with (and I mean that in a good way) when I started reconstructing and refactoring it in 2015. I had the MIDI tracks for drums, bass, and some of the keyboards...
get up and move to another place
we can help you find a better way
youíre going to join the Human Race
enjoy the ride: your new life starts today!
you start to work, and the Paradigm Shift will keep you on your feet
experience the Paradigm Shift see if you can stand the heat
working the Paradigm Shift, itís better than before
working out the Paradigm Shift,
will keep you coming back again for more
donít bother taking notes this time
Ďcause thereís nothing here to memorize
think youíve worked it out? you find
the rules are changing right before your eyes
anticipate the Paradigm Shift, the feeling that you seek
can you feel the Paradigm Shift, happening as we speak
articulate the Paradigm Shift, screwing with your mind
when you feel the Paradigm Shift, obsolescence wonít be far behind
itís a new paradigm, it doesnít have to make sense (order is confusion)
in a new paradigm, change is intense (reality: illusion)
in a new paradigm there is no defense (normality exception)
in a new paradigm, no excellence (truth becomes deception)
donít want to leave a sinking ship
Ďcause it wonít look good on your resume
learn the trick to relax your grip
or hold on tight and throw your dreams away
moving to the Paradigm Shift, keep rising to the challenge
arrythmic pulse, the Paradigm Shift, you try to keep your balance
working the Paradigm Shift, itís harder than before
and when itís through, the Paradigm Shift
will leave your precious skills upon the floor
To celebrate the release of the album, I uploaded a "studio play-through" video to YouTube. This version is the "single edit" which I may include on the Inevitable Bonus Disc.