5. Solo Flight   (9:00)

music  1989-1993 Colin Nicholls & Walter Nicholls
lyrics 2011 Colin Nicholls

Notes

This piece evolved out of a jam session we had, many years ago. We've tried rebooting it several times - see "Early Stages" below for a complete evolutionary tree.

For the longest time, this remained an instrumental, but I noticed when I played it in the car on my way to work, I was humming a different melody; and lyrics started coming to mind. So, it got revamped, and I'm quite proud of the results.

Update for 2017

For 2017 I tried to improve the clarity of each instrument, by tightening up the timing in some places; removing parts that were getting in the way; and remixing to bring out parts.

Production Notes

This really is the magnum opus of the album.

Percussion

XLN Addictive Drums VSTi via SPD-20 pad controller
Doumbek, Tamborine, Sleigh Bells
Aircraft & Control tower radio chatter samples from SoundDogs

Bass

10-string Chapman Stick
Taurus VSTi
PianoTeq 4 VSTi (rhodes electic piano for subtle bass enhancement)

Guitars

Fender Telecaster (lead)
Ibanex 540s (rhythm)
Ovation steel string, heavily modulated chords

Keyboards

TruePianos VSTi (low notes)
Pianoteq 4 VSTi (rhodes electric piano)
Roland VK8 (Hammond organ)
Roland D550 "Glass Voices" patch
Arturia CS80v VSTi for gliding drone

Strings

Cakewalk Dimension Pro "Quartet Ensemble" driven by four independent MIDI tracks for realism.
Additional Violins, Violas, and Cellos by Korg TR-Rack "Solo String","Solo Violin"; Roland Fantom "Chamber Qrt.2"

Early Stages

Since 1988 we've been recording our jam sessions on tape cassette. In 1999 I digitized the archives for reference. Any moments of magic relevant to this track, I've extracted and present here.

Solo Flight (1989)

I don't know where the rhythm sample came from. Possibly an Icehouse or Mr Mister track. In delicious 12-bit resolution, looping on the Akai X7000 sampler by taping down the low C key. The bass is definitely another sample, I'll assume a note from one of my acoustic guitars. Ethereal pad from the Korg Polysix; drones from the Roland Jupiter 6. Then we jammed for 8 minutes. And then we did it again, only this time we pressed RECORD on the tape deck. It was impossible to stay in time with the looping sample... but somehow, it didn't matter.

Solo Flight (1990)

Once the Korg M1 showed up, we gave it another go, using the sequencer and multi-timbral features to best effect. The Roland D-50 lent it's unbeatable "Glass Vox" patch to the mix. But somehow, something was lost in translation. On the plus side, the piece gained a new middle section.

Solo Flight (1993)

With multi-track recording at our disposal, I gave this piece another try, using Chapman Stick, guitars, and sequenced drums to push it in a new direction. 

And here it stayed for 15 years...

Lyrics

It was the day that Terry took me flying
Drive the Great South Road to Drury field
Outside the car we stand and watch the gliders
See a flash of sunlight from the keel

A month ago, I tried, but could not end it
Howard Jones was on the stereo
Bailing out before the song was over
She trusted me to never let her go

Feel the vector from the tow-rope's tension
The cockpit lurches with the winch release
Cast aloft in limbo, wind suspension
Breath of God above, the scars beneath

Indicates a left and checks the rear-view
The white Ford changes lanes, the traffic passes
Hands fixed to the wheel, at 10 and 2
Tears refract the light behind her glasses

Stop! Let's roll the backup tape, restore the memories
That's it; the moment that I broke her heart

And for a while, we share the ride with angels
See them smile, and think we've found a home
Dragging at our feet, the Earth is calling
No wings to hold us up, we're falling down

Falling
Falling Down
Falling
Falling Down