6. Prologue             (2:00)
7. The Steel Tree    (3:16)

music © 1990 by colin nicholls & walter nicholls
lyrics © 2012 by colin nicholls


This song opens "side two" of the album, and provides an introduction to the suite of thematically related songs and instrumentals that follow.

The main concept here is to have the second half of the track be much more natural, acoustic and "organic" in nature, after the heavily electronic reverberating introduction. As such, I added "real" shaker, tamborine, and doumbek to the percussion track. 

For those of you who may be familiar with the second compilation CD from the alt.music.yes newsgroup, Second Attention, you may recognise an earlier version of this track as the opener. I think this new version is much improved!

Production Notes

1. Prologue:

Synths: Korg M1 (piano ostinato, chords)
Korg TR-Rack (low vox pad)
Roland D550 (whispy high vox pad)
Pianoteq 3 VSTi (low piano notes)
Roland Fantom (lead monosynth)
Vocals: low "Ah"s (sampled)
Bass: Taurus VSTi
Percussion: XLN Addictive Drums
GuitarsL Yamaha GC172SF "Spanish Flamenco"
Fender Telecaster (slide)
Gibson L6-S (lead)

2. The Steel Tree:

Why so many guitars? Well, that's what happens when you work on a project for so long. I don't even own the TL60 any more, but the original takes featuring that guitar are fine the way they are.

Percussion: XLN Addictive Drums VSTi via sticks on SPD20 pad controller
Shaker; Doumbek; Tamborine
Bass: Carvin BK5
Synths: Pianoteq 4 VSTi (Rhodes e-piano)
MinimogueVA VSTi (mono lead)
Roland VK8 (Hammond Organ)
Strings: Cakewalk Dimension Pro "Ensemble Quartet"
Guitars: Carvin HF2 (slide in verse 1)
Gibson L6-S (lead)
Ovation Steel String
Yamaha GC172SF Spanish Flamenco
Carvin TL60 piezo (slide in verse 2; harmonics at end)

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.

Themes (1989):

Walter came up with the main keyboard riff. The sounds is produced by an Akai X-7000 sampler loaded with a few seconds of a sustained violin note from Nigel Kennedy's "Let Loose" CD. Alas, the X-7000 is long gone, which is a shame because 8-bit samplers are useful tools these days.

Instrumental Demo (1990):

Enter the Korg M1 with its mighty sequencer. The fast piano ostinato motif was a complete accident. We mistakenly set the playback tempo to 300% and instantly realized that this was something to keep. I love the sounds from the old Korg Polysix in part two, as it fades out.


You stare into the TV screen
a window on a world you can't define
wishing you could make a difference
wondering how you'll ever find the time

Climbing up the Steel Tree
Can you tell me what you see?
Infinite horizons, and the
flickering of contacts in the distance

You browse the web for stimuli
scrolling through a million points of view
au courant irrelevance
to satisfy your thirst for something new

Falling from the Steel Tree
pages lost to history
close your eyes and smell the bullshit
realize that nothing lasts forever