Friday, 20 June 2014

Where The Days Have No Name

I feel I have just been pulled so fastly out of a beautiful warm bubble in the mountains of Argentina into the warm old familiar places and faces of home.  It was a 4 day journey that begin in a rush from the moment I managed to get a ticket and has been a massive journey that has took so much out of me.  Where to start?  Where the days have no name........

For the last 5 months I have been in the mountainous deserts of Argentina with Nizha, and for the last 3 months we have been recording an album together.  It has been an incredibly beautiful and blissful tranquilo time.  We were 3 miles away from the nearest town, which was San Carlos.  I am told the oldest town in Argentina.  The region is one of the most constantly sunny places in the world.  Even the nearest wine town 30 miles away had a different, wetter, cooler climate.  But San Carlos is blessed and cursed with a burning sun that makes the desert a very different experience to anything I have been used to...

The rhythm of the day there is broken into 2 main parts really.  The morning light and sun is the most coolest and freshest, and as it rises up from the mountains, you see them change colour.  It sometimes looks like a dream world, with the vastness of nature so massively surrounding you.  It slowly warms up, you have a coffee or mate, and by 1pm the sun is starting to burn.  You cant stay out in it for long, so you have a meal, made of veg, salads, potatoes and something that I now love....Pumpkins.  A different type to anything we have in Europe, very sweet tasting and combined with a vino and soda was my favourite lunch.  You let the sun burn out from 1-6 by having a siesta after the meal, it's quite sacred in Argentina, people dont telephone eachother during the siesta.  All the shops close, the ancient empty streets absorb it all up.  The dogs, the hungry dogs lying in their favourite spot in the shade.

At 6 a coffee or a mate and toasted tortillas (similar to scones) with Dulce De Leche (A caramel spread) like an afternoon breakfast, then work until the night time becomes full of stars, so bright and a moonlight that looks like a pale morning light.  Cactus's moon shadows on the floor and watching over the period of 5 months how the constellations and planets moved.  The moon has such a different face there, because you are looking at it from below the equator.  And that was a day.And these days passed so fast.  Sometimes I would ask myself what day or month it was, and genuinely couldn't remember for long amounts of time.  Then I realised I didn't care.  It didn't matter much.

Nizha has this old computer with a good sound input and some nice speakers.  After 2 months of being there I started to investigate how we could set up to record.  We were in such a perfect place for it.  We had our own little musical shack in the desert.  In the window the view of the mountain often looked like a painting on the wall.  We could be as loud as we want, and take as long as we want.  For those 2 months I had been playing the guitar lots and writing some new songs.  I felt so much inspiration there, and found some gypsy jazz style chords and rhythms start to come out.  Using open tunings a wrote 5 songs in open Dm, it sounded like the desert key!  Anyway, (those songs became 1 in A Desert Prayer).  We were playing a nice few paid gigs, one at a palace like vine yard called 'The Piatelli' for all the rich gringos.  We were becoming so close, in such a different way than we had before.  I just always find myself falling more in love with her.  A special ode to the full moon of march.

We worked well together, there was a moment when I thought...'If I had of met Nizha in a recording studio randomly to work together, I would have fallen in love with her that minute' I love how we were making music together, she has a brilliant musical ear and mind and heart and we wanted to make something great, and knew we could.  We were like 4 ears, 4 eyes, 4 hands and so on.  A brilliant, tight team in everything.  Actually recording desert prayer took us a long time, and one day we had been working on it for around 10 hours, so excited by what we were making and then going to sleep with it running through our heads like it was playing in your mind constantly.

We would work hard, get up with the morning light, go to the studio and work until lunch.  I think you can feel the energy and soul of us being and falling more in love and making music.  There were times when she would do a string arrangement or perfect vocal harmonies that would blow me away and really make me want to try even harder.  We just have a great chemistry like that, from the first moment I met her we did.  And now we had the perfect place to make a record.  The equipment was pieced together, and anyone who has an understanding of recording music will find what we did it on quite interesting.,,,,

A computer from 2001, Windows XP, 2,7ghz with 1 gig of Ram.  An M- Audio Auxillery input internal sound card.  M Audio monitor speakers and a small 2 channel mixer for headphones.  An SM57 microphone was used for all vocals, violins, and guitars which was powered by a 90s Phillips Dictaphone with a mic input that led into the computer.  And that was it.  An old semi decent computer, an instrument mic in a dictaphone and a good set of speakers.  I thank that is the minimum you can record a good quality album on.  I really feel that the mic that is built for instruments had a beautiful  warm sound with the voices going through the dictaphone.  We used Cubase 5 to record all audio.  So there it was.  We had our little studio and we were workin brilliantly together.

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