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Imagined Flight (w/ alackbass, The Composer, and Robert Betrus)


by

Tiny_Man_Inside

 Genre: Rock

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Description
As usual, it takes us forever to complete a song. Imagined Flight was first conceived during a trip to the Outer Banks in early September 2009. Huy and I were having a few beers while sitting out on the deck overlooking the ocean. I was picking through some old Robert Johnson riffs on my acoustic guitar and struck upon a few variations that I found interesting. Huy came up with a melody for the would-be verse quite quickly, and wrote lyrics before the end of the vacation. Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite work out lyrics and melody for the chorus, so the song structure remained in a ‘work in progress’ state for quite some time.

Originally the song was meant to be just acoustic guitar and vocals. After recording some initial sketches, I thought that it wasn’t really working that way, so I decided to make it into a full-blown production. There was a certain ‘chime’ that I liked when I recorded the riffs on electric guitar, and we got a much different feel when we added more rock-oriented drums. Basically, we ‘swamped the song up’, as I like to think of it.

By time that Huy had come up with a melody and lyrics for the chorus, we noticed that a few of our changes weren’t quite working and the song seemed very bunched together. I ended up adding a few transitional guitar passages that allowed the song to breathe more, but we still felt that the song lacked something.

That was when we got the idea to add some outside perspectives to give the song a more dynamic feel. We brought in Robert Betrus to play a guitar solo, Bryan Anderson (the Composer) to add some percussion/hand drums, and Andrew Lack to play the bass. It was quite a lot of fun to work with this talented group of musicians.

OK, so on to the nitty-gritty production details:

All of the rhythm guitar parts are a mix of 3 different takes - each of which was double-tracked with 2 mics. This resulted in 6 guitar tracks in total - 3 that are panned hard left using a Shure SM57 mic and 3 that are panned hard right using a Sennheiser e609 mic. I used two different guitar amps: for the cleanest, most chimey parts, I used my homebuilt TMI Lucky 7 guitar amp running into a Marshall 1936 2X12 cabinet with Celestian G75T speakers. I then recorded two more takes, each with increasing gain, through my homebuilt TMI Cyclotron Mk I amplifier (also run into a Marshall 1936 cab).The Shure SM57 mic was paired with a MOTU828 mk III preamp, and the Sennheiser e609 mic was paired with my homebuilt TMI MILA (dual 12AV7 tube preamp). The 3 takes (clean Lucky 7, slightly dirty Cyclotron, and moderately dirty Cyclotron) were then mixed against each other throughout the song. In the parts where the guitar is very clean, the Lucky 7 is the predominate guitar sound. In the choruses, where the guitar gets a bit grittier/dirtier, I turned up the Cyclotron tracks. Having all 3 guitar parts present at varying levels throughout the song gives the song a bit more depth and texture while still maintaining a nice cohesion. All of my guitar parts were recorded with a 1998 Gibson Les Paul Studio fitted with EMG pickups.

In terms of the guitar solos - the first solo was performed by Robert Betrus from the group Lab Addicts. He used a Fender Stratocaster and recorded direct through a Boss effects unit. This solo was triple-tracked to include some harmonies in places. I didn’t use any compression on his solo because it features a very nice control over the dynamics and I didn’t want to take anything away from his playing. I did use some Masterworks EQ to roll off some high end so the solo fit into the mix better, but that was the only post-processing I applied.

I performed the second guitar, using my Les Paul through the Cyclotron amp. A higher level of gain was used to get a bit more sustain and harmonics. I also added some reverb and delay during the mixing stage.

The drums were recorded using XLN Audio’s Addictive Drums virtual instrument. About 80% of the drum parts are pre-programmed loops (Groove Monkee or XLN Audio); the other 20% I programmed myself when I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted.

Bryan Anderson provided additional percussion in the form of djembe hand drums. These were recorded in stereo. I used WaveArts TrackPlug 5 to add some compression and EQ to help them sit better in the mix. Andrew Lack recorded 3 separate bass tracks that were cut and pasted to arrive at the final bassline. I used Digital Performer’s Masterworks Leveler and Masterworks EQ to sculpt the bass sound.

The vocal tracks were recorded at my home studio in Virginia. Huy used a JoeMeek JM37 condenser mic for a majority of the tracks. This was fed into the TMI MILA preamp, then into the MOTU828 for A/D conversion. Each of Huy’s parts were recorded 5 to 7 times. These tracks were all layered together with the best take serving as the most prominent track and the other mixed at lower levels. Huy has an excellent sense of rhythm and timing, so it’s possible to layer multiple tracks without it sounding like a chorus of Huys singing. I used Digital Performer’s Masterworks Leveler for mild compression, then WaveArts multidynamics (multiband compressor) to sculpt the sound for improved clarity. The summed vocal tracks were then bussed to an aux track with Nomad Factory’s Blueverb reverb plug-in (this buss was also used to add a touch of reverb on the drums).

After the song was mixed as a stereo Wav file, it was then treated with WaveArts Multidynamics for some slight multiband compression to improve instrument clarity and punch, followed by Nomad Factory’s excellent Max Warmer limiting plug-in for a slight volume boost and EQ.

Huy and I still plan on revisiting the idea of doing a stripped-down acoustic version at some point.

---------
Huy Dao's comments:

As usual, Mason and I got more songwriting accomplished in two days in the same house at the beach than in a year of sending files back and forth. As usual, life interfered. Nothing earth shattering; rather, the busy-ness of life (the kind that can beat you down) that is the theme of the lyrics of Imagined Flight.

Each day
the counting of it all, the ending of the rise, beginning of the fall
Each day
walking among his things, peering through awful noise, and dormant slights still ring

CHORUS
The tinder’s set, so set your world alight.
The darkness asking to be stayed.

What are you saving your hope for, this time?
You simply wish, you’ll watch it fade

Each day
between his shoulder blades, compression of his being, bowed over with the weight
Each day
he mutes the inward thrum, deadens the hostage rage, and hopes for sleep to come

Every day
the script is hiding out, and action makes no toll, another furrow plowed
Every day
the bird just waits to light, imagined struggles fade, preens in his cage at night

CHORUS 2
The tinder’s set, so set your world alight.
So breathe the fire of the day

What are you saving your hope for, this time?
Or simply wish, and watch it fade

Every day
imagined wounds to mourn, imagined flight to hope, imagined wings adorned
Every day
imagined rest escapes, imagined strength dissolves, imagined love abates

Each day (so set your world alight)
Every day (the fire of the day)
Each day (or wish and watch it fade)
Every day
I was working on a series of poems at the time that was threaded together with the word “today” and reading Wallace Stevens (mostly Sunday Morning and Of Mere Being), which is where the bird theme came from.

At conception, we were only working with a guitar and a note pad, so once again, this was going to be a “simple” song. That’s how half of our songs start out, in concept. What we really mean is: wait ‘til Mason workshops this and we’ll see what pops up.

Project Okra was shopped around up and down the East Coast and to Australia. What came back felt right, but still felt like five guys were in different rooms listening to the same sketched song. We loved, for example, what Mr. Betrus created, but brightness of the Stratocaster was taking away from how the guitar part fit into the song. Mason, I’m sure, explained what he did to mix it into the weave, which happened over the last two years. In the end, it got done, and all the parts felt like they were sitting as right as they were ever going to sit.

As for the doubling, tripling, etc. of the lyrics, Mason explained to me about 5 years ago the advantages of doubling over chorus, reverb, or other effects to get a more full vocal sound (cf. Why We Travel and Left To Swing). As I play no instruments, vocal timing’s about all I’ve got. Being in a band with Mason (circa 1996-1997) meant being challenged to weird and varying time signatures, so I picked up the knack of developing cues from his guitar or the drums because I always lost count on stage. Mason has a hard time doubling vocally, so we tried an experiment where I challenged him to double his guitar part. No problem. Perhaps vocal cords can develop their own muscle memory.

Finally, the song was put to a focus group. I’m told this took place on car rides while Mason was mixing and mastering. The four-year-old contingent (of one) apparently likes this song, but would rather have it be titled “Each Day”.
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Lyrics
Each day
the counting of it all, the ending of the rise, beginning of the fall
Each day
walking among his things, peering through awful noise, and dormant slights still ring

CHORUS
The tinder’s set, so set your world alight.
The darkness asking to be stayed.

What are you saving your hope for, this time?
You simply wish, you’ll watch it fade

Each day
between his shoulder blades, compression of his being, bowed over with the weight
Each day
he mutes the inward thrum, deadens the hostage rage, and hopes for sleep to come

Every day
the script is hiding out, and action makes no toll, another furrow plowed
Every day
the bird just waits to light, imagined struggles fade, preens in his cage at night

CHORUS 2
The tinder’s set, so set your world alight.
So breathe the fire of the day

What are you saving your hope for, this time?
Or simply wish, and watch it fade

Every day
imagined wounds to mourn, imagined flight to hope, imagined wings adorned
Every day
imagined rest escapes, imagined strength dissolves, imagined love abates

Each day (so set your world alight)
Every day (the fire of the day)
Each day (or wish and watch it fade)
Every day
Song Stats
Hits: 2060
Comments: 16
Fans: 17
Plays: 437
Downloads: 30
Votes: 0
Uploaded: Feb 26, 2013 - 09:08:58 AM
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2013 - 12:04:48 PM Last Played: Mar 21, 2017 - 11:57:42 PM
Song License
Creative Commons License:
Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial

Creative Commons

Song Actions
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Hardware:
TMI Lucky 7 amplifier, TMI Cyclotron Mk I amplifier, Shure SM57, JoeMeek JM37, Sennheiser e609 mics, TMI MILA mic preamp, Motu 828mkIII Firewire interface, Marshall 1936 2X12 cabinet
Software:
Addictive Drums, Digital Performer
Comments
DWL said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Nice guitar work
and some interesting twists and turns in the melody and the arrangement.

A decent set of lyrics as well.

Welcome back!

Cheers

Dick
Check out my latest song called War with Spain
apb said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Smooth groove
fine guitar work, great recording, fine song! Enjoyed that Mason.. and welcome back! (not sure about the bongos.. but then again, I never am ;)

/Alan (who is hardly ever here these days due to life in the way)
Check out my latest song called Stowaway
Warren Smith said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Ripple effect
Loving those guitar ripples animating the soundtrack. You seem to have captured both the elements of simplicity and complexity here. The melody and chord structure move in a regular linear attack, but the variety of leads and riffs and drum patterns greatly expands the listening experience. Welcome back.
Check out my latest song called Brand New Day
gadzooks said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Imagined Flight
When I first read through the explanation of everything that was done to create this one piece of music I though "wow ... that's a lot of stuff just to make a song" but after listening it all works. That riff really holds it all together and is really catchy. The playing is excellent throughout and the production is well done. A very creative piece.
SG
Check out my latest song called Emoji
alackbass said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Imagined Flight
Wow! It may have taken years but it was well worth the wait!
Check out my latest song called Mean Miss Teacher
J.A.Stewart said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Flight of Fancy (Stuff)
Cool tune, Dudes. ;)

--- Joe
Check out my latest song called Crankenhurst Challenge - Verse 1-7 (Inst. Break)
Moviz said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Love the
variation in the percussion and the very interesting sounds..... the melody too has some nice changes....great guitars and smooth vocals.... good work, cheers M
Check out my latest song called Angels
Garni said 1548 days ago (February 26th, 2013)
Imagined Flight
What an awesome collaboration gents!

G-)
Check out my latest song called Where Did The Sun Go with Lokka
echoroom said 1546 days ago (February 28th, 2013)
Long time coming
Wow, that's a detailed song description. Great track, shades of Talking Heads, with a really nagging guitar hook. Im jealous.
Check out my latest song called Heaven is Waiting
magnatone said 1546 days ago (February 28th, 2013)
Imagined Flight
fabulous work, great band, fascinating backstory - congrats to all!
Check out my latest song called Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) and Variations
paul f. page said 1546 days ago (February 28th, 2013)
Rhythm section...
...is stellar. Varied and interesting, mixing up a variety of syncopated rhythms that are always engaging. I could listen to this piece many many times and still be thrilled by this part of the overall track. Really wonderful energy and such a tight mix of all instruments. It doesn't get any better for this kind of music. Congratulations.
Check out my latest song called Invention No. 53
FEEL said 1545 days ago (March 1st, 2013)
I was just listening to RJ yesterday
I like the way the guitar progression plays against the rhythm. Nice solos, intriguing drums, vocals are spot on and a great job on the bass. Thoroughly enjoyed.
Check out my latest song called Pleasant Valley Sunday
egobandit said 1545 days ago (March 1st, 2013)
WHat a great punch this has
even though its mellow in nature, very cool changes drum guitar just roll with the thumping bass excellent lyric btw
downloaded and thanks!
Check out my latest song called Tempest Wave
VicDiesel said 1543 days ago (March 3rd, 2013)
Nitty gritty
Clearly a lot of thought went into this. Good thing that it doesn't sound overproduced. This is a solid song.

My only nit is that dumbek. While I love the instrument (I have 3 or so) it doesn't really work for me here.
Check out my latest song called Sunday haze
Philip18 said 1543 days ago (March 3rd, 2013)
Imagined Flight
Reading the notes, I can see why it took so long - but it sure was worth the wait. Considering the way it's been done, it is very together, with fine playing from all of you. I especially love the different guitar tones (and what they're playing). This is very impressive!
jiguma said 1543 days ago (March 3rd, 2013)
It's been a while Mason et al!
I really like this. Lots of interesing stuff going n, with the rhythm section and guitar work being the standouts. Lyrics and vocals work a treat.
A very pro performance and sound!
Cheers from Oz,
Neil
Check out my latest song called Dead Man Walking
Artist Info
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Name: Tiny_Man_Inside
Location: DC/NYC USA
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Mason Wolak - guitars, bass, backing vocals Bryan Anderson - drums, percussion, production Huy Dao - vocals, lyrics, saltiness Mason Wolak is the first member of Tiny Man Inside to join MacJams. In addition to writing/playing/recording... [see more]

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