Dark Stirrings From the Deep

NOTES: This post was written yesterday morning, after I came in from posting the previous night’s message. The only things that have changed are: I’ve put in a day’s work on Last Call, which almost sounds right but needs tweaking; I’ve decided to omit the piece called ‘Coda’ from the suite, which means my finest piano playing will have to wait for another album to be properly heard; my wife and I went for a long bike ride up the Rail Trail, which I did with very little effort, which was nice; I watched a recent Styx concert video with Derrick, featuring recreations of both The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, which was cooler than I’d feared it would be; and my wife and I will be purchasing a small laptop fan so she can start using the laptop her friend gave her for doing data recovery on its messed up hard drive (Turns out Canada Computers doesn’t stock these fans).
Anyway, here’s the post:

Guten Tag, Mein Macklings,

I went out early this morning, at the crack of dawn, to borrow that cup of internet and send off my message in a bottleneck. I was wearing my bathrobe and slippers, and managed to get spotted by one of the cute Portuguese sisters I’ve been vaguely flirting with since they were in their late teens. I still don’t know their names, but I fool myself that I can tell them apart now together or separately. They seem very sweet. I hope she didn’t see anything embarrassing, as I wasn’t wearing underpants at the time. Given how cool it was outside, I doubt she saw much.

I’m drinking coffee and listening to Bruford’s Gradually Going Tornado, which should be added to my list of art rock albums from 1980 that deserve more attention. I need to get Tony Banks’ A Curious Feeling and Anthony Phillips’ Sides on this laptop as well. What album did Steve Hackett make in 1980? Defector? I should put that on here as well. 1980 was a good year for post-prog art rock.

I’m hoping to get some recording done today. There are still three tracks that have had no work done to them, and several others that need tracks redone to fix some pretty obvious mistakes that I can’t let slip through the way I have with Out of Time and Here It Comes Again. Those tracks are so solid, their flaws are almost endearing to me. Other tracks on this album of mine need a little more polish to come over as well. There are also a handful of nearly-finished tracks that need a few more things done to them, even if I don’t rerecord any of the parts already in place (which they almost certainly could use. I’ve been working pretty fast on this album, improvising tracks instead of writing out and learning the parts carefully, and it shows).

I tried recruiting one of my neighbours to play keyboard for me, but he was too busy to listen to my pitch. I may give him another chance today or tomorrow, but I won’t hold out the invitation for long. I’d rather risk recruiting strangers than be put off by people I know. I haven’t even heard him play yet. I just want to see if he’s got anything I can use, and find out if he likes what I do.

Bruford album is over. Looks like we’ve moved into Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light, which I haven’t listened to since I reviewed it last winter. Still sounds good to me.

Lucky the Panther has been hanging out with me this morning, though he’s not snuggling with me like he was around 4 AM. These early morning sessions seem to be enough for him.

There’s something to be said for manic depression. It often makes my life nearly unlivable, but there are some pretty amazing points in my life where things come together and feel really special in a way I don’t experience when my mood stabilizers are dampening my moods a little too effectively. The Flow that my brain experiences when I’m in the middle of a project just feels normal to me, even as it drives my wife and friends to distraction. I don’t wish my particular brand of insanity on anyone, and I don’t mean to inflict my excessive behaviour on my loved ones, but there’s just so much more of me to share with them when I’m not as compressed.

That is, until The Crash. The Crash is always a problem, no matter how you look at it. I can live with moodiness (although the flashes of anger I’ve been experiencing in my old age don’t suit my temperament at all), but the bottom of the elevator shaft where I wind up after a crash is just no help at all. It seems a pretty steep price to have to pay for the highs, which in my case are rarely that high, all things considered. Still, I suppose I can be thankful that I rarely reach rock bottom and wish for death.

I mention this because my mood is a little unstable this morning, owing to the fact that I didn’t realize until late in the afternoon that I had forgotten to take my Abilify yesterday. The side effect is that, even tis early in the morning, my mind is kind of racing and considering lots of possibilities. Some of them are the kinds of possibilities that sometimes lead to me making stupid mistakes.

The thing about Bipolar Disorder is, you don’t look at stupid mistakes the way you might when you’re feeling more stable. You don’t call them stupid mistakes at all, at least to yourself. You see them as Adventures. It’s Something New To Do. It’s Exciting. So you make the upcoming album a double album just to get ALL of the old songs out there; you paint the nude model with abstract patterns and then photograph her against matching backgrounds; you imagine that hippy art commune you’ve been fantasizing about all these years, and start to wonder who you would have to recruit to make it happen without you getting rich first and bankrolling the whole thing yourself; you start to wonder what life in other cities would be like; you start lots of stuff with every intention of finishing all of it, if time and opportunity permit. And you refuse to consider that The Crash might be approaching. When you’re manic, you don’t let anything get its claws into you if you can help it.

I once drew a 24 Hour Comic that featured my alter ego running down a wooded road, where he imagined the trees were trying to devour him. It’s an apt description of what it’s like to be Bipolar and unmedicated. Like Don Quixote or the Fisher King, you imagine dark forces moving to tear you down and bury you in despair. When you’re Bipolar, its not paranoid conspiracies that fuel your fear but the very real brain chemistry reminding you that you can’t stay on top of the world forever. Sometimes you have no choice but to retreat or fall over the edge. If the realisation manifests itself in some pretty crazy behaviour or extreme and perhaps unpleasant denial, thats’ just how Bipolar People deal.

My sister, who refuses to concede she’s Bipolar, has some pretty fabulous highs and is great at marshalling herself to keep the high times rolling as long as possible, but she’s had a few stellar crashes that she’s been very careful to keep private, so no one knows what they’re looking at isn’t a perpetual motion machine. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m projecting my illness onto her behaviour unnecessarily. Or maybe it is denial and she fears messing with her manic highs by trying to medicate and stabilize. She’s done a pretty excellent job over the years of not falling to pieces the way I have on a few occasions. Neither of us has had a breakdown (yet), but I often worry for her because she refuses the safety net.

My friend Kristine has been working on a really great piece of music called The Dark City, which she says is a kind of combination of Tony Banks (natch) and Jean Michel Jarre. I hear a lot of Vangelis in it as well. Very Blade Runner. Very cool. I wish I were working on it with her, because I’d dearly love to put some vocals, bass and guitar on there, but it doesn’t really need my input; the piece is already in good shape without me. If she asks, I’ll do it, though. It’s her best piece yet, and I’d dearly love to be a part of it.

I recorded some vocals for one of her previous pieces, which cast me in the role of singing an R&B inflected ballad. Then I added some bass, which she wasn’t as keen on. I may take another stab at that bass line in the next few weeks, but it’s going to be hard with my already-tight recording schedule.

I was also hoping to get her to play some clarinet for one of my tracks, but I’m so far behind on that piece, I don’t see finding time to send her a melody to record. I’ll probably just improvise something on keys and live with the fact that it won’t sound as convincing as a real clarinet performance. I may have to live with a number of less than truly convincing performances on this album. My sister can’t find time to record my flute parts for me. I may axe the track that is crying for flute the most. I’d rather wait for her to find her part and release the song then. Derrick thinks it would sound more authentic if I just recorded a recorder part instead. I would almost say penny-whistle, but he may be right about the recorder. Too bad my friend Dawn McKechnie doesn’t play anymore. She was a great recorder player.

But another piece, Old Man Saturn, has numerous instrumental segments that need different instrumental treatments. I hear violin, cello, piano, woodwinds, a string quartet, perhaps even a string ensemble… there are five separate, short instrumental sections, and each section requires a different arrangement. I’m still thinking about it, as the notes I made are kind of spurious and non-cemented. I was considering a section featuring lead guitar, but the more I think about it, the more I think that a rocked up segment would require some reworking of the drums and bass for that segment, and then it wouldn’t fit with the rest of the song as well. The song has this grand Flamenco vibe, and a rocked up section would kind of put it in Stairway to Heaven/Bohemian Rhapsody territory, against which it might suffer by comparison. The temptation is strong, but without a proper drum performance, I’m not sure it would come off, and as well, I’d probably have to edit a longer rock section into the song after the fact, by tacking a jam onto the end of the established track and then cut and pasting the jam into the right section on my computer.

As you can tell, I’m pretty gabby this morning. No idea when I’ll get to post this, or even if I will.

Listening to Mike Rutherford’s Acting Very Strange album, which I’m amused to find I’d forgotten how much I liked. It’s not as well-conceived as Smallcreep’s Day, but some of the tracks are excellent. The problem is, my copy of the album has a glitch in the title track (a song I very much like), which means I can’t listen to that song from start to finish, because it just skips to the next track about half way through. I really can’t afford to go out and buy a new copy right now, and my original copy was stolen from my apartment over a decade ago (along with 49 other CDs, my beloved Alesis SR-16 drum machine, my cheesy Yamaha PSR-7 keyboard, and Dori/Derrick’s Kawai K-1 synth), and I’ve never had the opportunity to replace it, so I can’t rerip it and listen to the song properly. I’d forgotten how much I like A Day To Remember, Halfway There and I Don’t Wanna Know, especially, and probably mostly because of the great drums, which I seem to recall Stewart Copeland was involved in, for some reason. Even Maxine has a great little middle 8, though the rest of the song is a bit weak for my tastes. Couldn’t Get Arrested is just goofy. Who’s Fooling Who is alright, though not brilliant, and the horns are a bit more gratuitous than in Halfway There. And Hideaway is a bit more syrupy than should probably be allowed, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for it.

There you go: a mini album review, just for you. Enjoy.

Time to wrap up, or I’ll never stop writing. The post is already over 2K long. I still owe folks a review of season two of Out With Dad, but can’t do until I get internet access again. It’ll probably have to wait until after the album is finished in any case. Should probably do a couple of movie reviews for Rod as well. Soon…

Thanks for reading.

Your Gabby Uncle Eddie.

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.

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