While working on my current project, a revival and recreation of songs I wrote many years ago, the enjoyment has been sporadic so I’ve found it necessary to spur myself on with a few Modest Targets.

Last autumn, as I laid down the guitars, keys and vocals, I had to let go of my assumption that the end result would be unsatisfactory. I was thinking this because the last time I recorded I was fortunate to use 3 great bands and meet 3 great engineers who had 3 great studios. This was in the UK, where I also had a car and some income. Now I’m in Canada, where I know fewer people and I’ve decided to start recording at home, so other people’s energy and expertise are less of a factor, hence the lower expectation. Anyhow, I just decided that the work would be a means of passing the time agreeably instead of a way to achieve an end result.

When 2013 came, I realized it has been 5 years since my last CD, ‘Kill or Cure’, which was launched at a gig in Leeds, UK, on a significant birthday. Seeing as significant birthdays come along every 5 years or so that would mean that I’m having another one this year so that became a motivation for me to strive for completion.

As mentioned in a previous post on this subject, I borrowed a bass guitar and resolved to have working bass parts on all the songs by the time Gare Black came round to add some lead guitar on February 14th. I think of Gare as an ‘ideas man’, and a better lead guitarist than I, so to have his playing on 3 tracks enhanced the music. The day after the session I gave the bass back to its owner, which gave me a shot in the arm.

Most of my bass parts were not keepers so I took my computer and interface round to Alfred Gertler’s house on February 22nd and March 7th. I expected to be recording his double bass acoustically with 2 mics but was happy to follow the method he suggested: he played, without headphones, directly into my system, monitoring himself through a separate amp. He also compressed and limited his signal before it got to my computer, which meant I’ve had to do virtually no sonic adjustment to his bass parts during editing.

On March 12th I went to check out drummer Michael Rosenthal, who was playing in his duo at the Dakota Tavern here in Toronto. They play a style of pop/rock I would call indie, contemporary and urban, whereas the songs I’m working on draw on jazz and folk and were mostly written in the peaceful rural environment where I grew up. However, I can’t wait to find out how Michael’s playing is going to sit with my songs. I’ve set myself the modest target of giving him a CD of 10 rough mixes in 4 days time.

Gare playing his Tele

Gare 14/02/13

me with instruments

Ben 15/02/13

Alfred adds bass

Alfred 23/02/13