Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Abduction of Jane Doe

Ascent's newest recording is The Abduction of Jane Doe.    It's likely the creepiest, most guitar-heavy song we've ever recorded together.   We've been playing this song live all summer, and we're excited about the positive reaction it's been getting. 

Christina wrote the words, a dark story inspired by the many "true crime" shows she watches, and maybe the movie "The Lovely Bones."   It's all a bit scary! When I first looked at the words, I wanted to write something that would be a cyclical repeating riff, to sound like running away or a heart racing.  

I came up with the 5/8 guitar riff by banging away at the piano until I found something I liked.   I didn't really intend for it be in five, it just came that way.   The song stays in 5/8 or 5/4, depending on your perspective, the whole time.   My favorite part is the second guitar riff that sounds like it might be in 6/8, but it's actually in 5/8.  Again, not intentional, but it works.  Underneath that riff, I'm playing a syncopated pattern on the ride cymbal, potentially confusing the ear further.   That part was on purpose!   But the amazing thing is, it all holds together as a nice groove, and you can dance to it!   (No, really.   I have documented proof of people dancing to this song at two different shows this year). 

It was an especially daunting (and welcome) challenge as a songwriter to be given lyrics for the chorus that just say "Oh No!"   This is not something that naturally inspires melody!     For the longest time, I kept trying to write something that sounded like it should be on an early Black Sabbath record.     It wasn't going to work.  I eventually returned to endless noodling on the piano to come up with the chords and melody you hear.    Christina's "sweet spot" as a singer has inched ever higher, and I formulated the melody to take advantage of that.  In the end, the song is a very effective collaboration between Christina and me.    I would never have written the music if she hadn't written these words.   And the words are intriguing and draw you in.  

The piano sound I sampled from a toy piano Christina's friend bought at a thrift store, long before the song was written.   I sampled each of the keys on the piano and loaded the samples into my HandSonic, thinking the sound would eventually be useful for something.   I mixed the sound together slightly with a marimba sound to improve the tone.  It felt like the right instrument to set the mood for this ominous song.     I've been playing that part on the HandSonic at gigs, and I played it on HandSonic on this recording. 


The drums were recorded in our living room.   Returning to recording live drums after using solely electronics for our last CD has been an adventure in trial and error when it comes to mixing and mic placement, but I'm happy with it.   I'm learning to enhance the right frequencies, eliminate the bad ones, and add the right kinds of compression.   I don't remember if I mentioned I got a new snare drum earlier this year, a Tama S.L.P. G-Bubinga wood snare.  I love it.   I've finally given up on the brass snare I played for 30 years!   The tone is so much easier to record.

As for the guitar, Christina kept pushing me to make it sound heavier, thicker, crunchier.   It's an exciting change for us.  We're just not that polite coffeeshop  act anymore!   Well, at least not all the time.

We hope you like the recording and would love to hear your comments.