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Practice Report – Waves A-Comin’!!

November 17th, 2009 No comments

Another great practice tonight, with some big steps forward in solidifying the new songs. As per our usual, we started out with Rumble as a warm up – The Drumbuie has deep, tribal lovings for starting out with Link Wray’s 4-chord masterpiece, and who am I to argue with such blatantly superior logic?! – and then kicked into Can’t See the Loris From the Trees. Loris has officially grown up, left the strepsirrhine embrace of its family and is now scavenging for insects on its own. We’re now in the phase of finding small, individual tweaks to further polish things up. For my part, I’m trying to work an occasional double-pick flurry in here and there, and I recently acquired a delay pedal (analogue, natch!) that’s found sparing-but-effective use in a brief interlude – I just set the knobs to replicate the signature echoes of the Olduvai Gorge, stomp it on and let my phalanges do the talking!

The spaghetti-laden madness that is Butch Cassowary and the Sundance Echidna is also coming into its full cigarillo-chomping glory and we Surfians are loving it. This is currently my favorite song to play, partially because it has that just-dug-out-of-the-archaeological-dig-site freshness to it, and partially because of the orchestration it has; The song exists in four different tempos, so we rely heavily on feeling the dynamics between the three of us as the mood takes different turns. The really interesting bit is that by chance none of the shifts are set by the Drumbuie – two are marked by the Chilean, and two by my own simian self. Orchestral music is the obvious parallel, but it reminds me more of the old bluesmen like John Lee Hooker who completely threw meter out the window and would shift tempos mid-song into whatever best fit the mood of the passage. Knowing the rules to break ’em, and all that.

It also doesn’t hurt that the song kicks all kinds of rainbow mandrill posterior!

We spent some time grooving through the soon-to-be-named original. Pretty straightforward – The Drumbuie and the Chilean are locked in and solid, so no major changes there. I think I’ve worked out the timing issues on the short solo in the middle, I just have to reach a quorum with my hands as to what exactly is going to happen. The biggest thing is that, with the final arrangement locked down, this might be our shortest original yet. We haven’t timed it, but as written I’m guessing it’ll clock in around 2:30 or so – about average by traditional surf standards, but way undercut for us. We’re totally fine with that, by the way – a little cladogenesis can go a long way!

On the Process of Tri-nomial Nomenclature: We get a lot of laughs and questions about our song titles, so I thought I’d venture a quick aside to give all you surf fans a look inside our process. Through continued, various bouts of verbal parrying, quip and portmanteau we have amassed a list of nearly 300 song titles that’s still growing. One of us will come across an article regarding a new species, a prehistoric find or anything related to the natural sciences, fire it around and immediately it becomes fodder for the title list. With some songs, the initial melody or concept is distinct enough to warrant a name right away (the aforementioned Butch Cassowary, for instance), while others are much tougher to nail down. The last of this recent batch of originals has been one such tough customer – it has a very distinct groove and feel, but it doesn’t archetype at all and hasn’t made an obvious title grab to any of us yet. After practice tonight, we sat down and really gave the list a working-over, and the title that rose to the top was To Zaire is Human. As long as all three of us agree – we very much work off the Musketeers principle when it comes to band decisions – then the Kilbass etches the title in the records of our people and we begin the long, slow process of remembering to call the song by its newly-acquired name.

And that’s how an Australosurfecus song gets its name!

The real work for tonight’s session was in finally rocking through The Apes of Wrath, which has become a monsoon-caliber example of percussion done powerfully right. Having set down the rough arrangement at our previous practice, we dove into stitching it all together and working out the transitions between segments. The song was written with drums in mind – a bit of a throwback to The Ventures’ Let There Be Drums – so the guitar/bass stuff is very modular and can be chopped, arranged and combined in any number of ways. The result? If you’re a fan of percussion, particularly the tribal-flavored variety, I don’t see how you won’t love it to toe-tapping pieces, and if you happen to be indigenous to the forested depths of greater Congo as is our Drumbuie, you should feel right at home.

To finish the night out, we played through Walk Don’t Run, just to remind our digits how to digitize it, and Invasion of the Dragonmen, just because it’s way more fun than you should be allowed to have in 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

All of this will hopefully have us riptide rollin’ and ready for our gig on Dec. 16th.

“What was that?” you say? “A gig on December 16th?!

‘Tis rumored, ‘tis true… Check back for a formal announcement, straight from the Sapien’s mouth, right after the Thanksgiving holiday!

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