Sunday 30 May 2010

Fetchez la vache

Sadly, technical gremlins got in the way of the planned completion yesterday of the remix for the re-release of our first album, Goodbye to the Age of Steam. Rob ('you're paying me less than the minimum wage for this') Aubrey and Andy worked on until the early hours, but were unable to get it finished. Still, significant progress was made and we should be able to get things tied up with one more session. 

We've suddenly found ourselves with a whole heap of work to complete in the next few months. In addition to the Age of Steam remix, we need to finish off recording and mixing the Far Skies Deep Time EP that we're planning for an autumn release. The EP should come in at 40 minutes plus, so some might call it an album, but for us it's a (rather substantial) hors d'oeuvres (...betcha didn't know I could speak French...) before the release of the English Electric album, which is due in 2011.

And that's the other huge piece of work we need to do, because Nick D'Virgilio is due in England in the winter months and we need to get the whole of the album far enough along to record the
 drum sessions while he's here. So, there is much to keep us occupied.

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to the Age of Steam mixes we have completed. And mighty fine they are sounding, too. As my tweeting suggested yesterday, Age of Steam is a bit of a period piece as we were using many of the keyboard sounds which were fashionable in the early 1990's. By the time we got to 1997's English Boy Wonders, we had stripped things back mostly to guitar, organ and Mellotron, so the 2007 remix for that album allowed us to use the much improved samples of those instruments which are now available.

 For Age of Steam, though, we used a lot of sounds which lock the album into a more specific time frame. One of the decisions we had to take at the start of the remix was whether we should replace those sounds with something we might have used if we were making the album today.

After a bit of soul-searching we decided that we would stick to the orginal sound canvas for the album. This was a challenge in itself, as we no longer own the keyboards that we used back in 1994. And many of the keyboard parts for the album were not on the original 2 inch tapes, so we've had to recreate them using sounds which are as close to the original ones as possible. 

As well as a full remix of the original album, the Age of Steam re-release will feature a couple of bonus tracks. One of these is an extended version of Losing Your Way including a section of music we decided not to use on the album version. The other bonus track is a mashup of the two instrumental tracks on the album recorded by the Big Big Train of 2010 (featuring David on flute and keyboards and Nick on drums.) And of course, we use our current palate of sounds and tastes, so it is possible to get a very direct idea of
how we've changed over the years.

Finally, the new Age of Steam will also feature some beautiful new cover and booklet artwork by Jim Trainer. The original cover painting by Kev Thompson has been lost, so we've asked Jim to do some new artwork and he's turned in a magnificent set of images. 

More news on Age of Steam when we have a release date.    


Anonymous said...

40 minutes? - I'll call that an album, no problem. Looking forward to ordering that and 'Steam.


Test said...

I'm glad you're trying to re-create the original sounds. I've always thought that when remixing you have to keep the same essence and era of the song as it was in it's initial form. If you were to look at remixing it and doing it again as you would today, I believe that then you are creating a new song or album and creating a new time space on which it sits - almost like a cover. Either way is great, guess you just have to choose which one your looking for.

One Final Note:
Big Big Train is amazing!