recording season

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The winter winds are strong. Tonight so strong that my neighbor’s car alarm keeps going off when the winds rattle it. Last night so strong they woke me when they whistled through the window. I was dreaming I was sitting in front of the recording computer, tracking vocals, the way Eric and I did for eleven days straight last week. In the beginning of spring, when I spend all of the bright hours of my day digging in the dirt, I go to sleep and dream of digging in the dirt. Then I wake up and do it all over again. When it’s soap season I dream of soap. Now it’s recording season, and I dream of recording. Last night I dreamed I was listening back to one of my vocal tracks when it woke me up. It is a strange sensation to be awoken by the sound of your own voice that is actually not your voice at all but the wind mocking you through the cracks in your windows. I had to put my earplugs in so I could fall back to sleep.

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Recording music is like scuba diving, in that you use limited senses while doing both. When you scuba dive most of your body is covered by a wetsuit. The rest is so overstimulated by water that you quickly feel nothing at all and your sense of touch numbs. The first color you lose when you dive in deep waters is red, followed by orange. The deeper you go the fewer colors in the spectrum you can see. You can’t smell or taste anything. And auditorily all there is is the sound of bubbles and the hiss of your own breath from the oxygen tank. You become super aware of what senses are left. The clank of a fellow diver on an oxygen tank, the subtleties of color in fish and coral, the pockets of warm and cool water pressing on what flesh is exposed. Recording music feels like scuba diving in that you isolate yourself from certain senses and then the others become hyper-attuned. You notice slight changes in tone, pitch, and tempo the same way you begin to pick up on three different shades of blue on a fish. When you are perfectly weighted in scuba diving you should be able to raise and lower yourself in the water simply by inhaling or exhaling. The first time I did this I felt like I was flying. I came upon a coral reef straight ahead of me. Instead of swimming up over it, I took a deep breath and suddenly found myself soaring over it. When you are tuned in, locked in, in the zone of recording -making music feels like breathing in and soaring.

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I had a moment last week, after Eric and I had gone deep into a session and had been going deep for days. I hadn’t left the house in about a week. We knew it was warm out because the rhododendron leaves were laying flat in the sunshine. Eric came into the parlor, he’d been outside doing a chore we’d put off until better weather. “You’ve got to come out and see the sunset,” he told me. So I took off my headphones and followed him outside. When I stepped out the door I felt a sensation I’d only felt once before in my life: when Eric and I emerged on the surface of the ocean after our first intense scuba dive. The sun was setting and glowed orange and pink. The colors shimmered and sparkled on the surface of the water. I hadn’t seen those colors in hours, and somehow seeing them at that moment when I emerged from beneath the sea, I understood what being born felt like. Stepping out into the sunset that night after recording I felt the same way. Like I’d forgotten how vast the sky was. How golden the light. What it felt like to hear silence. To breathe and move and look around with all of your periphery. The feeling of being grateful for the moment, and then the feeling that all you want is to slip back into the depths. And so you do.

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