New CD: Labyrinth

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Labyrinth – Behind The Songs

If you heard us play any of these songs at gigs throughout the last year or so, you'll no doubt recall some of Tony's chat as he introduces the songs. Here's a version for the blog.

Wisdom of the Elders Inspired by a David Suzuki book, this 80's pop/rock driven piece reflects on environmental issues and human conflict. 

Carry me home: There's a few "firsts" with this song. Firstly it's the first published song for Chris and it's also the first collaboration between Tony and Chris - and it's a Country tune, definitely a first for all of us! 

March right in: Tony's love/hate relationship with his Sociology degree spawned this funk driven tune. This one's got a rather experimental section after the keyboard solo - big on bass, wah and crazy synth! 

Soul mates: Ian's work has taken him interstate for long periods and an evening of really missing his lovely wife delivered the inspiration for Soul Mates. This song actually dates back a few years to a time when our bass player (before Pat or Ivan) loved funk. Pat loves a funky bass line too and delivers the goods on this.

Key of Life:  A beautiful and reflective ballad with a simple message - and some ripping guitar. Definitely a band favourite! The other very special thing about this song is the use of the triangle - just one delicately played "ting" by Stu at just the right moment. See if you can find it.

Charlie: Tony's got a young son and as devoted Dad has spent lots of time watching kids movies. In this case "Up" seems to have found its way into this song - drawing inspiration for our kids, that's cool!

Mu Theory: Another first here, the first whole band collaboration. Tony liked a bass riff from one of Ian's demos and we took it from there. The whole Mu Theory project and band name is about our collective love of the legendary band Steely Dan. The Mu reference is to how they named a chord they loved. Ian whipped up the lyrics from a Wiki page on Steely Dan, Tony found a melody, Pat jazzed up the bass line, Stu injected a crazy drum solo and Chris, Tony and Ian worked out the chords.

Labyrinth: Ah... the mighty Labyrinth, our progressive rock debut and the song we targeted as the title track - once we convinced ourselves we could play it. Which we did! The first live performance at Gertrude's Brown Couch was a solid 8/10 and after that we knew it was in. Ian's the prog-head in the band and this is Tony's tribute to the era, let us know if you like it, we might tackle another.  Labyrinth is great fun to play and quite a challenge with at least 6 different sections.

As the inspiration for the cover, we also had a fantastic time finding and briefing a local artist for the illustration. Chris and Ian met up with Alex ( at the Fox Hotel for a beer and unloaded our ideas. The next few weeks yielded a series of concept sketches as Alex homed in on our needs. Lots of decisions; day, night, space, swords, staffs, colours, you name it. It's fair to say we are all blown away by the result and quietly amazed that we actually did this. Alex is a great local talent - thanks mate!   

Friday, 17 May 2013

Ian's track by track breakdown of the keys used on Labyrinth:

Three keyboards were used for the Labyrinth Album,  Korg Stage Vintage (SV) for the electric piano sound,  Korg Kronos synthesiser for all organ, lead and string sounds plus the Oaklands Productions 7' Yamaha Grand piano.
  • Wisdom of the Elders: Wurlitzer Electric Piano on the SV with a Harpsichord on the Kronos and also a Mellotron vintage string part on the Kronos
  • Carry Me Home: Hammond organ on the Kronos with Yamaha Grand
  • March Right In: Clavichord on the SV with a layered synth sound on thre Kronos
  • Soul Mates: Yamaha Grand plus a Kronos synth sound reminiscent of ELP
  • Key Of Life: Fender Rhodes Electric Piano layered with some strings on the SV an a mix of vintage string and synth sounds on the Kronos
  • Charlie: Rhodes EP on the SV with Strings and Harmonica on the Kronos
  • Mu Theory: Rhodes EP
  • Labyrinth: Hammond Organ and various sound effects and synths on the Kronos, Yamaha grand piano

Friday, 22 February 2013

Recording the second CD

Ian’s reflections on the CD recording session.

I suppose back when I was a teenager I must have harboured ambitions to play and record music like my rock idols, but you park those things for study, work and family. Sometimes for a long time, for some it’s forever. For me it was about 30 years, but in 2001 a rather amazing lady encouraged me to pursue my dreams of playing music – this recording is result of that – thanks Lesley.

In fact this was our second recording as Mu Theory and for me a very rewarding experience. Given the limited time that our work and family commitments allow us to devote to Mu Theory we really work hard to maximise the time we have together, even more so in the studio where we pay for the privilege. From the beginning of 2012 we wrote, rehearsed and gigged the tracks for this album and by December it was time to book the studio. We’d played the entire album live by then and felt pretty confident of nailing it in the studio.

Returning to Oaklands Productions after about 22 months was just fantastic. To put the quality of this studio in perspective, we were recording a day after Anthony Callea and the 7’ Yamaha studio grand piano had been tuned the day before for “Mr Collea’s pianist”.  Well, Mr Brewin’s pianist was also a beneficiaryJ.  To play a great piano in an amazing room makes you feel a million dollars and just brings out something extra. Hearing that replayed in the studio control room is also pretty cool.

We were also lucky to have some mates with video cameras come along and help record the day – Tony’s mate Thom and my mate GT. We’ll thank them properly and on the CD cover.

The title track of this album is “Labyrinth”, written by Tony and inspired by my love of 70s progressive rock. Thanks Tony it’s a ripper tune and quite an ego trip for us to be able to play such a complex piece. Once we’d finally plucked up the courage to play it live we knew the studio session would be easy, mind you hours of practise helped too! The intro section of Labyrinth uses classical guitar and flute and we wanted a real flute player for the recording. Through as series contacts we were lucky enough to get Ron Anderson to play for us. We’d only communicated with Ron by email and phone and just sent him an MP3 and some hand written notes – it was amazing to watch/hear him just walk in and nail the part! Thanks Ron.

I think the truly great thing about the sessions was just how relaxed and pleasant the whole time was, we make music for fun and the opportunity to record it properly is one to seize and enjoy as much as you can – we did that! Recording the first album was fun too, but the experience that gave us came through as additional planning and confidence this time and we were well rewarded with a very smooth session – not in the least due to Prasheen Naran, a rather amazing young audio engineer.

So aside from the time it takes to write the songs and do our individual practise here’s an estimate of what it took to produce the album:
-          About 50 hours of face to face rehearsal time
-          About the same again in travel and setup/pack up time
-          Close to 6 whole days for gigs
-          Maybe 50-60 hours mixing our gig and rehearsal recordings
-          20 hours in the studio
Wow, that adds up to nearly a month over the year – but very pleasurable and rewarding month!
Perhaps we’ll head off to a chateau in France or Switzerland for the next one J


Friday, 19 October 2012

The Next CD

It's been quite a year, we've added Pat on the bass and he's learned the old album, a bunch of covers and re-learned a few from Tony's CD. So far we've played live 5 times - a new record and during the year 8 songs have been written and rehearsed. At our last gig we played 6 of them and the last rehearsal firmed up the remaining 2.

Looking forward to rehearsal this Sunday, Tony and I did a run through tonight on the intro to song 8 (a mighty prog inspired epic) and we can't wait to take this bunch of songs into the studio.


Song Contest

A local CD pressing company Replicat has been running a song contest with recording related prizes for the last few years - this is our first attempt.

We've taken New Place from our CD and used a live performance from Gertrude's Brown Couch as the submission. Attempts to synch the CD audio to the live video we're 100% successful, so we went with the less pristine audio version from the live show, it's a nice performance though and initial comments from other musicians suggest the song is likely to be well received.

I had a sobering experience at work this week when 7 out to 7 people I asked to vote (via Facebook) said they didn't use it!

Here's the link
You need to log into Facebook, vote and share.

Wish us luck, the 2nd CD is getting closer and it would be great to win a prize like "free replication".

Anyway, having fun.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Photo from The Fox

Trying out the new Panorama mode on the iPhone. I don't recall my mate Bruce (left) having 3 eyeballs before:)