Official music page and soapbox of Matt Snell

Friday 8 July 2011

The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project: Week VII

(The Two-Headed Hippopotamus on a Bootjack Project is a series of impromptu recordings released on a weekly basis. Click the label at the bottom of the post for more details.)

I finished my seventh entry of twelve today, which means I'm more than half done this experiment. I was on track to finish this week's piece by Wednesday, but the Little Lake Music Festival near my house started up in the afternoon and bled electric blues into my microphone. I was bummed, because I've been drifting over the deadline already. I got a fresh start this morning, and came up with a plan to stay on target - since I started this project May 15, if I can have it finished by July 31st I'll consider myself within the deadline. Kindly ambitious, but I do some of my best work in a panic.

As for the music, I was keen to keep experimenting with overdubbing vocal harmonies, but this week when I tried them against a guitar backdrop it wasn't happening. I started playing the saw over top and found that worked nicely, so I decided to take this week as an opportunity to work on a paired-down arrangement. It peaks at four tracks, but generally I kept it fairly sparse to try and make for more integral performances. That said, it seemed to demand a couple instruments I hardly ever play, and I did my best to oblige. It probably would've turned out better with a couple instrumentalists that aren't me bringing their own thing. Still, I like the chord progression and the mellow feel. My favourite aspect of the Hippopotamus Project so far is the range of genres and atmospheres I've been able to play. Each new piece sounds nothing like the one before, and if that's still the case by week twelve I'll consider it a success.

I was going to call this one "Xtabay," because when I made up the chords I was trying to write a song about a Yucatecan legend. The Xtabay is a spirit in the guise of a beautiful woman who, depending on the person you ask, either leads men to their deaths, to fairyland, or leaves them crucified naked on a cactus. Then I remembered that Yma Sumac has an album called Voice of the Xtabay, and I decided not to compete. So I'll call this one "Dead Leaves," the only two words from the rejected lyrics that survived. Hope you dig it...

"Dead Leaves"

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