Track 1: Those who Dwell Beneath
The melody for this track was originally recorded by Jordan in 1998 in Hanover, PA. The music has seen two full incarnations before this one, which came about after transcribing the tune into Reason, for a change in perspective. We had re-recorded a higher fidelity take of the acoustic guitar melody in '99, and the middle section was recorded at our studio in the loft in Spring Grove, PA, Matt playing guitar, Jordan the acoustic bass. In 2002, while living in Shrewsbury, Matt produced the rest of the elements encompassing the melody, with plenty of input from Jordan.
Not counting the multitracking that was mixed down before the final mix, there are fourteen tracks.
Track 2: Farthing Candle
This is another melody that goes back to 1998, which has seen many different incarnations before reaching this version of the track. There were probably four rough sketches of this track, played in four different styles, before settling on the version here, which saw revision right up until the wrap-up of the CD. Jordan performs on the electric guitar several times over, with programming and production by Matt.
Track 3: Fracture
This song was written almost entirely in a matter of four hours. It appeared on our demo EP, "Drawn by a Still." The original idea we had was to bang out an EP, and then remix and rework the songs into fuller versions for a follow-up EP. However, Jordan was very prolific, and there are still several hours worth of songs that are either finished or await further work. While generally similar to the version that appeared on the EP, it was re-mixed and re-produced from the ground up using the original material. 11 tracks total, Jordan plays all acoustic guitar, except during the slide guitar section, on a slightly out of tune Fender Stagemaster.
Track 4: Haiku Song
Jordan created this track on a softsynth for Windows called Dreamstation, back in 1999. Matt wasn't real keen on it for a few years, but it really grew on him, and it added some unusual variety to the line-up of this album. There are some sixteen different synthesizers running during the song, which basically just changes key.
Track 5: By Fits and Snatches
Recorded in Spring Grove, PA in 2001, the syncopation of the melody was rather difficult for Jordan to latch on to at first. Really, the acoustic guitar line is a loop, which later Jordan recorded the improvisational bits over. Matt introduced the glitchy beat later as a nice contrast to the very clean, acoustic core of the song. Later Matt contributed the basslines via his Ibanez X-Series bass, and with Reason. This song only has about eight tracks going for it.
Track 6: Man without shadow
In response to the looped, trancey nature of the debut EP, Matt had asked Jordan to try writing tracks that changed more, and Jordan returned a CD in 2002 with this melody, which begged for immedeate attention. Jordan heard two different versions of the track, one which was slower and in free time, and another more upbeat version of it. Originally this track was just the guitar and the bassline, but Melissa offered to play some violin over it. Now the violin commands this four track version of the song.
Track 7: Ruined Root and Branch
Another commanding line, this almost got a much faster beat, but after stumbling across some old samples he'd been meaning to use for a while, Matt realized this sounded much better with a slower rhythm. The drums are actually from a nice stereo recording of Jordan, Matt, and Tony Topper kicking the hell out of a giant Peavey mixer in Jordan's backyard in 1999. The sliding kick drum is actually the sound of the mixer hitting the ground and sliding down the snow! It proved difficult to get a good tone for this track on the electric guitars, so in 2003, Jordan re-recorded the guitar line on our Harmony acoustic guitar, and it brought in much needed sonic depth to the song. Not accounting for previous mixdowns of synths & drums and the like, this song had about sixteen tracks.
Track 8: Man with Shadow
Revisiting track six, Matt had Jordan play the whole song through with four different guitar and amp combinations in order to get the morphing dynamic of the tone. We worked long and hard on getting the right drum sound for this, or as close as we could get to live drumming via Reason, anyhow. The middle section also posed a challenge, as it was originally was a free time, descending tempo line played on a much softer guitar. The flow of the song seemed to get washy at that point, so Matt had Jordan try playing it at the tempo of the rest of the song, and Jordan nailed it one take. Matt imported Melissa's sheet music from the violin parts for the earlier incarnation of the track and had a synth play the line in the second half of the song. The song was recorded in Shrewsbury PA in 2002 and in Columbia, PA in 2003.
Track 9: Because I Could Not Stop...
On a really early version of the Tears for Agnes website, Matt had combined some of the recordings of water taken he and Jordan had made for "Drawn by a Still," and had them fade in over a very lo-fi version of this melody. The original take having been recorded using a computer mic right next to the computer, it had been compressed to MP3, recorded to minidisc, back to a computer, and recompressed into MP3. We decided to re-record it shortly after compiling and releasing "Drawn by a Still," in January 2002. The track was very open to overdubbing, and a four-synth drone and acoustic bass line was recorded for the track initially. In 2003, Jordan recorded some additional guitar drones to add further texture to the track. In 2004, Matt asked Jordan if there was something more he wanted to add to the track, and Jordan came up with the fantastic beginning/end part right on the spot. Melissa had recorded a vocal test track in 2003, but did not finish the full recording until the middle of 2004. The final version of the song has eighteen tracks.
Track 10: Downside
In 2001 at Matt's apartment in Spring Grove, Jordan was downstairs with a beat Matt programmed on the Korg ER-1, playing this guitar line through a cheap crate amp. Wanting to capture the song for later re-recording, Matt just dangled the Octava 319 mic over the edge of the loft and did a long take, walking around and making some percussive noises that were later cut out (the door slamming shut is still in there though.) Later, Jordan came upstairs and we recorded it directly from Tony's mixer into the Delta 1010. Later we overdubbed Jordan playing the overdubs on the Harmony acoustic guitar. It was released on "Drawn by a Still," pretty much just guitar and ER-1. Melissa, still in Australia at the time, had a copy of the track that she recorded violin parts for, exchanged over the internet. Now the old version sounds especially empty. The drums were re-recorded for this take, and the whole thing was generally re-mixed.
Track 11: Stasis
Recorded entirely by Jordan in Hanover PA in 1999 after staying up all night, saved to disk just before he had to dash off to work, this track is meant to be minimalist. We almost lost it, as Jordan didn't have a CD burner at the time, and had converted the track to MP3, recorded it to minidisc, then to tape, then back to minidisc... the fidelity was awful! However, a copy of the original MP3 was discovered, and nursed back from fidelity hell. This track opened "Drawn by a Still," but we wanted to include it on this album as well for those who didn't get that EP.
Track 12: Tir na Nog
Originally two or three tracks of acoustic guitar recorded in 2001, Matt tried to transcribe some of the improv stuff to synth, and upon failing, left it in anyway. There was a version at one point with more complex drums, but they really didn't suit the song, so we went back to the loop, originally used as a metronome.
Track 13: A Love to Live For
The end of Shui brings a return to the loopy minimalism found on Drawn by a Still. Jordan played this guitar line in Columbia in late 2003, and everyone in the room just really liked the vibe of it. Matt put a simple electro beat together to serve as a metronome, and Jordan suggested adding a few specific notes on synth, and we just let it loop. There was at one point a fourteen minute long version of this song. Jordan did some improvisation on guitar overtop of the repeating back melody, and Melissa played about an hour's worth of piano overtop this track as it looped. Some extra synth parts were later overdubbed, but the repitition was probably a little much for something on an album, as opposed to a meditation tape or whatever. In 2004, Matt recorded new parts on acoustic and electric guitar, and tried some other drum sections out. Anything more than a simple beat really took away from the relaxed feel of the song though, so we kept the original loop. Sometime in May or June 2004, Jordan came to Columbia and recorded the guitar for what is now the end. Which is good because Matt really had no idea how to wrap the song up.
Track 14: At Home in a Distant Land
Ryan Shorb and Jordan Smith recorded this track live in 1999, after much practice. A slightly longer, wetter version appeared on Drawn by a Still.
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released August 18, 2005
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