It was the first session I can remember where everything came together and we were were truly in a flow where everyone was firing on all cylinders.
Herding cats, the usual experience when working with musicians who are asked to extend beyond the norm, gave way to each musician actively working to come up with interesting sounds on the spot. I think it had to do with Ian and Nils having been with me on two previous sessions in close succession, working with musicians who didn’t quite get it.
My work in arranging sessions often about being a disruptor, to generate something new. But this time the other musicians were ahead of the curve. It was also a moment of flux, personally and politically.
One session member was facing his own personal identity crisis, which only became clear afterward. I had personally spent five months on Boracay during closure, which was a pretty good dress rehearsal for a pandemic lockdown. Minus the unifying health mission of fighting a disease.
As for the music? With Ian Joseph leading the charge on guitar and Nils Sens on drums, songs go from solidly executed to pretty rough in a matter of minutes. That is the nature of ad lib material and what some would see as a detriment I see as a strength.
I don’t get bored listening to Dylan, Marley, Hendrix, or a number of jazz musicians 50 years later because of that off-the-cuff, lightning in a bottle quality. If you get the zeitgeist right, a lot of technical failings are forgiven. Wonder Woman has a lot of soul and something of early Motown at its roots, if I was to categorize.
Most important to me, the lyrics are extemporaneous, part of the fabric concept when the vibe is right. Some would say anyone can do that. But I don’t understand myself how I came up with a narrative on the spot that has a beginning and an end, within what seems to me very good musical construct.
All I can say is that when you immerse in something in the moment, and the other musicians choose to join you, there is often the possibility of magic occurring.
There was one set piece of lyric I worked with within the first song:
the improvise of all nations.
Meditations, don't need no medications
sun salutations and all that jazz.
Ball of wax we live on,
ball of wax we given,
and if we give a heart attack
to the earth it's not forgiven.
The Uptown song takes a kernel from Jim Morrison and probably transforms it into something original enough to be considered new. Considering that’s how the Lizard King transmuted the blues on the original, and the noncommercial nature of fabric, I’ll claim authorship. Those who want to debate can listen to The Changeling, or better yet the Aquarius rehearsals, and decide for themselves.
Working with a 1960 Gibson the studio was particularly revelatory and if you hear that old blues guitar sound in the tracks, that’s what holding a piece of history in your hands does.
Incidentally, a rough, no-dub version of Don’t You Leave Me and Uptown are already up on YouTube. The initial sections of the All Fall Down sessions are currently being reimagined and will be released in a month or two as an Avocado Sun side, on toast.