Month: September 2013

ursula

In February 2002, I met two of my long-time FM DJ heroes, Vin Scelsa and Pete Fornatale, though a producer with whom I was working, Bill Kollar. Pete hosted the radio program “Mixed Bag” and Vin hosted “Idiot’s Delight,” first on WNEW and then on WFUV in New York City. Vin told Pete that he wanted to put together a show where he would play a song about a woman’s name for every letter in the alphabet, but that he was “stuck on the U.” Pete told Bill, who suggested a) the name should be Ursula and b) that I should write the track.

I wrote a little tribute to Usrsula Andress from “Dr. No,” conjuring myself as a former-kid-with-a-crush discovering her action figure at auction. Bill loved the demo, but Vin’s show never materialized and I never recorded the track for real. As fate then turned, things got real quiet for me on all fronts right after that, friendships vaporized into the ether and the demo sat in a hard drive on a shelf in my studio for 11 years.

After Pete Fornatale passed away last year, I decided to lay this down once and for all. This is dedicated to him, and to Vin and Bill, who are still around doing what they do, all of us forever connected by these sound waves.

ursula, i can’t be in love with you
even though you’re famous now, even though I knew you once, just as

ursula, you were such a lucky girl
got paid to collect shells, you were never gonna fail

but you’re just a reflection
of everything
we used to be

you’re a figurine, a die-cast figurine
who made the men blue and all the women green
and now you’re up for bid as a figurine

ursula, you were not from my time
but you were more than a tight bikini, in the middle of a spy movie starring

ursula, i can’t love you anymore
even though you stole that scene, even though you’re a pin-up queen

[ch]
[solo]

ursula, i’ve grown away from you
that was another me, you’re not a woman to call my own

you’re just a reflection
of everything
we used to be

you’re a figurine, a die-cast figurine
you made the men blue and all the women green
and you’re covered in cinema sheen

you’re a figurine
‘cause all the men are blue
and cinema’s so sheen
so now you’re up for bid as a figurine
you’re up for bid

dreamy solace of rivers and bridges [disquiet0088-3d]

PROCESS
Headphones required.

The melody is 5 patterns repeated 3 times on a guitar, played live with a touch of boost, delay and reverb.

The rhythm is built from a royalty-free drum construction kit for ACID called “Black Paint Weathered Beat.” There’s a 1-measure intro and a 4-measure pattern, and both repeat 3 times. Track runs at 79.582 BPM, which yielded three 5-measure sections + a couple beats for a fade-out in exactly 1:30.

The drones are pads from a dug-out-of-a-drawer BOSS DR-5 played through an octave generator, delay and reverb. The drone has 6 parts, each recorded separately then assembled in ACID into a pattern that repeats 3 times. The 3D section in the end splits the drones into 2 tracks – one with the I and V, the other with the II, III, VI and majVII parts. It’s meant to swirl like a river.

Mixed/Mastered in ACID. “3D” achieved via manipulation of volume, pan and VST reverb parameters. To try to simulate distance, the on-board reverb’s Dry, Wet, Early Out and High Attenuation Frequency were given separate envelopes across respective tracks. There wasn’t much plan to it – I set automation levels until something in each section felt like motion. Since I was never going to achieve any kind of 5.1 or surround thing with my rig, I just tried to keep it simple.

And pretty.

KEY / TUNINGS
D
Standard tuning, 1/2 step down (my usual M.O.), capo 3 (“C” chord form for D key).…

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