Nice Niche Part 1: The Sweetest Sound

Our dominant culture defines privilege by money and stuff. That we recognize the fundamental wonkiness of this belief system, does not keep us from conforming to it. Yet, direct opposition feeds validity to our foe. Better we transcend the arbitrary barrier, flip the illusion, and expose it for the smoke and mirrors that it is.

We can convince ourselves anything convenient is true. The treachery of words is that we can explain our rationalizations and make sense, but when we try to explain real things, beautiful things, words are, too often, inadequate. Our listeners must leap the gaps of meaning between each uttered syllable—when they can, it’s the hallmark of a kindred soul.

As a writer, I’m in constant battle against entropy. Every experiment of phrase and clause is about getting closer to the dark matter, that intangible force which surrounds and structures everything we sense but can only approach by apprehending its effects.

For someone like me, the making of music is indistinguishable from magic. It’s an art of expression and interpretation rather than definition.  Music frees us from the tyranny of language and belief.

That’s why I like writing about it and why I said yes when Paul McDaniel asked me to chronicle the development of  Mohr Fire’s Nice Niche catalogue. Paul describes the idea’s nucleus as a collection of world class musicians joining together to work on each other’s projects in exchange for studio time.

The first Nice Niche CD will be Tradition, Tartan, and Tears, a stripped down, all acoustic, collection of Celtic ballads. The foundation of the tracks recorded so far is Gregg Hansen’s tender Celtic guitar and Tamra Hayden’s rich and haunting vocals.

On Friday, my first day observing in the studio, Kailin Yong arrived to record the fiddle parts.  I thought I heard him incorrectly when he said he wasn’t familiar with the songs they’d be working on.  I had not.

Listen, play, bow silk-sliding over strings, listen, hum, play–this was Kailin learning “Rare Auld Times.” His eyes closed imaging (I imagine), not just the notes of his instrument, but the way they will intermittently intertwine, escape, and embellish Tamra’s vocals and Gregg’s guitar.

Two takes later, and Kailin has floated a cloud of wistful dreaming over the song’s bittersweet memories of Dublin’s past. Gusty Christensen, Mohr Fire’s  sound engineer, tells him. “Man, you have one sweet sound.”

Kailin nods, “I cut back on sugar; the music sweetens to compensate.”

Check in Wednesday for more about  Kialin’s session in Nice Niche Part 2: An Exquisite Privilege.

This entry was posted in Music & Sound, Music (recording), Ompholos, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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