Thursday, November 08, 2007

Album update no. 45,362

(Photo by Ting06.)

As you may have surmised by now, the new IJG recording will not "drop" this year. (Boy, do I hate that phraseology, by the way.) This despite my best efforts. Of course, release delays are typical for even a major label effort -- but when your project is indie, snags in the production process may be that much more acute, cuz chances are you're doing almost everything yourself.

Ah well. In our case the issue is twofold. First, "final mixdown" continues to be pushed back because of scheduling conflicts (leaving me more time to tweak and fiddle -- which is fine, but only to a point). And second, as I have gotten deeper into the mixes (thanks to the more or less permanent temptations presented by my paltry excuse for a basement studio), I have revised the, uh, "conceptual core" of the project.

You may recall that I had been referring to this thing as "The Art of the Mix Tape." No more. I did not jettison the title because I no longer like it (who knows, it may still come in handy someday) but because it doesn't really fit the essentially live album that is emerging. The new working title is LEEF (a misappropriation of a Dutch word), for reasons that I'll explain if I actually get to use it (it turns out the Bimhuis folks may want to have some say in what we call the album -- more on that if necessary).

Wait, did I say "several versions"? Yeah, I guess I did. Since I managed to cut the middle man out of the preliminary mixing process, and I don't have to pay someone an hourly fee to "fiddle and tweak," I have the luxury of experimenting with different conglomerations of the material to see what works best. As a result, I still haven't decided if I want this to be a long-ish album (like, over 60 minutes), or a more concise one. And I still haven't decided which tunes to use exactly. And I still haven't decide how live I want it to be. Originally I was planning on using about half of the Bimhuis show, and filling out the rest with studio tracks and "non-live" experiments, plus one or two other segments recorded live elsewhere. But it seems like more bits from Amsterdam keep sneaking in every week. (It's amazing how a decent mix can reveal some magic in performances that I thought were hopelessly flawed.) There are so many possibilities; maybe I'll just have to release 'em all somehow.

Maybe I'm staying so noncommital so late in the process because flexibility seems to be the name of the game these days. I feel the same about the format wars: I'm pretty open to everybody's arguments, and so I'm drawn to releasing a download version of the record for the kids and the iPodders (and a FLAC version for the really hip folks), a CD for the mainstreamers, an LP for the audiophiles, a "director's cut version," some web-only extras, maybe a deluxe DVD-CD pairing that includes higher-quality versions of some of the video currently on YouTube, and so on. Sure, part of me wants to go "exclusively electronic" with the release (bypassing the expensive replication process), but I don't think we're really in a position to do that yet. After all, we're not a huge band, and we need all the audiences we can get. So for now, I think I'm just going to avoid assuming that there will be one definitive version of the record (though I'm sure I'll have my own favorite).

What else? Despite the delays, I'm really excited about this monstrosity. It will be our first release to feature a singer -- and probably the first "official" CD I will ever have made with Ms. Knapp -- Gruel doesn't really count because it was truly DIY, and distributed via CD-R, for crissakes. (I have been making music with this chick for more than 20 years, so it seems crazy that it took so long for us to actually release something spiffy, eh?) This will also be our first recording to feature the IJG pseudo-big-band lineup (15 people), our typical configuration for the last two years.

Oh yeah, and it will also be our first release to hypothetically require a “parental advisory” label for strong language -- assuming I actually cared about such things.

Which I don't. Though I suppose I should elaborate for anyone who hasn't seen our current show. The linguistic offensiveness I'm alluding to has to do with the eminently guttural glory of the word “fuck,” which we employ 1. lyrically, 2. in one of our titles, and 3. in some of the spoken-word segues that will probably fill out the record. None of this will be particularly surprising to those of you who read this blog regularly (lord knows I don’t shy away from obscene language), or, for that matter, for anyone who has even the slightest connection to a culture of musicians. (Certain obscenities are simply part of the day-to-day language of most folks who move in these circles.)

Why the naughty bits, you ask? I guess the word "fuck" reminds me that one of the things that drew me to making music in the first place was the thought of participating in some kind of constructive rebellion. You know, expressing dissatisfaction with a status quo, and trying to point toward something better. (Yeah, music used to have that kind of effect on people. It's easy to forget that when Ornette Coleman first hit the scene, his music alone could provoke fisticuffs.)

Anyway, maybe I'm wrong, but in our jaded culture, the word "fuck" still seems to carry that kind of transgressive (but also funny, and potentially joyful and celebratory) power -- at least, I assume, for most of the audiences that listen to jazz here in the States (e.g., it's hard to imagine someone getting away with deliberately uttering it onstage at Lincoln Center). And that sort of complex transgression is part of what I'm after in my music too.

Why, the word "fuck" is almost as offensive as Janet Jackson's tit -- and much more aesthetically pleasing.

* * * * *

Oh yeah, and here's a picture of a "monster pile" that Thandie drew before breakfast this morning. Happy belated Halloween to all.


Jeff said...

One of the parents of one of the kids Mo babysat a lifetime ago was a marketing person... and she and Mo would discuss things and at one point the "Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery" phrase came up and I thought with the advent of overnight shipping that that was really ludicrous.

It was pointed out to me that the 4-6 weeks was not for delivery but for FABRICATION. A lot of these things aren't stockpiled; they're built in small lots so as to not waste resources on stuff that doesn't sell.

So, I wouldn't press records yet unless you know someone is going to buy them -- and enough of them to justify the expense.

You say you're not all-electronic, but why not? (I will sy that being all electronic doesn't do much for post-concert sales... unless you start selling USB sticks) but you should take a page from the Radiohead book and go all-bits first and then gauge the demand for the physical -- maybe CDs are enough.

Andrew said...

I'm not willing to go all-electronic yet (much as I would love to) because I can't afford to ignore some of the folks who are not yet comfortable with getting their music electronically. This is actually less of an issue with audiences, per se, and more of a sticking point when it comes to media and booking folks. Many of the latter refuse to even consider stuff that isn't in a "traditional" CD format. The assumption seems to be that if it ain't metal and plastic, it ain't "real" or "professional." I don't agree with those assessments, mind you, but as a bandleader who is not in a position to burn any bridges, I have to live with them.

The big difference between Radiohead and us is that we're not Radiohead -- i.e., we don't have the legions of fans who would override the personal preferences of some reviewer and/or booking agent. I hope more "big acts" follow their lead, cuz that's really how this particular revolution is going to happen.

(Incidentally, there was a discussion of this issue in the "jazz blogosphere" a little while back; it started with some complaints made by the Voice's Tom Hull. If you're interested, you can check here and here.)

As far as the LP thing goes -- yeah, I agree it would be foolish to actually do it without a better sense of how many we could sell (so I kinda disagree with this). Same goes for DVD. I was sort of just mulling through those possibilities out loud. If I can figure out a way (and a reason) to do 'em, I will, cuz personally I love LPs best; but the economics of it aren't encouraging.

I guess the bigger underlying point was that bit about the "format flux" that's going on now -- it's always going on, actually, but now is one of those moments when it's particularly palpable. (Maybe it's just that these issues didn't really seem so relevant to me a few years ago when I was putting Go Go together.)

Matt said...

So critic Tom Hull is pouting because he no longer gets the "real" CD for free anymore? What a sad little man. The next time he looks a gift horse in the mouth, I hope that it bites his johnson off.

I hate the "drop" phrase too. It conjures up the image of a major-label anus pooting forth a stinky product straight into the toilet where it belongs.

Wow, I'm venomous tonight :)

Andrew said...

Wow, I'm venomous tonight :)

Maybe, but it's sure fun to read!