RECORDING “AFRONESIA”, SOUNDSCAPES FROM THE WALLACE LINE

“Afronesia” was recorded during a 30 days journey in the tropics. It contains acoustic instrumental tracks enriched with field recordings and 2 folk ballads. Imagine Ry Cooder jamming with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan surrounded by the lush of a tiny Indonesian island.

AFRONESIA RVBN BANNEREarly afternoon, it’s hot but the sun comes and go, as it’s windy today and the clouds move fast. I’m resting in my room, writing notes for the next days of recording. I like the way I managed to get to work at Afronesia. The songs are coming out very naturally from somewhere new: it is something I was’nt planning at all. I set up the little portable recording studio, wich is so minimal it can fit the 10kg cabin friendly backpack I’m travelling with. The few clothes I brought are wrapping the delicate stuff as mics and pedals. A laptop, a sound card and a couple of mics will do the job.

IMG_7630The condenser one is not longer working: I think it did’nt like the constant humidity of Kuala Lumpur, therefore I’m recording the vocals with a modest but loyal Shure PG 58 and the guitars are recorded either from the pick up, or from both channels, one via lead, the other through the mic. I love trying different combinations of recording tecniques, especially when there are few options, and every little different adjustement can make a big difference in the sound capture.

IMG_7396I discovered that this record is full of mistakes, and I realized that I love them. Sometimes, just in the middle of a guitar take, a subtle hiss comes through the laptop plug, as the earth here is not always working, but it gives the sound a more lo- fi quality, is a unavoidable condition here rather than a choice, so it’s perfectly organic.

IMG_6792There is a lot of space in Afronesia: I recorded many guitars preparing the sound beforehand, because I needed to play with the actual amount of reverb and space. I needed the sound first, if I wanted to sonically paint the pictures in m y mind. I often recorded in the afternoon,so that I could look around while playing. It is very important for me to connect visually whit the place, especially when I’m trying to compose music like this.

IMG_7390This is a record about Gili Meno, or to be more precise, about the feeling of being in a place like this. I’m on a tiny island, right along the Wallace’s Line, an imaginary line that divides Asia from Australia. There’s a lot of silence here: few bars on the beach but no one with loud music, and no party scene at all. The only sounds apart from the muezzin singing from the mosque and the occasional coconut seller, are those of the birds, the roosters who are often present underneath the tracks, and wind, thunders rain, with of course the powerful roar of the sea.

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IMG_8181I wanted to capture something more, something beyond the actual music who has been recorded. I needed to record Gili Meno, its pulse, its vibe, its colours. So I spent some stormy afternoons reading a book in the veranda, keeping the mics ready, in order to capture some of the natural sounds.

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IMG_7701I also started to record some of the acoustic guitars only with a microphone, sitting outside, in order to get a wider sound, that includes the natural textures of the surroundings.

IMG_7089This music does’nt mean to be clean, correct or perfect, it just wants to be true and unadulterated. Afronesia is been recorded tuning the instruments in A 342 hz, wich according to mant studies seems to be the “real” natural frequency.I never been a blues musician, neitherless an ace at the slide guitar, but since I had the chance to see Tommee Balukea performing a show in KL, the inspiration to go back to my roots was too strong. I had to go and get myself a slide: I have a deep love for American folk sounds, West African fingerpicking.

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My dad is a big music lover, especially blues and old rock and roll. Even though some of the slide guitar parts on the album may sound a bit sloppy and amateurish: well, I think my dad will enjoy listening to them…The album is now ready and available on download at http://miserablemanmusic.bandcamp.com
AFRONESIA CD_on_body

Every CD sold online, translates into 3 days of food for all the turtles of Gili Meno (http://gilimenoturtles.com/). It’s the first time that i manage to put music, technology and marketing together in order to support the people i care about. I can’t think of a better way to use the incredible energy of music..

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