furniture music - promo single - double-A side single
saffron matted voids
Dave Stafford, August 2010: Well, this was the first Saffron Matted Voids project,
Ken and I had met while working on a King Crimson related web site called “Elephant
Tape”, Ken was the technical/audio person for the site, and I had tracks up on that
site - and this was back in the mid-90s, when audio on the web is not the science
it is today.
I can recall Ken teaching me specific ways to encode my RealAudio files to try and
retain the sonic quality of the acoustic guitars. RealAudio was the state of the
art in 1995, when of course along came the format that has stayed with us, MP3. Back
then though, there weren’t a lot of options. In any case, during the Elephant Tape
days, Ken and I stayed in touch, and when I heard later, in 1998, about the opportunity
to work on a special CD tribute to Bill Nelson, of Be-Bop Deluxe and later an ambient
artist, I jumped at the chance - and, I dragged Ken along with me.
We were quite crafty, we decided to do two very different Bill Nelson covers, with
the idea that I would submit one, from California, and he would submit the other,
from New Jersey so the assemblers of the album wouldn’t notice that one band had
“snuck” two tracks onto an album with a one-track per artist limit ! So on the original
CD, one of these was credited to myself, and the other to Saffron Matted Voids -
but the truth was, these are both Saffron Matted Voids tracks, and, they are the
very first two tracks that the band ever recorded.
Working to a deadline meant that the tracks came together very quickly, with agonizing
days waiting for the mail to go from New Jersey to California and back again, working
“long distance” as it were - and, back then, in 1998, online storage and sharing
was VERY uncommon - now of course, when we work, we just share the tracks over the
Internet. But in 1998 - it meant mailing a burnt CD back and forth.
“Furniture Music” came first, and to his credit, this is mostly a Ken Mistove performance.
Out of the box, first time, he came up with the goods, a solid, rocking drum track,
crunchy rhythm guitars - I was blown away. I’ve always had to be the guy who “played
everything” so to work with someone like Ken, who is equally comfortable creating
drums, keyboards, bass, guitar, anything - what a pleasure. So I did a somewhat
nervous vocal or two, and then played the ebow solo in the middle - which contains
an “impossible” edit near the end, that I did - because I just could not figure out
the way to end it.
I believe in the end, I took the “best” take, and then pasted a very quick ebow lick
at the end of the solo...something like that.
Ken then took the track away and did his production magic, which seemed like magic
to me at the time, he had a real audio application, while I was still in the world
of Cool Edit Pro, non-MIDI simple audio multi-track environment. He massaged the
vocals, pitch shifted one of my stranger ebow melodies, and turned this rough track
into the polished jewel that it still is today. For something that was made in,
perhaps three weeks flat, with a rough vocal, and a hasty ebow solo (not featured
on the original Bill Nelson’s Red Noise version, by the way - that was our unique
addition to the track) - it came out very nicely indeed.
PORTRAIT OF EMIKO WITH MOON AND STARS
Now, for the B side, for our other endeavour, I had selected one of the most exquisite,
most delicate, most ambient tracks that Bill Nelson ever composed, “Portrait Of Jan
With Moon And Stars”. Again, Ken took the lead, although what he sent was incredibly
pure and simple, just a lovely drone with some delicate, quiet, grand piano. Like
a blank ambient canvas...again, this made my job so incredibly easy.
I remember laying down the many, many ebow parts very quickly, I believe in one afternoon,
or if longer, not much. I can recall trying very hard to get the bent/ebow/harmonic
parts near the end to be just right, but, partially due to the excellent quality
of the backing track - it was a breeze to add the melodies. When I hear it today,
I cannot actually believe that it’s me playing those ebows. Extraordinary!
To date, even though I feel that our one album is excellent and contains may beautiful
moments - in some ways, “Portrait Of Emiko With Moon And Stars” (now renamed in honour
of Bill’s second wife, Emiko) remains the single most peaceful, captivating moment
of music that the band has yet produced.
From this humble beginning, two diverse and excellent tracks produced under extreme
pressure of time, a new partnership began, between Ken Mistove and myself. Our friendship
actively persists today in that we are responsible for bringing pureambient.com back
to life after a somewhat involuntary retirement in 2004 - thanks to the remarkable
efforts of Ken, pureambient.com is back, is better than ever, and for the first time,
we are offering a complete catalogue of downloadable MP3 files, making available
many, many CD’s (and even former cassette releases) that have been long out of print
- these are now available as downloads - including the two excellent releases from
Saffron Matted Voids.