Yesterday we went to Catalyst Studios, St. Helens, for our final recording session for our mini album, Amateur Astronomy.
We started with our version of Schiarazula Marazula, a mediaeval dance which probably originates in the Friuli area of Italy. Ruth discovered this tune last year and immediately thought it was perfect for us to cover. Our version stays the same tempo throughout, and we've added lyrics to one of the repeated phrases. As Marc bought Ruth a psaltery for Christmas, it seemed a shame not to use it; we also added bodhran, ukulele (plucked), descant recorder and some backing ahhs and oohs.
Ruth arranged it to have an additive nature; due to this and the way it builds, organising the different parts on the mixing desk was a bit of a challenge, so once Andy (the producer) had the basic structure down we moved onto the next song.
Our next song, Frosty Nights (When I Was Your Age), is a-cappella, with just two parts, one for each of us. Ruth wrote it for her son, and we've been singing it around the house so much that before we set off for the studio, Ruth's son was singing snippets of it himself! We hadn't originally intended to put this on the mini-album as Ruth composed it in mid-January this year, after we'd already planned a rough track listing, however, it fitted so well with the theme that we couldn't leave it off. You might have to look that bit harder for it as a result. We'll be giving away the sheet music free with our album so you can have a bash at singing it yourselves.
Last up was Marc's composition, the title track of the album, Amateur Astronomy. Over a year in the writing, the song has three distinct sections coming together to tell a simple story. Its lengthy gestation means it's ended up nothing like the song he started out with, but it's all the better for that. Utilising the tenor ukulele Ruth bought Marc for Christmas, in addition to piano, some soaring strings and backing vocals from Ruth, Marc handles lead vocal duties on this one.
After recording all three songs, that was it for the day; we've arranged to go back to mix everything on Saturday 14th February (yes, Valentine's Day; is there anything more romantic than spending time together in the studio?)
As usual, Andy was fantastic; he doesn't shy away from telling us, diplomatically, if we could go back in the booth and record something again better; he also makes an excellent brew.
Whilst we were in the studio, we finalised the track-listing for the mini-album. It has a loose concept running through it, so we had to think carefully about where everything goes. We've already designed the front cover of the CD; once everything is mixed, we have to sort out CDs, a launch, reviews, radio play, and the back cover of the CD, too. A friend of Ruth's is also recording us performing folk staple Reynardine as b-side for our first single from the album, which will be our folk-inspired song Ella Brown (you can watch us playing it live here).
We're very excited about having finished recording, but in some ways, that's only the beginning. Watch this space!