Light On The Horizon

from by Michael James

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A sword is not ready for action until it's been through the fire…again.

Two of my best friends had multiple miscarriages. Another friend was concerned about losing custody of his children in a divorce. During this time, I was meditating on the relationships of John the Baptist to Jesus Christ, and of The Bab to Baha'u'llah. I was also pondering the act of choice in maintaining a positive mental attitude during times of adversity, and that tests are a necessary part of life. What does not kill us, make us stronger.

Inspired by all of those things, this song came together faster than expected. My brain was looping an unusual drum beat without the kick drum on the downbeat. I quickly programmed this experimental beat and plugged an acoustic guitar's piezo pickup into directly into Pro Tools. This is definitely NOT the way I typically record acoustic guitar. Carefully placed vintage German microphones--not direct boxes--provide the familiar rich tone of so many classic hits. When I sketch ideas, however, I create them as quickly as possible, and then I edit them later when I am in a different headspace. I didn't risk losing the mood by setting up a mic stand. My goal was to capture the initial spark before it became diluted or over analyzed. Despite the "demo" tone, I liked what I heard from the acoustic guitar, so I did the same thing with the lead electric guitar. I didn't really think about what I was doing; I was just capturing the vibe--a flowing stream of conscious improvisation.

Several days later, I returned to the idea and made a few edits to my performance. That first performance definitely captured the spark. I subsequently tried to improve upon it but I did not like the "improved" version nearly as much. It just didn't feel as emotionally resonant to me.

On the final mix, Scotty Kormos plays a better version of my drum part into Toontrack Superior 2 virtual drum instrument. It's the only song on the album that does not have acoustic drums recorded in a studio…or living room. I love Scotty's performance because it wasn't simply about the groove--it was also about supporting the melody. Not a lot of drummers think about the melody, but Scotty does. As a result, I was inspired to play bass and electric piano overdubs. Eser Taskiran played grand piano and Hammond B3 organ from his studio in Istanbul, Turkey. While many people criticize modern technology for myriad reasons, I embrace the fact that it allows us to collaborate instantly with other folks on the opposite side of the planet. If it weren't for technology, I would've never learned that Taskiran is one of my musical soul brothers.

credits

from Marchesano, released March 8, 2015
Guitars, Bass, Wurlitzer, Rhodes: Michael James
Grand Piano, Hammond B3: Eser Taskiran
Drums: Scotty Kormos

Produced & Mixed by Michael James. Co-produced by David Kahne and Urban Olsson.
Written by Michael James.
© 2015 Marchesano Music admin. by Bug Music (ASCAP).
℗ © 2015 Alternator Records LLC. All rights reserved.

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Michael James Simi Valley, California

• Producer.Mixer.Engineer.Songwriter.Guitarist
• Gold & Platinum Records
• Discography includes New Radicals, Hole, Far, Robben Ford, L7, Edwin McCain, Chicago, Reverend Horton Heat, A.J. Croce, Butterfly Boucher, Jane's Addiction, Maia Sharp, Too Much Joy, Kalimba, Mario Guerrero and Jawbreaker.
• Former Warner/Discovery head of A&R & Producer, trained by WEA founder Jac Holzman.
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