Raving Poets - Remixed   

Raving Poets - Remixed

The Raving Poets are proud to release their 19th CD,
The Raving Poets - Remixed.

Track Listing

1.  Amy Willans, I Think of You
2.  Patrick Pilarski, Subway
3.  Lisa Hoffman, Only Stories
4.  Thomas Trofimuk, No Escaping This
5.  Aaron Everingham, Windows Will
6.  Kyla Coulman, The Shave Poem, read by Rosemary Wilson
7.  Rob Hardy, Make a Sandwich
8.  Layne L'Heureux, Untitled
9.  David Martin, Plus TV
10. Corine Demas, Three Pink Pills, So Beautiful
11. AJ, Anti-Poetry Poetry
12. Cathy Hodgson, Twilight
13. Phil Jagger, Random Poem to the Electric Night

1. Amy Willans, I Think of You

A lot of people will say that this track is the crown jewel of the CD.  Amy’s poetry is unfailingly passionate.  She is one of the few Raving Poets that writes exclusively “literary” work and can perform it with spine-tingling force, every time.

This track started out life with nothing more than voice and djembe.  The recording quality for the djembe was really not good enough by itself to support the intensity of Amy’s piece.  The first thing I did was split the djembe into three separate tracks.  High slap, low thump and an effects-laden thread that only shows itself in the vocal breaks.  The clapping is done “by hand”, so to speak.  A lot of remixers would think I was nuts to insert each beat, note by note. I’m just a little crazed that way.

2.  Patrick Pilarski, Subway

You gotta love Patrick, the man of many faces. He may come across as the hail-fellow-well-met. But when it comes to his crowd-pleasing verse, Patrick pulls no punches. He’s smart, articulate, sits back into words like they’re a comfy chair and knows the effect each will have on his audience.

I had to put a jazzy travelling groove behind Patrick’s LRT piece to contrast with Thomas’s thoughtful keyboards.  Sorry, I was completely selfish in this one. I wanted something I’d want to listen to riding the subway.

3. Lisa Hoffman, Only Stories

Lisa has come to Edmonton a few times (from her home on Montreal) and performed with the Raving Poets.  I was the audio-set-up guy at her gig at the Roar last year and she gave me a copy of her CD in thanks. This is the only piece on Remixed that was not recorded live with the Raving Poets band.  I was quite blunt – even before I heard a note of her album – and asked her then and there if she’d mind me remixing one the tracks.

Man… I’d work with Lisa any time. This is actually the second remix I’ve done of this piece. The first one was done entirely on drums. But the tune-age I came up with wasn’t up to snuff. Her words shone far above my mediocre efforts to do them justice. So I scrapped the thing and started over. The quirky beat that underlies the piece was done on electronic drum kit, the rest is done on synth.

4. Thomas Trofimuk , No Escaping This

Thomas is one of those seasoned veterans that can go up to the mic with a piece he finished half an hour ago and deliver it like he’s rehearsed it for a month. Every word gets its appropriate emphasis, its moment to shine. It was a pleasure to work on this dark verse of his.  I’ll be honest and admit that, in addition to the fine performance, it was the theme of hopelessness and claustrophobia of the piece that appealed to me.  Been there.  Doomed that.

Musically, this piece is all Mark Kozub’s Sisyphusian bassline. The temple bells are there for a bit of contrast (and ‘cause Thomas, as a self-described failed Buddhist, would have probably put them in himself in a remix).

5. Aaron Everingham, Windows Will

If ever there was a piece that stood back and double-dared you to add a few post-production, surrealist FX, it’s Aaron’s.  I liked this piece from the first second I heard it. If you’re gonna go off the beaten track, go all the way off.  And when you get back, I want all the grisly LSDetails.

The piece started out with this eerily perfect synth-work by Master Eds, me tapping every which side of my djembe with a drumstick, and Thomas laying down this, hard, demented free-form jazz on the piano.  After lighting a candle at my Peter Hammill shrine, I went to town on the vocal effects and added a subterranean pad to the concoction.  Aaron, you nailed this one. And we all got a little hammered in the process.

6. Kyla Coulman, The Shave Poem, read by Rosemary Wilson

This was performed the night of the first Big Switcheroo, where poets traded poems for half of the evening, each reading the other’s.  What a recipe! A killer poem by Kyla Coulman. A killer performance by Rosemary Wilson.  And holy moly in a pot of peas, Thomas and Randy playing guitar and piano off each like this was some kind of Grateful Dead love-fest.

Though there isn’t much evidence in the finished piece of my meddling, this one was an engineering challenge. Keeping all the instruments flowing seamlessly, melodically and rhythmically. And getting a handle on Rosemary’s bell-clear Broadway voice and the brain-rattling slap of the snare.  If I may be so bold, this kind of piece is why the Raving Poets perform in a bar for the 18+ crowd. Fun, irreverent, and completely grown up. Well, maybe not completely.

7. Rob Hardy, Make a Sandwich

This lovely – ahem – poetic anomaly started out its musical life with Mark Kozub’s bass and an egg shaker.  Gah! That was a long time ago.  There’ve been a few screeching macaws and howler monkeys in between.

What can I say. Rob Hardy is a genius.  In true Raving Poets style, he incorporates elements of people and things in the bar around him into the piece as he’s performing it. If pop-rocks are a party in your mouth, Rob Hardy is pop-rocks for your ears.

8. Layne L'Heureux – Untitled

Layne is one of those young men who drive their English teachers to drink because he’s read six times as much as them – and it means something!  Layne begins his piece with a quote from Bukowski, and it's all pure crystal main-line to the sonic cortex after that.

I think Master Eds played this one straddling his guitar like a bronc.  And Thomas backs him up like Springsteen’s keyboardist. Gotta love it.

9. David Martin, Plus TV

Ok, I’ll be completely honest here. David Martin’s duet is a remixer’s dream come true.  This is one of the handful of tracks on the CD that’s all Gord, beginning to end. I initially got myself into a fix trying to get the rights to a couple Green Acres and Hogan’s Heroes samples from CBS.  The whole thing got outa hand and I ended up replacing them with some public domain samples.  And the track’s better off for it. I ended up reworking the whole thing from scratch, tweaking it to within an inch of its life. But hey, was it ever worth it. Davis Martin, rock on.

10. Corine Demas - Three Pink Pills, So Beautiful

This one is 100% Raving Poets LIVE.  A killer piece and a drop dead gorgeous guitar riff from Master Eds, supported like friggin Atlas by Thomas’s piano. Again, this one wasn’t a big FX add-on piece for me. It was another engineering nightmare that came out the other end a dream come true.  The drums are all live, but man… to get them past my hyper critical rhythm filters was freakin Herculean.  Corine… amazing…

11.  AJ - Anti-Poetry Poetry

This beauty is a very happy blend of a great piece and performance, Thomas’s exquisite piano theme, Master Eds’ ravishing synth and guitar and a rather unique beat I added later in the studio.  Yeah, AJ, I’m with you. This is what poetry is all about.

12.  Cathy Hodgson, Twilight

This was actually my first remix.  Cathy’s voice and spirit are so warm and welcoming, it was sheer pleasure build a suitable atmosphere around the poem.  Thomas on piano and Randy on acoustic guitar sure got the nub of this one. I added a smidge of viola for a little extra color. But hey, the poem, the piece speaks for itself.  The Raving Poets is a warm welcoming world unto itself. And poets like Cathy are why.

13. Phil Jagger, Random Poem to the Electric Night

Phil is something of a fixture of the RP scene. No, scratch that. Phil is one of pillars that hold it up. Often, when Phil comes up to the mic, he brings props, sock puppets, rotary telephones, blank cue cards. And holy god… the band pulls up their socks and gets ready for an onslaught. But not that night.

That night Phil brought a certain quiet, thoughtful brilliance to the stage.  And the band and the audience were swept up in its wake.


I can't really begin to tell you what this CD means to me. The Raving Poets is a community of artists, first and foremost. But like some sort of anti-organization, each poet fully retains their own voice. To top that off, there is a band of four guys there in the service of supporting those unique voices, those sometimes perilous words. Together, a new, collective voice is created, nurtured throughout the course of the performance, and delivered to the immediate audience - and the world at large through our podcasts.

As a member of this community, I am honored. But be able to remix these words, add a new level to the voices, well... the thing was a ton of work. I don't want to be all humble and lame about it. It was a blast. But I take words very seriously - and music almost more so. Almost. I just hope I've done some justice to the works of these amazing poets.

...Gord, April 2007


Notes:

Musicians:

Gord McRae - djembe, fx, loops, drums, shakers
Randy Edwards - synth, guitars
Thomas Trofimuk - keyboards, piano
Mark Kozub - bass

Remixes and engineering: Gord McRae

Cover design: Thomas Trofimuk

Cover photo: Gord McRae
The image is of the side of a rusting Massey Fergussen tractor at Fort Edmonton - back in the days (before children) when I had pretensions of being an art photographer. Gah!

 

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