"The Ash is in Our Clothes" & how it was made.
"the ash is in our clothes" was the 11th track in the "yearbook" collection (part of the "january" ep.) not only is it the first instrumental released within yearbook, but it is the first instrumental piece of music that sleeping at last has released in over a decade.
several years ago, i purchased "kontakt," which is a software sampler. (for those of you that don't already know, it's essentially an enormous library of virtual instruments, all of which are stored onto a hard drive and can be played via a midi keyboard.) whenever i get a new "instrument" i usually end up writing something on it right away, since i'm excited about it like a new toy. the heart of this song was the result of me messing around with "kontakt" for the very first time.
most of this piece was written sometime in between the "keep no score" album and the "storyboards" album. i had so much fun putting this one together and was really excited with where it was all heading, but when i was writing "storyboards" - it didn't quite feel like the right home stylistically for this piece of music. so, i kept it locked away.
as i mentioned in the "how it was made" blog post for the song "from the ground up," i contributed a few pieces of music for a project that a friend of mine was putting together (pre-yearbook). my pal's name is samantha lamb. she's a fantastic artist/photographer from oklahoma. this song felt right at home within her project, so i carved the song out a bit further for her lovely art installation. and then when the idea for yearbook popped up, i knew right away that this was a song i wanted to include and expand upon even further. the title for this song, was a lyric i had written a long, long while ago - it felt fitting for this song, and for miss lamb's art installation.
let's talk about some of the sounds that make up this song:
the piano that you hear in the beginning and in the end, they were recorded a bit differently than most of the piano on yearbook. rather than recording my upright with my usual mic/settings into pro tools, i recorded these sections with a small handheld recorder just resting on top of my upright. i added heaps of reverb and was very excited with how it turned out... there is almost a "quiver" in the reverb that i like a lot.
the string-like droning is a sound you can hear all over the place throughout yearbook. it's called "bowed piano" and was played via kontakt... it is exactly as it sounds, piano strings that were played with a bow. it's one of my favorite sounds and i really enjoyed its texture in this song. i feel like it gives the right balance between tension and string-like beauty.
there is a children's toy instrument called a "tronichord" that was released in the mid 80's. it makes a pretty great sound (example here) and i've tried and tried and tried for several years now to fit it into a song, but it never quite "works." but FINALLY in this song, it fit like a glove. you can hear it begin at about 1:45... it's a digital trill/harp-ish sound. i love it and hope to find more songs that'll suit it in the future. glad it worked on this one!
my pal jeremy larson recorded a cello line i wrote, that replaced a mellotron cello beautifully. the tron cello felt like the right idea, but it needed the movement of a real cello. mr. larson did a great job playing it.
towards the end of the song, you'll hear a little "strumstick" briefly, which is the instrument that is prominently featured in "next to me." it's a fun instrument... like the "tronichord" instrument, it has limited use. a very strong presence that only works in the right setting. i liked the idea of having it in the end, as a sort of lift in the mood.
i approached the arrangement of the song sort of like a story. it begins with a very sorrowful piece of music, gradually turning into a determined, motivated, maybe a feeling of courage-out-of-the-ashes type of sound (the middle), ending with a lighter, but serious tone - a time of repair. in the end you can hear, just barely, a recording of some birds singing. i liked the idea of what that means in the scope of this little "story." almost like proof that there is peace ahead.
all in all, this was a really fun piece of music to work on. it was so fun to tap into my love and appreciation of film scoring, and to give my voice a bit of a break in the process.
thanks for reading!
much love, ryan