The second of our series of track-by-tracks is courtesy of our lovely friends in Coma Regalia. As I’ve said before, this duo has been churning out split after split with a lot of other rad bands like Capacities, Laeirs, and Vowel. Shawn, the man behind Middle Man Records and Coma Regalia, gives us a very detailed, in-depth look on each track on their newest release and their first full length effort, ‘En Sperata’. The record is up for pre-order now over at Middle Man, How Soon Is Now, Listen to Aylin, and Pure Heart Records and streaming HERE.
Click ‘READ MORE’ and discover…
Originally titled “Much to Offer an Undeserving World” we have been working on this album during breaks from all our splits for pretty much the whole year. The tracks and the title of the album come from words that I made up that sounded like what I thought the songs meant. As a two piece we often leave out a fair bit of instrumentation when we record to make sure that each song is something we can fairly accurately pull off live, but with En Sperata we promised ourselves that we would not do that. Everything was tracked by Mark and I in my basement studio by me throughout the year. What we came up with is what I feel like is our most ambitious output to date.
Envave means to invoke. What we were going for is a sort of dreamy introductory piece. I am a real sucker when it comes to songs with just guitars or just guitars and vocals and we wanted this album to start with something like that. We thought of including a sample to run along with it but when everything was in place we were just too happy with the way things were. I even left a lot of guitars the way they were instead of cleaning them up or EQ’ing them to give them a brighter tone. I guess you could say I left them sort of muddy. I felt like this gave the track a really hazy quality that I like a lot.
Meridias came from the word Meridian which is the half of an imaginary great circle on the Earth’s surface. More than that though it is a nod to the fictional city Midian from Clive Barker’s 1990 film Nightbreed in which a young man finds himself in a mysterious city of monsters. Before we retitled the album I think I was going to call it “Descent” which is pretty telling.
As a two piece we use a few different tones when we play live but when it comes to recording I have found that this often comes off as sort of washy. What we did here in the beginning of Plasabac is just sort of cut the volume on the guitars a bit to give it that half tone effect. I have described the album as a “metaphor” in a recent interview. Lyrically speaking this is where that really begins.
When it came to putting the album online at first we thought of including only a couple of tracks but the album is really meant to be listened to entirely in one sitting. After we decided to stream the whole thing for 24 hours the idea came to leave only one song or maybe two after the initial stream. Teselonea would be my pick for one of those songs but it is really such a weird choice as it is actually the close of the first part of the album. It not only has its place thematically within this album but also within another of our songs and a song I wrote in a band many years ago.
This album was written almost entirely in a single one and a half hour writing session at around three AM in my basement. I start a lot of our writing this way and have no idea sometimes if I am going to like any of what I’ve done enough to show it to Mark and then take it to the next step of turning ideas into songs. The day after recording much of what would be En Sperata I came to this spot in that session and knew pretty much exactly what I hoped we would do. I did not know whether I would follow through with it until I went to record the vocal track. Mark and I talked about taking some risks on this record and this is what I had in mind. The vocals were inspired by an excerpt from The Allen Ginsberg Audio Collection. It’s funny when I listen to it, in it’s place on the record that I ever had a second thought about. It doesn’t seem “risky” at all.
I’d been dying to work that first beat into a song practically since the inception of the band. We were talking about how often a really fast drum track makes the guitars sound slower but I feel like we got around that in this case. This track is pretty heavy on the metaphor and I also wear my Buddhist beliefs on my sleeve, so to speak. The line “call my name and give them nothing” is reference to how in magic names are supposed to have great power. It means both that names are nothing, and that what someone knows of you holds no power over you.
59 seconds is not a lot of time to explore an idea conceptually let alone one idea in the context of other concepts inside of a larger concept. That said, I am really happy with what we have here. I have often wondered, like many people, what my life might have been like had I taken one path instead of another. The question of whether one’s choices define them or whether they simply “are” has always fascinated me. How much of “you” do people know as opposed to what people know about you that defines who you are to them?
Pronounced “es plah may”, it is the intimate revealing of oneself to another. Even the idea that there are prejudices based on sexuality in this day and age is mind boggling. The idea of a “soul mate” is so commonly held it makes it all that much more confusing how closed minded people are when it comes to sexual preferences and love. There are billions of miserable people everywhere, all across the entire world, that you will never ever even dream of meeting, and you believe that they will all magically fall into pairs based on what? Religious beliefs? What society deems acceptable?
This begins the last part of the album. The drums are heavily influenced by my former bandmate Alex Eaton who really loved beats with a lot of tom work.
Musically this is probably the climax of the album. The one time we played this record in it’s near entirety live, this is where we left off. One of the things I love so much about music is how open to interpretation any one piece of an arrangement can be. When we were recently tracking a cover of an Orchid song for a comp 12” by Dog Knights I was learning the drums and I just couldn’t get one part of it to click in my head. Listening back to the track as a whole, I’m not sure the average listener will notice that I changed a beat because of that, but that’s the kind of thing that comes to mind when I listen to the drums on this track.
Oddly enough, about 20 seconds of the drums in this song took us longer to work out than any other part of the album, including the last song. Having not been playing drums for very long while we were writing this album, I was really stretching the limits of my abilities mentally and physically but that wasn’t really the hold up. For some reason or another I just couldn’t get it to click but when it finally did I feel like I came up with something that was satisfying on a level that suited my limited technical abilities and my penchant for making something fit that sounds like it shouldn’t.
The lines which may or may not be included in the lyrical copy “there are many things in this world you may control, but maybe not this” were the first lines written for this record. It’s about love, and the idea of whether or not you can choose whom you love. I think that topic is certainly debatable but I’m a romantic I guess so I’m probably leaning towards no.
The final part of the album and as Mark would say “I know by now not to worry”. We had not completely structured this song until the day that we recorded it. I know that this is not really uncommon with a lot of bands that spend weeks in the studio basically writing the album during the recording process but it was new to us. It is not the way we are used to operating.
We talked about the beginning for about 5 or 10 minutes, played through it once and hit record. I think to both our surprise we managed to get it on the second take, the funny part of this being that the second take was nothing like we discussed or played it like on the first take. I distinctly remember taking this long breath before hitting record that second time and closing my eyes. I don’t really remember tracking the bit after that and sometimes I still wonder what happened that turned what we discussed into this.
Other than the drums, the music for this piece had been really well fleshed out beforehand. All the guitar work was planned but not set in how many times things would go. The fact that it felt so intuitive and none of it seems rushed (to me anyway) is something I will never understand.
One thing that people might notice is how at the end of the track one of the guitars just turns off as soon as it is done. This is something I have not been sure if I would mention or not for fear of both exposing that little “flaw” and for fear of sounding pretentious. The fact is, when we are tracking, we are putting a lot of energy and emotion into it. When I was tracking one of the guitars at the end of this song, I can’t remember if I was having a really bad day that day or what but it was really late and I was really feeling myself lose it.
The feelings that came over me when I was nearing the end of the song, like elation, sorrow, happiness, release…it was very cathartic. It was overwhelming. I hope that anyone that does music feels that way at least once while they are playing. I finished the track and without even thinking about it just sat the guitar right down and turned it off. I thought to myself, “was that really it?” It was the culmination of a lot of work and though there was still much more to be done it felt so final. I considered, very briefly, re recording that guitar track but felt that in fact the way the guitar cuts off projects that finality that I was feeling. I distinctly remember being afraid that I would lose that feeling if I did re cut the track, as silly as that might sound.
After thinking it over some more, I came to see it as that last breath of air. A sigh of relief if you will. I like the closure it brings. I also like the way that it contrasts the other track which feeds back for quite a bit. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the way this track turned out and the record as a whole.
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