Solo Guitar EP on its way!

The wait (for me at least) is nearly over. This time last year I jumped on a plane in Norway and headed home for two reasons. Professional and passion driven. I had been cast to appear on the opening episode of Pulse for ABC. The director of Pulse, Peter Andrikidis, who I had worked with on Underbelly and Rescue Special Ops, recommended the role with enthusiasm as the character was also a guitarist. I was back on set, after 7 years abroad and acting again. It felt good. Natural. I recorded an original guitar piece for the end credits which also featured in my last scene and took a flight to Brisbane after the show was done to record my first solo EP.

The Pulse recordings where done at the very impressive Church Street Studios in Sydney but the solo EP was to be recorded at 180 also known as hope studios in Brisbane and run by one of Australia's top notch studio engineers Dave Neil. For those who don't know Dave and his accolade of recording artists, he has worked with some of the finest. From classical guitar maestro Karin Schaupp to Katie Noonan and metal outfits Butterly effect and Dead Letter Circus. Dave has a knack, and one hell of an ear for bringing the best out of an acoustic players and was the only man for this job. A perfect fit for what I had envisioned as an end result. A balance of raw acoustic action and a bit of out there weirdness too.

I met Dave in 2008 for the recording of a heavy rock/rap single Like No Other for the movie Two Fists One Heart, but that's another story. This time his son Alex was also on board, a young enthusiastic and talented producer who seemed to dig my random cross over of genres and styles within the demos I had produced, with the one rule I set being, that everything be created by the one guitar and nothing else - even if it didn't sound that way when it was done.

 Recording at Church Street Studios for ABC's medical drama Pulse.

Recording at Church Street Studios for ABC's medical drama Pulse.

 Recording room for solo EP at 180 Studios

Recording room for solo EP at 180 Studios

The demos I had come up with over the years while living and playing abroad in Norway were certainly a little left of radio friendly, but we digged that and besides this was a passion project after all. From the time I had started to collaborate with DJs and producers in electronic music I had become more and more entrenched with re-creating or replicating electronic tracks soley on a nylon string acoustic guitar. It was a fun challenge in a weird kinda way because it forced me to really try and stretch the boundaries of this wooden box with strings.

I liked the natural tones as well as the effects I could use to warp them and this continued for some time, experimenting with multiple ways of creating different sounds derived from the one guitar. Arpeggiated type synth sounds came about by straight palm muted picking through dotted 8th analog delays whilst riding the wah pedal.. Volume pedal swells through a polyphonic micro pog and stacks of reverb created this almost string type section ambience underneath as a bed.. and on top of this tapping out beats on the body of the guitar or bridge for the kick along with some massaging of the EQ, compression, limiting etc would get the drum section pretty close to the real thing. Or the real programmed thing.

Besides, with all of this and more I ultimately didn't want the pure sound of the instrument to lose its voice either, so it made allot of sense to get in a room full of quality mics and run with melody lines and certain progressions that could remain natural, or sometimes just slightly overdriven to retain the organic qualities of the guitar. Playing with the natural dynamics achieved by simply playing dynamically. Allot to gain from there.

All of this would be captured in the room while simultaneously recording the effect outputs of a pretty mammoth effects pedal board (as shown in the picture).

Aside from getting whacky with effects we made room for some stripped back solo numbers which were completely improvised. Alex came with the suggestion of just thinking of something, a memory or series of memories and playing it out. It was a cool experience and its those moments that are really raw. You can almost recognise your own voice somewhere in those random choices of phrases and licks just popping out. There's at least two tracks of seven that play with this notion in mind.

At the end of an extremely creative process I was back to Norway with all the files and on with the task of picking and choosing what would make the cut for the finale EP. Of course as many would know its hard to finish if ever finish, because it never seems finished - it never is. So after meticulous edits, versions, mixes and overdubs, I made one last trip to sit in the room with Dave and get this EP done, dusted and out there. Now was the time to subtract and take away things and make space, the funnest and most rewarding part for me. To sometimes discover or stumble upon these illusive magic notes hiding within layers of noise shine through.

After listening back to some finale balances, one of my favourite tracks is a metal inspired segment. I had my brother who is a great drummer and percussionist come in and beat the hell out the guitar. Sounds very cool and so much like his cajon, that after a year later from recording it, he had to be reminded it was done on the guitar. Sticking to the rule. I hope you get some kicks out the EP which was made purely from the fact I had to get these tunes out of my system and into waves.

Stay tuned for the release date!

Daniel Amalm