Track By Track: Jane In Palma – Primitive Thoughts
Somewhere on the island of Mallorca sits a countryside Finca, or a ranch as it might otherwise be known. It is between here, two caves and a cove that this record came to life. Jane in Palma is a new project from artist Julian Smith who has previously released as Don Froth. We caught up with him to talk about the creative process which has led to the release of "Primitive Thoughts" which is forthcoming on Snake Free Roofing. He explains the record below.
This is my first LP in the wake of loosing everything in a storage fire in Venice Beach. Since the fire I left Los Angeles for much quieter and simple surroundings in a small town in the Balearics to explore new mediums.
This album was recorded over the course of a year between two caves, an empty cove and a countryside finca on the island of Mallorca. The summer days were long and hot. The winter nights were longer, cold and damp. Libby, Herbes Seques and a contained fire kept me company. It was experimental in process, strictly interpreting my surroundings and emotions involved with the un-escapable solitude of this address-less residence.
It was another hot day in the countryside. The Hawaii Five-0 (original series) Sample sets the tone for the record. I wanted to catch the feeling of this dusty moment. In the left channel you can hear brushes hitting the top of an unusually tall, neo thatched bar stool – the day was spent hooking up equipment, drinking lemon water, exploring surfaces, tones and reverb in the room. I didn’t have internet during this time period, so I ended up watching the same three Five-0 episodes I had downloaded from the airport wifi.
Alone in the wilderness sample. This movie… The life motives addressed by the lead (and only) character resonates on the highest level to me: “This is something I had to do, test my self. Not just dream about it, but do it.” I had programmed the drums differently than the way I usually work, sent out to one channel in to a 4 way pre, then in to a delay, then bussed out to an outboard analogue mixer. Less stressful and more unifying than my usual channel separations. I was constantly experimenting with different production techniques throughout this process..
Original track name was Sudden Expo. An instrumental track to vocals that don’t exist yet. Drums first then the guitars and bass. The bongo / percussion mic’s were set up in the all tile studio I was working in, great for recording live but terrible for mix downs. I am never sure if anything is in key or in tune, I don’t care about that as much as I care about getting what I was feeling down. There is so much safe music out there, nothing wrong with a little risk now and then eh?
Originally titled ‘Missed Connections’. I took a 12 hr train ride across France to meet my friend Sidney. Turns out he left his phone in his friends car. Feeling it. When I arrived I couldn’t get ahold of him, so I spent the night in a blown out motel room after an eventless midnight wander thru the streets of Nice hoping i’d bump in to Sid. I slept in my sleeping bag on top of the bed. Recorded this the first night back. Story track, pensive guitar, talking bass chords etc. The bongo’s and conga’s were set closer to the mic, the shaker and tambo were reordered further away and the percussion recorded from the other room. I set up the recording chain as if it were a band playing live, not everybody would have had a mic, so you heard the distances making do with what limited resources were available here.
Live at S’Algar
Eden Ahbez’s – Eden’s Island listening breaks took me over to this part of the coast to swim. S’algar. Short intreptation piece of one those many walks through the pines, down the jagged rocks in to the clear water.
Fly in Wax
David Lynch inspired soundtrack. Another one of the few movies I had to watch in the evenings post recording sessions. I often would mute parts of Lost Highway and play this track during scenes. This track came together one night, initially as a test in higher bpm, think I had been listening to a lot of Soft Moon etc. Again with the drums, running them through the pre – in to the delay, then to the board. The flanged guitar tone brings me back to 1984, hearing my brother ripping Juno Sting licks from behind his bedroom door. So much inspiration from my big bro Mark.
I went out on to the rocks at sunset to record the sound of the sea and wind, toting the recording gear was hectic thru knee deep water – the wind was whipping, I kept saving the only two mic’s I had from falling in to the water. I was on a mission that day to get a true stereo sound.
Another hot and dusty summer day – laying on the cold tile, playing the guitar parts, if you can call them that. Simple sounding things here but done in that moment, it seemed to capture the solitude I was experiencing. I had tried to play the flute solo over and over live but it never worked out, so I referred to the Motif Rack running thru that pre, delay and board combo.
Dawn of Reality [Croupier]
Originally named ‘Croupier’ a concept (referencing the fire) of some paintings I was working on at the same time. This music and those paintings sit together in an end state as a cathartic expression of that time. When I approached this track I remember starting in on that main conga rhythm and kept building up the parts.
I didn’t want to sample much on this project but somehow I found this track to fit in to this story. It was the exact flip as the previous track – exploring the gamut of emotions. I sampled the drums from a track I put out for the good man Bob on West Norwood Cassette Library – Von [WNCL 007]. The filtered funk track is from The Whispers. The romantico sounding intro strings were from a cocktail hour record I picked up at a second hand ship in Felanix.
Park n’ Chat
I saw my friend Carles outside of the market. He parked his car. We chatted. I recorded this the same day. In the left channel I was playing the brushes in a circular motion on that tall bar stool, the right channel – was a sponge on the top of a cinder block. Guitar processed backward then forward again, bass slaps and chops all over the place. For the low end bass buzz in the two breaks [45 sec / 1:40 sec], I was pressing the live bass cable in to my hand.
Bass Bot 606 notes peppering in over the drums. The vibraphone keyboard was a score, I found a Casio for sale in Manacor one day. I hauled it home, it has four or five settings, really limiting but those are the challenges I like to take on, somehow to make it work. Sign of the time.
The Casio returned in this one on the bells and lead. Recorded the live breaks on the drums / congas, rolled everything else from there.
Majorc 46 / 47 / 53 – Photo Credit: Mike Selsky