We all have to start somewhere. I was 23-24 when I made this tape. My aesthetic at the time was pure laziness. I had talent but no sense of re-doing poor performances. Whatever happened in the moment is what you hear. I came up with some truly interesting sounds, but knew absolutely nothing about EQing, compressing, mixing, etc..These are lo-fi (but multi-tracked) songs recently digitized, speed- and pitch-corrected and given "lite" mastering. All were recorded in '86/'87 on a 4-track Tascam Portastudio. Though they show my technical limitations, there's also considerable charm and certainly imagination at work. And alot of vocal and guitar "stacks". I hope you can dig this music. It is really quite unlike anything else ever done. Simply because it is my first public release, this cassette is presented here in its entirety, without editing. Your purchase, of course, helps me continue paying to release new music.
..credits .released 10 May 1987 .All these layers of lo-fi vocals and guitars are me. I had about half a drum kit left over from the Poisonous Sewer Fishe, which I thump on sometimes. Bass is me. Ashley Bell is heard on 2-3 songs on a real piano. Most recording was done in my bedroom at my parents' house in Salem, Va. Some was done at Ashley's parents' house a few miles away. Cover art by Katherine Evans who took an existing photo of me playing acoustic guitar and glued a dog head on it, then made a collagey assembly, printed these out and hand-colored each cover individually. So each cover is rare and individualized just like the homemade Sun Ra albums!
I've been a fan of Scott Brookman for what is now approaching a second decade. His sense of melody continuously hits you with refreshing turns, his arrangements are full of instrumental phrases that have you rediscovering what it is that you love about great music. This album is Brookman's first, recorded on the beloved Tascam Portastudio of lore and everything we love about the music is here. The vocal layers are what strike me first; I think it's what will keep me coming back to this album which is full of hooks that feel fresh still today. -- Bryan Baker
What made you decide to release this album now?
I've been planning to digitize my old cassette releases for some time, but only recently began picking through the shoeboxes full of cassettes. I was shocked to find that I have damned nearly everything I ever did (even a tape of old AM radio commercials and station IDs from the 70's that I taped as a ten year old!), including some great, great songs that no one ever heard. Unfortunately, few tapes are labeled "master," so I have no idea which are second generation. "Dog's Brain" was clearly labeled, so I started there. Only in the last month did I put two and two together and suss out how I could do this (what gear and what software would help me). Having time is big factor, of course. I am also approaching 50 years of age; if not now... .when? I would much rather have re-mixed some of the songs, but my remaining PortaStudio is "dodgy" and I'm not sure I have time to remix song-by-song. I did some minimal EQ work on each "Dog's Brain" song, speed and pitch correction and gain increase.
Talk about recording "All the Talk Goes Floating By"
I have no particular memory of recording any of these songs, but I have a general sense of the process and my gear at the time. First would always be the guitar. Then... probably vocals. Bass next, then drums were always an after thought. Though they are sometimes used to keep time, mostly this was beyond my ability. Rather, they have little parts, almost like Brian Wilson sometimes uses them. They accent. There are cool little fills. This was a partial kit: no kick, no rack toms.
Because of a combination of enthusiasm and laziness I would never re-record a track. So... there are uneven numbers of repeats and sometimes spontaneity. As I worked through the cassette years I began doing retakes and more planning. There's a lot of true improvising on "Dog's Brain," which makes it special. All the recording was done in my bedroom at my parents' house except for a few done at my friend Ashley Bell's house. The PortaStudio was truly portable. Talk about easy to travel with. Jeez.
As you listen to this album you you recall things you used to do when recording on the Portastudio that you've forgotten about?
I barely remember how it worked except that it relies on what used to be called "track reduction." You record on 1 and 3 and then 2 and 4 I think... .something like that. It used both sides of a cassette, then you mixed "out" to another deck.
What a particularly favorite thing for you on this album?
The memories of doing music at Ashley's parents' house, which is a very large Victorian house with a piano room (used liberally by he and I) come back when listening. I like hearing the completely naive approach to everything: writing, performing, recording, mixing. I hear a lot of instinctive talent tempered by laziness. There are lots of things it would never occur to me to do now: the strum of the one chord for the verse of "The Powerful Mr. Mullins," for instance. It's good to hear my bass playing. I thought in terms of riffs and scales, but never time keeping. Just like the drums... no consistent tempo ever. Didn't even think about it. The much later realization that I had no ability to keep time when playing bass ruined that instrument for me. Here, on these early tapes I am still free of that knowledge and create like a Wildman of riff-o-logy.
Are there any "how did I do that?" moments for you when you listen to this album?
I mostly remember how I did stuff, but I miss some of the sounds I can't get back. I remember, to get a cave-like effect, sometimes singing through a long roll of cardboard, the inside part of a roll of wrapping paper, directly into the mic. That doesn't work with better mics. Everything went through a cheap delay pedal: the vocal mic, a cheap dynamic, plugged directly into the delay stomp box, then into the PortaStudio. By setting the knobs a certain way you could get a reasonable fake reverb and a neat full sound. I used the same effect for electric guitar through my Fender Princeton amp. I have both the pedal and the same ol' Gibson SG, but not the amp sadly. That awful drum sound is not something I'd want back, but it is kinda neat. The heads were in horrible condition (actual cracks held together with duct tape); towels were thrown over them usually when I recorded. Probably one mic was used. Other than being less lazy, I wish I'd known to roll off the bottom end EQ of acoustic guitars. There's considerable distortion that doesn't help the sound.