(That's been my signature introduction for years, but I still have no idea what it means!)
Whilst waiting for the Katzengesang session to continue, I've been having a play around with many aspects of music.
First, comes the technical guitar playing. I've been putting in ~3 hours a day recently, just playing along to simple stuff like the Katzengesang songs and the Dead Kennedys. Both are really good things to play along to, because the playing itself is fun and interesting, and are good practice for getting tight. There are plenty of open strings to mute, difficult bends and awkward passages that are hard to pull off from cold. It's really quite a challenge to sing and play like that.
I still can't quite nail the tremolo picking solo of moon over marin. Those 4 bars have eluded me for 4 many years! I either seem to get the picking angle wrong for the solo, or get the phrasing wrong. It's stupid. Anyone in their right mind should be able to play that like Ray does, but for some reason I just can't do it.
I've spent two months going back over almost everything I've ever played or written, fine combing through with a toothpick and correcting poor technique. I'm definitely sounding tighter, but I do still sound extremely sloppy. But hey, that's the problem with becoming an audiophile and music analyst; you find yourself developing insatiable standards.
I restrung and set up the Les Paul today, which obviously puts your intonation out temporarily. The frets are really starting to look well used, but the thing's only a year old. Never mind, I'll just have to raise and raise the action until I can get a refret next summer.
I'm using a shallower neck relief, which is making vibrato on the treble strings a bit of a cunt. I'm also having a problem just fretting notes with my ring figer, the strings are getting lost in my flesh because I sanded down my impressive callus (..!)
I've become a bit of a nerd, because I spend at least an hour with my MP3 player listening to various stages of the Katengesang rehearsals and making notes. Doing this has given me a much clearer idea of what I want the record to sound like (the inherent Skulf "blue" ness I've always had, with a hint of fiery crimson from the live drums). I also, of course, know what needs improving and such.
The solos are mostly written now. This is unusual, because whenever I've made demos and recordings before I've largely improvised any lead parts. Sometimes I've had an adrenaline rush, and have needed a few weeks of practice to be able to play the solo I've laid down.
If that wasn't eventually achievable with practice, it would be a good example of human transcendence.
So far, my mental picture of the Sherlock Album is that of a much more dynamic, three dimensional record. Time shall tell.