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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:41 pm 
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Here's what I remember of my Jan 23 & 28 and Feb 4 viewings:

Friday, January 23, 1 pm.

The band and producer are sat in a circle: Polly Jean Harvey at 12 o'clock, Mark "Flood" Ellis at 2 o'clock, Terry Edwards at 4 o'clock, Alessandro Stefana at 6 o'clock, John Parish at 8 o'clock, Enrico Gabrielli at 9 o'clock, and Kenrick Rowe at 11 o'clock.

Sound engineer Rob Kirwan operates outside of the circle at 4 o'clock and is mostly hidden from view, behind his work station. Assistant sound engineer Adam "Cecil" Bartlett sits on a foot stool just outside the circle at 3 o'clock.

Photographer Seamus Murphy moves among us, filming in the public gallery.

Mic stands, headphone mixers and instruments surround each musician's chair - a violin sits atop an old upright piano behind Polly, an olympic white Fender Jaguar on a stand to her left, a Rosen autoharp in front, a saxophone and an ornate guitar-bodied hurdy gurdy to her right.

The band is recording vocal overdubs to an as-yet unidentified song, singing in unison: "Nobody asked us/if we want them."

Polly says that she wants to add another voice in the upper register and asks if any of the guys can reach the high note - they all try, but only Enrico and Cecil come anywhere close; lots of laughter ensues.

Cecil steps up to Terry's mic to deliver the vocal, he seems shy but his voice holds up well.

Polly expresses concern that the "d" in "asked" isn't sounding pronounced enough, Flood warns that it may become too plosive if everyone starts enunciating properly, Polly asks that everyone at least hear it in their minds as they're singing.

Flood asks Polly if she'd like the "Rules and regulations" refrain to fade in, Polly says that she hasn't thought that far ahead yet.

The band moves on to another song, "Guilty;" Rob and Cecil adjust the mics as the band members pick up their instruments.

John explains that he isn't comfortable with the strumming pattern on this particular number - there's a pause that he would prefer to play through. Flood asks John if he'd be prepared to try it both ways and see what sticks. John decides to pass and hands the sunburst Fender Jazzmaster to Alessandro to play instead.

The headphone/monitor mix begins and Polly lays down some saxophone, Enrico some bass clarinet, and Terry some flute.

-------------------

Wednesday, January 28, 3pm

The band and producer are sat in a loose circle: Polly Jean Harvey at 12 o'clock, Flood at 2 o'clock, Mick Harvey at 4 o'clock & 6 o'clock (depending whether he's on vox or keys), John Parish at 8 o'clock, and Jean-Marc Butty at 11 o'clock.

Seamus Murphy is filming inside the live room, sitting on a couch at 9 o'clock.

The band is working on a song called "Imagine This," a sombre tune that conjures up images of blindfolded men being led away to a watery grave:

"Imagine this/around your eyes/a rag is tied/and you're on a track/right hand on the back/of another man."

Jean-Marc is on his feet recording a vocal overdub, singing lines from the chorus in a low voice; he seems to be having difficulty with timing and is glad when his take is finally wrapped up.

Flood then takes a turn on the mic, singing lines from the verse in a falsetto; he's straining and is also having issues with timing. Mick ribs him, enjoying the boot being on the other foot.

Polly wonders if they should all sing the song through again, but with more punch, as it's sounding too pretty and ethereal. She wants to take another stab at her lead vocal too, making it louder and more forceful.

Polly stands up, removes her jacket and delivers a pristine lead vocal take.

The rest of the band then prepare to re-record their backing vocals in unison. Someone suggests that they do 3 passes and imitate each other's vocal style on each pass. Polly thinks it's a decent idea and might give it an interesting timbre.

They run through the song again. Mick's the one having timing issues now, with one of the lines coming in on an off-beat.

The band listen to the song on playback. Polly thinks it's sounding pretty good, but that it's feeling a bit slow; she's worried it's becoming "Ploddy." Polly recalls how this was the first song she wrote after Let England Shake.

Flood agrees that the rhythm section could use some tightening up. He suggests using varispeed, but Polly questions whether that might throw the drums out of tune with the guitars.

--------------

Wednesday, February 4, 6pm

The band and producer are sat in a loose circle: Polly Jean Harvey is ensconced on a couch at 9 o'clock alongside a woman I don't recognise, Jean-Marc Butty is at 11 o'clock, Alain Johannes at 1 o'clock, Flood at 2 o'clock, Mike Smith at 4 o'clock, Mick Harvey at 6 o'clock, and John Parish at 8 o'clock.

The band is working on a song called "The Orange Monkey," in which Polly appears to describe a tour of Southeast Asia and an encounter with an Orangutan:

"Restlessness took hold my brain/with questions I could not hold back/an orange monkey on a chain."

Jean-Marc is playing a bass drum and a crash cymbal with a soft timpani mallet, Alain is strumming an 8-string cigar box guitar, Mike is playing saxophone, and Mick is playing a Moog Taurus bass pedal synthesizer with his hands.

Mick is trying to figure out verse/chorus transitions, he tries several different variations before hitting on one he likes, his movements becoming more exaggerated with each turn. Mick points to a line in the song, "a happy chaos/carried on," which he feels pretty much encapsulates the moment.

John says that he liked what Mick did on the 2nd and 3rd, even if it was a bit "wayward," and flashes him an impish smile.

With the synth and sax parts sounding good, Flood suggests that they move on to the coda. The band pick up the song towards the end of the last verse and play through to the end, the music gently falling away.

Alain then prepares to record a separate cigar box guitar track. Polly moves over to an empty chair at 12 o'clock to listen-in to the running headphone/monitor mix, Mick moves to the couch beside Flood at 2 o'clock, and Mike to the other couch at 9 o'clock.

On this take, Alain taps at the strings of the cigar box guitar, instead of strumming or picking them. On completion, Mick and Flood offer some feedback, suggesting a few tweaks, but Polly says she likes the take as it is. Alain compares the sound at one point to swirling water rapids, which seems fitting.

The band check their watches and decide to listen back to a couple of the songs from previous weeks, Polly says she can barely remember them now.

The first song we hear on playback is "Age Of The Dollar." The mix is sparse, just Polly's vocals, some percussion and woodwind. The song has a distinctly jazzy feel and Polly's voice is deep and full of character.

Polly, now settled on Mick's old chair at 6 o'clock, remarks that there are "big holes" in this number. She also has an issue with a trilling sound, which she feels is going to wear on her nerves quite quickly. She says she likes the general feel of the song, but that it needs something to draw the listener to the words.

Next up is a song called "A Line In The Sand," which Flood suggests was once titled "A Line In The School." We hear up to the second verse or so, when the sound cuts out; our allotted time is up.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:51 am 
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I took this snapshot at the Somerset House. Ain't a good scan and there's some reflection… but the resolution is high enough to read a lot of the words. I didn't buy these reproductions, only got the set of portcards.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:56 am 
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error wrote:
I took this snapshot at the Somerset House.

Wow, thanks a ton, man!!

Here's my "fix" of the "reflection situation" on "The Ministry of Social Affairs" sheet:
Spoiler! :
Image


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:40 am 
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error wrote:
I went last saturday (valentine’s day) to the 3 p.m. session. They (Polly & Alain + Flood & Parish) were fine tuning guitar bits for one song (don’t know which one). No singing during this session, I guess those parts are done.

"The day I see Recording in Process (Valentine’s Day) Harvey’s guitar is making “the shittiest guitar sound” her producer Flood had ever managed to make someone produce. There’s also scratching heard in her headphones and the slide guitar doesn't make the song they’re working on ("A Line in the Sand") happy which is how Harvey intends the song to sound. At least five minutes were spent trying to figure out which instrument was causing an irritating hum that reverberated within the studio. Watching this from the other-side of the one way mirror (she can’t see the audience) you realise just how boring the recording process can be. However, there are brief flashes of excitement when a track is adjusted and put under scrutiny, potentially changing the very nature of the album."

"We only heard brief snippets of the songs which may or may not be featured in her latest album and during this particular slot Harvey did not sing one note. Instead, the process of creation with all its mundane coffee sipping and dry humour took centre stage."

"Despite it being the last day of Recording in Progress Harvey had yet to finish her album. On a giant poster at the back of the studio where all the prospective titles are handwritten, four remained untouched while the others were crossed out."

https://medium.com/@emifinch/pj-harvey-recording-in-progress-439e366f86ab


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:40 pm 
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Image

Original darker picture:

Spoiler! :
Image


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:29 pm 
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thanks to everybody who contributed to this thread; i keep getting the little facebook notices but there's nothing quite like reading the fans impressions, it's you who has me psyched for this record!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:28 pm 
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Feb 14: "In the white box studio, which reminded me of the snake house in a zoo, she looked small, thin, with long unkempt hair. She sat still and straight-backed as she played her riffs with headphones nestled over her hair, and when she spoke (I didn’t get to hear her sing) it was with a small English voice."

"Much of the session was spent on a guitar riff that didn’t seem to be working. The riff was tried louder and softer, with more or less distortion, until Parish unfolded himself from his cross-legged, chin-tipped listening position and said the guitar was ‘killing the song’. Harvey suggested an organ to replace the guitar, and added a note to the handwritten song chart on the back wall: ‘needs rhythmic musicality’.

We, the unobserved spectators, couldn’t hear what was wrong because we could only hear part of the whole. Like sitting next to someone on the bus singing along to the music in their ears, we could hear the guitar and fragments of the vocals but not the drums and other instruments that Harvey could hear through her headphones. I’d lost sense of time in this clockless milky-pale basement hearing the same riff over and over again and started to worry that my 45 minutes were up.

Abandoning the guitar led to a frenzy of new ideas, and the new problem of how to describe them. They tried out odd noises: plinky plink zzzzzhh dung-gang dung-gang dung-gang tig-ting tig-ting tig-ting. Apart from the mouth organs, there was Harvey’s autoharp, her saxophone, a sweet potato of a maraca, a violin, a beaten-up piano as well as drums and guitars. ‘Just like a minor drone, isn’t it?’ Harvey said of an added keyboard part. ‘It sounds a bit sad, a bit mafiosa,’ someone else said. ‘As long as it’s not skanky,’ Harvey said, ‘you can do anything."

http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/02/20/joanna-biggs/pj-through-the-one-way-glass/


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:17 pm 
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Kuk91 wrote:
About February 7: "The working group were in playback mode, listening to a song ‘A Dog Called Money’, going back and forth between two very different versions of the same song: discussing which they preferred in pace, rhythm and feel. Differences of opinion highlighted a tactful yet comfortable diplomacy, which became even more evident when they moved onto another song: one which Flood didn’t feel was working. A discussion erupted around whether to ‘cull or keep’ the track. PJ was emphatic that she wasn’t yet ready to let this song go, though agreed its current semblance wasn’t up to scratch. Sensing that Flood also didn’t want to waste time, she immediately offered a resolution that they’d set a time by which they’d decide. <...>"

Italian article about 7th February: http://www.tomtomrock.it/2-non-categorizzato/691-pj-harvey-recording-in-progress-somerset-house-london.html.

The band listened to two different versions of "A Dog Called Money", and they describe the first one as a cross between "White Chalk" and "Let England Shake", but the band prefers second version, which is more "syncopated" (reggae-ish, blues-ey).

Then they listen to 3 different ("one worst than the other") versions of "The Boy". John Parish calls the song "bollocks", Flood says "It's not completely hideous", Polly wants to give it another chance.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:40 am 
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Kuk91 wrote:
Kuk91 wrote:
About February 7: "The working group were in playback mode, listening to a song ‘A Dog Called Money’, going back and forth between two very different versions of the same song: discussing which they preferred in pace, rhythm and feel. Differences of opinion highlighted a tactful yet comfortable diplomacy, which became even more evident when they moved onto another song: one which Flood didn’t feel was working. A discussion erupted around whether to ‘cull or keep’ the track. PJ was emphatic that she wasn’t yet ready to let this song go, though agreed its current semblance wasn’t up to scratch. Sensing that Flood also didn’t want to waste time, she immediately offered a resolution that they’d set a time by which they’d decide. <...>"

Italian article about 7th February: http://www.tomtomrock.it/2-non-categorizzato/691-pj-harvey-recording-in-progress-somerset-house-london.html.

The band listened to two different versions of "A Dog Called Money", and they describe the first one as a cross between "White Chalk" and "Let England Shake", but the band prefers second version, which is more "syncopated" (reggae-ish, blues-ey).

Then they listen to 3 different ("one worst than the other") versions of "The Boy". John Parish calls the song "bollocks", Flood says "It's not completely hideous", Polly wants to give it another chance.


I can help you, I'm Italian ...
The reporter describes his experience at Sommerset House.
The first song is heard "The dog called money," recalls "The White Chalk" and "Let England Shake". Run two versions, these are discussed, but the second version is more popular with musicians. The syncopated rhythm seems, I think it means something that reminds the reggae rhythm.
The second song is "The boy", but the versions performed not convince anyone, even if PJ is intended to give the song more chances.
Once the report, the reporter asks himself if artists take part intimate moments more for artistic creation, or if they are completely at ease during this experience.

Sorry for the translation, see you.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:37 pm 
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Kuk91 wrote:

19 song listed
one already canceled
sounds promising


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:20 pm 
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Kuk91 wrote:
Feb 13 - "I literally was behind her while she was on the drums": http://iconosquare.com/p/919562876778263809_194000076#/detail/919562876778263809_194000076.

Norwegian article - http://radionova.no/artikkel/pj-harvey-spiller-inn.

Apparently, that's about 13th February as well, because according to Google translator, they say that Polly was playing on "scrawny drums and taking regular sips of her coffee cup", while James Johnston (from "Gallon Drunk") played guitar and sang lead vocals (?).

Google translator: "Seamus Murphy, who has also been responsible for both film and photography around Let England Shake album, chugging around and taking pictures. Producer Flood turns on effects, and gets saksofonlyd to crackle. They take up one version, but decides eventually to try another. Polly explains the pace she wants song - ever even faster - while John tries to get so dry sound from snare as possible.

In the studio as we peek into the atmosphere so incredibly popular and pleasant that they velvet coated stairs and narrow hallways forgotten once. Polly moving sandwich Flood has put down on the shelf with microphones, techniques assistant smiles a lot and trotted around with mauve Bon Iver T-shirt, and they discuss easy - it was really just clichéd, or was it cool? Artist Tribute and big thoughts musician genius has completely disappeared, and that usually the public is a closed and final album, becomes something unpretentious, lively and very open. The laughing and joking, we smile with."

P.S.: I've just noticed that it's my 100th post in this particular thread. ))) I think, we can easily rename it as "Almost chronological history of web-publications about Recording in Progress".
_________________________________________________________________________

By the way, from what I can tell off of those lyric sheets photos, it would appear that song "I'll Be Waiting" (which approximate lyrics were written down as Polly sang it by one of the visitors) is based upon the poem "The Children".


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:02 pm 
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"At the very last session a note was played too loudly. There could have been annoyance or irritation; instead we saw PJ and the team rolling with laughter."

"There was one occasion when someone in her team told her that a particular song was awful. It needed to be removed from the play list. Was she going to be the pop-diva and insist that it remain or would she listen and respect the opinion of others in her team? We saw her walk across to her list of songs stuck on the wall and using a red pen put a line through one of them. It was the way she did it that was special. It was tongue-in-cheek with mock sadness. Funny, honest and full of respect for her team. Wonderful!" [song is, probably, "The Boy"]

"One time, Flood suggested some heavy breathing to add to the music. A lot of musicians might balk at such an idea. In the spirit of adventure fostered by her environment, it was tried- amidst laughter- and it looks like the heavy breathing worked and will probably make it into the album."

"Leaders use intuition to read people: intuitive leaders can sense instinctively emotional changes in the work environment. Intuitive leaders can sense rising stress levels; they can sense when a member of their team is carrying a great personal burden, and they can sense when an appropriate time presents itself to make a meaningful connection. Talking to some of the musicians at the after-party, I was not surprised to hear their stories and how much PJ connected with them on a personal level."

"At the after-party, talking to all the team members the same points were repeated again and again. The feeling of respect, being inspired, believing in PJ Harvey’s vision and feeling part of it."

https://www.i-l-m.com/Insight/Edge/2015/March/pj-harvey-lessons-in-leadership

Yet another irritating confirmation of "early 2016" release date - WHY SO LONG?!!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:17 pm 
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That's too long - I want it now! :shades:


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:24 pm 
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Italian article: http://www.nerdsattack.net/london-diaries-part-2/.

About February 3rd (via Google translator): "Outside, however, speakers allow us to hear anything from the microphones. And especially to see PJ Harvey take up a sax, in the company of a dozen people, including the producer Flood, sound engineer, assistant and the other musicians: there is a wonderful vocal track already recorded and that serves as the basis for adding first two saxes (?) and a horn, then PJ alone for an additional sax track: the atmosphere seems relaxed but feverish, those last two lines just do not go, but eventually [Polly?] succeeds in [her] intent and rejoices with clenched fist and a happy "Yeeesssss!". On a wall, a sort of to-do-list: titles of songs but, judging by checkmarks and erasures, only one is complete, many in progress but also some completely untouched. The experience is really intimate and interesting, as I said elsewhere in a comment puzzled, "is like seeing her and her friends intent on building a puzzle that do not have the solution and to which you can watch for an hour": personally I expect a lot from her upcoming album after having appreciated "Let England Shake" and I find that the experience is remarkable even from a marketing: how many people are able to attend the birth of an album or a single track of their favorite musicians? We come out quite satisfied."


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:34 pm 
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Kuk91 wrote:
http://www.uncut.co.uk/blog/uncut-editors-diary/reviewed-pj-harvey-recording-in-progress-somerset-house-london-january-20-2

"The strength and clarity of Harvey's vocal is uncannily consistent and, while she allows Flood to do most of the talking, her constant alertness, the way she turns precisely to look at whoever is talking, is striking."

"While her recorded voice plays, she pulls comically aggressive faces at Flood and bends her knees in time to the beat."

"She picks up a sheet from her music stand and makes a note. "It's starting to sound pretty interesting now," she says, approvingly. "How's the song going?" asks Flood. "I don't know where the song is," she laughs."

Czech article about the same session as in Uncut review (January 20): http://www.muzikus.cz/publicistika/Nahlednuti-do-petihvezdickove-hudebni-kuchyne~24~unor~2015/.

The song is "Homo Sappy Blues", via Google translator:

"Rich sound from the speakers is not so clear as to fully understand the text in the chorus but Harvey sings something like "What god sent you / Sent you from your cave / I need your wisdom / ..." . Even in this raw form song sounds very impressive and it seems that none of us get tired of listening to it again and again."

"Flood comes up with the idea to start a whole song in the style of marching bands, Harvey would nevertheless still like to hear John's part played on the snare and Flood proposes "last experiment": Parish and Rowe exchange places and both play John's part. In addition Terry Edwards with the melody that produce dissonance, and the response is positive again: "That sounds interesting, total crazy," notes Harvey and Flood is not far behind: "I love it! The rest is good, just try to refine what Terry does.""


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