"The Futurist" is released tomorrow (NZDT and elsewhere at 12:00AM, 10 January local time).
As I listen to the song now, I'm struck by a sense that we achieved what we set out to do with this one. I've written before about the vulnerability necessary to the creative process to explore unarticulated ideas. With this track, the path was perhaps a bit clearer to me.
Here are some of my reflections.
For one thing, it's short at 2:45. I wanted to Domes to be able to emulate a punch in the face: musically emphatic and concise statements that didn't labour the point. This would be a deliberate departure from whatever protracted "progressive rock" thing we had done before in other bands.
The chorus chord progression was the first thing I wrote; the verse riff just a hard punctuation mark for the uplifting chords that preceded it on the demo. I got a lot of satisfaction from the call-to-action effect of that progression and an overdubbed guitar melody line that we simply transposed to the main vocal. Still, it needed a counterpart that was harmonically contrasting and perhaps rhythmically off-kilter.
The first version of the riff was much more spasmodic which was personally gratifying as a basic homage to The Dillinger Escape Plan. However, its odd accents and timing created less cohesion than controlled chaos when we tested it as a band. The final iteration is more streamlined but retained some of the evil passing notes that, if a little derivative as a single-note guitar riff, were effective once we re-engineered the drums.
And we poured work into that one drum pattern. Each of us had one particularly challenging moment in the recording sessions, usually arising from an extended period of experimentation with a seemingly innocuous component. Credit to Dave Holmes for coaching us and pushing hard in those instances to create meaningful moments—and to Dan for persevering in service of the song through disciplined restraint and deliberate dynamics.
One of my shortcomings as a writer has been long instrumental sections that perhaps lack vocal content where a singer who didn't also play guitar may have otherwise developed complementary ideas. I was delighted when Brendon, in my view, "solved" the song with a slowed down extrapolation that made a worthy bridge back into a chorus refrain. Simple, effective and a great reason for an atmospheric bass solo. With our experiments in lyric writing, it also seemed like an opportunity to try a spoken word section—a type of performance I hadn't recorded before. I'm pleased with how this came out and recall that finding the right delivery for speech in the mix was very particular and that the voices are two separate takes with minor variances (rather than a delay effect on the main vocal) to create a sense of communing with the dreamscape described.
The two-count drumstick intro was the pick in a list of potential samples to introduce the track. The options included a Godzilla toy scream, field recordings from our daily train commute to the studio and pre-emptive in-takes of breath. It's one of those funny details that can become an Easter egg for a musician's experience of their own work.
You can hear much of this in the preview we shared. If you're reading this on 10 January, I hope you enjoy the full track and that these thoughts may provide an interesting lens.
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