THE FRENCH AFFAIR

The photo above shows the test pressing of our new record. The album, titled “In The Clearing”, will be released on Crispin Glover records later this year.

Picking up the test pressing earlier today reminded me that a creative process starting nearly a year ago has reached its final stages. That realization is as exciting as it is frightening – every time. Why? Well, because the moment we OK the sound on the disc the final manufacturing will start and the music is sealed. Then, eventually, we’ll have to share what’s been exclusively our little musical playground with the outside world. Of course that’s been our plan all along, but still…….Well, you know….. sticking your head out, different opinions, reviews and all of that. But what the heck – We’re proud as hell of our new musical baby.

The journey started the last week of May 2018. We packed our bags, some new songs and headed off to this gem of a recording studio in western France.

Studio Black Box is located in Noyant-la-Gravoyere in the region Pays de la Loire and has beautiful surroundings. Still, and probably more important, Studio Black Box turned out to be a top notch musical treasure chamber, full of vintage gear and instruments. In our experience vintage often equals “looks cool, but out of order”. However, this was definitely not the case here. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of studio owner and engineer Peter Deimel, every single nob, cable and gadget in sight was fully operative. There were several occasions during our stay when Thomas, our keyboard player, would call out: “Hey! It works!” Peter would simply reply: “Of course it works”, but in a way that suggested that he didn’t quite understand the enthusiasm – “Why own stuff that doesn’t work?” 

Eleven new songs were recorded during the course of a week, nine of which make up the new record. Having produced the first four albums ourselves we all felt time was ripe for a new set of ears to be included in the production part of the process. After discussing a few possible candidates, producer and musician Lars Horntveth (Jaga Jazzist, Amgala Temple) was invited in to help us push our musical envelope.

The band went in mentally prepared and motivated to go places we hadn’t been before. We WANTED to be produced. That probably gave Lars the space he required to play all his tricks on us. Not only is Lars Horntveth a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist and producer, he also had very fine-tuned, vigilant ears when listening to our new compositions. This meant he could easily supply the necessary “what if we tried”, whenever we got stuck in one of our musical Gordian knots. Neither was he the kind of producer that simply sits in the control room telling the band what to play over the talkback. He was in the recording room with us all through the sessions, playing a variety of instruments on every song. 

Back in Trondheim we allowed ourselves some time off and away from the recordings. A couple of months later, rested and with a healthy distance from the initial sessions, we added the last backup vocals needed. Lars, on his part, brought in Martin Windstad for percussion work, recorded horns and tons of other stuff in his studio in Oslo.

After all the necessary recordings were done, Lars brought the sessions to Blanca Studio in Bergen, where he and Matias Tellez mixed the album.

Listening to the aforementioned test pressing right now, it’s safe to say that “In The Clearing” has turned out our most organic and detail-rich record to date. Not in the sense that it feels over packed with information. Matias and Lars have laid out the sounds and composed the soundscapes with such delicacy, leaving enough air between the different layers for the listener to be able to take it all in.

Keep dropping by for more updates in the weeks and months to come, in the meantime: Get your earphones ready.

Cheers from everyone here at Sugarfoot HQ

March 2019 / Øyvind Holm

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