02012-03-13 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

Last Fall I decided that I really disliked the sound of the Line 6 Pod Pro I had been using for a number of years. To my ears it simply does not sound like a “real” guitar amp.

So I borrowed a few amps to try, and ended up buying another Mesa Boogie – I bought my first one upon arrival in the USA in 1979, used it on “The Hours Between Night + Day” and “Opium”, and sold it in 2002, thinking that the digital way would be better (certainly convenient). The new Boogie is quite small, has a class A tube design and sounds amazing.

I recorded all of the electric guitar parts without a pick and without any kind of effect, just using my thumb, mostly, and fingers.

I also decided that I wanted to play guitar melodies that sounded “sung”. For some reason I kept thinking about old jazz and pop crooners. So I sang almost every melody first and then figured out how to play it on guitar. Perhaps this album is about guitar anti-shredding…

The album seems to continuo the idea from “Opium” of contrasting traditional and electric instruments:
percussion : drum machine
accordion : synthesizer
flamenco guitar : electric guitar (my old Vizcarra Strat)
upright bass : bass guitar

We ended up using very very little synth on this album… there are some strings on “Dancing Alone”, but most everything else is processed guitar. On “Horse”, for example, Jon played a guitar chord of mine through a speaker into his piano, with a brick on the sustain pedal, miking the piano strings. And there is some old Fender Rhodes on “Bridge” and in one or two other places.

Regarding the drum machine… I was feeling nostalgic for the old Roland 808, one of the first machines I used in 1984. But since I did not want to pay the going rate of $2,500 for a used 808, and since they are a pain anyway because one has to dial in the tempo with a knob and guess at the tempo, I found a company in the UK that sells 24/88.2 high def samples from an 808 and bought a really nice German app called “Geist” to program the beats on my laptop. The whole thing ended up costing about $300, and works better than a real 808 would.

01 Falling In
All of the sounds were created from one electric guitar chord and a few Flamenco guitar sounds. Treatment and sound design by Andrew Gaskins. This track is “Falling In” into a dream. (Andrew and I have also started a new project with the working title “One Guitar Two: Fragments Joined” for which I send Andrew improvised guitar melodies and sounds and he “joins” them and treats them. The idea came from the japanese art of Kintsugi – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi)

02 Shadow
A rumba with one little twist: it switches between a 4/4 rumba section (99BPM) and a 6/8 section (66BPM) that are related because the dotted eighth note of the 4/4 section becomes the quarter note in the 6/8 section. I was doing this naturally, but wanted to know what the hell I was doing – so Jon figured it out. I think it something that is done quite often in African music. Lovely accordion playing by Char Rothschild.

03 Horse
I found the Arabic scale on the Internet and immediately starting playing with it. I might have found it here. I added a couple of 5/4 bars in the chorus. Fun to play live. Great accordion playing, again! The cajon is also excellent and a beautiful bass solo at the end.

04/05 Bridge, Part 1 & 2
We have been playing this Tangos (Part 2 is a rumba) live for a year and a half. I love the bass w octave divider in the verses and the break with electric guitar and Fender Rhodes.

06 Sand
This one switches between rumba and tangos rhythms and different tempos that are nevertheless mathematically related. Jon suggested the upright bass which is perfect for the song. A little electric guitar outro…

07/08 Dancing Alone
I liked the song on “Petals On the Path”, but had a different vision for it. So we recorded it again and I love the way it turned out. We kept switching between two tempos on this one also. Great accordion playing, again! The ending of the Prelude is also a Flamenco guitar treatment by Andrew Gaskins.

09 Smoke
I love the interplay between guitar and accordion. During the third verse Jon plays three bass guitars and a clavinet!

10 On the Road to Shiraz
Killer bass line!! That bass break after the second verse consists of three basses, the main line, plus a low note to the right and some strumming on the left.

11 Five Clouds, Lenticular
As the title suggests this one is in 5/4. The cajon beat is some kind of Eastern European 5/4 riff. Very pretty chorus melody.

12 Night Exhales
Pretty straightforward rumba with a funky ending!

13 Horse Return
A funky section from track 03 with added dry guitar parts and drum boxing.

14 Moon Fragrance
The percussionist is Chris Steele, who is in the new touring band. He has a unique setup with two Cuban cajons, which don’t have snare strings like the Peruvian cajons. We hadn’t recorded a Bossa Nova in a few years and enjoyed playing this.

15 Sliding Out
This is the end of the dream. Guitar treatment and sound design by Andrew Gaskins.


  1. yumi

    Reading your notes to each work makes me listen, paying attention to certain parts. Important to listen in a different way.

  2. Adam Solomon

    It’s nice to hear the completed Horse after hearing SO many phases of development.

  3. Panj

    Found the Salt Art by Motoi Yamamoto today…my first thought was … ooooo … he is an ‘Ottmar’ creating with salt instead of with Strings…same complexity and simplicity melded into elegance! And both of you must have immense store houses of patience. :-) Thanks for sharing all the Music, Ottmar!

  4. Günter

    Dear Ottmar, my mum has passed away and the prelisten-tracks from Dune help me mourning. I tried “In the Arms of Love”, but the new album has a very special warmth and tenderness that I can go into and listen to again and again. Also the way you have recorded it has a warmth and smoothness that give me peace.
    Thank you for the beauty of your music.

  5. Ottmar

    Günter: May your memories be your comfort. And thanks, I am glad you are enjoying the DUNE previews.

  6. Ulrich

    Mit “On the Road to Shiraz” kommt ‘plötzlich’ eine Frische, bei der man denkt, dies wäre die erste CD von Luna Negra. Es hat soviel Spielfreude (in englisch ?), da würde ich gerne sofort auf der “Road” mitlaufen – egal wohin(?)! Das Akkordeon kommt schön versteckt daher. (PS: Was wird das auf der Tour mit der Trompete? Da hat der Trompeter einiges – auch leise – zu leisten!)

    Bei einigen der bisher veröffentlichten Songs steckt neuer Spielwitz und (alte, gesammelte) Erfahrung darin.

    Was kommt da noch? :-)

  7. Ottmar

    Vielen Dank Ulrich. Spielfreude – ja da glaube ich hast du Recht. Ich hatte viel Spass bei den Aufnahmen!

    “Spielfreude” – literally play-joy, the joy of playing.
    “Spielwitz” – another nice German word… “Witz” can mean joke, but also wit, wisecrack or gag. Playing a game like a fox.

    Which reminds me of another word that does not have an English equivalent, “Sehnsucht”. It is generally translated as longing or yearning, but it is actually made up of the two words of “sehnen”, which is longing and “sucht”, which means obsession or addiction. Perhaps “obsessed with longing” would be a good translation.

  8. Steve(brokerbiker)

    Listening to Dune on iem’s sitting in sun after day 1 MS 150 Houston to Austin and reading your recording notes. Relaxed!

  9. Luz50

    Go Steve, go!


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