In these days of downloads and streaming, what the hell is a B-side anymore anyway? It obviously used to refer to what was on the other side of the 7″ vinyl single that backed up the lead song on the A-side. Some people like The Beatles and Elvis also used to release double A-sides, but I’m going to ignore them for now because if something doesn’t back up your theory you should ignore it and hope no one else notices.
I guess you could class a B-side as a track that doesn’t fit on to an album. This may be because it doesn’t fit in with the style of the album, it’s still at demo stage, you ran out of time in the studio or you simply don’t think it’s good enough to go on the album.
In the case of the track Gone from the Make It Better single, it’s kind of a case of all of the above and none of the above. This is quite a good indication of what a decisive kind of chap I am, especially as I may put it on to the album after all.
Perhaps I should explain a little. If you haven’t listen to Gone yet, it’s a simple little piano instrumental with a repeating descending phrase with a number of other melodies played over the top in turn. Have a listen here:
I wrote the music on a day when I had heard some very sad news. I went up to my studio thinking that I wouldn’t write any music that day because I was feeling sad and a bit emotional. However I started playing the piano and it all just came out and I recorded it very quickly.
I have to say that this instrument is the closest I have come to a real piano in the virtual world. Rather than using samples of a real piano like the majority of virtual pianos, Pianoteq uses physical modelling to simulate the sound using a set of equations and algorithms. To my ears it sounds absolutely brilliant, but more important than that, it’s really playable just like a really nice real piano.
So I loaded up Pianoteq in Logic Pro on the computer and started playing away. Before I really realised what I was doing I had recorded the descending left hand part. I started improvising different melodies with the right hand until I had a few that I really liked, then I organised them so that they told out a little musical story that fitted the way that I was feeling.
Next I added a few more instruments to flesh out the sound a little. I used Pianoteq again to add some Fender Rhodes Electric Piano to the middle section. I added some slow and legato strings sounds using Spectrasonics‘ Omnisphere and Native Instruments’ Kontakt 4 to add to the mood. I then added in some pad sounds, firstly using Absynth and then with a synth that is part of Reaktor 5 called SubHarmonic.
I really do love this synth a lot. I think of it as the Blade Runner synth, everything sounds very eerie, spooky and majestical. Finally I added some drums using the Jazz EZX brushes kit in Toontrack’s EZdrummer,
This is a really lovely sounding drum kit that I find myself using a lot. I added a big dose of hall convolution reverb using Space Designer in Logic Pro to keep the kit in character with the other instruments and that was that. It was all finished just as quickly as it started.
At the time I had the intention that I would come back to the track and turn it into a full song by turning the melody into a vocal and writing some lyrics, however every time I have tried I just don’t seem to be able to make anything work.
So that’s pretty much how it ended up being a B-side, because I still don’t know what to do with it. I do honestly think that it is one of the nicest things that I have written. There is certainly something to be said for it being left they way it is, reflecting the emotion of the moment that it was written in. However that’s not to say that there isn’t more to come by working on it more.
Maybe I will put it on the album after all.
See, I told you I was decisive.