LAYERS: Breaking Down Blithe Field's "Andrew's Lake"
Blithe Field‘s album covers are sentimental family photos, which works pretty damn well with the nostalgia-laden melodies of his songs. While it’s all very soothing and meditative, he also knows how to drop in thumping beat at just the right intensity level to keep things mellow yet driven. Such is the case on “Andrew’s Lake,” the song he broke down for this week’s LAYERS. Let’s dive in.
So this layer is pretty self-explanitory and a bit boring, but I forgot how off-beat they are for the most part because I didn’t want to quantize or anything, which is sort of silly in retrospect, but I suppose it worked out. I think these originally came from your run-of -the-mill preset drum kit with a bit of pitching/effects.
So this is my favorite layer, for likely obvious reasons. Instead of just uploading the stem with “HELLO” and the cooing sound on loop, I went back and found the source tape that I pulled those samples from. This turned into hours of going through tapes and finding a handful of really great things I thought I’d lost. Anyway, this tape came in a micro cassette recorder i got from my friend Andrew when he left school to go adventuring (and subsequently left most of his possessions behind). That was the basis for this track and it’s fun to go back and hear the context of the samples (which are relatively nonsensical, but you know). Both samples from the final song occur towards the end.
Bass and Lead
I remember when I did the bass for this I was really excited because I had just figured out how to do muting on the MPC which allowed me to make the jumpy sound where when one note plays, the previous one gets cut off. I had always been fond of [this technique] but never knew how to do it. I believe I just used a normal acoustic guitar for this and pitched it down, because I’ve never owned a bass or bass synth. The lead guitar was a last minute addition thrown into the mix, and you can kind of tell because it is a bit off-tempo from the rest of the song—I knew this when I was making it, but for some reason that escapes me now. I wasn’t able to re-record it.
This is where the main loop from the song comes in. For this I did the same as the vocal samples, went back and found the original tape so you can hear the cut in its context. This time I went ahead and put the actual segment at the beginning for those who don’t want to sift through the rest. Around this time, I was recording a lot of random guitar stuff to tape to sample later. I would tape down the record buttons on a toy recorder and just doodle on guitar then go through it later. That’s actually how a lot of Warm Blood came about—you can hear the main loop to another song or two from the album in this cut as well as if you listen carefully. I had the recorder running through a flanger because at this time I wanted the album to be super flanger heavy. This idea kinda got lost somewhere along the line, but it definitely gets showcased in “Andrew’s Lake.”
Put them all together and here’s what you get, “Andrew’s Lake” by Blithe Field.