Behind the acoustic cover of “Arriving Somewhere…”

Arriving_cover

The idea of playing a cover of “Arriving Somewhere but Not Here” by the venerable Porcupine Tree was by our very own Shounak Roy. Fresh off a college gig where he had played some of the introductory keyboards and most of the guitar parts for the same song, he suggested that we try it out for our maiden show with Shawn Jacob. We were still rehearsing and it seems like a good, long song that suited the bands sound.

Shounak also asked Arpit to play something while the introductory swirling pads created the atmosphere in the background. Some rehearsals and a lot of reprogramming of backing keyboards later (this is where I have developed mad respect for Richard Barbieri), we ended up playing a pretty nice rendition of the song.

After the show, Shawn suggested that we should do an acoustic cover of the song. It had not been attempted before. Even normal cover versions of the song were hard to come by on YouTube.

Although the track is very popular among modern prog-rock fans, the song isn’t that straightforward to do once you start deconstructing the elements. The process of deconstruction and replacing elements with alternative “interpretations” is also not a straightforward thing. In doing so, one can easily steer away from the essence of the song. In fact, it was so challenging that we had to revisit certain choices and redo parts just because it did not feel right.

Here are some of the decisions that ended up shaping the cover.

Firstly, the length of the song was trimmed. Especially, before the introduction of the first vocal line and the last round of guitar solo played with a volume pedal driven swell. I ended up using a version of the background ambient track that we had used in our live show.

Secondly, the drum is actually a cajon acting as a kick drum and a muted snare drum mic’ed using two overheads, one kick and two room mics. It gave a nice earthy sound. However, it was a massive work to shape the tone and make it work with the track during mixing. I am happy how it all turned out.

Shawn with his peace sign. Notice the mismatched overhead mics.

Shawn with his peace sign. Notice the mismatched overhead mics.

Close-up of the cajon setup.

Close-up of the cajon setup.

Thirdly, the introductory violin piece is the very first piece played by Arpit. We revisited the piece for an alternate version many a times, but in the end, I chose to incorporate that instead of all others. For me it sounded the most authentic.

Arpit tracking violin in my room.

Arpit tracking violin in my room.

Fourthly, the instrumental interlude has a small vocal part. Also, a bit of “aahs” were added to the beginning of the second verse. Some other parts of the original song were shifted to the violin.

Fifthly, Shounak tracked a very nice outro for the song that is a big departure from the original. I ended up liking it so much that I learned how to play it.

Penultimately, I decided to tackle the softer solo between the heavy instrumental interlude and the third verse using an electric guitar instead of an acoustic. (Yes! Even though we have labelled it as an acoustic cover.)

Lastly, The original vocals are delivered in a very flat manner according to Sudipto. In my opinion, he put a bit more melodic soul to the otherwise “flatter” approach preferred by Mr. Wilson. Sadly, I don’t know how to qualitatively describe what he means although I can appreciate the difference.

Shawn tracking Sudipto's vocals at Sound Awake Studios.

Shawn tracking Sudipto’s vocals at Sound Awake Studios.

The only person who didn’t have to revisit anything was Sricharan with the bass. He is so good as a player that he had to sit through it once and he was done with it.

After all that’s said and done, we had to make a video for YouTube. Let’s face it, no one likes to listen to songs without any visuals nowadays. I believe I threw in this idea to showcase Shounak’s work as a photographer and use it as a slide show. Of course he had to choose appropriate images that went with the words and the music. In the end, the art direction of the video was well appreciated by the community.

– Sauvik

In search of the next level!

It’s all about finding your own space in an ever changing demography of listeners. Somewhere in between that you have to evolve as a musician and at the same time continue to have a connect with your audience. But the most important thing is to learn everyday and we believe if we can continue doing that, the above two factors would be taken care of automatically.

Dark Project’s songs have been far from “Dark” and have reflected moods of melody that seemed incomplete instrumentally on some of the songs. This lead us to believe that a violin would really close that gap along with a MIDI keyboard. Hence began the quest for searching a person who could instantly connect with the band and improvise on our songs without much effort. Such a quest brought us to Arpit Behra, who appeared to be this unpolished diamond who was not too prejudiced to impose his training in Hindustani Classical music for 7 years on us. Instead, he was open to venture out with us in this journey. We hit it off with him from the very first day.

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180309212702920_COVER

Now it’s all about finding that next level with him. Albeit we already have improvised on 5 of our songs with Arpit collaborating. There are some interesting times ahead of us musically. You have to be with us as we search for the “next level”.

Introducing Shawn Jacob!

dp_Jam edits (11) (1)

We started looking out for a drummer as soon as Korak gave us the dates of his departure from the band. This was like a typical 3 month notice period that most of the companies today ask from their employees. However, it’s hard to backfill someone so influential in even as many as 3-4 months time. We found it out the hard way. We went through atleast 10 drummers – jamming with them to see if they fit our music and most importantly our ideology. While we met a lot of talented people on the way – it still did not click to a point where we would say YES – he/she is the one!

However, something was special about a kid by the name of Shawn Jacob that got the band interested from the first day onwards. Shawn is from Trivandrum and comes with over 10 years of drumming experience. He is not only a drummer but a man who’s decided to dedicate his life to music. He does production for other bands, besides teaching drums at LetsMakeSomeMusic in Indiranagar. He occasionally indulges in teaching vocal classes as well which means Sudipto will now have two guys in the band who are more qualified than him to sing the seconds. Sri Charan being the other Indian Classical Vocalist.

Shawn has got the band wanting and willing to do things that we never achieved in the last 10 years. He pushes the bar a notch or two higher and his chemistry with SC on the bass is something to look out for (aka the drum-bass lock).  Ladies and Gentlemen – say hello to Shawn Jacob on the drums!!

Korak departs!

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-19 at 8.30.06 PM (1)

Korak Sarkar was with Dark Project since 2009. However, after completing his PhD in record time in IISc Bangalore, he has decided to pursue his post doctorate degree from Georgia Tech in the USA. This means that we had to say a long good bye to him after 9 long years with the band. Korak was not only instrumental with his drum playing but he is also a great friend to all of us. He left us a void that would be hard for anyone to fill. But then unlike the previous members of Dark Project – he is still pretty much a part of the band and we plan to meet soon, Jam soon and play live someday soon with him.

Till that day arrives, here’s wishing our co-brother, a good time studying abroad!

We broke our 4.5 year long break: all thanks to everyone who attended!

Yesterday we had our first show after a long 4.5 year break. And it was amazing. What made the show even more special was you – the people who had braved Bangalore traffic, a dug-up Church Street and the late evening drizzle to attend this special event.

IMG_20170914_175725

Mriganka Baruah, the resident engineer of blueFrog, helped us setup our sound. He did a phenomenal job!

This was also our first live show with Shounak and Sricharan. We had gelled pretty well and were confident that the show would be pretty tight.

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-15 at 12.59.22 AM

We played a one-and-a-half hour setlist spanning our catalogue and also threw in a couple of covers to spice things up.

We had a great time.

Thank you all for the great show!!

IMG_20170914_210230

Dark Project Live at blueFROG, Bangalore

dark project

Hey there,

Dark Project is BACK playing gigs and what better venue to play it at than blueFROG, Bangalore.

Come and see us play a brand new playlist on 14th September 2017 from 8:30 PM onwards.

You can take a ride via namma metro and literally land right on the venue. (Just make sure you get down at M.G. Road station)

Tickets are available on BookmyShow.

Cheers,

Dark Project Team

Tintin pays a visit

Korak’s brother, Mouktik, or as he is commonly known as, Tintin, visited us last Sunday. We have known him ever since he was a high school student.

We had also carried a few cameras to record our rehearsals. It is an indispensable tool to analyse and work on parts at the comfort of our homes at a later time.

Last week’s session with Shounak really helped me dial in my tones. He has much more experience as a stage musician than me. He has this sense of what tones may work on stage even if it sounds weird in isolation. I was pretty happy with the improvement. I must say we are getting closer in terms of sound and tightness. Two more sessions and we will have the entire 12-track setlist nailed.

Here is a collage of various songs we had filmed for our reference –

Tintin is gearing up for his graduate studies. We wish him all the very best in his academic and musical endeavours.

L-R: Sudipto, Sricharan, Tintin, Korak, Shounak and me.

L-R: Sudipto, Sricharan, Tintin, Korak, Shounak and me.

– Sauvik

Pedals and pizzas

Today, Shounak came to my house. Our agenda was to sort out the tones for live usage. We both had pedals to incorporate into our setup and set a rough tone that can be used as a seed while tweaking the parameters for each venue.

Shounak had borrowed an old Korg AX5G and wanted to use it as a modulation unit. Digital multi-fx units are notorious as drive pedals. They also suck away some headroom. Shounak fit it right between his drive pedals and delay pedal. It only had a bank up and bank down. He decided to keep all effects in odd number banks and keep a bypass patch in all even numbered banks. This way he is always one stomp away from disabling the patch.

I had got a new noise suppression pedal (NS-2). Shounak has been using one for quite some time. He suggested that I get one, too, as the high-gain patches had quite a bit of noise in the live setting. It worked as expected. He also suggested that I pre-drive my signal using my Overdrive (OD-3) pedal before sending it to my Metal Zone (MT-2) pedal. This clearly helped out with the body of the tone.

DSC03285-trim

We also decided to use two pizzas to improve the crispiness and the meatiness of the tones.

– Sauvik

Dusting off the rust

This was our third practice after re-grouping. I felt we were getting pretty tight. Considering the fact that we had not played a live show in 4 years and 3 months, we all felt pretty confident.

Shounak and Sricharan are two of the most proficient musicians I have personally come across. They have been picking up our catalogue pretty fast. In no time we were almost done with our standard ten song / one and a half hour setlist.

Sricharan suggested that we include a Mutemath song and gave us a list of possible ones that we could cover. We zeroed in on Typical. It’s a great fast-paced number. Here is how our first attempt at covering it went –

A few more sessions and it would feel like we hadn’t even taken a break!

-Sauvik