For the final days we move into the more familiarly cluttered claustrophobia of Tim’s own Top Cat studio. Sofas compete with boxes, compete with cables, competing with guitars, competing with light. And all the time we were indoors over and over-dubbing, the snow-sparkling sun shone outside glistening like a toothpaste ad. From time to time we all had to get out there just to stay grounded and involved.
Fascinating to watch Tim and Justin attend to details of pitch, groove and legibility with a forensic certainty. As the last hours of the last day approach I have an idea for a guitar overdub on Samboo. I can only just about play it. As I struggle to get it right Justin asks me to change it a little. I could do what he wants if I were locked in a room on my own for a few hours. Instead they record me practising it - all the right notes, not quite in the right order. Ten minutes of keyhole surgery later Tim and Justin have spun it into the guitar riff I one day hope to emulate!
Then I’m watching them listening to my Lila vocal. The syllable by syllable taking apart is painful but instructive. I’d said I didn’t want to be around when they did this but here I am. Thinking for the umpteenth time over these Real World days: I don’t like recording. I’m a performer. I perform with conviction and presence. Recording that performance shows it’s also a cover that allows the flaws to come and go too easily. Pitch, timing - lazy. That unwillingness to commmit to a phrasing because I’m an improviser. Yes I can make it up on the fly but that doesn’t mean it’s any good ......etc...etc.
Finally, farewells and Ben is driving me and Matt home, playing the first rough mixes Tim’s just given us on the car’s CD player. As the sun sets over Somerset plains and dusk falls over the Bristol Channel we begin to hear what our record mght sound like. And it sounds like it will be something really rather wonderful......