We took a very relaxing morning at the house to mentally prepare for the seven hours of recording we had in front of us yesterday. A couple of the guys took a run around Delaware Park while some of us slept in. Will took off early to visit family. Tony made a delicious southern style sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast when we all returned to the table. The house smelled too scrumptious for me to sleep, so off to the feast I went. I walked outside and heard the sounds of mandolin from upstairs – several members were enjoying a morning on the upper deck porch, looking over the neighborhood. A surprise visit from our host added to the sense of community that Buffalo is so well known for. Kilian and Garry made a mustache gym run (?) while Brian practiced his line in the Tallis accompanying himself by playing surrounding parts on his acoustic guitar. I think we fit in really well here, and that Buffalo is an ideal place for us to make our first album. Buffalo is made up of real people, nice people, generous people, honest people, living day to day as best they know how, enjoying each other and the things around them. Like this sausage gravy that Tony made:
We resumed recording at 2:00 PM. This was going to be a pretty full day to be sure. Renaissance Men has been living with Thomas Tallis's Lamentations of Jeremiah since our birth in 2014, and it's been the one work on the new record that we've been slightly intimidated by. Recording something of this magnitude always will have some kind of psychological weight, and we all could sense that there was a bit of underlying anxiety about it. Chris sent me a text yesterday morning to remind us that we need to be liberal about breaks and to be as relaxed as possible as we enter the album's most daunting sing.
So, when we started the afternoon, we started with a listen-back session. A repositioning in the round. Alex was kind to bring Starbursts for sugar boosts. And we started with Daniel Gawthrop's piece to get us warmed up (we really, really love his music).
The most vocally-taxing sections of the Gawthrop were all recorded by dinner (including Alex's dramatic high C pedal point), and of course we left in very high spirits! Recording in the round may be the only we do things from now on - clear sight lines, a powerful sound in the center of the room...clear communication. Togetherness. Full.
Will, Ben, Brian, Tony, and I went to Fat Bob's BBQ in Allentown for dinner (delicious hushpuppies!), and when we returned, it was time for Tallis. Three and half hours later, we completed the second part of the Lamentations, and without question, sang some of the best polyphonic music we ever have as an ensemble to date. The amount of concentration, artistry, strength, phrasing...fullness. Before we went into this, we all were slightly unsure, but when it became time, we did what Renaissance Men does best. We stopped worrying and just went for it without any apology. At one point, we forget we were even making a record. We stopped 'doing takes' and just sang, beyond where we should've stopped, with such passion and power, to just sing – it became very clear that this is what I should be doing for the rest of my life. Similar sentiments were shared by several other RenMen as well. How great would it be for this to be our full-time job?
The excitement (and relief) on everyone's faces in the playback room at the end of the night was a true indicator that RenMen found a truly exciting sound for the Tallis – a sound we've been looking for for four years. Free. Fresh. Full.