Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Am What I Am (instrumental remix)

I am what I am (instrumental remix)
volume 3 number 17

one of my favorite recording periods was my time spent
in Lake Geneva, Wisconsinin Royal Recorders
with the team of myself, rich denhart, and dan harjung.
the studio was a dream come true;
a beautiful room in the woods of Wisconsin
attached to what was once the Playboy Resort
(now called the Americana)
which featured a world-class golf course,
ski resort, fine dining, a small lake, and hundreds of rooms.
in the Playboy days it was supposedly rockin'.
they had buffalo roaming the grounds,
Frank Sinatra playing the lounge,
even a heliport.

but by the time we arrived it was the Americana,
more like the Shining;
a huge, mostly empty complex
which we had all to ourselves.

still the studio was world-class.
a 90-channel SSL mixing board with total recall,
linked to 2 Mitsubishi 32-track machines
(the latest in digital recording)
with 40 vintage microphones, a 9-foot baby grand,
and all the best outboard gear money could buy.

most days it was just me, rich, and dan in recording studio heaven.
the result was mr. music head, young lions, inner revolution,
and the first two bears records; not a bad run.

on October 17, 1989 I started a new track.
as usual I was playing all the instruments.
I had my new Ayotte kit and a new set of Paiste cymbals
(still have 'em) adding to which I included
the Roland Octapad, an early drum sampler
which allowed us to put my favorite sounds
(japanese fans, the striking of the bridge on my dobro,
log drums, guitar noises, etc.) on 8 different pads
which could then be played as part of the drum kit.
it was great fun resulting in drum tracks like bird in a box,
small world, or the song featured here I am what I am.

for bass in this song I used a sampler as well.
triggered from my guitar,it was easy to play
and had an unusual fretless-through-an-overdriven-amp
sound which I really loved.
I used a similar bass approach for songs like
happy guy, gunman, and pretty pink rose.

my guitar rig of the moment was set up
in the large comfortable control room
which had big windows looking out into the recording room.
most everything guitar-wise was
recorded direct into the digital console.

for things like the handclaps and shouts
we used my favorite microphone,
the expensive vintage AKG C-24
which is actually two mics put together for stereo.
it's the same C-24 I have used all these years
for my vocals (I still do).
I actually had to go to court to win my C-24,
but that's a story for another day.

the coolest thing about the guitar playing for
I am what I am
are the bits sounding like a combination
of metal scraping and human voices
which are peppered throughout the solos.
these were made by rubbing
a long flat carpenter's file across the guitar strings.
the astounding thing was this:
for some unknown reason the file made
what sounded like human voices.
it was creepy but we loved it.

I am what I am is one of those rare songs I had no melody for.
I figured it would end up an instrumental as heard here.
then one day while studying the music,
I realized it would be the perfect place
for the prophet omega's voice,
which is yet another story for another day.

bass, drums, guitar, carpenter file: adrian
engineer: rich denhart

assistant: dan harjung

recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on October 17, 1989
this re-mix was done on october 20, 1989
length: 4:21


  1. when i was 7 my father was a regional manager for volvo at the time had a membership at the playboy club through his business. he would make the drive from the chicago suburb of river forest to lake geneva on saturday to enjoy skeet shooting at the club, with his volvo big wigs . my mother and brother and i went with him a few times , it was a really nice facility, i remember seeing women dressed up in bunny costumes and even at that age realizing how wrong the whole concept was. lake geneva really was a type of paradise .

    mr. music head ! how long did you spend on that ? i wore out several cassette's and cd's of that one, you know the louder you play "bird in a box" the more sense it makes. i ran it through several guitar amps and a bass bottom one week and was able to fully comprehend the meaning of all of the lyrics, how do you get that lead tone again , it makes me laugh / weep simultaneously !

  2. This is one of my favorites from that era. I always liked the bass sound - never guessed how it was done.

    Prophet Omega fit it well, can't wait for the story behind him, but it is cool to hear the music on it's own too.

  3. One of my favorite songs in the world, not just of yours, but of anyone's. It just rolls along, full of joy. I love that scrunchy guitar sound. I can pretty much conjure up that whole song in my head. I love the prophet omega's craggy voice, too, and look forward to hearing that story.

  4. This track blew me away the first time I heard it. Talk about a self indulgent (and I mean that in a very good way) guitar song.

    I came across a bunch of Prophet Omega dialogues/monologues/commercials through a file sharing site one time. That guy does some wicked stuff.

  5. Adrian, I feel stupid writing a comment off topic but I have to tell you this: We are waiting for you in Colombia.

    Even if you don't come to play, I can show you where you can get some delicious empanadas.

  6. This was always one of my favorites. I always wanted a instrumental version.


    PS...Side 4 Side 4 Side 4.

    PPS...Visit/play Vancouver while your up that way for Soberfest.

  7. i LOVE this song and often use it when introducing Adrian to someone who has not yet heard him.

  8. I also think of Bush of Ghosts or Seen and Not Seen from Remain in Light as examples of works that I really love for their inventive use of vocal, but nevertheless have longed for being able to hear the instrumental without it.

    Thanks for giving us this one!

  9. Man that sounds like an awesome recording environment. I love the part about the carpenters file, I might have to give that a shot. I always like to have tons of crazy stuff around to experiment with.

  10. Hi,
    Thanks sounds interesting ..Thanks for sharing..