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It may be known or unknown, but apart from Idea Fire Company’s first two collage-style LPs and The Island Of Taste, all IFCO LPs have been recorded live. There are some scattered studio pieces on Anti-Natural and Stranded, but otherwise, there are only a couple of overdubs or edits per LP. We also rarely do more than one take of any of the pieces. Unless there is a sound problem or a very egregious error, I never see any need for it. One of the many points of IFCO is that the music is being played by real people in real time.
Karla and I worked out “The End Of The Line” as part of a new live set in 2016. We both knew right away it was a winner, and I decided we needed to record a 20 minute version. We had already recorded a shorter version in our studio (just a room with instruments in it) for the Recital compilation CD, Cellar Vol 2. We record everything with a stereo room mic and I thought this piece was fairly expansive and could use some air, so we set up our amps and gear in our living room with the amps strategically placed there and in the stairway that leads to our front door. The stereo mic was at the bottom of the stairs pointing up. I play two synths on this piece and Karla plays a keyboard, so there were wires running everywhere. We worked on “The End Of The Line” for over a month on weekends, usually recording two versions per weekend. The sound was not quite what I really had in mind, so I spent time during the week adjusting the synth sounds, moving amps around, etc. Finally, after the eighth take, I realized that the problem was not with the sound, but with all the ‘air’. I figured the best thing to try was to do the exact opposite, so we moved all of the amps into a small bathroom with Karla’s amp on a stool in the bathtub and my two amps on the floor. We could not fit in there as well, so we were each outside the two doors of the bathroom. As soon as we turned everything on, Karla and I both knew it was exactly right. We did another take and that is the version that will appear on LP someday.
This tape contains what I considered to be the four best Air Variations. Yes. This is an Art Tape. “The End Of The Line” is a great piece and very repetitive. This tape might not be for everybody, but you know who you are. I think this is a nice follow-up to our Cycle 19 live tape from 1999, which contained five versions of “Cycle 19,” the original being on the Anti-Natural LP. (IFCO played “Cycle 19” at every show we did from 1996-2004. Sometimes twice.) I consider this tape Ambient Music in the best possible sense. Karla plays a strong and haunting melody, but over the course of the tape, once you know it, the music is easily capable of creating a nice mournful background for everyday living.