Slash is a friendly dog. She follows Jules everywhere he goes. Such that when you see her you see Jules and when you are with Jules you are with her. Other than at those times ofcourse, when you are seated in the garden having lunch. At those times Slash’s whole existence is fixated on you. In those moments, you are also her best friend.
The older, rounder guy next to the pre-amps and mixing desk is also nice. A friendly yet timidly growlish dog which with very little imagination one can remember some dog years ago, owning this household and its spacious surroundings. Now however, he doesn’t move much and choses instead, to sit at his vantage point where he keeps a sharp eye over all of us intruders. We are the ones making a ruckus in his otherwise serene living room with its wooden floors and the tall thatched roof. He would have been in absolute peace without us. His head resting on his stiff front legs listening only to the sing song chatter of starlings in the surrounding wood.
That silence and serenity was what made the Parsons’ home a perfect space for our temporary recording studio. Our drives there in the mornings transformed something in us as we wound our way against Harare’s rush hour traffic, down towards Umwinzi River. There was something rather freeing about driving in the opposite direction. As everyone else rushed into the city we eagerly left it and headed for its outer limits where we could make use of the emptiness they left behind.
The first day was by far the toughest as we had hardly slept. Our band bus had needed some work midway through the drive to Harare the day before so we had been forced to travel through the night. Having only arrived at 3am, we must have been a sorry sight for our bright eyed producer as he greeted us at the door. On this day the plan was to get comfortable with the space and to play and record takes of the album together as a band. From these recordings, we would build the tracks over the days that followed. Every day, instrument by instrument and layer by layer the tracks put on their outfits. We had a pretty good idea of how they were meant to look off the demo we had made so half the work was done. But nothing could have prepared us for the mood of the house we were in. The way it felt comfortable and willing to be a part of what we were up to. This made it all much easier and enjoyable for the team in a way that most conventional studios fail to achieve.
Between the house and the band, we put down some exciting material. Sounds and rhythms which vary in texture, tempo and temperament. The mood is thoughtful and relaxed and warm. Is it different to Ceasefire? Yes it definitely is, yet its the same. As people we always strive to do better than the last version of ourselves and there are some areas in this new work where we are sure we have moved in a good direction. The journey is inward. Trying to find the things which mean something to us and expressing those things in a way true to our calling. Thats our first priority and thats what we tried to do.
Now, we wait. We wait for the mixing and all the other things which producers spend their days doing. We hope that when next we meet those songs, it will be as though we are meeting a friendly stranger who imparts a positive, easy impression. The kind of soul who brings people together. There in the kitchen, laughing, dancing, pouring something into a glass. The two dogs fixated and Jules telling a story about how Andy Brown and Chiwoniso used to sit in the very garden where we were having lunch. Somehow, it will all make such sense.