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White Session

Posted on Friday, September 29th, 2006

me doing my stuff at la maison de la radio france

Last Thursday I was invited to record a White Session for France Inter, to be broadcast nationwide and on the internet sometime soon during the program hosted by Bernard Lenoir. It was the first time that I had done a radio session for national French radio since The Black Session recorded by Cocteau Twins ten or so years ago so I was quite enthusiastic to do it as they seemed to make a good job of the recording last time. The difference between a white and black session, I was led to understand, is that there is no live audience at the former and no second chance if I fuck up at the latter, so this greatly appealed to my sense of comfort. I arrived at the studio at la maison de la radio france in good time to record and apart from feeling a little lonely, a solitary figure with laptop and guitar in a studio designed to record an orchestra, all went quite smoothly and I was made to feel most welcome by the producer of the show, Michelle Soulier. I played a few pieces to get the sound balanced and then sort of rolled a few in a row that I knew quite well before stepping out of my comfort zone to improvise a few others. I really could not tell you if they sounded very good as the studio monitors were too big and sucked. It seems amazing to me that a studio designed for recording music for the radio did not have a set of smaller reference monitors to give some indication of what the music really sounded like, as opposed to the large ones, usually used to impress the A&R man or keep the drummer happy on playback. Consequently I did not really listen back to what I played, rather just took the approach that hey, this is live, this is a moment, now it has gone and just rather trusted the feeling I had as I was doing it. I did the following tracks.

Search Among The Flowers
Passer Une Nuit Blanche
Inda Liza

Now it has to be said that maybe I sucked, I have a CD of the session but am scared to listen to it just in case that I did. That’s the problem with live recording. A concert is one thing, you know, a few modern jazz notes here and there one can get a way within a concert for, as I said before, it’s a moment and after that it’s gone forever. Not with a live recording, which is probably one of the reasons that I’ve never done a live record. I don’t like live records much, with the exception of older records where people effectively played live in the studio, er, like what I just did. ( I should, of course stop this train of thought right here….) I can’t imagine Patsy Cline saying, ‘no, honey, it’s OK, we’ll just comp the vocals then put them through auto tune, I’m late and I have a flight to catch’ or something like that. No, what I mean is recordings of live concerts, but again I have exceptions, Keith Jarrett -The Koln Concert for example but then, and here is the salient point, he can play properly. Sadly he can’t control his moans and farts during his performance but then that control of onstage bodily functions is quite clearly what sets Keith and myself apart. You got to love him though, even if the accounts of him being a complete dick are true. So then, no, I guess I’m just unsure about the validity of a live recording of music that I’m involved in and have to use all my resources not to grimace just a little when some well intentioned individual hands me a cassette tape recording of a Cocteau Twins concert from the eighties in Potato Blight, AR or wherever, and expects me to be interested in listening to it. I think if I ever live to be a hundred years old I will never understand fans. I’m eternally grateful for their existence, for without them I’d be shovelling shit in Krapo KS, but I will never quite appreciate what goes on inside their minds. So, anyway, before I got sidetracked I was talking about that radio session and my conclusion is that it’s as close to a live recording as you will ever hear from me ..OK?

me with guitar, my personal artist with crayons…

A special thank to Christophe who took the photos.
I’ll post a message when I know the date and time of transmission…

11 Responses to “White Session”

  1. The Lullaby League

    Try appreciating what goes on inside their hearts. Then, maybe, you’ll understand.

  2. robin guthrie

    I do appreciate what they have in their hearts. I just don’t understand it. I would very much like to as then I could perhaps give people more of what they need. I’ve never really had that experience of being a fan and communicating with the object of my enthusiasm with the exception of watching a concert or buying a CD. Simple truth is that I wouldn’t know what to say to the person that I was truly such a fan of..

  3. mike

    Those Black Sessions are dope as fuck. I bet your fans think you should put together a band.

  4. edmur maia

    How about:
    Robin,I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoy your work.
    You are not only an object of my enthusiasm.You are my favorite musician.

  5. Indyenna (Ian)

    I agree with The Lullaby League. RG–Keep on being the person you were meant to be. You know what? You should have some gardening tips on here. If you can cook, put up a favorite recipe or two.

  6. Micah

    Hilarious remarks about Keith Jarret. 🙂

    “Simple truth is that I wouldn’t know what to say to the person that I was truly such a fan of.”

    I know what you mean; such was me when I “met” you and Simon at SXSW in Austin in 2000. The Autumns had just played “Garlands” and I asked you what you thought of it; that was all I could come up with. 🙂

    Just keep doing what you’re doing, that’s all this fans asks…

  7. Andy from Arizona

    Just keep doing what you want to do, R. That’s all anyone wants from you. Can’t speak for the guy with the live CT show on cassette though–that is pretty weird–like offering a store-bought biscuit to a famous master chef.

    Man, you do visit all the finer hotspots in the USA, don’t you? Last month it was Bumfuck, now Potato Blight and Krapo! I see you were too diplomatic to mention any of the fine neck-reddening locales in Arizona you’ve visited.

    Hey, our guest house is almost finished being remodeled. The invitation stands…and I won’t make you listen to any old CT shows on cassette.

  8. Cedric Caspesyan

    I haven’t seen much photos from you but you seemed to have lost weight and to become handsome again.

    As for the fan thing. Well, no reasons to snob a fan. They’re the reason you can make what you do (or rather live out of it). Sometimes a tape may not bring interesting sound memories but as an artefact can recall events that occured during that tour. They are reasons for everything that happens.

    By the way I had an operation last week that lasted 9 hours I wasn’t sure to make it alive. Heaven Or Las Vegas was the last album I listen before going to the hospital. I was really scared you know? These things mean something.

    The question is what would be the album you would listen last. Your music, or have you ever been yourself a true fan of anyone.


    Cedric Caspeyan

    (PS: well ok, easy answer: if i had a lover or a kid maybe I’d want to hear their voice last too, but that is not the case for me.)

  9. The Lullaby League

    So, did you listen to the fucking cd yet, or what?

  10. sean

    robin…i have been absolutly silenced by the infinate echo you produce within your art and skill…no other musician has created the sound in which is your own…when i hear the melody of love’s easy tears spill around me…it’s as if i were feeling the sun saturate me for the very first time…sounds a bit dramatic… but i guess that’s the way it makes me feel…i has been a pleasure…thank you

  11. sean

    greetings robin…today was another day that i was inspired by your work….keep on with the lush noise that continues to move many worldly…i have been rather into your blog… wow … it must be amazing working with howard budd…would have loved too have seen you guys play together…hope all is well and keep doing the things you do so damn well…ohh yeah .. and if you wouldnt mind ..could i ask you a question? what would you say was the first record that ever made you decide to pick up the guitar…who is your biggest influence… i was just curious of who it was that paved the way for you musically….robin…thanx for your time and stay beautiful…..sean

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