The strong, stable creative phase that Chi had been in since around May 2013 was still ongoing, and this put me in the untenable position of being trapped between wanting to complete the process of preserving the creative output that we had produced up until now while developing and recording the new material he was continuously composing; and wondering how much more damage and stress I could withstand. Is this even worth doing at all, given that I am trying to do it with the human equivalent of antimatter?
Listen while you read to “Peacock Hill” and “Quintessentially Pink”. We recorded these two pieces (violin and guitar tracks) with a different producer and then added backline to both tracks later. This represents my progress with micing instruments, programming drum tracks and mixing over a period of about two months since acquiring Pro Tools and reconstituting my DAW based on a “real” audio interface.
November – December 2013
I had been in limbo from September onwards under the assumption that Chi was going to be imminently relocating to Hawaii and so was doing my utmost to get as much material as possible recorded before he left, but in late December the “big fish” of the Hawaii job threw the hook and got away from us. Nevertheless, I resolutely pushed onward in my odyssey with the recording setup, clinging to my increasingly desperate hope that Chi could alternatively get booked on a series of cruise ship gigs. The working assumption under that case scenario was that he would be gone most of the time, and during the BRIEF periods when he was home between contracts, we could write and record more music and perhaps do some performing, and then when he was back out to sea I could develop and mix/master the material we did when he was in port, make videos, work on the web presence, do the marketing/promo work, etc., etc.
Even if he fucked that up as he almost certainly would find a way to, simply getting him booked on ONE six-month contract would at least put me in a position where I could save a little money (or at least downsize my overhead and get a little less underwater with ongoing financial obligations) while vastly reducing the amount of clutter and junk that Panache House is clogged full of, fix a major problem that had arisen during a big remodeling project I had done over a year ago and become able to move out on short notice if that is what it ultimately will take to win back my freedom from this prison of a marriage.
At any rate, during November and December I upped my game from creating simple click tracks which is a matter of marking off the timeline of a project and inserting tempo/meter changes at the right places that control an automatic rhythmic count in whatever sound you choose from a few available options, to programming actual drum tracks in Pro Tools according to parts that Chi wrote for various pieces. Despite the obligatory obstruction and control drama temper tantrums Chi continuously threw at me, we were able to get a lot of material recorded — at least the guitar tracks — although I did have to keep affirming to myself that I was willing to give it all up if that was to be the cost of freeing myself. Even if it were, I would at least have developed the skills to do recording on my own, and with the savings from no longer having to float Chi and pay for all the expensive problems he makes a full-time career of causing, I could reacquire whatever equipment and instruments I would most likely lose in a litigated divorce proceeding if it comes to that.
In mid-November I finally hit the breaking point with Chi when he refused to cooperate with me as I was finishing the click track so we could begin a proper recording of “The End of Pisces”, one of our most metrically challenging pieces, because I had refused to allow him to bully me into volunteering to play another useless, 3- or 4-hour freebie gig on Thanksgiving weekend. I had already made the decision that I was willing to give up the Panache Orchestra in order to break free of Chi, which is even more painful and frustrating given all the progress we have been making recently, but so be it. This particular incident pushed me to the point where I finally felt prepared to even give up my home and practically everything I own and my current plans in order to exterminate this parasite infestation out of my life. This time I actually sat down and drafted a clear, detailed backup plan in case for some ungodly reason the Hawaii thing fell through, which it did.
My backup plan involved immediately commencing the process of purging the house of unnecessary stuff and making backup copies of everything I had produced so far in Pro Tools. While thinking that through I remembered a little trick a friend had taught me many years ago to expedite desired outcomes. When I decided to move to Tokyo back in 1997, a close friend of mine who was working as a psychic medium at the time told me to get boxes and start putting stuff in them in preparation for the move regardless of whether I had a job lined up in Tokyo yet or not, since that would support and amplify the energy of setting a clear intention to manifest that outcome. The whole thing came together so swiftly within a couple months of doing so that I was barely able to stay aboard the whirlwind ride.
Meanwhile the Hawaii plan continued making agonizingly slow but positive forward progress through December, as did my ability to program more intricate drum tracks. We spent most of that month developing the pieces we recorded the violin and guitar tracks back in July with another producer, and began to get a sense of what we could now potentially accomplish at home despite Chi’s infuriating, infantile behaviour and repeated threats to destroy everything. In mid-December Chi recorded a breathtakingly beautiful bass line for “Peacock Hill” and came up with a very nice drum part that I was able to successfully program while further advancing my programming skills.
Although I became able to do more intricate stuff and work more quickly and efficiently, that didn’t do anything to speed up the process of building drum tracks for various pieces since most of the time I was available to work on them was in the evenings when I’m home from the day job, but Chi is almost always drunk then, making him an even bigger, more aggravating nightmare to deal with than when he is sober. I’m also physically exhausted and mentally tapped out by then. “Quintessentially Pink” was particularly difficult, with progress made excruciatingly slowly, as if fighting a battle with ground gained inch by hard-won inch (much like the concurrent effort to make the Hawaii gig happen). “Pink” is a very delicate piece, so the drum part had to be especially transparent while still being highly dynamic in keeping with the rest of the piece. It was well worth the agony though, because that piece turned out spectacularly well.
While I find working with Chi truly maddening, particularly the offensive way that he communicates with me, it really is satisfying when I manage to keep my temper in check and get all the details right with the parts I am building. It makes a really dramatic difference between the way I was ready to leave it and working at it until I get it precisely the way he wants it. That said, sometimes I find his behaviour so intolerable that I cannot deal with it, especially when he gets impatient and/or frustrated because something isn’t working out immediately and perfectly in the exact way he wants it to and he starts shouting right in my ear in that insistent, agitated tone of voice of his that shreds my nerves.
One thing is absolutely certain: He. Must. Go. As our erstwhile producer had once put it so aptly: he is “the crown prince of cut-off-my-nose-to-spite-my-face arsehattery and auto-immolation because he would rather combust than be successful in anything”. It all seems to all come down to how determined Chi is to ensure that his exceptional music never sees the light of day. At any rate, by the time we finished “Pink”, we were really starting to get somewhere sound-wise, and I STILL don’t even have the faintest fucking clue how to mix, or even set up our gear to get the sound into the machine properly. Two months into this odyssey, I have only scratched the faintest fingernail imprint into the capability of what I have in hand. It can only get much better from here.
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