Enola Gay and a Trip to the Dolomites
"I don't know what to say or do...."
By 2018 Maxx Silver had nowhere to go.
The previous album, Psychology was a distant memory as a 2016 release and his long term employment in an office was all set to cease by the end of 2017.
Add to that some health problems and the landscape was not looking good for any new music. He spent much of 2018 in research for a book (of which information can be found elsewhere)
"I didn't want to just do music for the sake of it" he explained at the time " I wanted to write good songs and perform them well. " I didn't think I could do
it so I was not going to bother."
Things started to change after a trip to the Dolomites in Northern Italy. Armed with one line of lyrics (" I might as well have been in Kathmandu" ) he realised a song could be in the offing. But why Kathmandu, its not
an obvious choice of destination is it ?
"A friend of mine phoned me up to say she was going to walk to Everest Base Camp and offered me the opportunity to go with her, two weeks before. I questioned the decision as it requires pretty good fitness to do a walk of 72 miles at that altitude. But she ignored all my advice (and did regret the decision to go, afterwards) I might as well have been in Kathmandu for all the notice that was taken of me. And that phrase stuck in my head.
"So, I had one line of a lyric and I thought the Dolomites could make a backdrop for a video of some sort, but I only had it within my head"
The first three days of the holiday were constant rain, unusual for Italy but with nothing much to do writing songs started to flow more naturally.
"Getting wet in the showers...."
Maxx wrote the song "In Recovery" at this time and worked out some ideas for the album due to be released in 2021.
Maxx then gradually put a vocal sections together whilst walking past Langkofel which is pictured in the video for the song and on this page.
Returning home he recorded the parts for the song "Kathmandu"
"I worked with a synched synth drum at the start. The real Kathmandu is awash with helicopters so it was that feel I was going for. Having tried several synth lines I
found the Ambi Shaku on the synth and this tune just came straight out.
Then I was worried my song would sound too much like Enola Gay by OMD which I had a distant memory of at the time. Having
checked it out I was somewhat pleased that it didn't. What my song does have in common with that classic 80's hit is a strong tune coming between the vocal sections on a synthy pipe effect with a descending chord structure. Enola Gay is also a song which is all chorus, or all verse, depending on your point of view. Arguably the tune on the synth for both songs is the chorus. Obviously the OMD song is a classic and much better than mine but for a bloke recording on his own my song is a pretty good effort!"
"You let go of treasures given to you"
At 2.20 on the album version there is the start of a very long bridge with the lyric "You won't hear me, you won't see me as I am far away" which then leads into an eastern style section completely unrelated to the rest of the song.
Maxx used pitch bend on the synth to try and mimic real sitar and it works really well in the context of the song, Not exactly Nepalese music but certainly further east than Essex.
"I listened to Sitar music and as is often the case, tried to mimic how the instrument is played in terms of phrasing and use of fingers on the strings. The problem with the section was that I did the bridge too early and I wanted to sing the final vocal part on top of a very crowded scenario as it was not possible to sing the Kathmandu line after that point. But it heightens the sense of slight panic at the situation and in retrospect, works well. “
Conditions here are changing fast"
After the calmer section the song returns to the original tune that opened the track at the start.
"The recording of the song went well with the vocals however because it was quite complex the levels of the different parts were all other the place. It used over 1.4 GB of memory on the studio with all the parts and retakes. At the time I had not perfected a method of recording to make things easiier for myself. I must have tried 100 times to mix the song and in the end went back to a mix I had actually put onto disc which I originally thought was not balanced well enough. After a few more listens I didn't notice the imperfections as much. Though of course I never view anything i do as being perfect. I need a proper producer to help me get to those heights"
Despite a friend not liking the "helicopter" nature of the drumming Kathmandu did catch on as both a song and a video and has appeared on a few Spotify playlists. The success of the track lies in a strong
quite repetitive lyric and a memorable tune and rhythm.
The video itself was not filmed in Kathmandu but in the Dolomites. Maxx explained "The song is not about Kathmandu lyrically either but I thought the mountains suited the song more than me filming it in a
marsh or something. I didn’t use timelapse but sped up footage so that 5 minutes was gone in about 30 seconds. The weather was cold and windy and on the first shot the wind moved the camera ( I put it on top of a wall as I had no tripod” It was mainly filmed on the Sella pass and in the region of Langkofel, the mountain. It might as well have been Kathmandu, even though it wasn;t”
Kathmandu can be found on "Escape" the album.