talking heads

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This production features a consistent bass line that doesn’t change, despite a verse/chorus structure to the song. It is a bass line that leaves plenty of space for continuous bed instruments as well as the lead vocal to work around it.

When the track begins the bass line is reinforced by a low vocal. Underneath the bass line a tinkling synth/keys texture bubbles along while the drums feature lots of off beat tom hits. The bubbling synth part is high in the frequency range and spread across the stereo field while the lower frequency instruments stay firmly centred. There is possibly reverb on the bubbling synth that fills the gaps with atmosphere.

The lead vocal enters, in a spoken style and delivers the first verse.

The chorus is differentiated by a jangling guitar part that replaces the reverbed synth part, and doubled/tripled vocals that thicken the main lyric. Additional percussion joins the chorus. Both the guitar and the percussion drop out again for the second verse. And then return again for the second chorus.

The second chorus ends with a bridge part with the lyric ‘Same as it ever was’. A new synth part enters here – a single note rhythmic part.

The end of the 3rd verse that leads into the 3rd chorus is distinct by way of delayed and looped vocals – ‘Water dissolving and water removing’. This is followed by another chorus but this time it is underpinned by the monophonic synth part. Then another chorus which sees the return of the jangling guitar chords.

Another verse, and then another chorus.

The song ends with another ‘same as it ever was’ section but this time it features a new element – distorted electric guitar droning away.

The production is distinctive because of its minimalist structure that sees the drums and bass holding the same pattern throughout, and the coming and going of melodic parts, and changes in the vocals, to provide the verse/chorus/bridge structure. Space for all the elements is provided more by their frequency ranges than by stereo or depth placement. Nothing moves in the stereo field or from front to back etc. It is only the delayed vocal section that for a moment turns a lead instrument (the vocal) into a texture or bed sound.