I contributed guest vocals to ‘Temporary Thought Exchange’, the bonus vocal version of the song ‘AKT’ from ‘Divided’, the new EP by ItsTeeth & Travis Orbin. ItsTeeth is the post rock project of Jacob Belcher, a guitarist who played with Travis in a live incarnation of Of Legends. Jacob gave Travis free reign to come up with whatever he wanted for this EP – he simply sent him the guitar parts and let him run with it. Jacob took the same approach with me, advising only that the lyrics should be ‘weird and abstract’.
Jacob was originally planning to feature a female guest vocalist on this particular track, but she was unavailable, so Travis recommended me for the job. Jacob quite liked what Travis showed him of The Gabriel Construct, so he ended up asking me to do it.
I sat on a dock listening to the instrumental version of the song, staring up at the sky, and I suddenly got this image of a head popping off of a body, floating into the sky like a helium balloon, and looking down at the earth. In the clouds, the head finds another disembodied head, and they attach at the neck, forming a silhouette of an infinity symbol. They have mind-meld sex, are blown apart by the wind, and fall back to earth. This became the lyrical subject matter for the song. I was careful to avoid personal pronouns in the lyrics, since The Gabriel Construct’s lyrics are overloaded with them and I wanted to try something different.
I recorded the vocals out of my then-new home studio – the very first song to receive such a treatment! Jacob said he wanted a vocoder on the track, but I didn’t have one, so I ended up faking one by painstakingly layering harmonies, autotuning them, and locking them into perfect rhythmic unison with elastic audio. I think it came out sounding just exactly like a vocoder, though, so it was worth the extra effort!
At the tail end of the session, Jacob also had me create mellotron pieces to cap the album – the intro on ‘TDB’ and the outro on ‘HLB’.
Check out Travis’s drum tracking video for ‘Temporary Thought Exchange (AKT)’ and ‘HLB’:
AKT Full drum set transcription
Tempo = 145 BPM
HLB Full drum set transcription
Tempo = 132 BPM
And his video for ‘TDB’ and ‘CKW’, along with some discussion of the project:
TDB Full drum set transcription
Tempo = 185 BPM
CKW Full drum set transcription
Tempo = 135 BPM (after improv)
Listen to an a capella version of ‘Temporary Thought Exchange’: