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Author Topic: TSS - All things Surf's Up  (Read 32373 times)
Mujan, 8@$+@Rc| of a Blue Wizard
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« Reply #125 on: August 10, 2015, 02:01:05 PM »

I realise, re-reading the above, that I do seem to be - and probably am - in the old-fashioned "Elemental Side" camp. Maybe I'm an old-timer after all!

Nothing wrong with that. I just think it's past time for an alternate structure to at least be heard and discussed and there's a lot of evidence for an Americana/Cycle of Life (or, as I postulated in another thread, Pisces/Aquarius) structure that's been unexplored if not ignored until now.

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I guess it's just I can see good reasons why three of the songs from the tracklisting, at least, could have been intended for the Elements, and good reasons why the data we have suggests strongly that two of those twelve tracks named on the memo (given, one is just "The Elements", but then again, that is how Fire is uniquely notated on the session logs) were to be stand-alone, banded selections as part of that larger Elemental sequence. After that, it's largely my own conjecture, I grant you.

Well, either one of us could be right. I just think the elements suite and most proposed elements sides on mixes sound...not very good, lol. Your's at least sounds interesting with the psychedelic sounds linking the tracks tho. Personally I just think all this speculation of the elements is a waste of time when it seems pretty obvious to me that the song was abandoned early on and nothing else came of it. Fire was recorded more or less as intended, I think Air and Water were rough ideas we heard a bit of in the PSych bootleg, and Veggies was probably the grand finale of the elements as well as the Americana side. To me, this sounds better and makes more sense than shoehorning in a bunch of wildly different songs together as the elements.

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I would also point out that all named '66 "non-Element" contenders - excepting, perhaps, the problematic "GV" - fit happily on one 18-minute side of an LP. Unless you start assuming H&V was going to be 6+ minutes, "two-sided" etc, that the whole record was going to be full of "link tracks" and atmospheric sections - which I appreciate hugely as elements (excuse the pun) of your own mix, but I see almost no period evidence for - or that Brian had no intention to use the rough assembly structures he bothered to produce at the time, or always had the intention to do several sessions of additional tracking in '67... then the logical assessment is that parts of "Cycle of Life" were either intended to be part of the "first cantata", or "Look" was intended to be a part of the album proper against all evidence to the contrary, or that "Surf's Up" was to close the first side. Because if you group the surviving period assemblies/demo of CFTM, Look, Wonderful and Surf's Up, you're looking at around 12 minutes of material - well over half a side of a conventional mid-sixties pop LP, but well under an acceptable length as well.

That's interesting about that 18 minute connection, and ill concede that 18~20 minutes is probably the most realistic running time for a side. But we cant be 100% sure of the individual song structures, which songs absolutely made the cut, etc. So that by itself isnt really evidence. I dont think Heroes would be 6 minutes. 3:30 ~ 4:30 seems most likely. 5 tops. The longer cuts you see on mixes are just the result of all the wild endless sessions where there was enough material recorded for that one song to make up a whole side of vinyl by itself. I dont believe in an album full of link tracks either. I tried it in Olorin, and liked it. But the more i listened the less convinced i was. Now Im thinking there would have been maybe one or two comedy sketches per side, to link some of the less-related songs together. Like Taxi Cabber linking Cabin Essence to the Elements. I dont see how believing in a two suite structure means i think Look would have been included. I don't. It's not on Romestamo which is my personal estimate of what SMiLE would have been (more or less.) My second side would be those tracks you mention sans Look but including GV, Sunshine and Wind Chimes.

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Try juggling the pieces, as we have them, from 1966 and not end up with an "Americana Side" and an "Elemental Side", in terms of what was tracked and the cover slick tracklisting. I'm not saying such a split was articulated, or even fully intended, at the time, but if you're strict about what you actually use, and conscientious about your consultation of the Sessionography in TSS - as well as the Vosse and Anderle/Williams interviews, the "Humble Harv" Heroes demo etc - it's hard not to eventually come down to such a divide.

But the '66 material is not a finished album. Again, more finished than most think...but that doesn't translate into a finished album as Brian envisioned. Either way...if I was to do that, I'd have my SMiLE more or less exactly as is. Just minus a few pieces of certain tracks here and there that were recorded in '67.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 02:18:20 PM by Mujan, B@st@rd of a Blue Wizard » Logged

Here are my SMiLE Mixes. All are 2 suite, but still vastly different in several ways. Be on the lookout for another, someday.

Aquarian SMiLE>HERE
Dumb Angel (Olorin Edition)>HERE
Dumb Angel [the Romestamo Cut]>HERE

& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
The American Metropolitan Circus>HERE
[
The_Holy_Bee
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« Reply #126 on: August 10, 2015, 06:33:07 PM »

It's funny how cyclical ideas are - ie. I only actually came round to the "Elements Side" concept quite recently, well after BWPS. When I first got into SMiLE in the late nineties, fandom was just moving out of the Propoky/Web Sounds Era, which used a kind of modified Priore approach, into the comparatively simple classicism of the Lane and Hunt/Smile Shop Period (11-12 short songs, no links or outtakes etc). One of their major decisions was to stand by a four-minute, stand-alone "The Elements" track, moving even further away from the "Elements Side" already falling out of favour with the Propoky notes.

My default stance when first getting into the record, therefore, was absolutely to believe "The Elements" were to be a single, unbanded track, of "Fire" and three other short sections (with the general understanding the other three were largely a matter of conjecture). I was not swayed particularly by the BWPS sequence - I always understood it was more about "getting SMiLE done" (and, to a certain extent, "done right") than "getting it done as was originally intended". All the key players were quite honest about that.

So though I can absolutely see why you make the points you do, I do bristle slightly at this:

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The sad truth is, it was an unfinished song. People like yourself and Priore speculated that other songs must be the elements and stuck with that interpretation, and that leaked into BWPS and solidified this as fact to a lot of people.

because actually, I originally and for a long time thought the opposite, right up till close reading of the TSS Sessiongraphy in 2012, really, and it's on the basis of the available data I changed my original position. Not because I was "using evidence that suits my argument [and] ignoring that which doesn't." It's fine we disagree, but I do slightly resent being deemed an Old Traditionalist Whose Fixed Ideas Pollute the Discourse when a) I'm not that old and b) I've actually revised my position in a number of directions, and to no small degree, as new information has come to light.

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Sorry, but I really think "oh this has wind/surf in the title" is terrible evidence. I honestly dont understand this obsession with finding the elements among SMiLE mixers. Have you ever considered that MAYBE, just MAYBE...it wasnt recorded? Is that so hard to fathom?

A) Yes, but it's some evidence - and so is the Holmes' quote about "more than one element" being present in the illustration. More than "I believe Brian was just using his friends to hear how some of his ideas sounded since the Boys werent back yet."

Or: "I think Air and Water were rough ideas we heard a bit of in the PSych bootleg"

And: "Veggies was probably the grand finale of the elements as well as the Americana side. To me, this sounds better and makes more sense "

Or: "And it's not just the elements stuff. I think one or maybe two of those skits might have served as a "filler" comedy section at the end of one or both of the sides, or perhaps as lead ins to the two big showstoppers on each side."

Can you back up any of these contentions using actual data, interviews, anything but "your ears" and pure conjecture? I don't mind if you only use evidence that suits your argument. If this is an actual discussion that goes beyond "Yes, but that's what I feel would have happened", at least. If it's not, fair enough, but I'll take this opportunity to drop out.

B) No, it's not hard to fathom. It's quite possible. I'm just not willing to take it as a fact for the reasons I have outlined in probably tedious detail earlier in this thread.

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You're ignoring the Capitol tracklist (at least as reliable as the booklet if not more so) and the tape boxes and session recordings in your argument.

Am I?

A) TRACKLIST

My Side B: 1. Good Vibrations. [2 sec gap] 2. The Elements: Fire. 3. Vega-Tables. 4. Wind Chimes. 5. Surf's Up. [3 sec gap] Unlisted: Prayer.

Yes, I have added the text ": Fire" to the selection titled "The Elements". Is that really such a leap? The cover does not list a track called "My Vega-Tables - The Elements" (or, indeed "Home on the Range"), so there is some precedent for the tracklist and booklet to, in some minor ways, contradict each other. To reflect different phases of development. That said: (One more time now!) "Vega-Tables" being given by the booklet as an "Element", at least in Oct '66, is a decent hint as to their intentions at that time, surely?

EDIT: Again, please bear in mind I'm coming at this from the perspective of mid-December 1966. It's at that point I believe everything begins to spiral off and the original conception begins to collapse. (Again, see the Sessionography and the Fusion Article etc as back-up for this contention.) It's quite possible The Elements collapsed when Vega-Tables was nominated as a potential single and re-recording on it began in April - but not in December, when TE was included on the Capitol Memo. Some version of "The Elements" existed then, at least couple of weeks after the "Fire recording" if the mid-Dec dating for the Memo is correct, alongside Vega-Tables - and the only version we know of that to exist then (or was to for another four months) was the 90-second "Cornucopia" version marked by Holmes as part of The Elements.

If I'm being (very) slightly agnostic about the Capitol Memo, you're ignoring the implications of the Booklet with a true religious fervour.

[Related: we know VDP gave Holmes the information for the booklet directly. There is ongoing debate about the provenance/handwriting of the Memo, though I personally believe Cam Mott's assertion there is no way Brian didn't sign off on it.)

B) SESSION RECORDINGS/TAPE BOXES

Fire is given as "The Elements: Part One" on the tape boxes/session sheets, isn't it? (I'm at work so can't check my TSS book.) It's certainly 1) explicitly called "an Element" and 2) you'll see I have used it as "Part One" of The Elements in my sequence. Since the only other piece we have explicitly identified with The Elements is VT, I've chosen to use that as Part Two. I've already admitted that after that the tunes are conjecture, based on the Capitol tracklist. But the Booklet absolutely makes the suggestion - I say again - that the Elements might well have been whole songs, possibly linked (by chants/FX etc?). And that at least one of these tracks also turned up with its own placing on the Capitol Memo, so how is it delusional to interpret any of this data as I have? What's the actual period evidence to the contrary, either to dispute my assertions or to back up your ideas? I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing/being reminded of such if you've got some, other than simply what sounds right to you.

[Related: "Rebuilding after the fire". Since IWBA was recorded the night after the Fire session, these comments on the tape from Carol Kaye surely might have been a comment on the two night's sessions as opposed to an intended sequence for the eventual LP? If I remember right, the actual workshop sounds seem to have been recorded some time later, too, so do we know Kaye's comment on the tape was from the original "Jazz/IWBA/WS" session, or from the overdub? If from the earlier, before the workshop FX were recorded, then it might suggest she knew something about Brian's sequencing intentions. On the other hand, the box is marked [Great Shape]. Room for differing interpretation here.]

There is a lot of conjecture in the above, of course, which I've tried to clearly admit and identify as such. There is also a substantial amount of hard period data. If there's other data to dispute the stuff I've used, or an alternate analysis based on it, I sincerely welcome the challenge. As I hope I made clear at the beginning of this post, I'm totally open to revising my position on SMiLE as new facts, ideas, interpretations come to my attention. I've been doing so more-or-less continuously since 1998.

*****

This strikes me as a good time to say again how much I'm enjoying all of this, and I hope the above doesn't come across too aggressively (text, of course, being famously difficult when it comes to tone). I also thought your 'Romestamo' mix was fantastic, and have given it another listen in the interim.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 07:44:18 PM by The_Holy_Bee » Logged
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« Reply #127 on: August 10, 2015, 07:30:50 PM »

Half an hour later: I think I may have missed one of the key points you were making earlier, or at least I've had a follow-up thought about the tracklist that might be more in line with your thinking.

Let's say Brian's deteriorating mental state ("Fire" causing fires) and the beginning of alienation from VDP, etc, did lead to a reshuffle and rethink even before the Capitol memo was drawn up. That being the case - for sake of argument - who ever wrote the tracklisting, even if it had Brian's approval, or was transcribed from Brian himself, might well reflect that confusion. Ie. "The Elements" instead of "The Elements: incorporating "Mrs O'Leary's Cow", "My Vega-Tables", [Air] and [Water]" as the Booklet suggests might have been intended.

If "Fire" was indeed abandoned within a week or so of its recording, then you're right, the whole Elemental sequence gets thrown into doubt - at least from our perspective, and the information we have available. It's quite possible, then, that the other intended parts of the sequence, recorded or unrecorded, get split off into their own tracks, or junked, and the placeholder "Elements" title put into the list to incorporate whatever Brian might decide to do with that idea. Which doesn't mean that Veggies, or indeed Wind Chimes and Surf's Up were not once intended to be part of a side(ish)-long "Elemental movement", but that as of The Crunch in December room may well have been being made for a totally different conception - including a stand-alone "The Elements" instrumental/vocal suite.

Not sure how that relates to the Psycodelic Sounds stuff (even just as ideas), taped before the Boys' return in early November and therefore much closer to the making of the Booklet (inc. Veggies at least as an Element), but it does widen the playing field from my admittedly pretty narrow scope above. At least as it relates to December onwards.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 07:51:18 PM by The_Holy_Bee » Logged
Mujan, 8@$+@Rc| of a Blue Wizard
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« Reply #128 on: August 10, 2015, 09:18:21 PM »

It's funny how cyclical ideas are - ie. I only actually came round to the "Elements Side" concept quite recently, well after BWPS. When I first got into SMiLE in the late nineties, fandom was just moving out of the Propoky/Web Sounds Era, which used a kind of modified Priore approach, into the comparatively simple classicism of the Lane and Hunt/Smile Shop Period (11-12 short songs, no links or outtakes etc). One of their major decisions was to stand by a four-minute, stand-alone "The Elements" track, moving even further away from the "Elements Side" already falling out of favour with the Propoky notes.

My default stance when first getting into the record, therefore, was absolutely to believe "The Elements" were to be a single, unbanded track, of "Fire" and three other short sections (with the general understanding the other three were largely a matter of conjecture). I was not swayed particularly by the BWPS sequence - I always understood it was more about "getting SMiLE done" (and, to a certain extent, "done right") than "getting it done as was originally intended". All the key players were quite honest about that.

Im sorry for making assumptions. In my experience, most proponents of the elements suite structure do so because "that's the way it's always been" from Priore to BWPS, and now new fans seem to do that with their attempts at accurate mixes simply because that's all they know. That's the way it's always been, it seems. But I shouldnt have assumed EVERYONE who buys this theory is like that.

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Sorry, but I really think "oh this has wind/surf in the title" is terrible evidence. I honestly dont understand this obsession with finding the elements among SMiLE mixers. Have you ever considered that MAYBE, just MAYBE...it wasnt recorded? Is that so hard to fathom?

A) Yes, but it's some evidence. More than "I believe Brian was just using his friends to hear how some of his ideas sounded since the Boys werent back yet."

Or: "I think Air and Water were rough ideas we heard a bit of in the PSych bootleg"
[/quote]

It really isnt tho. It's baseless conjecture. I mean, if Brian called Worms "Roll Plymouth Rock" back in the day, would that be your Earth all the sudden? Or if Wonderful was called "Tears of Youth" would that be water just because it has something vaguely watery in the title? Maybe Im wrong but I always took the Elements concept as a way to visualize all the natural elements using music. When you listen to fire, nobody has to hold your hand and tell you "this is about fire" it's innate. The undersea chant and breathing skit also do that for me with water and air. Listening to them, I immediately think of the ocean floor with fish swimming around and the push and pull of a breeze (or breath) of air. Wind Chimes and Surf dont do that at all. One's a song about enjoying the simple things. Some read it as a metaphor for lonliness and depression. Some, about the anticipation of death. Surf's Up is about the flaws of society but how our children can make a better world, or that we need to make a better world for them. Literally the last things that come to my mind listening to these songs are "Air!" and "water!" and I guaruntee if you played them for uninformed laypeople they'd feel the same way. So...if this was Brian's elements...Im sorry to insult the man but he failed miserably at his goal. And isnt it just weird to you that only one song of the elements should be a relatively one-note instrumental while all the others are fully fleshed out pop songs with choruses and more complex structures? Seems pretty uneven to me.

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And: "Veggies was probably the grand finale of the elements as well as the Americana side. To me, this sounds better and makes more sense "

Or: "And it's not just the elements stuff. I think one or maybe two of those skits might have served as a "filler" comedy section at the end of one or both of the sides, or perhaps as lead ins to the two big showstoppers on each side."

When it comes to specific order, I cant prove my conclussion. Neither can you. If we all wanted, Im sure we could each find a quote from Vosse, Brian, VDP, Holmes that supports our preferences. For me the most important thing is what sounds right within the realm of plausibility.

As for my idea about the use of Psych Sounds...Ive repeatedly admitted this is a hunch. Ive never claimed it as fact. I just think like you; before 1967 there was a reason Brian did the things he did. So if he had his friends record these skits that obviously fit in conceptually with the album...doesnt it stand to reason that it's because he was playing with ideas he may or may not have the Boys or Crew record? He had the Fight and George Fell done with expensive studio musicians. Why would he do that, again pre-1967, if he wasnt serious about some of these comedy bits? Smiley Smile has offbeat "funny" moments too. Brian is on record saying spoken word humor would be part of the new LP. The cantina edit of Heroes has "You're under arrest!" And Brian can be heard on the All Day tapes saying there'd be talking in the pauses of that song. That sounds like a fair bit of evidence to me.

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Can you back up any of these contentions using actual data, interviews, anything but "your ears" and pure conjecture? I don't mind if you only use evidence that suits your argument. If this is an actual discussion that goes beyond "Yes, but that's what I feel would have happened", at least. If it's not, fair enough, but I'll take this opportunity to drop out.

So much evidence on this is contradictory that feeling and personal preference has to factor in somewhat. Im trying to at least be honest about that saying we should (at least partially) ignore the evidence and just go by what sounds best. I think two suites of thematically/lyrically/instrumentally/tonally linked songs sounds better than a side of 3 similar tracks and two that are very different, and a side of a bunch of unrelated tracks all completely different in many ways.

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B) No, it's not hard to fathom. It's quite possible. I'm just not willing to take it as a fact for the reasons I have outlined in probably tedious detail earlier in this thread.

Just as I find this elements suite structure preposterous for my own reasons Ive outlined here and elsewhere a million times.

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Quote
You're ignoring the Capitol tracklist (at least as reliable as the booklet if not more so) and the tape boxes and session recordings in your argument.

Am I?

A) TRACKLIST

My Side B: 1. Good Vibrations. [2 sec gap] 2. The Elements: Fire. 3. Vega-Tables. 4. Wind Chimes. 5. Surf's Up. [3 sec gap] Unlisted: Prayer.

Yes, I have added the text ": Fire" to the selection titled "The Elements". Is that really such a leap? The cover does not list a track called "My Vega-Tables - The Elements" (or, indeed "Home on the Range"), so there is some precedent for the tracklist and booklet to, in some minor ways, contradict each other. To reflect different phases of development. That said: (One more time now!) "Vega-Tables" being given by the booklet as an "Element", at least in Oct '66, is a decent hint as to their intentions at that time, surely?

Yes, I'd argue you are. The implication is clearly that Elements was one song. Brian did refer to the fire section as Mrs Oleary's Fire in a contemporaneous interview...but then why isnt that on the tracklist? You're also putting the word of Vosse ahead of Brian himself, which to me is another example of putting emphasis on less reliable evidence (like Holmes over the official tracklist/session tapes). Of course...maybe Vosse and Holmes are right. No one can definitively say. But Id put my money on Brian (on the session tapes that is) and the session tapes/labelling of Fire as opposed to these other songs above some vague drawing of a guy who wasnt even involved with the music itself. I dont understand why you put so much weight on the booklet. Clearly Holmes is just quoting snippets of the lyrics there, that's no basis for song titles or anything else as you're constantly insinuating. Its not reflective of different phases of development. VDP gave his friend his lyric sheets and said "make drawings about these." Its not, and was almost certainly not meant to be, gospel. I'll grant you Veggies tho. But I never doubted that in the first place. I still think it's possible Holmes got it wrong and something else like maybe Workshop was Earth, but I concede Veggies was a likely candidate too.

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EDIT: Again, please bear in mind I'm coming at this from the perspective of mid-December 1966. It's at that point I believe everything begins to spiral off and the original conception begins to collapse. (Again, see the Sessionography and the Fusion Article etc as back-up for this contention.) It's quite possible The Elements collapsed when Vega-Tables was nominated as a potential single and re-recording on it began in April - but not in December, when TE was included on the Capitol Memo. Some version of "The Elements" existed then, at least couple of weeks after the "Fire recording" if the mid-Dec dating for the Memo is correct, alongside Vega-Tables - and the only version we know of that to exist then (or was to for another four months) was the 90-second "Cornucopia" version marked by Holmes as part of The Elements.

If I'm being (very) slightly agnostic about the Capitol Memo, you're ignoring the implications of the Booklet with a true religious fervour.

As am I, at least in my last two mixes. We're in agreement on Dec '66 being the last time there was a clear goal. I think the elements collapsed when he thought Fire caused fires. Seems pretty obvious. Veggies wasnt fleshed out into a single until March or April I believe. Im not going against the book with religious fervor. Im just accepting it for what it is. Two degrees of separation from the mind of Brian, in Fall when the album was still conceivably evolving, from a guy who--to my knowledge--was just working with some lyric sheets and was just doing some fun illustrations. I truly think if he knew people were using his pictures as a blueprint for the album hed laugh. To me, it'd be like using the mustaches in the Pepper LP to argue some alternate sequence or something.

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[Related: we know VDP gave Holmes the information for the booklet directly. There is ongoing debate about the provenance/handwriting of the Memo, though I personally believe Cam Mott's assertion there is no way Brian didn't sign off on it.)

Right. Brian's collaborator who constantly tells everyone this is Brians music, Brians album, and he was just putting words to the ideas Brian had...gave his lyric sheets with no music and probably little context to an outside party to make some pictures. These pics were just auxiliary entertainment to the main project. Just some cool abstract art to exemplify the music. It wasnt ever supposed to be a guide to the album. Its just because it wasnt finished that fans put so much weight on it, for better or worse. There may be a clue or two in there, but Id argue probably not. Out of all the evidence to sift through, tracklist, contemporaneous interviews, retrospective interviews, the session tapes, Smiley Smile, Psychedelic Sounds, the music itself...the booklet is probably the absolute LAST thing I would lend credence to.

I agree, there's no way something like that went through without Brian's at least passive approval. It's important evidence. Ive learned that using it as a guide really gives you a satisfying album without any extraneous stuff that (when you get down to it) detracts from the experience more than helps. My only sticking point is Im In Great Shape, but Im guessing there's some lost acetate and the vocal session would show me how that couldve been a track. Im of the opinion now that the Do A Lot chorus was originally part of that and then recycled into Vega-Tables when that became a single.

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Fire is given as "The Elements: Part One" on the tape boxes/session sheets, isn't it? (I'm at work so can't check my TSS book.) It's certainly 1) explicitly called "an Element" and 2) you'll see I have used it as "Part One" of The Elements in my sequence. Since the only other piece we have explicitly identified with The Elements is VT, I've chosen to use that as Part Two. I've already admitted that after that the tunes are conjecture, based on the Capitol tracklist. But the Booklet absolutely makes the suggestion - I say again - that the Elements might well have been whole songs, possibly linked (by chants/FX etc?). And that at least one of these tracks also turned up with its own placing on the Capitol Memo, so how is it delusional to interpret any of this data as I have? What's the actual period evidence to the contrary, either to dispute my assertions or to back up your ideas? I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing/being reminded of such if you've got some, other than simply what sounds right to you.

Yes. Exactly. That, to me, is a huge point against your theory. VT wasnt explicitly called an element except in the booklet, which as Ive already said, I find among the least reliable pieces of evidence. Still...with the psychedelic sounds seemingly pointing in that direction as well, Ill grant you that. As Ive said before. Its not delusional so much as reaching. Ive laid out the evidence here and many other times all over the board. I think the evidence is stronger for a Cycle of Life side than Elements. You want me to dig up evidence that specifically disproves your theory? Like a contemporary interview where Brian says "Surf's Up is NOT an element"? We both know thats impossible. But the burden of proof is on the one proposing the theory. So it comes down to which of us proves our idea better, because I could just as easily say the same "prove me wrong" to you. You cant seriously say that I havent provided a pretty substantial block of evidence. At least as good as your's. We may disagree on which evidence to take more seriously, but Im not just farting out baseless stupid ideas.

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There is a lot of conjecture in the above, of course, which I've tried to clearly admit and identify as such. There is also a substantial amount of hard period data. If there's other data to dispute the stuff I've used, or an alternate analysis based on it, I sincerely welcome the challenge. As I hope I made clear at the beginning of this post, I'm totally open to revising my position on SMiLE as new facts, ideas, interpretations come to my attention. I've been doing so more-or-less continuously since 1998.

As have I. I used to believe BWPS was the final, unquestionable word. Then I started taking some of this board's ideas, and the idea of a two sided (because thats how LPs work) structure and played around more with the songs and found a general outline which I think is undeniable. The exact order may change, and certain songs like GV, IIGS, OMP and the Elements may change sides from mix to mix...but the basic blueprint of Heroes/Veggies/Worms/Cabin and Wonderful/Child/Wind/Surf groupings are unshakeable to me. I myself am resentful of your attitude now, acting as if I havent presented any evidence thus far but you have some unshakeable arguement which I just find untrue and unfair.


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This strikes me as a good time to say again how much I'm enjoying all of this, and I hope the above doesn't come across too aggressively (text, of course, being famously difficult when it comes to tone). I also thought your 'Romestamo' mix was fantastic, and have given it another listen in the interim.


No, I love discussing this. I do take some offense to this attitude as if I havent presented any evidence yet, but I understand I stepped on your toes a bit too presuming youd never changed your mind or thought about this. So no harm no foul. Glad you liked my mix. Would still love a link to your own Grin
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 09:53:34 PM by Mujan, B@st@rd of a Blue Wizard » Logged

Here are my SMiLE Mixes. All are 2 suite, but still vastly different in several ways. Be on the lookout for another, someday.

Aquarian SMiLE>HERE
Dumb Angel (Olorin Edition)>HERE
Dumb Angel [the Romestamo Cut]>HERE

& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
The American Metropolitan Circus>HERE
[
Mujan, 8@$+@Rc| of a Blue Wizard
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« Reply #129 on: August 10, 2015, 09:37:47 PM »

Half an hour later: I think I may have missed one of the key points you were making earlier, or at least I've had a follow-up thought about the tracklist that might be more in line with your thinking.

Let's say Brian's deteriorating mental state ("Fire" causing fires) and the beginning of alienation from VDP, etc, did lead to a reshuffle and rethink even before the Capitol memo was drawn up. That being the case - for sake of argument - who ever wrote the tracklisting, even if it had Brian's approval, or was transcribed from Brian himself, might well reflect that confusion. Ie. "The Elements" instead of "The Elements: incorporating "Mrs O'Leary's Cow", "My Vega-Tables", [Air] and [Water]" as the Booklet suggests might have been intended.

If "Fire" was indeed abandoned within a week or so of its recording, then you're right, the whole Elemental sequence gets thrown into doubt - at least from our perspective, and the information we have available. It's quite possible, then, that the other intended parts of the sequence, recorded or unrecorded, get split off into their own tracks, or junked, and the placeholder "Elements" title put into the list to incorporate whatever Brian might decide to do with that idea. Which doesn't mean that Veggies, or indeed Wind Chimes and Surf's Up were not once intended to be part of a side(ish)-long "Elemental movement", but that as of The Crunch in December room may well have been being made for a totally different conception - including a stand-alone "The Elements" instrumental/vocal suite.

Not sure how that relates to the Psycodelic Sounds stuff (even just as ideas), taped before the Boys' return in early November and therefore much closer to the making of the Booklet (inc. Veggies at least as an Element), but it does widen the playing field from my admittedly pretty narrow scope above. At least as it relates to December onwards.

I'll admit youve got me curious to hear or try out my own version of a mix with an elements side that uses the psychedelic sounds to bridge the songs and make them less...jarring. Like Fire into the Veggie Fight into Veggies into Breathing into Wind Chimes into Undersea Chant into Surfs Up. I still dont believe that was the intent even after this additional point, but Id like to hear how something like this might sound.

Once again, I think you're coming up with a convoluted explanation to suit your theory when there's a much simpler explanation. There would have been one song called the elements that probably would have been decently long. It was scrapped, for a variety of reasons: fire caused fires, the length may have become a problem, the song was too scatterbrained for Brian's liking, he couldnt get Air/Water/maybeEarth written or at least not the way he wanted. So the idea was scrapped, and that (along with VDP leaving and other things) caused a big black hole that swallowed the album from within. Wind Chimes and Veggies were completely separate songs.

To add yet another point to my argument...Brian specifically said 10 to 12 tracks. If the Elements swallowed up those 3 other songs, thats only 9. Also, Brian called the Fire section Mrs OLearys Fire in a contemporary interview. So why is it only Fire thats called The Elements and not its other name while the other supposed elements are listed by their own names? It just doesnt make sense. It's not believable.

And I have to ask, because I looked it up. Which picture are we talking about that's literally the crux of your whole argument? This? If so then...really? This picture is your proof that Surfs Up is an element? I really dont see it. If Im using the wrong one, I apologize and would like to see what youre referring to.
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Here are my SMiLE Mixes. All are 2 suite, but still vastly different in several ways. Be on the lookout for another, someday.

Aquarian SMiLE>HERE
Dumb Angel (Olorin Edition)>HERE
Dumb Angel [the Romestamo Cut]>HERE

& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
The American Metropolitan Circus>HERE
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« Reply #130 on: August 10, 2015, 10:36:54 PM »

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Brian specifically said 10 to 12 tracks.
Count the tracks on the cover listing. Make one of them The Elements: Fire (2.01). That and three more of those 12 tracks make up the Elements. Viola!

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So why is it only Fire thats called The Elements and not its other name while the other supposed elements are listed by their own names?
My conjecture on exactly this, from my previous post: "If "Fire" was indeed abandoned within a week or so of its recording, then... it's quite possible... that the other intended parts of the sequence, recorded or unrecorded, get split off into their own tracks, or junked, and the placeholder "Elements" title put into the list to incorporate whatever Brian might decide to do with that idea."

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The implication is clearly that Elements was one song. Brian did refer to the fire section as Mrs Oleary's Fire in a contemporaneous interview...but then why isnt that on the tracklist?
See immediately above.

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Wind Chimes and Veggies were completely separate songs.
Oh, they were? You have this directly or indirectly on the record? You have a direct quote that says Vega-Tables and Wind Chimes not part of the Elements? I have a clear period indication that, at least at one point, Veggies was.

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[Re: Surf's Up/Wind Chimes:] Baseless conjecture. I mean, if Brian called Worms "Roll Plymouth Rock" back in the day, would that be your Earth all the sudden?
Conceded. But see my last point below.

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So...if this was Brian's elements...Im sorry to insult the man but he failed miserably at his goal.
Right, so could you please explain to me, with sources and references, what Brian's specific goal was? Unless you mean your own guess at what his goal was. In which case you probably needn't bother.

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Clearly Holmes is just quoting snippets of the lyrics there, that's no basis for song titles or anything else as you're constantly insinuating.
Categorically untrue, if I'm reading you correctly. The 6 small illustrative panels feature: two captions which are just lyrics: "Diamond necklace play the pawn" and "Lost and found you still remain there." Three which are captioned with both lyrics and song titles: "Two-step to lamps light" Surf's Up; "The rain of bullets eventually brought her down" Heroes and Villians; "Uncover the cornfield" Home on the range. And one which is just a title: "Do you like worms".

In all above cases the lyrics are clearly differentiated from the song titles by being italicised, whereas the titles are in plain text. The final, and most relevant illustration is the full page one - "My Vega-Tables" The Elements. The clear indication, therefore, being that "My Vega-Tables" are lyrics from "The Elements", the italics/plain font formatting mirroring those for H&V, "Home on the Range" and Surf's Up.

So, as I mooted last post, a firm suggestion that Vega-Tables started off as part of The Elements before being extracted for the Capitol tracklist; and if so, who's to say what else was or wasn't part of the original "Elements"? After that - as I keep saying - it's conjecture, but your refusal to grant any importance to the booklet captioning is exactly the kind of blind refusal of evidence in order not to disrupt your own schema that you seem very confident attributing to others.

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I still think it's possible Holmes got it wrong and something else like maybe Workshop was Earth
It's not impossible. But isn't it likelier either Brian or VDP or both actually looked at his artwork before it was submitted to the Art Department to have an estimated 10,000 copies made?

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You cant seriously say that I havent provided a pretty substantial block of evidence. At least as good as your's.
But I am. Your conclusions are interesting, but I think your methodology is flawed. (Ie. There is indeed a track called simply "The Elements" on the cover. That might mean it's a two-minute instrumental we know as "Fire/MOC". It might not. It just means there's a track on the cover called "The Elements". The whole point of this debate is to establish what this might be, isn't it?] Maybe I'm misunderstanding, however. Can you list your actual evidence, as opposed to supposition?

Finally, this is the illustration I thought it was obvious I was referring to. (Unfortunately this is the "projected single" version from TSS, which omits the captioning I speak about above. Do you have a copy of the booklet you can refer to to check my observation about lyrics/title formatting?) About which - in specific reference to this picture - Frank Holmes said "There's more than one element present in it." You see the same Wall of Surf from both "Surf's Up" illustrations, right? I'm not saying it's proof, of anything, but that's what Holmes said, and there it is.

EDIT: I don't seem to be able to get an attachment up. Here's the link to the illustration: http://the-adventurers-club.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c801b53ef017ee5546e6e970d-800wi

Anyway, I'm not sure there's much point continuing with this. I'm willing to give it one more go-round if anything useful is likely to come out of it? Otherwise, an excellent exchange and I'll fire through that link to you soon - it's just uploading now.
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« Reply #131 on: August 10, 2015, 11:36:12 PM »

One more thing that seems relevant: this is the closest to a contemporary description of the Elements that seems to exist. (It's Anderle, in 1968)

"We were aware, he made us aware, of what fire was going to be, and what water was going to be; we had some idea of air. That was where it stopped. None of us had any ideas as to how it was going to tie together, except that it appeared to us to be an opera. And the story of the fire part I guess is pretty well known by now."

Okay, so let's parse this for a moment, because I think it helps and hinders us both.

First of all, most obviously there are no individual track titles given. Does this mean named tracks couldn't be part of it? No, but on the other hand it does seem a bit odd Anderle doesn't reference them if they were.

Secondly, it's odd the one other part there seems to be some evidence for, Earth: Vega-Tables, is the one part Anderle seems to know nothing about at all.

Thirdly, if we count "Dada" as water (tracked initially in Dec '66) - and recall Vosse was sent out to get water sounds for this part of the album regardless - and use the old auto-bio quote about "Air", then this description seems to fit with quite a lot of supposition that neither you and I are particularly enamoured of.

Fourthly - doesn't it suggest, however, that Psycodelic Sounds (recordings of which Anderle was actually a part) were not to be a part of "The Elements"? He was "made aware" of what Fire and Water were going to be, but only had "some idea" as to Air and "it stopped" before Earth. Since the Chants have seemingly obvious Water, Air and Veggies connections, then the preceding comments seem a bit odd - if indeed these chants had ever been actual ideas/rough sketches for The Elements. Of all the collaborators of the time, including quite possibly Van Dyke, Anderle seems to be in a position to know.

Lastly - "an opera". Operas contain multiple themes, songs, motifs. The word suggests dramatic flow, movement. Assuming that the Fire part - "which I guess is pretty well known by now" - was to be the Fire we do indeed know by now, then a larger conception of several major compositions, perhaps - as AGD says elsewhere - with crossfades, etc, doesn't seem out of keeping with Anderle's comments here. Whether or not they're any of the ones I've suggested seems less likely.

Anyway, I realise this factors more into your line of thought than mine. But having found the quote, I thought it only appropriate I enter it into the discourse.



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« Reply #132 on: August 11, 2015, 12:22:46 AM »

Aha! But, here, from Vosse in Fusion:

"For example, he was doing a four part suite called "The Elements", and the fire section of it was all done with percussion instruments. It was like was Stravinsky. It was beautifully done, and lasted about two minutes... You've heard all about that time, with the tape and the fire destroying it... But at the same time he did that, he took the tail end of Wind Chimes... and he had a minute and a half tag on it where he took a stand-up tack piano and a grand piano; and, a track at a time, did little music box overdubs, and then he went in and mixed them with different echoes on different channels into... I've never heard anything like it."

This is the one quote, and though there's no explicit mention of WC as an Element, it is brought up quite organically in a statement about "The Elements", as a four part suite, and directly following a description of "Fire."

EDIT: I can't help but increasingly feel this dialogue should be taking place in almost any other Smile Sessions thread than this one!
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« Reply #133 on: August 11, 2015, 12:58:38 AM »

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Brian specifically said 10 to 12 tracks.
Count the tracks on the cover listing. Make one of them The Elements: Fire (2.01). That and three more of those 12 tracks make up the Elements. Viola!

It still makes absolutely no sense to me that only one of the elements would be called that on the cover. You're so certain of The Elements being The Elements: Fire but you're totally blind to how ridiculous that is. Why wouldnt they have used Mrs Oleary's Fire? Or Elements: Water/Air/Earth? It just doesnt add up, any of it.

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So why is it only Fire thats called The Elements and not its other name while the other supposed elements are listed by their own names?
My conjecture on exactly this, from my previous post: "If "Fire" was indeed abandoned within a week or so of its recording, then... it's quite possible... that the other intended parts of the sequence, recorded or unrecorded, get split off into their own tracks, or junked, and the placeholder "Elements" title put into the list to incorporate whatever Brian might decide to do with that idea."

Or maybe they never were elements in the first place. They were recorded before Fire, with absolutely no indication on the tape boxes or session recordings they were elements. Why is the whole song such a big mystery if it was all recorded? Because you're trying to tie everything in a neat little bow when in reality the song/concept was never finished, simple as that. What would be the purpose of even having an Elements placeholder, in your scenario, if the other songs could simply stand alone? Just remove them from that conceptual umbrella and let them be. And then the fact that that's so easy to do at all should be a good indication the song/concept is NOT what you say it is.

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Wind Chimes and Veggies were completely separate songs.
Oh, they were? You have this directly or indirectly on the record? You have a direct quote that says Vega-Tables and Wind Chimes not part of the Elements? I have a clear period indication that, at least at one point, Veggies was.

I find that easier to believe than your runaround to make sense of the booklet. And let's stop with the bullshit "prove me wrong" stuff. I could just as easily say it to you and you'd be lost. Because Brian and Van are not on record saying what is and isnt an element. Like seriously, why dont YOU tell ME where Brian says (pre-BWPS) that Wind Chimes is an element? And since I mention it, why isnt Surf's Up an element in that album, since that was aparently the big plan all along? So Brian remembered Veggies and Wind Chimes but not Surf's Up? Im giving you Veggies because it's also backed by the Psychedelic Sounds and anecdotal evidence by Brian's friends in interviews. But I dont buy Wind Chimes or Surfs Up at all. You do NOT have solid evidence for those that I see.

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So...if this was Brian's elements...Im sorry to insult the man but he failed miserably at his goal.
Right, so could you please explain to me, with sources and references, what Brian's specific goal was? Unless you mean your own guess at what his goal was. In which case you probably needn't bother.

I know, I know...wikipedia. But based on your second reply above, I get the idea youve read the wiki article about this part of the album. Nothing there proves your point at all. In fact, it seems to all point to the simple, undeniable conclussion Ive been saying the whole time--the concept was never finished before it was abandoned. Period. Here's the references for that section which show that whats written there wasnt made up: http://www.gadflyonline.com/05-06-02/ftr-smile.html , https://books.google.com/books?id=Oy4BAAAACAAJ , https://books.google.com/books?id=sLEMdjRhDgQC&hl=en , http://www.aquariumdrunkard.com/2011/10/12/the-ad-interview-darian-sahanaja-behind-the-smile-sessions/

One I found interesting is that VDP told Domenic that the Elements would have evoked fitness and environmentalism. Ok, Ill grant you again, that seems to point to Veggies. But how do Wind Chimes or Surfs Up fit that AT ALL? Darian is quoted saying Brian didnt point to anything as part of some elements concept. Hmm. David Anderlee says it was unfinished and there were vague ideas for water and air. That could point to the Psychedelic Skits. Why not? David was there for those, Im pretty sure. And if air and water were Wind and Surf...wouldnt he damn well have said that?

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Clearly Holmes is just quoting snippets of the lyrics there, that's no basis for song titles or anything else as you're constantly insinuating.
Categorically untrue, if I'm reading you correctly. The 6 small illustrative panels feature: two captions which are just lyrics: "Diamond necklace play the pawn" and "Lost and found you still remain there." Three which are captioned with both lyrics and song titles: "Two-step to lamps light" Surf's Up; "The rain of bullets eventually brought her down" Heroes and Villians; "Uncover the cornfield" Home on the range. And one which is just a title: "Do you like worms".

In all above cases the lyrics are clearly differentiated from the song titles by being italicised, whereas the titles are in plain text. The final, and most relevant illustration is the full page one - "My Vega-Tables" The Elements. The clear indication, therefore, being that "My Vega-Tables" are lyrics from "The Elements", the italics/plain font formatting mirroring those for H&V, "Home on the Range" and Surf's Up.

Ive been willing to agree that Veggies is probably the most likely piece for Earth, assuming Earth was even recorded. If this was the only evidence...Id be pretty skeptical. But I concede that the book, along with the Psych sounds, and the fitness component VDP mentions in regards to the Elements swayed me.

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So, as I mooted last post, a firm suggestion that Vega-Tables started off as part of The Elements before being extracted for the Capitol tracklist; and if so, who's to say what else was or wasn't part of the original "Elements"? After that - as I keep saying - it's conjecture, but your refusal to grant any importance to the booklet captioning is exactly the kind of blind refusal of evidence in order not to disrupt your own schema that you seem very confident attributing to others.

By that logic, maybe Im in Great Shape is Air. Brian sings "fresh air all around my head" and apparently one vague reference is all you need. You cant just blindly speculate like that against all logic. You've proved a strong case with Veggies, I can agree. But that doesnt translate into "well, its the case with that so it must also be the case with these two other songs!"

My blind refusal? Dude...I dont know how else I can say this...the booklet by itself is NOT evidence. Or at least it's the vaguest, least-helpful, least reliable evidence that there is. That's not blind refusal that's just simple fact. Sorry, but Ill take what Brian can be heard saying over the sessions, the labelling of those sessions, and the various interviews which only talk about fire and unclear concepts when the subject of the Elements is brought up over a collection of abstract art with questionable level of clarity to the concept of the music. I guess Im crazy, but that's how I choose to weigh the evidence. And at least Im trying to tie in as much of that as I can in how I construct my SMiLE. You seem to take this booklet, this unsubstantiated idea that the Elements--and SMiLE as a whole--was finished come December, and use that to twist everything else to fit the narrative you've constructed. What's your hierarchy of evidence, just curious?

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I still think it's possible Holmes got it wrong and something else like maybe Workshop was Earth
It's not impossible. But isn't it likelier either Brian or VDP or both actually looked at his artwork before it was submitted to the Art Department to have an estimated 10,000 copies made?

You're contradicting yourself. You say the book cant be wrong cause Brian and/or VDP must have seen it...but you've also been saying the cover is wrong calling Fire "The Elements." So...which is it? For myself, I think Brian didnt particularly care about the artwork. He chose that cover, and probably said to have that artist do any other artwork that was needed. I guess probably picked out the pictures. But I dont think he was that involved in that aspect of the production. Now, for the list, that's different. Those are the actual SONGS. So while he didnt write the list, I think someone--Carl, Diane, David--said "Brian, Capitol insists on a tracklist NOW. What are the songs gonna be?" and Brian ran off a list right off the bat of the ones he envisioned would make the cut. So either could be wrong. But I think Brian would be more concerned with making sure the right songs would be listed--which is kinda really important--than some additional artwork which, if there was an error or two, wouldnt really be an issue. 

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You cant seriously say that I havent provided a pretty substantial block of evidence. At least as good as your's.
But I am. Your conclusions are interesting, but I think your methodology is flawed. (Ie. There is indeed a track called simply "The Elements" on the cover. That might mean it's a two-minute instrumental we know as "Fire/MOC". It might not. It just means there's a track on the cover called "The Elements". The whole point of this debate is to establish what this might be, isn't it?] Maybe I'm misunderstanding, however. Can you list your actual evidence, as opposed to supposition?

Im looking at a multitude of things; interviews, psychedelic sounds, the session tapes, Smiley Smile, the tracklist, the lyrics/instrumentation, etc to make my points and construct my SMiLE. Your argument relies entirely on the booklet of all things, and the unsubstantiated belief that the Elements had to be finished by December...so...with all due respect you have no right to tell me my methodology is flawed. Why would he refer to only one piece of the concept as The Elements and not any of the others? Again, you're speculating/twisting things to fit the narrative you've constructed. I've listed my evidence. I dont see how my arguments have been any more supposition-based than your's, so I dont understand where you get off getting uppity and dismissing my interpretation like that.

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Finally, this is the illustration I thought it was obvious I was referring to. (Unfortunately this is the "projected single" version from TSS, which omits the captioning I speak about above. Do you have a copy of the booklet you can refer to to check my observation about lyrics/title formatting?) About which - in specific reference to this picture - Frank Holmes said "There's more than one element present in it." You see the same Wall of Surf from both "Surf's Up" illustrations, right? I'm not saying it's proof, of anything, but that's what Holmes said, and there it is.

I dont have my boxset or the online pics Ive saved with me. Theyre at home, Im at school. But I believe you on the text formatting. That's not a point of contention. Im sorry again to sound like a jerk, but this is your trump card? THIS is what's made you so sure of Surf's Up as an element against all evidence to the contrary? There's some WATER in the picture. And there's water coming down from the clouds to water the carrots. And based on that...Surfs Up. And I'm the one who's speculating. Ok then.

To me, I see that and hear his quote and think water and earth. Not necessarily Surf's Up. To me, this just shows how the elements are combined. The water nourishes the veggies, the ocean waves are formed by the breeze. I know Im sounding rude here, but how one can look at that and think "OMG Surf's Up is an element!" is totally beyond me. I guess it's just cause you're saying I havent provided any evidence and then offer...this...that gets me feeling kinda insulted. Ok.

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EDIT: I don't seem to be able to get an attachment up. Here's the link to the illustration: http://the-adventurers-club.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c801b53ef017ee5546e6e970d-800wi

Anyway, I'm not sure there's much point continuing with this. I'm willing to give it one more go-round if anything useful is likely to come out of it? Otherwise, an excellent exchange and I'll fire through that link to you soon - it's just uploading now.

Ive honestly enjoyed it too and really would like to listen.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 02:24:01 AM by Mujan, B@st@rd of a Blue Wizard » Logged

Here are my SMiLE Mixes. All are 2 suite, but still vastly different in several ways. Be on the lookout for another, someday.

Aquarian SMiLE>HERE
Dumb Angel (Olorin Edition)>HERE
Dumb Angel [the Romestamo Cut]>HERE

& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
The American Metropolitan Circus>HERE
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« Reply #134 on: August 11, 2015, 01:06:20 AM »

Aha! But, here, from Vosse in Fusion:

"For example, he was doing a four part suite called "The Elements", and the fire section of it was all done with percussion instruments. It was like was Stravinsky. It was beautifully done, and lasted about two minutes... You've heard all about that time, with the tape and the fire destroying it... But at the same time he did that, he took the tail end of Wind Chimes... and he had a minute and a half tag on it where he took a stand-up tack piano and a grand piano; and, a track at a time, did little music box overdubs, and then he went in and mixed them with different echoes on different channels into... I've never heard anything like it."

This is the one quote, and though there's no explicit mention of WC as an Element, it is brought up quite organically in a statement about "The Elements", as a four part suite, and directly following a description of "Fire."

EDIT: I can't help but increasingly feel this dialogue should be taking place in almost any other Smile Sessions thread than this one!

Im not convinced. Who's to say whether that means a side of vinyl or a big, four-part song? And I think Vosse just meant he was doing the songs at the same time. To me, this is like the booklet with Veggies. By itself, not convincing. Give me a few other things to corroborate it and Ill come around.
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Here are my SMiLE Mixes. All are 2 suite, but still vastly different in several ways. Be on the lookout for another, someday.

Aquarian SMiLE>HERE
Dumb Angel (Olorin Edition)>HERE
Dumb Angel [the Romestamo Cut]>HERE

& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
The American Metropolitan Circus>HERE
[
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« Reply #135 on: August 11, 2015, 01:19:58 AM »

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Im not convinced. Who's to say whether that means a side of vinyl or a big, four-part song? And I think Vosse just meant he was doing the songs at the same time. To me, this is like the booklet with Veggies. By itself, not convincing. Give me a few other things to corroborate it and Ill come around.

Absolutely fair enough.

Agree to disagree, I guess? Apologies if at any juncture I sounded - or was! - rude.
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« Reply #136 on: August 11, 2015, 01:42:54 AM »

One more thing that seems relevant: this is the closest to a contemporary description of the Elements that seems to exist. (It's Anderle, in 1968)

"We were aware, he made us aware, of what fire was going to be, and what water was going to be; we had some idea of air. That was where it stopped. None of us had any ideas as to how it was going to tie together, except that it appeared to us to be an opera. And the story of the fire part I guess is pretty well known by now."

Yes. This seems to corroborate my interpretation. That is, it was unfinished. Fire was recorded, there were vague ideas for water and air (undersea chant and breathing) that weren't finished...and the idea was scrapped. So that's that.

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Okay, so let's parse this for a moment, because I think it helps and hinders us both.

First of all, most obviously there are no individual track titles given. Does this mean named tracks couldn't be part of it? No, but on the other hand it does seem a bit odd Anderle doesn't reference them if they were.

Yes. Im sorry, but if Wind Chimes and Veggies were definitely those elements...I would think he would say so. Those songs were released. The public knew (gimped) versions of them and he was part of the SMiLE brigade so that he would be at least vaguely familiar with the old SMiLE versions. It would be so much easier and clearer for him to just say "Veggies and Chimes were Earth and Air...and Surfs Up--which hasnt been released--was Water." The fact that he doesnt do that is very strong evidence against your theory, Id say.

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Secondly, it's odd the one other part there seems to be some evidence for, Earth: Vega-Tables, is the one part Anderle seems to know nothing about at all.

Yes, for the dozenth time, I agree of all the songs you postulate...Veggies has a good chance of being Earth. It's still totally possible it wasnt actually Earth tho and this is all a red herring. I know you're very invested, but thats still a valid possibility you need to keep in mind. Theres about as much evidence against Veggies as for it Id say. And almost none for Chimes and Surf except your speculation.

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Thirdly, if we count "Dada" as water (tracked initially in Dec '66) - and recall Vosse was sent out to get water sounds for this part of the album regardless - and use the old auto-bio quote about "Air", then this description seems to fit with quite a lot of supposition that neither you and I are particularly enamoured of.

Dada? Oh, you mean "All Day" tracked as a Heroes fragment with "lots of talking" in the pauses according to Brian on the tapes? I dont buy it. That fragment eventually became Cool Cool Water and later Blue Hawaii...which are water related, sure, but All Day was a Heroes fragment no different than Barnyard or Do a Lot and Dada in April was just some random song spun off from that fragment that was probably a working single or b-side.

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Fourthly - doesn't it suggest, however, that Psycodelic Sounds (recordings of which Anderle was actually a part) were not to be a part of "The Elements"? He was "made aware" of what Fire and Water were going to be, but only had "some idea" as to Air and "it stopped" before Earth. Since the Chants have seemingly obvious Water, Air and Veggies connections, then the preceding comments seem a bit odd - if indeed these chants had ever been actual ideas/rough sketches for The Elements. Of all the collaborators of the time, including quite possibly Van Dyke, Anderle seems to be in a position to know.

Not sure how on earth you came to that conclusion. If anything, Id say it confirms it more than casts doubt on it. He specifically says he knows what water and air were but not Veggies. Ive been saying all along undersea chant (which actually was the foundation for the Water chant) and Breathing were more than likely working ideas for those elements. You admitting David was part of those sessions all but confirms it. What's your hangup? That he doesnt name-drop them or describe them in detail? Why would he? This was before bootlegs were out. Saying "the breathing skit" would mean NOTHING to the readers of the interview. Additionally, describing them wasnt his place--what if Brian finished the concept some day--and also would do them a disservice and make them sound stupid. "Oh, he had us make fish noises"/"he had us breathe."  Just reading that, youd think those recordings must be the stupidest things ever. But if you listen...they sound wonderful. Completely mesmerizing and the embodiment of those elements as Fire is.

Quote
Lastly - "an opera". Operas contain multiple themes, songs, motifs. The word suggests dramatic flow, movement. Assuming that the Fire part - "which I guess is pretty well known by now" - was to be the Fire we do indeed know by now, then a larger conception of several major compositions, perhaps - as AGD says elsewhere - with crossfades, etc, doesn't seem out of keeping with Anderle's comments here. Whether or not they're any of the ones I've suggested seems less likely.

I stopped reading after that first sentence and asked "how doesnt that apply to the structure Ive proposed?" Why cant there be crossfades in what Ive proposed? I dont think this disproves my claim at all.

Quote
Anyway, I realise this factors more into your line of thought than mine. But having found the quote, I thought it only appropriate I enter it into the discourse.

Glad you acknowledge that. I own LLVS but havent read it yet. You bringing this quote to my attention seems to more or less confirm my ideas. Not trying to rub it in.




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« Reply #137 on: August 11, 2015, 01:43:27 AM »

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Im not convinced. Who's to say whether that means a side of vinyl or a big, four-part song? And I think Vosse just meant he was doing the songs at the same time. To me, this is like the booklet with Veggies. By itself, not convincing. Give me a few other things to corroborate it and Ill come around.

Absolutely fair enough.

Agree to disagree, I guess? Apologies if at any juncture I sounded - or was! - rude.

I suppose we must. And same goes for me.
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« Reply #138 on: August 11, 2015, 07:38:10 AM »

Quick question here; if it's been discussed before a link would be fine, but I searched and didn't find anything.

The Made in California box includes a "2012 mix" of the 1967 "Surf's Up" recording. What exactly is different between that and the SMiLE Sessions version? Thus far I've not noticed any differences.
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« Reply #139 on: August 11, 2015, 06:22:27 PM »

Quick question here; if it's been discussed before a link would be fine, but I searched and didn't find anything.

The Made in California box includes a "2012 mix" of the 1967 "Surf's Up" recording. What exactly is different between that and the SMiLE Sessions version? Thus far I've not noticed any differences.

Maybe making it surround sounds, slightly different stereo panning, or cleaned it up? I don't know either
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« Reply #140 on: August 13, 2015, 01:44:39 PM »

To me it sounds like the MIC version is a little drier/lighter on the reverb compared to the original mix that we got. I'prefer the original.
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« Reply #141 on: August 13, 2015, 01:54:05 PM »

To me it sounds like the MIC version is a little drier/lighter on the reverb compared to the original mix that we got. I'prefer the original.

I noticed this as well, especially during Brian's first "columnated ruins domino" falsetto.
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« Reply #142 on: August 13, 2015, 02:08:45 PM »

Anyone else think the key change on the 67 version on the "come about hard and join..." is  due to an edit?

What I mean is that I reckon the 67 version is mix of more than one version. One version is in a lower key than another.

I guess there wasn't a full version they could use.
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« Reply #143 on: August 13, 2015, 02:13:03 PM »

Anyone else think the key change on the 67 version on the "come about hard and join..." is  due to an edit?

What I mean is that I reckon the 67 version is mix of more than one version. One version is in a lower key than another.

I guess there wasn't a full version they could use.

I don't doubt that it's comped from a few takes. You can hear an edit somewhere in the 2nd section, can't remember which line off hand. That said, I'm thinking the key change was moreso an arrangement idea on Brian's behalf. But who knows! Maybe someone who has heard the full takes can weigh in.
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« Reply #144 on: August 17, 2015, 04:31:39 PM »

I was hoping not to continue to clutter this thread with non-"Surf's Up"-specific speculation, but in the absence of a general "Elements" thread, this seems the most appropriate place to add a couple of closing remarks to the debate Mujan and I were having above. Sorry if I have detracted from any other conversations, will move this somewhere else if it looks like any non-SU discussion is likely to continue.

After reaching the ol' "agree to disagree" end game with Mujan, I managed to find an online Crawdaddy archive with the relevant Williams/Anderle chats (I think the only major piece of SMiLE lore I hadn't read).  After reading this three part conversation (particularly Part II), I have now largely come round to Mujan's position on "The Elements".

Anderle on "Fire": "Anyway, after we all laughed at him, as we normally did in these situations, he went ahead and destroyed the tape. Completely. Eliminated it, never to be heard again. That basically destroyed the Elements."

Which seems pretty equivocal. What it means for the Memo two weeks later - and "The Elements" still being on it - who knows? Maybe he had decided to revise the concept entirely into one far-out extended track, as you suggest. I did notice in the interview that there's an extended description of the "chanting" session, which has no reference to Elements, which anyway were done three weeks before Fire "destroyed the Elements" - but it does suggest that Brian combined these chants with musical tracks in the studio (though see Teen Set below...):

"For instance, the chanting: one night we were at the studio and Brian didn't feel like putting down a track. We were just laying around and he said, "Come out here, everyone." So we all went out there, not one of us a professional, and he had us making noises, incredible noises, directing us from the control room. "Louder." "Softer." "More expansive." "Get in closer." The whole thing. We started off very conscious of what we were doing, looking at each other and very embarrassed, and he just drove us into it, totally. We went into the studio and listened to it; he put it with music, we listened to it again and walked out knowing that once again Brian had done it."

[The same Nov 4 scene as described, part-satirically I believe, by Vosse - and allegedly, Brian himself - in Teen Set magazine:
'Now it is late, and time for fun. Brian and four friends sit in the dark studio around an open microphone. Each person makes and repeats a sound which represents the "feeling" of underwater life to him... Brian softly whispers into ears asking for a variation here, a more pronounced rhythm there, soon the effect is created and Brian returns to the booth to mix the sounds with echoes and pitch changes to create a vocal Atlantis. "This is an interesting direction. When the guys get back we'll try something similar."']

No indication these chants were ever intended to be part of "The Elements", and as far as Anderle seems to be aware, seem to have been an of-the-moment whim of Brian's. Perhaps an idea for "the humour album", which is clearly in Anderle's mind not the same as the SMiLE album (in fact, he suggests Smiley Smile was in some ways a way of combining the two ideas).

Though I'm still clinging (not, I still feel, entirely without reason) to Veggies as being an Element at one time - and, almost without reason, that Wind Chimes might have been - in almost all other aspects I am duly chastened.


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« Reply #145 on: August 17, 2015, 09:52:17 PM »

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"This is an interesting direction. When the guys get back we'll try something similar."

This right here is the KEY line, for me. Badda boom. This is what Ive been saying all along--the Psychedelic Sounds is a series of experiments he was playing around with to see if any would sound good with the Boys or Wrecking Crew. Some did. Brian falls into a piano/mic became George Fell Into His French Horn. Brian is heard on one of the skits (forget which) saying "we've got to fight, we've gotta keep fighting, and then we'll make up" as an idea to the other guys, a way to focus the sketch on something. That idea was fleshed out as the vegetable fight. And, the undersea chant eventually became the water chant, the closest thing to Water of the Elements we will ever get. No official word from Anderle on Breathing? I still think that's the most plausible Air.

Is there any actual proof of this comedy album idea ever actually being a serious endeavor of Brian's? I only heard about it on the wiki and a few posters here echoing the idea but never heard anything from a serious source. I always assumed it was people misunderstand Psychedelic Sounds--thinking it must have been Brian's ideas for a whole separate project, when in reality (as far as Im concerned barring some further evidence) they actually are one and the same thing. I think the humor was a latter addition (like, Nov/Dec/Jan-ish) but intended for SMiLE. The Cantina edit of Heroes seems to corroborate this. It sounds similar to what happens in With Me Tonight (the "Good!") but even more effective. The Laughing half of the Breathing skit could be seen as similar to how the Boys laugh during the first verse of Little Pad, for another example. And that laugh could have been a great transition between the scary fire and more lighthearted Vega-Tables, if indeed the latter was an element. It's funny because it's over-the-top laughter, but there's something vaguely creepy about it as well. Kinda like a lot of things on SMiLE, there's an innocence as well as a veiled sense of foreboding and sadness there. Hmm.
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« Reply #146 on: August 19, 2015, 02:14:07 PM »

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This right here is the KEY line, for me. Badda boom. This is what Ive been saying all along--the Psychedelic Sounds is a series of experiments he was playing around with to see if any would sound good with the Boys or Wrecking Crew. Some did. Brian falls into a piano/mic became George Fell Into His French Horn.

Sure, but I'd say that extended vocal experiments with the Wrecking Crew making it to a Beach Boys LP is as unlikely - or, in any case, unprecedented - as the Nov 4 chanting material with the Vosse Posse. It's also a stretch, I think, to say that George Fell into His French Horn was a release-quality development of "Brian Falls Into a Piano"; the basic gag is the same, yes, but ideas are re-used in creative arts all the time. Sometimes it's 'cos something sounds good in one setting, or was well-responded to, or you're out of ideas on a particular day and you go back to a familiar well. Using the latter usage to explicate intentions for the former is like saying the Good Vibrations hook was a work-out for the ultimate use of the word "excitations" in "Summer of Love".

I'm sure Brian was working out ideas in '66 as they came to him, with the tools and people on hand to explore those ideas as they occurred. Anderle and Vosse speak at length about this (the abandoned "cutlery rhythms" dinner party recording, for instance). The connection that needs to be backed up is that these experiments were intended to be refined/re-recorded/deployed for SMiLE, or any other BB projects. One of the recurring themes of the interviews I've mentioned is the sense that Brian was slowly working towards solo, or at least non-BBs-related releases. Anderle is quite explicit about this. The "pop humour album" seems to be one of those nascent concepts.

I'll grant you "This is an interesting direction. When the guys get back we'll try something similar" appears to make such a connection. And it may well do so, though it's also worth remembering this article was written by Vosse and possibly Brian for the Capitol in-house magazine, so what motivations might there be to justify that hour-or-so's messing-about/exploration (on studio time) as investigating a potential direction for the band?

Finally:
Quote
Is there any actual proof of this comedy album idea ever actually being a serious endeavor of Brian's?
There's quite a lot about this in Brian: Part One in Crawdaddy if you want to take a look at that (I don't have time to transcribe all the relevant material; I believe it's in LLVS). As I said above, it's certainly referred to by Anderle as a quite distinct proposition to SMiLE proper, though I don't doubt there would have been some bleed-through between the two projects.
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« Reply #147 on: August 19, 2015, 02:22:59 PM »

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And, the undersea chant eventually became the water chant, the closest thing to Water of the Elements we will ever get. No official word from Anderle on Breathing? I still think that's the most plausible Air.

Well, kinda. The "water chant", recorded in very different circumstances not far off a year later for a specific track, doesn't bear much relation to "Fishy, fishy, swim, swim - tiiiidal" except that it's a group of unadorned voices around a microphone. The harmonic approach, the lack of emphasis on syncopation, rhythm and differing proximities, the one repeated word - it's a very different beast. The "undersea chant" isn't even "about" water in so much as the things that live in the oceans. (Though I'm sure, quite understandably, you might disagree.)

I'm not saying there isn't some kind of connection, but I think you're overstating what there is. The strongest link the chants have to "Elements", somewhat ironically, is in the re-use of actual lyrics from Vega-Tables ("I'm gonna chow down all my vega-tables") - which you largely dispute as being an "Element" in the first place.

And no, Anderle doesn't refer to breathing specifically - or to the undersea stuff, actually. The "vocal Atlantis" reference is Vosse/Brian in Teen Set.
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« Reply #148 on: August 21, 2015, 09:17:04 AM »

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This right here is the KEY line, for me. Badda boom. This is what Ive been saying all along--the Psychedelic Sounds is a series of experiments he was playing around with to see if any would sound good with the Boys or Wrecking Crew. Some did. Brian falls into a piano/mic became George Fell Into His French Horn.

Sure, but I'd say that extended vocal experiments with the Wrecking Crew making it to a Beach Boys LP is as unlikely - or, in any case, unprecedented - as the Nov 4 chanting material with the Vosse Posse. It's also a stretch, I think, to say that George Fell into His French Horn was a release-quality development of "Brian Falls Into a Piano"; the basic gag is the same, yes, but ideas are re-used in creative arts all the time. Sometimes it's 'cos something sounds good in one setting, or was well-responded to, or you're out of ideas on a particular day and you go back to a familiar well. Using the latter usage to explicate intentions for the former is like saying the Good Vibrations hook was a work-out for the ultimate use of the word "excitations" in "Summer of Love".

Well, we all know your example is just Mike nostalgia-pandering. But the difference with Brian is I don't think he'd waste expensive studio time on something he wasn't serious about. He tested the gag out on his friends and seemed pleased so he tried it "for real" with the professionals.

Quote
I'm sure Brian was working out ideas in '66 as they came to him, with the tools and people on hand to explore those ideas as they occurred. Anderle and Vosse speak at length about this (the abandoned "cutlery rhythms" dinner party recording, for instance). The connection that needs to be backed up is that these experiments were intended to be refined/re-recorded/deployed for SMiLE, or any other BB projects. One of the recurring themes of the interviews I've mentioned is the sense that Brian was slowly working towards solo, or at least non-BBs-related releases. Anderle is quite explicit about this. The "pop humour album" seems to be one of those nascent concepts.


That's true. And if the silverware symphony had been recorded with professionals too I'd argue it also might have made the cut. As is, it was just a working idea probably forgotten about the next day or week. As for this supposed comedy album...I just think the skits fit SMiLE too well. A fight about Vegetables? Making ocean sounds and breathing when we are all searching for the Water and Air of the Elements? A taxi cab driver giving directions about traveling America? It fits the SMiLE concepts too well for me to dismiss as a separate project. Unless it would've been an extra EP like with Holland, but I'd argue then that it's still SMiLE.

Quote
I'll grant you "This is an interesting direction. When the guys get back we'll try something similar" appears to make such a connection. And it may well do so, though it's also worth remembering this article was written by Vosse and possibly Brian for the Capitol in-house magazine, so what motivations might there be to justify that hour-or-so's messing-about/exploration (on studio time) as investigating a potential direction for the band?

Possibly, but I think that's reaching. If they were trying to hide it, I think it'd make sense not to mention it at all.
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& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
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« Reply #149 on: August 21, 2015, 09:22:23 AM »

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And, the undersea chant eventually became the water chant, the closest thing to Water of the Elements we will ever get. No official word from Anderle on Breathing? I still think that's the most plausible Air.

Well, kinda. The "water chant", recorded in very different circumstances not far off a year later for a specific track, doesn't bear much relation to "Fishy, fishy, swim, swim - tiiiidal" except that it's a group of unadorned voices around a microphone. The harmonic approach, the lack of emphasis on syncopation, rhythm and differing proximities, the one repeated word - it's a very different beast. The "undersea chant" isn't even "about" water in so much as the things that live in the oceans. (Though I'm sure, quite understandably, you might disagree.)

I'm not saying there isn't some kind of connection, but I think you're overstating what there is. The strongest link the chants have to "Elements", somewhat ironically, is in the re-use of actual lyrics from Vega-Tables ("I'm gonna chow down all my vega-tables") - which you largely dispute as being an "Element" in the first place.

And no, Anderle doesn't refer to breathing specifically - or to the undersea stuff, actually. The "vocal Atlantis" reference is Vosse/Brian in Teen Set.


I'm talking about the recording where they imitate fish not just say "fish fish fishy underwater etc". That creates a very visceral and undeniable feeling of water, the ocean and fluidity. You could just as easily say Fire isn't about fire but a fire engine then. I think the actual Water Chant is even a step down from that. It's not as complex or beautiful or all-encompassing. But I still think it's an evolution of the same idea.
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Aquarian SMiLE>HERE
Dumb Angel (Olorin Edition)>HERE
Dumb Angel [the Romestamo Cut]>HERE

& This is a new pet project Ive worked on, which combines Fritz Lang's classic film, Metropolis (1927) with The United States of America (1968) as a new soundtrack. More info is in the video description.
The American Metropolitan Circus>HERE
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