This song, by my band The Raid, was written during the holiday break after Tim's and my first semester at college. We were jamming a lot, trying to beef up our repertoire for an upcoming gig at Kelly's Dry Dock on 19 January 1984. We'd learned "Pressure Drop" by The Clash, "What I Like About You" by The Romantics, "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, and "Pump It Up" by Elvis Costello and The Attractions. We'd also finished writing two new originals: "Into the Future" and this one. This was decidedly darker and moody, played to break up the set with a slow one now and then.

We never made a studio recording of this song as The Raid (or E.B.A.). But when I was messing around with one-man-band recording with a 4-track cassette deck during a leave of absence from Cornell during the first half of 1986, which I've written about before, I recorded this version of this song. I'll share the studio log describing how it was recorded:

24 FEB 86 - "IMPASSE" DEMO --- I was lying in bed, restless. I sat listening to the clock ticking, curious at how my mind was hearing a constant ticking but would make one of the ticks as louder, making into 'iambs' if you will. I played with how you can make it sound like iambs or trochees, you know: ˘ ¯ or ¯ ˘. Why not ˘ ˘ ¯ or ¯ ˘ ˘ ? It was hard but I psyched myself into being able to hear it like that, though often I would hear ¯ ˘ ¯ and ˘ ¯ ˘ alternating. Anyway I came downstairs at 2:30 and stayed till 5:00 doing a really incredibly heavy version of Impasse. Just so massive. T1(C) was the ticking clock, T2(L) was a normal guitar. B34 added the other normal arpeggiating guitar (R). B12 was the incredible bass. I retuned it so the low E was the D a whole step lower than a bass's low E, just huge rumbling boomer. The A string was the D a whole step below a guitar's low E. The D string was itself. I played those three octaves in unison, just outrageous. B34 was the rowdy tinny guitar down the middle. Crunch. B12 added the backwards, panning, orchestral space craft mother ship, just hitting the whole 12th fret harmonics on the bass guitar, tuned D-D-D like above, then higher notes like this D-D-D-A-E-F. The G up to A, the B up to E, the E up to F. Incredible. It just made scratchy weird noises during the Bb/Eb bits. B34 was the vocal, really good. I thought about one more bounce, tried a faint backwards slow-moving solo and didn't like it, tried a b-vox but didn't like it. No. It was phenomenal. I eq'd it just so and bounced it 'raw' over to 1&2 for normal stereoness, adding the fade-out on the clock at the end. Wow. It's bedtime.

A few explanations: I was an English major half-way through my studies. I was into the foot, or meter, of poetry, because I was really interested in the intersection of poetry and song lyrics. I used the macron and breve notation for describing the beat of syllables in verse:  ¯ is stressed, ˘ is unstressed. For notating the multi-tracking process, I used T1 and T2 for tracks 1 and 2 on the 4-track cassette deck. I'd record those two first, then I'd do a bounce to tracks 3 and 4 while mixing in another instrument. I'd call that bounce B34. Then I'd do a bounce to tracks 1 and 2 while mixing in another instrument. I'd call that bounce B12. And I'd bounce back and forth as many times as needed to get down all the instrument and vocal parts I wanted. Of course, the more I bounced, the lower the quality of the recording dropped. Sometimes I'd note panning like (L), (C), or (R). The four-track cassette deck, a Yamaha MT44, used normal blank cassettes, but rather than recording and playing two tracks (stereo) in each direction (side A and side B) like a normal cassette deck, it recorded and played four tracks in one direction. I'd record backwards tracks sometimes by doing the bounce while the tape was flipped over. And I'd always try to get the final bounce to end up on tracks one and two so the master could be played on a normal cassette deck (side A only).

This is on the record the pops, the 17 most-accessible songs from that super-prolific semester off. I think Tim's lyrics's are really mysterious and powerful.

Thanks for listening!



Unknown words won't leave my mind
Unknown thoughts are close behind them
Forgotten thoughts of love and war
Daydreams in fluorescent glory
Magnified by night's soft glow
Incomplete - at least so far
Unknown words won't leave my mind
Unknown places I've yet to find
Obscure places where day meets night
Near and far I've seen them on tv
I think of them at night and know
They're on the fringes of wrong and right
  Thoughts and words 
  Fly like birds
  Trapped inside
  The children hide
  Behind their nets
  And tv sets
  I call them out
  But they're in doubt
  They want to play
  They will someday

Lyrics by Tim Odell on 15 December 1983
Music by The Raid on 22 and 27 December 1983
©1983 by The Raid

download: impasse.mp3