Saturday, 24 August 2013

Posthumous release of Shin Jin Rui's sophomore album 'The Wedding'

EDIT:  At the band's request, this album has been set to private.  Contact members of the group to redeem your personal download code.  

One of the great lost albums of the Ex Libris catalogue, Shin Jin Rui's follow up to their debut 'Zutiqua' began in the summer of 2008.

They initially demoed an incredible glut of material:  over 30 songs, many of which were tracked multiple times over the course of two sessions.  From this body of work, 12 pieces were chosen for the album.

The recording of the rhythm sections were conducted live in Room 17 at The Off Quays.  Again, multiple takes were attempted, and the sheer volume of audio was compounded by one session encountering technical difficulties... requiring another afternoon of recording.

When it came to how the record should sound, the band were pulled in several different directions.  There was certainly a desire to move away from the "smash and grab" guitar soloing that had made 'Zutiqua' such a dense (but often rewarding) listen, in favour of more considered, textural overdubs.  Adam was keen to have his vocals buried, and treated heavily.  Matt Weaver's Casiotone talents were employed on several songs.  As a producer, I was encouraged to weave lots of weirdness between the framework of the songs.  Many of the guitar parts were manipulated heavily at source, with microphones fed through floor toms to capture extra resonance, and multiple effects units chained together to achieve otherworldly tones.

Having said all this, there was also a desire to highlight the band's live strength of delivering vital pop tunes that shone best when things were kept simple.  Many of the experiments conducted during the overdub stage were discarded in favour of maintaining a strong emphasis on the core three-piece sound.

As the project continued into its second year, the band began playing less and less shows.  Both Adam and Alex were devoting much of their time and energy to other bands.  In August 2011, the group would play their final gig in Lavery's, Belfast.  My own commitments as a producer meant my attention to the record became more and more sporadic, as I applied myself to paid work elsewhere.  The whole enterprise ground to a halt, and has remained on the shelf ever since.

As a fan of the band, and friend of its members, I always felt that the strength of the material, not to mention the hard work all of us had put into the project, deserved some kind of proper resolution.  Earlier this year I took it upon myself to finish the record as best I could, using what audio was available to me.

It's important to state that what is presented here is strictly a Producer's Cut of the record, and by no means the definitive article.  Although the early rough mixes of this material met with generally positive feedback from the band, I have flirted dangerously close to expediency by making my own executive decisions on song structures, arrangements, choice of vocal takes, inclusion of certain textures, not to mention the artwork, in order to get the thing finished.  You can be sure that if the band had still been involved in the closing stages of this project, there would have been some notable changes to the mixes, not least with the tracklisting which was something I also sequenced myself.

A good example of this is demonstrated during The Perisher, which in the absence of a usable lead vocal from Adam, has now been reincarnated as an instrumental number.  In Shame The Devil, Adam had always wanted to use a different vocal take; one that was lyrically more accurate, but lacking in the visceral energy used on the version displayed here.  True Amateurs dispenses with the drum track altogether, replaced instead with distant kick and tambourine, while Comfort Comes features a bold edit during the first chorus that offers a brief glimpse of James' spacious guitar sounds that underpin the piece.  There are also three ambient collages that punctuate the record, cut together from session outtakes, and particularly far-out overdubs.  In homage to the translation of "shin jin rui" in English, their titles adopt slogans taken from Douglas Coupland's Generation X.

Many of these features are the result of my own attempts to respond to Adam's "make it weird" instruction at the outset of this whole journey, though I expect some of the treatments may not have met with the band's full approval had it been run past them at the closing stages.

Therefore the listener is advised to listen to 'The Wedding' with a pinch of salt; this is effectively a lavish and lovingly crafted bootleg, for a band fondly missed.