Analog Reality 1986: The Right Way

‘The Right Way’ is the final release in a series of 3 albums that focus on music produced in the mid-1980’s, after ‘Analog Reality 1984: Dreams and Come Trues’ and ‘1985: Cosmic Connection’.

The title of the album refers to the first commercial release in 1986, a cassette album with 20 minutes of music. Besides the title track also the songs ‘A Little Bit Longer Everyday’, ‘A Romance Waltz’ and ‘Bridge’ were part of that cassette. ‘Bridge’ was also featured on the 2004 Anthology album ‘Almost Lost’ as was the ballad ‘You’, both songs being now labeled with a ‘2020 Remix’ tag with a superior mix compared to that on the 2004 album.

The original cover of the 1986 ‘The Right Way’ cassette

The 1984 and 1985 album saw the first journeys -and discoveries- into the world of multitrack recording. By 1986 the possibilities of the -then- modern studio technologies were taken to the next level. The experience in composing, arranging and recording over the past years showed off in strong confidence and direction. The opening track ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ is a convincing statement showing how the studio tools were mastered. Throughout the album a consistent -yet still modest- set up was used. The DX-7 and TX-7 were the core of the synthesised sounds, while TR-707 and Simmons drums laid out a solid rhythm base. The role of the guitar was minimal: only the Beatlesque ballad ‘Hey Girl’ was mainly build around the guitar as a lead instrument.

The big step up was without any doubt the introduction of the Tascam 246 as a recording device. Although limited to 4 tracks, the music saw a steep quality increase compared to the Fostex X-15 that was used on the previous 1984 and 1985 albums.

Tascam 246, the device used to record ‘The Right Way’

‘Pretty Nurse’ is an interesting song that shows a different type of sounds that Yamaha’s FM synthesis was able to produce compared to what usual is being associated with FM synthesis, giving the song an almost psychedelic rock-like qualities. Nevertheless it is not difficult to understand why ‘The Right Way’ is the key song of the selection. Through it use of the QX-7 sequencer and sequenced drum sounds it was a spectacular example of how ambitions and the ability to realize them had grown over the past 2 years. Compare this song to the first song of the 1984 album ‘Anyway You Want Me To’ to understand how fast this development had gone.

The album finishes with ‘So Little We Know’ an unfinished recording from 1986 now finished with the Dolceola as the main lead instrument with a sound recoginzable from the music of Ennio Morricone. The final song ‘The Sweetest Girl’ is a segment from a short demo, demonstrating the process of composing a song.

Analog Reality 1984 and 1985

“Sometimes I -and I guess most musicians- are haunted by a dream where one discovers a tape with songs, forgotten but still small treasures in their own right. If anything, this collection of songs is my ‘analog reality’ of that dream.” 

Ewald Kegel, April 2020

Forty-six songs from 1984 and 1985 have been released on two separate releases: Analog Reality 1984: Dreams and Come Trues and Analog Reality 1985: Cosmic Connection. Originally kept away from release due to incompletion of the recordings, mistakes or other quirks these songs were given a second chance with extended help of modern audio software. This software enabled the original songs to be re-edited and remixed with great detail. Other software was used to reprocess and enhance the sound sonically, filling in missing frequencies and harmonics.

The 1984 album takes the listener back to a time when the 4 track cassette recorder was introduced, the Fostex X-15. Any Way You Want Me To was the very first recording with that recorder, mid 1984. Then follows a sequence of songs with some plans to release (from (No More) Low Down Blues to A Dream Girl’s Call). Body2body is remarkable for it comes close to the later so popular live DJ-ing: live adjustments of drums and sequenced synth sounds on the fly.

Then there is a selection of songs sorted from old to new, where Summer Child II clearly shows the progression and the ambition to create more complex compositions compared to the simpler and an earlier song like Truly We Do.

All the songs were recorded with relatively minimal equipment consisting of a Roland JX-3P synthesizer, Roland TR-606 drum computer, an electric guitar (Gibson RD Custom) that also was used as a bass guitar in several tracks. In order to create a reverb effect instruments were often fed into a Fender Vibrolux amplifier. From the track Song for Jerry  onwards a Boss digital delay was introduced adding new sonic perspectives to the songs on the album.

The 1985 album shows an expanding ambition to create more complex compositions, instrumentations and arrangements. On Sun Lover we hear the Roland TR-707 rhythm composer for the first time and in other songs the introduction of the Simmons drum can be noticed (like on Big Boy), enriching the drum and percussion sounds. Mid 1985 saw the introduction of FM synthesis with the Yamaha DX-7. This would lead to a rather dramatic shift in the sound of the music, most notably in The Woman I Love. FM synthesis would dominate Ewald’s music for many years to come. The role of the guitar would become more and more subordinate to the use of synthesised sounds.

This Is Love is without doubt the most ambitious (some might say too over ambitious) music production until that point in time. It features the Yamaha QX-7 sequencer as well as myriad of themes and tunes within one song. The final song Dancin’ With You (2015 Remix) is a spectacular ending of the album introducing new 21st century elements to this energetic early 1985 track, with its sequenced JX-3P bass line.