The Recording Process:
First Unit Production and Recording:
Tony Garone: vocal (Gilgamesh), didgeridoo, keyboards, percussion loops
Recorded, engineered and mixed at Cow Pilot Studios, Arizona by Tony Garone
Second Unit Production and Recording:
Mike Carr: vocals (The Flower of Life)
Casey Carney: Drums
Billy Brown: electric guitar, bass guitar
Recorded and mixed in 23 tracks at Outpost Productions
and Stomp Box Studios between July and November 2000.
Engineered and mixed by Billy Brown and Lisa Roth
I wrote the Flower of Life with Mike Carr in mind. He's an old friend of mine, and we've been in several musical endeavors together and I wanted him to sing a lead vocal on this CD (he did background vocals on "Gematria"). So I felt that it would be interesting for the song to be from the perspective of an inanimate object - the flower. I knew Mike's voice would be perfect for this. It has a delicate quality that I could just hear singing this melody.
I recorded the percussion loop first as a reference track. From there I put together the skeleton of the song with the "Ankglunds" sound on the keyboard (it sounds like lots of bamboo bracelets). I wanted this song to sound like the end of a long journey - that's why I chose to "tack" the beginning onto the song - the Gilgamesh section - to explain his actions.
I then felt that the song needed a "turning point" - that is the point where Gilgamesh decides to wait to try the flower on someone other than himself - and of course the serpent takes it from him. That's when I worked out the last section of the song (the decending keyboard section). This is indeed a very sorry moment for Gilgamesh. He travels so far to attain eternal life - then decides to wait - only to have it taken away from him!
Mike Carr (at Woodstock) who performed the vocal personification of the "Flower of Life"
Michaels Comments ...
I was very excited when Tony asked me to sing on this project.
Tony and I have been friends and musical acquaintances since our
late teens. Through the years Ive worked on numerous music
projects with Tony, all of them fun, exciting and enriching. Tony
is one of the greatest talents I know, and a great friend and
person. So its always my pleasure to join him in any
Before Tony left New York, we were able to make music and mayhem regularly, which all but ended when he moved to Arizona. The first project we worked on since then was the long distance recording of Shes Crazy for Tonys Gematria album. Using the wonders of the digital recording medium, Billy, Casey, Lisa and I added our musical ideas to the digital transfers from the masters Tony provided, utilizing Lisas studio and Billys engineering genius. This process proved to be a great way for us to work together across the miles and set the tone for future musical adventures.
On the Gilgamesh project, Tony asked me to sing the vocal interpretation of The Flower of Life, as well as adding vocal harmonies to We Are All One and Oh No. At the first vocal session I recorded my harmony vocals for We Are All One, prior to Casey and Lisa adding their voices. I added vocal harmonies to Oh No at the second vocal session, when I also did the first series of vocals on Flower of Life. At this time I sang six live vocal passes onto the Flower of Life master. After reviewing the tracks for a week or so, we found that we liked different sections from different tracks, but not one complete take that we were totally happy with.
Rather than piece the lead vocal together from the best sections of each vocal pass, Billy and I decided to scrap the tracks and rerecord all the vocals. I found this most exciting, because way back when we used to record on Tonys 4-track in Huntington, we usually only got one take for everything! Punch-ins and retakes were only won with a strong argument (or tantrum). Tony always loved spontaneity and didnt like to forfeit the feel of a first take for a flat vocal or guitar note. (He tortured me that way)! To the other extreme, Billy and I redo everything until were happy with it. Or tired of it.
So at the next vocal session, I recorded six new vocal passes for Flower of Life, which we reviewed for a couple of weeks and were happy with. Or so we thought! We were going to compose the lead vocal from two of the vocal takes we liked best, but at that session, we decided we still werent completely satisfied with the performances, so back to the vocal booth I went!
This time, the emotion would be right as I sang each vocal
pass anew, and we knew we had the keeper. Now all that was left
was for Billy and Lisa to embark on the monumental task of combining
and mixing all the masters together and completing the final mix.
Throughout the months we worked on Gilgamesh, many sessions took
place aside from my vocal sessions.
Caseys numerous drum and vocal overdubs, Lisas vocal overdubs and all of Billys instrument tracks were laid in between countless compilation and mixdown sessions. All for a labor of love, music. And for a friend we love.
Sorry it took so long, Tony, but we wanted everything to be as good as it could be. I hope the results were worth the wait. Its always a pleasure and a thrill to work with you, and I look forward to our future musical meanderings!
Casey at the kit once again
What is this song about?
After retrieving the "Flower of Life" from the waters of the Apsu (the freshwater sea that flowed under the earth), Gilgamesh decides to try it on an elder once he returns to Uruk. Some interpretations present this decision as one of charity on the part of Gilgamesh, and others present it as a decision based on fear - either way it was a devastating one.
As the king rests on the banks of the river, a snake slithers up and devours the flower - shedding its skin under the power of the regenerative properties of the plant. Gilgamesh witnesses this all too late - realizing that the plant/flower did indeed have the power of reversing the aging process.
Again, I must return to the book of Genesis from the Bible. It is interesting to note that the serpent god in Sumerian mythology is Ningiszida - the "Lord of the Good Tree of Life". Lucifer, the snake in the Garden of Eden resides in the "Tree of the Knowlege of Good and Evil" - both are there as a representation of something. The snake in the Gilgamesh Epic and the snake in the Garden of Eden are both symbols of regeneration. The concept that is present in every ancient story since the beginning of time. From the Egyptian "Story of Osiris" to Disney's "The Lion King", this is a very old story told again and again throughout the ages.
So what does Gilgamesh return to Uruk with? Although he fails to come back an immortal or return with the Flower or Life, he brings with him his experiences and lessons. He is a more humble human being, and a wise ruler. He has learned that fame and recognition are not important, but that a good king who rules his people with justice and kindness will be remembered in their hearts.
The above reference to the serpent god Ningiszida is from the book, "Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia" by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green.
The Cuneiform for "The Flower of Life"
A note from Tony - In the "Epic of Gilgamesh" this section is actually translated as "The Plant of Life" - I took liberties here, in that there is a very significant symbol known as the "flower" of life in Sacred Geometry, but that's another web page...besides, "plant"of life does not inspire nearly as much imagery as "flower"of life.
Dr. Pagan explains:
The first is a Sumerogram for "plant of life": Ú.ZI. Ú is the Sumerian equivalent of Akkadian ammum, "plant"; ZI, as mentioned previously is the Sumerian equivalent of Akkadian napitum, "life."