Keyboards

More from the Alleged Artist:

I have always felt that the piano was the easiest musical instrument to play, because all of the possible notes are sitting there right in front of you, and you can’t accidentally play something that’s in between two notes like you can on so many other instruments. You still have to keep it tuned of course, but it’s not going to require adjustments anywhere near as often as a guitar. And you still have to practice of course, but again, you can look at the notes on the page and the notes on the piano, and eventually you’ll get pretty good at it.

As discussed previously, I was introduced to keyboards at a pretty young age:

So the piano was a natural next step (thanks again Mom and Dad), as were the series of keyboard synths that came after. One of those was the Casio CZ-101. Mini-sized keys but somewhat programmable – I first used it on the “Beyond Words” instrumental album in 1987, and kept using it all the way through the “Infinite Regression” algorithm in 1991. The simulated instruments weren’t necessarily all that more realistic than what I had from the earlier Casio, but they were fuller and brought a unique new sound. The “power guitar” synth sound on “Echo of the Rockies” came from the CZ-101. That was a go-to sound on most Tastiera songs during that time period. In fact, to avoid having to bounce recordings multiple times, I would often play one instrument on a given keyboard and then switch patches to the “power guitar” in real time – a transition you can hear multiple times on just about every song back then.

In mid 1988, my friend Matt fairly asked for me to give his Yamaha keyboard back after borrowing it for almost a year. That was also the summer where I decided to switch my main focus moving forward from Velvet Cockroach to Tastiera. The second half of “A Velvet Cockroach Christmas” was completed in December 1988, officially ending the Velvet Cockroach era (never to return?….). Meanwhile, Tastiera ramped up, and in September of 1988, “The Full Spectrum” was recorded entirely with the CZ-101 and the Roland TR-505 drum machine.

Tastiera songs have always stretched across a broad range of topics beyond the usual good and bad experiences with love. My favorite band growing up was Rush, and they took a similar approach, so that probably had some influence on me. I also frankly didn’t get a whole lot of experience with love or even dating back then, so anytime I did touch on that subject, it would be more in general terms, and poorly informed. In the summer of 1988, I wrote some lyrics to a song called “Carousel” along those lines, and one of my friends who *did* have more experience with the whole love and dating thing thought it was really good. Hopefully the music did it justice:

I usually tended to put the songs I thought would be the best up front on my albums – no big industry secret there, but it did make more difference back when cassette tapes were a primary medium. “Carousel” was a “deep cut” in that sense, but it probably is my favorite song from that album today. I feel like the synth brass sound captures the imagery I was looking for. For this updated version, I used UVR to isolate the vocals and given them a little better EQ for clarity. I also edited one note where I was originally a little more off-key. It’s ridiculous what one can do with sound editing these days, although the technology that can make me a really good singer is still in the future somewhere. But trust me, most of the song has been left alone otherwise – not bad for what was basically still a toy keyboard recorded 36 years ago.

LYRICS

Come aboard the merry-go-round of life – get on your high horse and ride
I’m right ahead of you, but you’ll never catch me – then again you’re so pretty
I just might climb down and break the rules – maybe they’ll throw me off, but I’ll take the chance

Don’t bother getting down, you might get hurt – but when I get there you better do more than flirt
‘Cause shallow love just ain’t my style, and you just drive me wild
Don’t turn away from me now, I’ve given up my place in life for you, and I want to dance

Baby you don’t know me too well – I’ve been riding on the carousel
Maybe it’s love, I just can’t tell – how ’bout riding on the carousel

There’s something hiding inside of you, eternally trying to break through
My heart skips a beat at the sound of your name – please tell me your heart feels the same
Oh, and I’ll make you queen of the castle that surrounds my soul

Can you hear the ringing of the bells – these are the sounds of the carousel
I think I love you now and I always shall – come on baby, ride the carousel

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