The Ollie Halsall Archive


The Outertunes

Articles index Outer Tune continued

'Tuning Up at Dawn'
A Memoir of Music and Majorca
Tomás Graves

The Pambs bass player's book about the Catalan music and culture makes fascinating reading and includes a lengthy chapter on Ollie and his association with The Pa Amb Oli Band.

Available from Amazon here:

A Nollirarity
Sometime around the summer of 1987 I decided to buy a little portastudio to jot down some musical ideas. Ollie recommended I try out the cheapest Fostex, which I did for a couple of days, before opting for a slightly more complete Tascam Porta-05.

To try out the Fostex at home in Deià, I overdubbed some instruments: first a rhythm track, with my wife Carmen on claves, me on congas, Ollie on maracas (or perhaps the other way around) laying down a guaguancó beat.

Then Ollie (on a very rudimentary marimba I'd brought back from Nicaragua) and me (on a Cuban guitar called the Tres) alternated solos.

We had worked out a simple A-minor to C-major chord change and you can notice how we're not quite sure where the changes from major to minor come; the whole thing was done in about half an hour.

Finally I plugged my bass directly into the Fostex and added a bass line which only muddies up the sound.

Further muddying occurred when I later mixed the four-track cassette on the Tascam, whose DBX was
incompatible with the Dolby on the recording; I'd already given the Fostex back to the shop.

Still, I think it's an interesting glimpse into Ollie's skills with the mallets, even if one of the marimba's notes is a bit off-key. For want of a better title, I've called it Outer Tune.

Quite frankly, Ollie was amazing on the marimba (the buzz on some of
the notes is intentional; little bits of paper-thin chicken-gizzard is stretched over a little hole at the base of each resonating-gourd under each note to give a kazoo-effect).

He probably hadn't picked up the mallets in years, but at Deià parties, Kevin would play his calypso songs [Big Bamboo, Suppose Your Mother and Your Wife Were Drowning and Gimme Leg - a song I had brought back from Bluefields] and Ollie would get on the marimba and do some beautiful and complex stuff.

I remember, at a party in Ca Sa Salerosa, seeing him with two beaters in one hand (to play thirds or fifths on the treble notes). In this recording, however, he kept it all very low key and simple.

Tomás Graves February 2006

The Pa Amb Oli Band


The Outer Tunes

Outer Tune 1987



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