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Week 454: “Day 5: For Carol” by Tom Misch

In 2017, Tom Misch was busy making a full-length album (2018’s Geography) when he challenged himself to undertake an interesting tangent: his 5-day mission. Or, as the EP was eventually and punnily titled, his “5-Day Mischon.”

The idea is that making music takes a long time, especially when working with multiple collaborators, fairly complex arrangements, and wanting to get mixing and mastering done right. But when Misch was young (or rather, younger, because he is still obscenely young for someone with so much talent and songwriting maturity) he would regularly fire off a song in a day.

So he challenged himself to do a song each day for five days, and release it the following week.

Deadlines are often assumed to be restrictive, and generally bad for creativity. But surprisingly, they can sometimes help. Richard Boyatzis, an expert on behaviour, psychology, and cognitive science, has said that a deadline “allows you to clear away other stuff. Psychologically, you make a deal with yourself that you’re not going to worry that the washing machine may need replacing.” In other words, you narrow your focus, and therefore sharpen your creativity.

I can’t confirm how much Tom Misch was thinking about his washing machine during his 5-day creative sprint, but it’s probably fair to assume that the self-imposed timeline forced him to edit himself and his decisions more effectively, and perhaps to care less about the music’s imperfections.

Having said that, the end result sounds perfectly polished. Each song has its own flavour, owing to the different collaborators he brought into the studio on each day. But because it’s all filtered through Misch’s own distinctive aesthetic, it’s perfectly cohesive.

This is the final song of the five, which I assume means that it was done on a Friday. It’s got the feeling of a certain kind of Friday to it: not of a go-out-and-party kind of Friday, but more of a pyjamas-by-seven, watch-two-movies-in-bed kind of Friday.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The violin parts, all played by Tobie Tripp, are just gorgeous. Paired with the descending arpeggiated synth, one gets the impression of that moment in the evening when the sun has gone down just enough that you start noticing lights going on around the neighbourhood.

2. Misch’s guitar solos are meandering without being meaningless, and they never pull the focus away from the other instruments for long.

3. The “Carol” referenced in the title is Tom Misch’s mother, who did the artwork for the project, and allowed her son the use of her studio for the five days. I know that doesn’t have a direct effect on the music…I just think it’s nice.

Recommended listening activity:

Picking five things you’ve been putting off, and committing yourself to doing them by next Friday.

Buy it here.

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Week 454: “Day 5: For Carol” by Tom Misch


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