I have reached what seemed to be final mixes yesterday, but have since decided to rework the drum programs. The feedback that I have gotten thus far is good, but the thing that keeps coming up is realistic, but repetitive drum programs. Due to the nature of programmed drums, you end up with the exact same drum hits over and over again. Real drummers, even the best of them, will vary the velocity from one hit to the next. I have begun reprogramming all of the drum tracks, varying each hit and better utilizing the multi-velocity samples that are in the drum sets I created in Battery.
The result will be a much more organic sounding album, with less drum machiny distractions.
I am now about 6 hours into this part of the project and have two songs done. This and today’s release of GTA IV for PC will most likely mean a week’s delay in posting Sour Grapes on the site for your perusal.
The album art looks good, so far. I don’t know if I will be making changes or not. Usually there are more images involved, but this time it’s just one, a theme that is repeated in various fashions on each panel, front insert, rear insert, tray liner, and CD face.
I found out yesterday, near the end of the day that I actually had today off and the office was closed for New Years. Sweet.
Merry New Year!
I have been working this morning, transferring my blogspot account over to this locally installed and controlled WordPress script. Open source things are usually really awkward to work with, because they were written by techie people who are made to feel good about themselves because they can manage something that is a hassle. I think that is the basis of the popularity of Linux.Anyway, I hope to have this “integrated” with the rest of the site soon, but as I more than hinted at before, this thing is pretty awkward to manage. The phpBB forum is also a bit of a hassle. This is similar in nature.
Last week I spent my free time recording a five song EP that I have been calling “amillionscreamingvoices”. That pretty much sums it up. I recorded it using a whole new approach. I think the recordings benefited from a fresh perspective.
First, I ran my programmed drum machine into Sonar on the computer with a midi connection, controlling a sample drum set that I created in Battery. The beats from my old school Alesis SR-16 drum machine sounded so much more alive with real drum samples.
I side-stepped my Fostex MR8HD all together on these recordings. I used two Art Tube MP preamps inline going straight to the computer. I have gotten so used to recording on the Fostex machine that I forgot how much quality you end up sacrificing to be mobile.
Anyway, I recorded all the guitars (the blue strat) running the direct XLR out from the Kustom ’72 Coupe into the Tube MP and on into the computer. I had the gain turned up much higher than normal on the clean channel, which helped with fatten up the signal. On the Built To Spill cover, I used my newly modded Boss DS-1 distortion pedal. With the distortion knob all the way down, it sounds like a slightly overdriven tube amp. This along with the fact that the gain knob was up, causing my tube amp to be slightly overdriven makes it all the more convincing :)
The bass tracks were recorded through the guitar amp, EQ settings were different, but the gain was left the high, as it was on the guitar tracks. The amp wasn’t noticeably breaking up, though, because my cheapo, student size Epiphone SG bass has fairly low output, even after changing the pickup to a Gibson drop-in. The bass on these recordings are also finger picked, which something that I never do. Each bass track is [hardly] doubled, one track panned a little to the left and one panned a little to the right. Each of them is EQ’d a little differently. As a combination of all of these factors, the bass sounds better than it ever has before.
I recorded the vocals using the Oktava MK319, again into the Tube MP to the computer.
I went through after the fact and layered a cymbals track on, which I played through a midi keyboard into Sonar, using a different drum kit in Battery. Of course, the hits were all over the place, so I went individually, hit by hit and lined them up with the beat in Audition.
On the mix, I did very little EQ or other effects. I have a reverb preset in Audition that I used on all of the vocal tracks and put a little EQ on each of the bass tracks as mentioned previously. That’s it. On the final mix, I used a light compression and then hard limited each mix a little bit to pump them up in the mix. There are no noticeable distortion or compression effects on the final mixes.
For once, a group of recordings came out sounding unified, like they were all done in one sitting, which they were. The mixing and mastering process was identical for each of them, which certainly helps.
I will have the tracks and artwork uploaded soon.