I have spent the last couple of weeks recording and mixing a new album of new songs called SOUR GRAPES. The recordings utilize midi drums, bass, and keyboards with live guitars, vocals, and percussion. I am getting used to this new recording technique and tools. These recordings are considerably more smooth than those of the ‘amillionscreamingvoices’ EP that I recorded this time last year.
For recording geeks, I mic’ed my Kustom ’72 Coupe with an Oktava large diaphram condensor mic through an Art Tube MP preamp directly into the sound card of my PC. In the guitar effects chain, I used the Keeley Compressor on all tracks, and alternated between the Boss DS-1 distortion pedal with All Seeing Eye mod, OCD pedal, and my new Line 6 Uber Metal pedal. The drum loops were programmed on the Alesis SR-16 drum machine, then midi recorded into Acid 6 software, where all the midi tracks were arranged. I then programmed the bass track, created a mix down, and recorded the live tracks against the midi-mix in Audition 1.5. Once the live tracks were recorded, I pulled them back into the Acid project and customized the drum and bass loops.
Something that is unique to this album is that all songs were arranged and developed on the spot during these recordings. At most each song started with a ten to thirty second guitar riff and were built from the ground up. Lyrics were written immediately prior to recording the vocal tracks. I put a lot of emphasis on trusting my instincts, not necessarily spending any time in the development process, weeding out things that sound like existing songs or artists, and just let it flow.
The result is a hard-rocking set of ten new songs that [sometimes, too] clearly represents my musical influences. Artists such as Metallica, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Tool, The White Stripes, Foo Fighters, and Queens of the Stoneage, to name a few, are nearly and/or clearly ‘represented’ here…
This album falls somewhere between an experiment and a psycho-therapy session for me. After hearing each of the tracks somewhere around a hundred times in the last two weeks, I still enjoy listening to it and am looking forward to having final mixes.
As always, when it is complete, I will be publishing SOUR GRAPES through this web site, free of charge, complete with print-worthy album art.
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.