Pixel Revolt Recording Diary

posted by jv | September 12 2006



JV recording notes

pixel revolt
engineer: scott solter
studio: tiny telephone
recorded on a studer 827 2" 24-track deck and mixed to a Spitz ATR 102 1/2".

so here we are, this is a recording diary. exciting. I will try to keep a detailed and accurate ledger of the losses and gains, additions and subtractions.

dead slate pacific track sheet
plymouth rock track sheet
angela track sheet
new zealand pines track sheet
the golden gate track sheet, string charts 1 2
dear sarah shu track sheet, string chart
peacocks in the video rain track sheet lyrics
exodus damage track sheet
letter to the east coast track sheet
trance manual track sheet
the kingdom track sheet
continuation track sheet
crc 7173, affectionately track sheet
farewell transmission track sheet
radiant with terror track sheet
--------------------

-
pixel revolt

1 letter to the east coast
2 plymouth rock
3 exodus damage
4 peacocks in the video rain
5 trance manual
6 new zealand pines
7 radiant with terror
8 continuation
9 dear sarah shu
10 farewell transmission
11 angela
12 dead slate pacific
13 the golden gate
14 crc7173, affectionately

recorded

55 minutes
CD/double gatefold 180 gram vinyl

the kingdom will be vinyl only

out august 23 on barsuk




-
tuesday april 12

well, to wrap things up I thought I'd list some things I learned while making this record. some came easy, some came hard. please note, actual mileage may vary! these are truths for me only and may not make sense, may not work, or be financially feasible for another.

1. one great signal chain is better than 30 crappy ones.
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2. one bad performance will undermine everything that comes after.
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3. an inferior piece of gear that works 100% of the time is better than an inconsistent, but superior, piece of gear.
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4. compression is great for controlling low end and vocals, and especially great for complicated forms of distortion. it is not good as a standard part of your recording signal chain.
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5. mix buss compression is not necessary.
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6. spend more time on the quality of your source (guitar amps, drums, strings, etc.) and less time on the reproduction of the source.
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7. one great mono signal chain on a drum set is better than 14 crappy spot mics.
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8. the perfect vocal mic does exist for you. it may be a sm7, it may be a U47. be prepared to rent mics (if owning is out of the question) and record all vocal performances together.
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9. speaking of, dedicate the maximum available time to vocal recording.
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10. good reverbs and delays are expensive. bad reverbs and delays are the kiss of death.
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11. watch out for the high hat.


tuesday, april 5

a few minutes away from leaving to master with bernie grundman in LA. we're still debating sequence and song selection. and why not, maybe we can keep it going after mastering just for fun. we start early tomorrow so I thought I'd fly in tonight and hang out with graham macrae.

I posted all the track sheets above. more info on the way as it comes, including notes from mastering.

btw, pixel revolt is about 3db quieter than most cds. john darnielle sent me this interesting article about volume wars.


wednesday, march 30

scott mixed high and low in sections. cutting in the quietest post-chorus parts ("I'm only lonely through and through") it allows him to mute all the tracks not playing any music (there is a LOT of noise at 15 inches per second, something I'm starting to dislike). those sections only have one vocal and a stereo piano track. scott is cruising through the mixes; we may end one day early.


monday, march 28

scott mixed pixel revolt. then he nailed the kingdom. three down. the artwork and title debate rages. this is was easier when I was in a totally obscure band. god only knows what justin timberlake goes through.

pixel revolt track sheet
the kingdom track sheet

this is a very good internet radio station.


sunday, march 27

scott mixed "exodus damage." it seemed to sound really good when he pulled up the faders. he did a little eqing, probably some other stuff and... viola. it is done. no mix buss compression, that's what bernie grundman told us. he also told me to not go over +6 on gp9, because of print through. btw, grundman is a genius.

scott also got close on pixel revolt, but it got late.


tuesday, march 15

tracking is done! the past three days have been a bit of a blur. I remember scott hitting a gong… I remember singing, tonight I did 5 tracks of vocals on “crc7173.” it’s a little sad really, the thought that I won’t be tracking again until next year? crazy. we'll be mixing starting march 25th. the record will be mastered at bernie grundman’s in early april. so our account here is almost closed out. I’ll post all the tracking sheets and assorted docs.

I'm off to sxsw tomorrow morning.


saturday, march 12

what a wonderful, productive day. we recorded at scott’s 15th st studio. he tracked us live, playing as a trio.
personnel...
alex decarville: drums (his new rogers kit)
matt cunitz: bass (kustom/ B15)
jv: scratch guitar

I have to admit, the song I brought in was underwritten and a little limp on first run through. but I work with professionals who can cover for my shaky work habits…
after we got a good take, matt played a stellar hammond part. he really takes off in front of a keyboard, he’s absolutely fearless. then he played grand piano and a vako orchestron. the orchestron is really a hi-fi optigon, that produces sound by playing one of eight vinyl records (pipe organ, flute, violins, choir, hammond, french horn, cello, saxophone). matt used choir, to great effect.

the song, btw, is called “crc7173, affectionately.”


friday, march 11

Mr. Rose is reportedly working on the album even now in a San Fernando Valley studio. "The 'Chinese Democracy' album is very close to being completed," Merck Mercuriadis, the chief executive officer of Sanctuary Group, which manages Mr. Rose, wrote in a recent statement. He added that other artists including Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder "have throughout their careers consistently taken similar periods of time without undeserved scrutiny as the world respects that this is what it can sometimes take to make great art."
-NYT

I enlisted one of my heroes (dc berman) to help me with a title, I sent him lyrics and a cd today.

redid vocals for “exodus damage.” the other double tracked version kind of sucked. this time I did a lead, a compressed lower octave voice (with a little dolby 301A signal mixed in) and a super compressed double of the first. much better. it seemed to sound nice when I panned the low voice left, the lead center, and the double hard right, bussing them through a stereo compressor (alan smart). it seemed to do something nice.

the smallest things make the biggest difference when you start paying attention. for instance, changing ratios on a (good) compressor, or lowering the threshold by a hair, it changes everything. sometimes I miss the days of not paying attention.

added high harmonies to “dear sarah shu.” instead of adding a plate, I used scott’s lexicon 200 for room. erased a lot of tracks on same: opening cellos, some drums and percussion in middle break.

redid vocals on “radiant with terror.” spread the mono vocal to three tracks this way: u47 clean, very little compression (1-2db); u47 crushed through a distressor (opto, distortion 3); gated molt of first track through a lexicon 200.

Chinese Democracy!


thursday, march 10

"Most of the stuff he had played me was just sketches," Todd Sullivan (Geffen A&R) recalled. "I said, 'Look, Axl, this is some really great, promising stuff here. Why don't you consider just bearing down and completing some of these songs?' He goes, 'Hmm, bear down and complete some of these songs?' Next day I get a call from Eddie" - Eddie Rosenblatt, the Geffen chairman - "saying I was off the project."
-NYT

erik only has few hours before his flight so we’re in hustle mode. we spend most of the day on “the golden gate.” this is the most inspiring part of our session (which has been phenomenal). erik keeps complicating the ending resolution with unknowable intervals and harmonies. this guy knows his stuff, I’ve never seen someone play against existing tracks so well, and his instrument is not fretted! and he’s playing with tracks that are not exactly in tune. (some things are concert tuning, others are tuned and tempered by ear, some have overtones or intonation problems that fuck everything up).


wednesday, march 9

erik friedlander is here! scott has the flu so I take over the session after he sets up the mic and EQ.

schoeps cmc 65 (in cardioid) > millennia pre (-2 db at 20hz, + 3 at 25k hz)

I am impressed to find erik tours with a schoeps mic. I love him even more, if that is possible.

erik is a wonder; he’s the creative and quick session player I’ve ever seen. we blaze through “sarah shu,” continuation,” “the kingdom,” rock some el matate, continue on with “pixel revolt.”


monday, march 7

holy shit, the new fiona apple album, extraordinary machine, is brilliant. the idiots at sony have indefinitely delayed the release because it (supposedly) lacks a single, or is too weird. more here

and with new albums from geto boys, murs, the game, bloc party, andrew bird, m ward, okkervil river, and spoon, I feel lucky to be alive. how many fantastic records were already released this year? a lot, and think of how few records we all get to hear. what’s happening in senegal? or sweden? or russia? or brazil…

scott played a wonderful counter on hammond b3 to the reich theme on “continuation.” and then more b3, this time two parts, on “dead slate pacific, pt 2.” one mono support, wacked to high heaven with a urei la-22 (a bad ass compressor), the second spatialized with a lexicon 200.

erik friedlander is coming on wednesday and thursday! he is unreal and we are comping tons of tracks on wednesday morn to make room for him.

I first met erik opening for mountain goats in nyc at the knit. he played solo cello and basically ran the room for 45 minutes. you don’t see bands doing that very often, much less a solo performer.


sunday, march 6

scott really knows the endgame of making a record. it’s best for me to provide the right tools for him, steer the rudder a bit now and then, and stay out of the way. we are making major progress this week.

scott wrote a reich-ian motif for the verses of continuation, a 3 over 4 repeating figure made of a baritone guitar and a vibraphone (without vibrato). scott then doubled a previous guitar line.

we were going to drop a gong in the opening of every verse but ran out of time. gongs rule, btw. listen to “june, july,” a drum sound scott’s been asked frequently about. he put a gong on top of christopher mcguire’s snare hits, it adds up to a complicated sound with a strange and beautiful envelope.


friday, march 4

after scott added a hammond spinet, matt greenberg came in and added tons of trumpet on “dear sarah shu.” (I key gated the hammond, using the high hat as a trigger, it makes the organ sound like a pachinko machine.) scott wrote this wonderful harmony line and had matt played it note by note on different tracks. the chorus has one 14-note line, so scott had matt play note #1 and #7 one the first track, note #2 and #8 on the second, and so forth. matt was unflappable and powered through the entire song. on thursday, scott will pan, level, and comp the 7 tracks to a stereo pair, lightly compressing them with the alan smart compressor.
matt also added a “resigned” trumpet solo (my words, I started with a “triumphant clarion call” but that didn’t work).

nedelle came in and sang back ups for “high and low.” we are getting closer! I am doing nothing but the record day and night until april 6th, so if I haven’t called I will…soon.

I have to admit, I am really obsessed with the game. after the recording sessions, I drive home v e r y slowly on the 24th street with my windows open listening to the documentary.

"Coming up I was confused my momma kissing a girl
Confusion occurs coming up in the cold world
Daddy ain't around probably out commiting felonies
My favorite rapper used to sing ch-check out my melody"


thursday march 3

we worked on a new song, “continuation,” all day. scott doubled the main guitar line, added a beautiful baritone figure in the chorus. matt cunitz, who’s played a lot of keyboards on the record, played a kustom bass through his very nice ampeg b15.


monday february 28

vocal day! yeah a yeahee. I’m stressed out. I sang “exodus damage” and fixed the sharp-as-hell-choruses in “high and low.” why do I talk about stuff that you, kind and patient reader, have no knowledge of? well, it helps me, keeping these notes up to speed. and maybe helps to reduce the weight of the work ahead? anyway, thanks for reading this.

we are aiming for a double album. if I can find someone insane enough (hello ben dickey/post-parlo!), it’ll come out in double 180 gram gatefold vinyl. yeah a yeahee, like I said.

just rented dogville, very excited…


sunday february 27

for the next two days, scott and I are at his fab studio, 15th st, located on the exciting corner of 15th and Valencia in the mission.

matt greenberg came to play on “the kingdom,” a ballad for voice and piano. matt played scott’s grand piano (circa 1840!), I faced him and sang. it felt good: this is how you’re supposed to make music. scott overdubbed vibraphone on the choruses. we did some other stuff that slips my mind.

I then braved another piano song, “farewell transmission,” which scott tracked live. this one came out very nice.

“your dad didn’t know the age of the sun,
but now we know the hour it was born.
how does that help us now?”

the title is from a wonderful jason molina song, “long dark blues.”

scott then went nuts and overdubbed tons of varispeeded pan steel, and vibraphone. I played a delayed guitar line on top.

if you want to find a wonderful amp for under $400, buy an ampeg gemini 1. it blows the doors off a lot of new, boutique stuff I’ve played. I'm sure the ampeg fanatics would prefer I keep this stuff under wraps. but one day, these amps will get their due, and they will get bid up. until then…

piano > schoeps CMCs > millennia mic pre
vocal > u47 > millennia mic pre

everything else, almost always: schoeps CMCs > millennia mic pre


wednesday, february 9

tracked vocals for “trance manual”: one lead and 4 support vocals, 2 of which are falsetto parts. I did that vocal grid system of bringing up the effects on the neve and then mixing and matching levels through the busses. I've settled on a 200m delay on the primetime, dolby 301a, and a fully dampened 140 plate reverb. the lead vocal always gets a clean and an effect track, backing vocals are done in mono. I did all of this yesterday as well but scrapped everything after I went home and listened. a year ago that would have really bummed me out, but I am so patient now!
also sang a new song, "pixel revolt," and played two guitar tracks and two wurlitzer tracks.
tele thin line > masco PA head > sm57 > neve 1089 > 1176
wurlitzer > masco PA head > beyer 201 > ampex 351


okay here's where we are...
finished songs:
dead rabbit
new zealand pines
dead slate pacific
plymouth rock

songs more or less recorded:
high and low
pixel revolt
exodus damage
trance manual
radiant with terror
dp

songs that need to be tracked:
hold on
the kingdom

new piece in mix with scott and I.


thursday, february 3

scott and I devoted ourselves to “radiant with terror,” a song I opened the fall tour with. scott had me sing into a borrowed neumann cmv 563; he had me face the soundboard of the baldwin upright and close miced the resonating strings, gating and highly compressing the signal with a distressor.
we rented tons of percussion and had my wonderful drummer, dave douglas come by. he has a degree in mallet instruments from north texas, so dave knows what to do.
we got: 2 timpani drums, tubular chimes, glockenspiel, and crotales. dave brought in countless other devices, including cookware. dave played on the 20 or so remaining tracks, it is amazing!

came home and watched the kingdom 2 on ifc. brilliant.


sunday, january 30

scott and I are mixing new zealand pines today. I've been thinking a lot about tubes lately. here's a very interesting discussion of tubes vs. transistors from walter sear.

"Why do vacuum tubes sound 'different' than transistors in audio applications? Russell Hamm and I published our research in the May 1973 issue of the Audio Engineering Society Journal. We had been curious for years about why transistors sounded so different. Our research, which is often quoted and misquoted, revealed some interesting facts.

"Attack transients (initial wave front information) from a good microphone can hit your mic pre-amp at plus 90 dB. The poor amplifier, whether tube or transistor, can pass about 40 dB. The rest is clipped. Clipping the excess 50 dB results in distortion. When we studied this distortion, we found that tubes would distort in even harmonics (mostly at the octave) and that transistors distorted producing odd harmonics, the 3rd and 13th partial predominating. You didn't have to be a pipe organ designer to know which distortion was more acceptable to the ear. Through the intervening years, many people have been trying, with varying success, to design transistor circuits that would sound like vacuum tubes. Finally, many manufacturers just went back to vacuum tube circuits.

Another nice thing about tube electronics is that when over-driven (too much input signal on the screen grid), they go into distortion slowly, similar to the way the human ear goes into distortion. With transistors, no such luck. As with digital overload, you hear it instantly when you have gone too far."

an interview with stephen jarvis about minimalist recording techniques.


friday, january 28

scott mixed plymouth rock.
track sheet
damn this is a tough one. I believe it's a wrap, though. jay pellicci assisted.

then, scott mixed dead slate pacific.
track sheet
aaron prellwitz and nedelle provided moral encouragement.

the sf chronicle wrote up our january 21 session.


wednesday, january 26

scott mixed dead rabbit!
track sheet


sunday, january 23

added a gated acoustic guitar on an untitled song, whose drum beat was shamelessly ripped off from the wonderful dead prez b-side, “hell yea (pimp the system).”

I key gated the acoustic, meaning I sent one of the prerecorded drum tracks (in this case, the high hat) to tell the gate to open and close with the high hat. I strummed on the off beats, so the only sound was the choppy decay of the guitar in rhythm of the song.

acoustic > schoeps CMCs > neve 1089 > ampex mx10 > 1176 > aphex gate


saturday, january 22

like scott doesn’t do enough…today I was pretty laid out with a cold so I reacquainted myself with our very purple couch as scott worked on songs. he multi tracked an ebowed electric guitar (10 times) reinforcing a moog solo on “plymouth rock.” he comped it and flew it in using the ATR 102. I do think that song is done! hopefully we’ll mix it this week.


friday, january 21

guest stars!!

nedelle came in and did millions of backup vocals on “new zealand pines.” here’s how we do it in the analog museum know as tiny telephone: scott submixes the song onto the ATR 102, and dumps the submix on a new 24-track reel. we know have 22 open tracks. nedelle is a trouper! she sang and sang and sang. scott comped them all down to the ATR 102 and flew a stereo track back into the choruses. and by "flew," I mean: he records the stereo out of the ATR, using a grease pencil to time the start of the deck. see, it’s fun being a luddite!
nedelle: sm69 > millennia TD1 > alactronics 1176

keith cary, a hammond wizard from winters, ca, took over after nedelle collapsed form exhaustion. keith brought his 7 foot upright aluminum bass and played some wonderful stuff on “trance manual” and the outro of “dead slate pacific.” he did three runs on “dsp” and then bowed a nice pedal chord through the last half. that upright has an incredible reverb! it literally sounds processed when it hits the mics (schoeps CMCs, btw).

came home and stayed up LATE watching kill bill, vol2, a remarkable and surprisingly somber movie, so different in tone to the first one.

please check out a record called “martial arts weekend” by the extra glenns. it’s brilliant collaboration between john darnielle and franklin bruno; I’m listening to it as I type…


thursday, january 20

“my aim is only true when I’m aiming at you”
destroyer

I played a four minute acoustic guitar outro on “dead slate pacific,” doubling the song and making room for keith cary’s upright bass (more on that later). scott then quadruple tracked ebowed electric guitar, making a stereo comp. one track was sent through the fantastic lexicon 200 reverb; they were comped in stereo. scott then added some additional landscape guitars.

we then went down the long and winding path of imitating robert fripp’s frippertronics guitar loops. we made a five second tape loop for the revox, and putting electrical tape on the erase head so the delayed signal only faintly disappears with each passing cycle. I played my heart out. better in theory? yes, but some of it may survive.


sunday, january 16

forgot to document a song I did two weeks ago, “dead slate pacific,” an acoustic ballad about the trials and terrors of monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

scott wasn’t around so I was forced to wing it big time: setting compression and gain levels by memory, placing microphones by faith alone (“my son, omni is a far more forgivable pattern as there is no proximity effect and less phasing problems…now go forth unto the world.”)

I used a schoeps 221 for the laravee acoustic (the only one I own), the rented u47 for vocals (millennia > 1176) and a microtech gefell um70 about five feet up and over me, slammed into an 1176 with all 4 ratio buttons pushed down. sometimes you mimic things you read about in tape op or mix (like this button mash) and it’s silly or pointless, other times it’s the shit. this time it worked out.

later I sent to u47 signal into the emt 140 reverb plate and printed to tape. I hard gated the left side so it twitters on and off depending on how loud I’m singing or playing. it’s a very odd and destabilizing effect as it messes with the stereo image. boo ya.

“dead slate pacific” was played live; it’s the only song on any of my records done that way. what is my problem? it was so fun, so FAST. man, I have GOT to do this again. (“my son, prepare your songs at home, fully and completely, and present unto them a 24-track recording machine. so now in full voice and ashen instrument go unto the world…”)


tuesday, january 11

we had the Outer Mission Sambanista Battery in last night to add some white boy I-love-caetano–veloso-can-we-do-something-like-that on “high and low.”
okay OMSB is really alex decarville, scott solter and jay pellicci taking orders from mastermind chris mcgrew. I sat in the control room and marveled. and read motley crue's "the dirt."

we did three mono tracks, laid out something like this.
track 1: 1st and 2nd surdo
track 2: 12” and 10” repenique
track 3: quica and sanza

using either a pair of microtech-gefell um 70/schoeps cmc6 mics > scott’s SQN mixer w/ limiter

also added baldwin tube organ, HEAVILY processed through an unknowably complicated string of 202s and cinema filters on “ddr.” why? these things have a life of their own… scott played the part. as he often does.

btw scott and I work so quick sometimes we forget to notate the track list and promptly erase what we’ve done. we’re beyond caring.

bill putnam sr, respect!


wednesday, january 5

okay, I’ve figured out something. it took me a WHILE. let’s call it the “VOCAL SYSTEM MATRIX ™” or maybe “let’s buss a lot of crap around until we like how it sounds.” that may lack marketing zing.
so, if you only have two tracks to do vocals, and you have stupid rules like I do (no effects sends in mixdown) then this is useful.

all day today I did lead and backing vocals, so I spent an hour or so setting up all effects that I might possible want to use, assigning them to aux sends and input channels on the neve.

channel 1. clean u47 (millennia > alactronics 1176 (1-2 db compression max, 4/1 ratio)
channel 2. ampex 440 tape delay, 1st input chained into 2nd, running at 30ips
channel 3. dolby 301A noise reduction (we send vocals through this and play it back unencoded. this makes it sound super bright and compressed. you can pull some of the cards out and exaggerate the effects, it can give you this angelic top end on anything you put through it. a very beautiful piece of gear.
channel 4. EMT plate reverb, mono. (compressed through the smart, high and low pass filters on)
channel 5. lexicon prime time delay
channel 6. studer revox tape delay

if I have 2 channels, I will print the clean u47 and mix the others to taste. if I have only 1 (for backing vocals), I’ll combine everything to a mono track.

btw, I used to hate reverb. absolutely terrified me. but I became obsessed with radiohead (ok computer is a study in echo and dimension) and I got an EMT 140, a 8 foot anodized aluminum plate that produces a soft and complicated room effect.

let's visit one of my heroes: walter sear.


tuesday, january 4

oh so much to report!!
the only maker of analog tape in the WORLD, quantegy, shut down yesterday. so every analog tweaker (like me) has been freaking out for the past 24 hours, sourcing tape, (there is none left), having a crisis of faith (yes the format is dead, we’re just trying to enjoy the twilight years in peace). as tiny telephone is the only studio (that I know of) in the bay area without a digital workstation, we’re in a very precarious position.
so I dusted off an old credit card and bought $7,000 worth.
okay now onto business…

recorded two moog source basslines on “plymouth rock” and comped them to one track through the smart. I’ve said this a few times, but please check out the source if you’re looking for a monosynth. I would even recommend it over an ARP odyssey (I think it has better low end). short of a mini or modular moog, it’s the best bang for the buck.

moog source > millennia media direct input

played an ARP line on “high and low.” comped, moved and erased tracks on songs for a few hours…


thursday 29, 2004

okay let’s change some titles, retroactively (this will happen a lot).

songs I’m doing vocals for tomorrow and friday:
plymounth rock (I lost the reason)
high and low (love you too)
new zealand red pines
the dead slate pacific

in heavy rewriting:
always, almost (imitation of life)

to record later:
radiant with terror
(we did this once, but scott has talked me into trying a more stripped-down version live to tape)

I got the fixed neumann u47 back from jarvis. here’s some info on this marvel of audio engineering.

I borrowed a nylon string guitar from nedelle for dead slate pacific. scott is gone until the 3rd, I'm flying solo down at tiny tele. I am terrified to do a lot without him, but I gots to make progress on this thing!

I listened to time travel today in my car while driving through the presidio. the first thought I had: did I make this? it seemed like ten years ago... the second thought: I hope I can make something like this again. oh if I tell you later that the new songs aren't autobiographical I'm lying, but I'll never admit it so just nod your head with me.

more later…
happy new year!!!


friday 10, 2004

scott and I worked on “love you too” at his studio (15th st). I played scott’s old 19th century grand piano, miced up with two schoeps CMCs. then scott dialed up a second track using an ibanzez 202 > allison labs filter (an old measurement passive EQ once owned by UCLA), for a tweaked, dubbed out lead line.


thursday 9 , 2004

scott and I continued with vocals today. after losing the u47 (intermittent pattern switching), steve jarvis brought us a AKG c12 and a brauner vm1. we tried to nail a take on “always, almost” for a couple of hours before bailing. not only was my melody line not there yet, I couldn’t figure out the direction/tone of the delivery. very frustrating.

we were more successful with “plymounth rock,” printing a lead vocal and falsetto support. I added a gated EMT plate to defeat the tail of the reverb and give the backing vocal and unnatural space.
brauner vm1 > millennia td1 > urei 1176
bvox:
brauner vm1 > millennia td1 > urei 1176 > EMT 140 > kepex gate

later, I added a sub synth line on “dead rabbit” with the moog source. I’ve been experimenting with our new millennia EQ, adding 20db (!) of gain at 30hz and cutting a bit at 250hz, we’ll see what happens…

came home late and stayed up way later, watching douglas sirk’s all that heaven allows and punch-drunk love (for the 10th time). in those pre-dawn hours, I thought about the connection between playing an instrument and learning to love, Barry Egan’s tentative stabs on his “small piano,” and how he sounds the first chord on his harmonium during the very last scene. “here we go.”


wednesday 8, 2004

songs, so far:
I lost the reason
dead rabbit
imitation of life
new zealand pines
love you too
radiant with terror
defense mechanism


scott and I recorded vocals for “dead rabbit” today with a rented neumann u47. there is a reason this mic trades for 6k, it is insanely good! the presence, the low-mids of that thing are obvious and astounding. scott has always commented that it sounds like it’s internally compressing. (is it the circuitry? the vf14? I owned an m49 that did not sound remotely close to this, and while it's a wonderful mic, it certainly wasn’t flattering on my voice)
well, the thing scott is really after on this new album is a more committed and convincing vocal delivery. I will try! my voice has never recovered from tearing a vocal cord in 1998. listen to “grand canyon” on mk ultra’s original motion picture soundtrack and you will know what I mean. it has caused my much hand-wringing and sorrow but I am probably a better person for going through all that. I was one of those impatient, volatile “artistes” before the tear. I lost two whole notes on the top of my range, not to mention resonance, pitch, etc for two or three years after. boo hoo!!

some rules I am forcing us to abide by.
-24 tracks is the maximum amount of information we can mix, so no effects sends at all. delays, reverbs, etc, have to be printed to tape. this forces us to plan a little more and commit to ideas right away.
-only two compressor sends can be used in mixdown. so we try to track everything with that in mind. in general, scott and I only use compression to destroy a signal, not as a corrective device.
-no mix buss compression.
-no samplers, for any moving of music around, we use the atr 102 or the ampex 440. -no digital workstations.
-remember, it doesn't matter what your rules are, as long as they work for you.


dead rabbit
-comped matt cunitz’s solo (which is comprised of a mellotron cello line doubled with a celeste, played at once. these are the real instruments, not samples. matt is a genius! and he has a wonderful collection of stuff). he played the melody twice, so we comped them with a EMT plate send of the whole mess, fading out the primary tracks and leaving the plate send up for the final two verses.
-recorded jv vocals, one lead, one double for last verse and chorus.
u47 > millennia media td1
-erased a lot of stuff, my favorite part

scott cut a two-measure drum beat from an earlier session we did, dumped it onto 1/2" tape, cut the tape into a loop. and then, using a mic stand for tension, he recorded back onto 2" tape for later. hopefully it will grow up to be a song.
----
can I say right now the new (to me today) bright eyes record, digital ash in a digital urn is fantastic. as is the BE ep, lua.

please go buy some hip hop and drive around town. please? how about some king geedorah? or the alchemist?

we have so much to do tomorrow!

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