Time Travel Is Lonely Recording Notes

posted by JV | September 12 2005

time travel is lonely (bark 17)
released june 12, 2001 on the fantastic barsuk

recorded summer of 2000 at tiny telephone, sf
engineered by john croslin, scott solter, and jv
mixed by john croslin at tiny telephone
mastered by paul stubblebine

graphics by sam trout

songs were tracked to an ampex mm1200 2" 24 track at 15 ips (basf 900)

mixed on a neve 5316 to an ampex atr 102 1/4" running at 30ips (basf 900)

smart C1 was used as 2mix compressor

all vocals recorded with a U87 > neve 1089 > urei 1176 (F)


1 you were my fiji
a cheap PA compressor called the Shure LevelLoc was used on all tracks. its slow release time and ungodly noise floor have an unmistakable and (to me) heavenly sound. I sang on three tracks, played four acoustic tracks (one is distorted heavily through an ampex mx10), moog source, mellotron strings. this was the first song I recorded after msof.


2 keep the dream alive
drums, tambourine: gavin foster
bass: peter straus
trumpet: bill swan
harmony vocal: carlos forster

croslin tracked all the basics.

the cros suggested that gavin go for a "maggie mae" feel and that really made the song come together. after cros left, gavin and I added some super-saturated NMH-style drums rolls (they open the song). we pressed all four ratio buttons on the urei 1176 and went to town. a few weeks later, we triple tracked bill swan's horn. in mix down, cros added some wonderful distortion on the trumpets with an ampex mx10. bill plays in the brilliant beulah. carlos (from one of my favorite bands, for stars) came in when the song was almost finished and laid down 4 vocal tracks, doubling two high harmonies that he wrote. icing on the cake. I sang, played acoustic guitar, piano, mellotron flute, moog lead line, and moog source sequence.


3 little boy lost
eight tracks of moog were used on this one, the rhythm ace provided the beat.
I had been listening to walter carlos's switched on bach and wanted to imitate the mechanical playfulness of those recordings. I sang (3 tracks), played moog source, moog prodigy, distorted acoustic (2), and a looped, reversed and distorted sample of a webern string quartet (that insane muttering in the acoustic breaks).


4 interlude 1
the piano was taken from brahms's piano ballade #3 and run through an ampex mx 10 line amp and multed through two eventide h3000 harmonizers. the "stutter" patch was used on both. I played string and flute samples from a mellotron over the melody. the rain sample was taken from a hafler trio record, the opening quote ("I haven't been told what I'm here for") is from lee harvey oswald after he was arrested for assassinating jfk.


5 everything changed
drums: gavin foster
harmony vocal: carlos forster
triplet vocal: alex nahas, scott solter
(it comes in on "it could've been the shame of not even trying")
percussion: scott solter

the cros tracked the drums, scott tracked most of the rest.

scott solter had a lot to do with this one. he triple tracked a distorted tar drum (it plays on the 2, 4 and 6) and a sol ogon (an african finger bass) which he laid on the "4 and" (right before the downbeat of the measure). using the ampex variable speed operator, he sped the tape down and doubled the sol ogon with a sub from the moog source. this lowered the moog note when the tape was played back at full speed. I sang four on tracks, and played moog source, moog prodigy, mellotron strings and choir, roland organ.


6 my old flame
drums: gavin foster
ebowed stick and pattern: alex nahas
electric guitar: logan hedin
harmony vocal: noe venable

scott solter recorded drums and bass, alex nahas tracked the stick

this started out as a demo with acoustic guitar, vocal, and an supremely annoying roland R8 drum machine patch. as happened with most of these songs, the genius we call "gavin" came in a played drums and we built things up from there. noe came in and knocked out her complex harmony work in about an hour; we were humbled when she left. I played moog source, moog/realistic MG-01, acoustic, and mellotron (3 tracks).


7 interlude 3

the drum and guitar loop is from a band too big for me to name, again the tracks were multed and ran to 3 stereo feeds and the h3000s. I found a sound effects disc with the falling object sound, sampled it, and ran it through the akg bx10 reverb.


8 time travel is lonely
drums: gavin foster
bass: peter straus
electric guitar, delayed guitar effects: logan hedin
rhodes electric piano: patrick main

the cros tracked everything; we recorded the basics live.

gavin, peter and logan had a big hand in writing and arranging this one. I brought this into practice as a nod to spoon and mk ultra, my old band. we played a few shows with patrick (oranger, snowmen) and he was nice enough to come in and play inspired rhodes. logan plays all the delay sound effects and an amazing joey santiago-like line in the chorus. I sang on 3 tracks (the great harmonies in the chorus were written by peter), played distorted moog (it doubles peter's bass line in the chorus), sampled camera flash recharger, electric guitar, and satellite feed.


9 if I live or if I die
alex: cabasa, woodblock, shaker

percussion tracked by scott

I sang, (3 tracks), played piano, handclaps, delayed woodblock, distorted bongos, moog source (4 tracks, including the high buzzing lead line, the ramps on the left side, and the arpeggiating bass lines), moog prodigy, moog/realistic MG-1 (all the outro beeps and squiggles)


10 emma pearl
drums: gavin foster
guitar: logan hedin
stick: alex nahas

drums and vocals tracked by jv, stick and guitar tracked by alex

after a short tour of the NW, we decided to record a song that more closely represented us live. the drums were recorded using one beyer 160 ribbon mic >ampex mx10 > urei 1176. we also leaned heavy on the ampex and other ribbon mics during the rest of tracking. I think this accounts for the very murky, subterranean feel of the recording. the outro piano was distorted using a neve 1089 > urei 1176 > ibanez 202; the idea was taken directly from the great grandaddy record, sophtware slump. I sang, played my harmony acoustic, and piano.


11 interlude 2
the harpsichord is from bach's preludium to fugue #2, the cd was amped through two neve 1089 and compressed (it's disturbing how much better DDD classical music sounds when run through a good line amp). I multed the signal out to the ibanez 202 and tweaked the regeneration and time during the transfer. I sang (11 tracks!), and played arp, chamberlin, and mellotron samples, moog, and organ.


12 do you remember the man?
drums: gavin foster

scott tracked the drums, cros tracked the vocals

the groove that gavin laid over the rhythm ace still astounds me: it swings so brilliantly. he only varies the beat once: he adds an extra snare beat in the most surprising place (the break between verse 1 and 2). the odd instrumental that follows the chorus (where dueling acoustic wind their way up to a D#) was written around some tracks that I forgot to erase from a previous song on the reel. I played bass, electric and acoustic guitars, delayed xylophone, roland vk-9 organ, moog subs, roland gr-500 guitar synthesizer, and distorted, delayed wood block (the crazy echo sound in the instrumental).


13 jacksonville, fla
stick, percussion: alex nahas
percussion: scott solter

scott tracked the percussion, alex tracked the stick.

alex and scott wrote some fantastic percussion parts on this song. the opening rubbery slide sound is alex on a tar drum through a heavily tweaked signal chain (h3000 + mxr flanger), he also played a jar drum that plays on the 1 of the even measures. another tar drum track plays on the 4 and "4 and" of every measure except the fourth. the rhythm ace holds down the beat. in the instrumental break, scott double tracked one of beulah's bongos (we used their percussion collection to full effect while they were camped out at tiny for the summer) and I ran it through our invaluable ibanez 202 delays. I sang (2 tracks), played pianos (3 tracks), chamberlin and mellotron samples, distorted acoustic, moogs, and organ.

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