Well, following on from last week’s post I’m pleased to report that four of the album tracks are down – actually they are probably being mixed by James and Jim at Edmont studios as I write this.
This gives me a moment or two to reflect on the events of the past few days. (It may be the drummers lot to have to go in first, making sure that everything is on time and in the right place – but at least we have the pleasure of then sitting back and listen to the track grow!)
Future Fiction have some eight or nine tracks in total, which is pretty good going for a six month spell of writing. We took the first four into the studio and will now return to the others for a few months, before returning to record these. The aim is to put all the tracks out on the album ‘Looking For A Broken Dream’ and to start performing as soon as possible. A band in a hurry!
But there’s nothing quick about recording to a high quality. Getting a good basic sound is essential and saves a whole lot of trouble later on down the line. Jim, owner and chief engineer at Edmont studios is among the seemingly rare breed who still uses an analogue tape machine over a digital/software based desk.
We had a really interesting discussion about this as we took a break outside the studio for a smoke. He explained how, by the very nature of the technology, recording with tape you are literally ‘pushing energy onto the tape – that’s what analogue is.’ This energy (which, along with some static, also includes the sound being recorded) has to be compressed so that it fits and that is where we come to Jims preference. ‘When it is pushed onto the tape, it is automatically compressed a little. So you end up with a warmer, richer sound than you do with digital.’
You can still overdub on analogue, although it’s a little less precise in terms of where you start and finish the tape, but the main difference for me as a kit drummer is that with analogue, you cannot drop in or alter the drum track (aside from muting some of the mikes, perhaps.) So it has to be right. It has to be in time. And it has to be for the whole track, not just for parts of it.
Which brings me back to the interesting reflections of Jim. Getting it right is one thing. Getting in time is another. But actually also recording a performance with some energy and warmth is quite another. We discarded a couple of takes because although they were in time and followed the form, they lacked spark. They lacked a buzz or that ‘certain something’ that makes one version better than another.
But overall I felt working in analogue again (it’s been a few years!) was better for me as a player and as a musician. I had to know my stuff, be in control of it and be able to alter it or expand on it, to give a good performance. All on cue. Over and over. And the drum sound was definitely instantly warmer and more rounded.
To be really honest, I would have like to have more time to record the drum tracks. There were some parts where I would like to go back and explore a little more, to add something in, or do something a little more exotic to give the song that step up. But on the whole I’m pretty pleased with my performance. The drum tracks were in time, solid and responsive, with (hopefully) a few of those’ah’ moments.
I shall keep you posted when the tracks arrive and you can judge for yourself. But on the technology front I must admit I’m all for going back to analogue – for recording at least.
The mighty Fusion Orchestra 2 have been busy working on the recordings for ‘Leaving It All Behind’ and ‘Secret Shadow’. I can reveal that Ben is very near to completing ‘Leaving It All Behind’ – he sent out the ‘nearly mixed’ version to the band yesterday for comments. Partly due to my time with Jim, Ben and I are going to have another look at the drum track before declaring the track complete. It was interesting comparing the sound from analogue and the digital sound within the space of a few days.
And if you can’t wait, here’s another chance to catch FO2 at work and at play in Mr. Dee’s video ‘How was that?’
‘Til next time,
- “How Was That?” FO2 Video (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- Spinedance = Solo time! (rattledrum.wordpress.com)
- Adventures in Album Cover Creation (grandmalin.wordpress.com)
- Headphones for drum tracking (gearslutz.com)
- Urgently need accurate 1/4″ 8 track calibration tape (gearslutz.com)