Slowburn is up in iTunes and elsewhere

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The Slowburn album is up on iTunes, as well as Amazon, CD Baby, and a few other places.

This was all done automatically through CD Baby’s digital distribution. It is very easy to do, and these days it is very quick. The first two releases we did this way took on the order of months to show up in iTunes. This one took a week or two. The only thing you have to do to get it set up, beyond the normal CD Baby album setup, is fill out some forms. I’ll write more on that process in a later, more detailed post about distribution, but basically it’s very easy. Getting people to actually buy it is a little bit harder…

I’m currently trying to motivate myself to make a Youtube video for one of the songs. We will need to do some more promotional work at some point.

Recap

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New albums worth listening to

lindstrommthefield

A couple new electronic albums from Lindstromm & Thomas and The Field, both are pretty good. The L&T one is less dancey and groovy than their last release together, and more like Lindstromm’s recent solo release. It has more of a tripped out 70’s prog-synth vibe (but in a good way…) rather than krautrock/balearic/whatever disco dance madness. The Field album sounds a lot like his last one, with some production tweaks/improvements, but no knock out songs. Still a very nice record.

Also looking forward to the new Wilco and Tortoise albums coming out later this month.

Album of the Day

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RIP Mr. Campbell

slowburncds

Sorry for the long stretch with no new posts. Shortly before we got back the finished slowburn CDs from the manufacturer, we received the tragic news that our friend and collaborator Bryan Campbell had passed on. Bryan created the album artwork for slowburn, did the design for all of our other CD releases, played and wrote music with us, designed our website, and even originally came up with the name “submodern”. Needless to say, the loss has hit us pretty hard, so I haven’t been writing anything here recently.

I still plan to finish up the blog with a few more posts about the manufacturing and distribution process, hopefully sometime soon.

RIP Bryan.

Recap

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Best of the effects plugins

These ended up being my favorite effects plugins while mixing slowburn:

The UAD Neve EQs were used all over the place. The 88RS was my default, go to, “normal” EQ. When I had a special track that needed something extra, I went with the 1073. I have no idea how these plugins work their magic, but when you use them as you normally would use an EQ on all the tracks in a mix it ends up sounding better. I used the shelving filters on the 88RS a lot to clear up some sonic space, which was needed with a bunch of tracks drenched in effects. And the 1073 is great to make a track that’s missing something sound “right”. All the UAD EQs are great, but these two were my favorites.

The UAD Dimension D is a special chorus that sounds great on synths and just makes a given part sound a little more special. I associate it with a Cocteau Twins type sound, very dreamy and swirly and spacey. Biggest problem I had with this plugin was trying not to overuse it, and I probably failed at that. Something sounds a little boring? Try strapping a Dimension D on it! I also used the UAD Roland CE-1 chorus plugin a fair amount, for both chorus and vibrato.

The UAD Plate 140 is a great sounding plate reverb modelled after the classic EMT plates. It just sounds good, really good, and is very easy to tweak. I used this all over the place.

The UAD SPL Transient Designer was a late addition, but very useful when doing the mixes. This one lets you increase or decrease the attack of a sound, basically like re-doing the amp envelope of a sound after its been recorded. On drums the plugin is great, it allows you to add or remove some punch on individual drum parts to get the overall drum bus feeling right, and I ended up using it on at least a couple drum sounds on each song. On synth tracks it was useful for bringing forward prominent tracks by adding some attack or pushing them back by decreasing attack. Of course you could re-record the tracks and tweak the patches, but this allows you to make little adjustments at mix time with a single plugin and not get thrown off track. I also found it useful for pushing certain effects such as delays back in the mix, which allowed me to bring up their volume more so they could be heard, while not cluttering up the mix as much. Very easy plugin to use, too, just a couple knobs that do what you want them to do.

Echoboy became my delay plugin of choice. Since I use a lot (too much?) delay, I probably used this plugin more than any other one. The native AU version was released while I was working on slowburn, and it answered all my prayers for a great sounding, flexible, vintage hardware inspired delay plugin. It covers a variety of different hardware delay styles: BBD analog, Space Echo tapes, digital, and it can even do chorus and other delay based modulation effects. Love it, love it, love it. In their effects pack, they also have a phaser plugin that sounds excellent.

Audio Damage released three vintage-inspired plugins while I was working on slowburn. The chorus, Fluid, sounds like a guitar chorus effects pedal, very lush and lovely. The flanger, Liquid, again sounds like a hardware effect and has a particularly nice option to spread the stereo field. The final effect was Vapor, which is a sort of reverb-chorus that doesn’t have a direct effects pedal analog, but adds a nice extra something to the space around a sound. All three are great, cheap, not too complicated, and if they’d been released before I started the album I probably wouldn’t have bothered with buying any hardware modulation effects at all. Their Dubstation analog-style delay plugin is also great.

Logic’s Direction Mixer was something I hadn’t used much before, but I used it extensively in this project. Basically it lets you spread or constrain the dimension of the stereo field for a given track. This lets you position a track very precisely in the stereo field, not only pan position but how wide it spreads at that position. The allowed me to use a lot of chorus and other modulation effects without things getting too muddied up, by placing sounds in specific places the mixes and sounds would really gel together much easier instead of just stomping on each other. It also let me do neat tricks like make the delays or reverbs have a different width than the original track, which again helped clear up the mixes. Now I use this plugin on pretty much every track.

Honorable mentions…

Sonalksis SV-719 Gate and SV-315 Compressor: The gate was used to remove noise from tracks that were suffering from hiss (usually as a result of being sent through the excellent Culture Vulture to be warmed up), easy to use, flexible, just works. The Compressor was used for sidechain compression, so that for instance when the kick drum hit, the bassline would be compressed to make some sonic room for it. Another place I used it was on the delays, so that whenever the original track was playing its delay effects were compressed and made a bit quieter. This is an effect called a ducking delay, but Echoboy doesn’t do ducking delays, so I achieved the same effect by putting the delay on a separate track and using sidechain compression with the Sonalksis compressor. Sonalksis also has some nice, intentionally simple plugins in their TBK line that do filtering, distortion, and compression with one big knob to control them.

IK Multimedia CSR Reverb: Very nice sounding native reverb, lush and Lexicon-y. I used this a lot on pads. I like the UAD Plate 140 better for plate reverb, but the hall reverbs in particular were great here and it’s very easy to use.

Recap

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CD master has been sent off for duplication

The master copy of the CD has been sent off to Disc Makers to be duplicated, and the artwork has been uploaded so the cases can be printed up. We should be getting actual copies of “slowburn” in two or three weeks. Finally!

Some new albums I’ve been listening to and enjoying: Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “It’s Blitz” (another Rock Band band), Royskopp “Junior” (sunny and poppy, better than the last one), and Future Sound of London “From the Archives Vol. 4″ and “Environments 2″ (classic FSOL ambient outtake goodness).

I’ve also been busy at work on the Tenori-On project, and am making amazingly fast (for me) progress. I’m basically using the same process and tools that I did with “slowburn”, with the Tenori-On replacing the Nord Modulars, and using all plugins instead of external hardware effects. I’m only a few days away from getting ready to start the final mixes, which is very cool, since as chronicled here on this blog it took me about a year and a half to get to the same place with “slowburn”. The results are sounding pretty good, too (I think). We’ll see how long I can keep up this pace…

I still need to write some wrap-up posts about the “slowburn” project covering mastering, artwork, duplication, and some pictures when the final product arrives. I’ll get to work on those in a few days, while taking a quick break before I start mixing the Tenori-On music.

Recap

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Album cover

Recap

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Back cover

Love it!

Recap

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Another update…

Patiently waiting for the new upcoming albums from Gui Boratto and The Field, and listening to one that I missed that is similar, but a little bit darker and moodier: “This Bliss” from Pantha du Prince.

The slowburn album has been mastered and is sounding great, the master CDs are currently on their way across the country. The artwork remains a work in progress, as inspiration is searched for, but should be finished soon.

In other news, my proposal for a book about Aphex Twin’s first album was swiftly rejected by the editor. So much for that idea. Looks like I’ll be focusing on writing music rather than writing books about it, for now at least…

…and on that note, I’ve finished up a rough sketch version of the Tenori-On album. I was really excited about my progress until it dawned on me that I was now at the exact same stage that I was at with slowburn when I started this blog. Hmmm, that was quite a while ago, wasn’t it? Hopefully this next one will go a bit faster. I am very happy with the music though, currently I have fifteen short-but-sweet songs clocking in at forty two minutes, and I like all of them. So that’s what I’ll be working on for the next few months.

Recap

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Long delayed update!

The slowburn album has been sent off to Shawn at audible oddities to be mastered, and submodern co-conspirator Bryan Campbell is working on the album artwork and layout. The project is now out of my hands, artistically at least, which is mostly a relief. After the music is mastered and I have the master CD, and the artwork is finished and I have those files, the next step is to send it off to have some CDs manufactured. I’ll write about that some more when it happens.

I’ve been working on songs for my Tenori-On solo project, you can hear some of them here. I previously said I was going to do several mp3-EP digital-only releases of these, but now I’m leaning towards finishing a bunch of songs up and making it an album. It has been a fun, low stress project so far.

Music I’ve been listening to and liking:
Max Tundra, Parallax Error Beheads You – Goofy and weird and fun electronic geek-pop.
Ratatat, LP/3 – An indie rock band’s take on an electronic album, this is really good!
Silversun Pickups, Carnavas – Great 90’s-style alternative rock, some shoegazey stuff in there, I first heard of them in Rock Band.

Recap

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Unpacking, setting things up, missing some bolts and screws

I’m still unpacking things, getting the studio set back up, and trying to find the bolts and screws that hold my studio desk together. I vaguely remember putting them somewhere special so I wouldn’t lose them… and of course now I can’t find them.

Some interesting thoughts and comments over on Analog Industries about how to advertise a self-released album. General mood so far seems to be pretty grim, which has been my experience as well, but maybe someone will come along and give us all the answers. Promotion has always been a weak spot for me, I have zero talent for it.

I’m currently thinking about potential slowburn videos (the Fujiya & Miyagi video above is fantastic, eh?), as well as doing remixes, doing some programming again, maybe writing a book… I definitely need to get everything set up so I can focus again on getting the slowburn CDs manufactured and seeing this project through to the end.

Random

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