Planning

Mixing Tea&Toast

I am still alive and (soon to be again) mixing. Last weekend I was out of town on a trip, and by the time I got back I had caught some sort of cold/flu bug. Needless to say, a head full of congestion and feeling cruddy in general is no way to finish up a mix, so I’ve spent this week sitting on the couch scarfing down Dayquil, drinking fluids, and feeling sorry for myself rather than being inside the studio working on the songs. The congestion has now mostly moved from my head down to my chest, so I’m hoping to get back in the studio tomorrow, and cough my way to the finish line.

While starting to mix “tea&t” I was listening to Aphex Twin “Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2″, Brian Eno “Ambient 1: Music For Airports”, and Biosphere “Substrata”. I’ve tentatively decided to take the drums out of this one, so that the first and last songs are both beatless. So far it is sounding okay but it just hasn’t quite gelled yet, although it is starting to get there. Before I left last weekend, I also put together a new full album mix which is currently clocking in at fifty nine minutes exactly. I have a feeling this is probably where it’s going to end up length-wise.

After I get the “tea&t” mix done, I need to go back and do some touch-up bits to all the other mixes based on how they sound in the context of the whole album, and work on getting the interludes between the songs right. I will be leaving town again in a week for another trip, and the goal is to have a nearly-final mix to put up here before I leave.

“tea&t” to-do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-timing seems a bit off at certain points, nudge pads a little
-parts need to be more subtle, less upfront
-more of the lead part at the end?
-more bass parts
-acidy part sticks out too much, send it to the back
-some delays need to be longer, too much activity
-need automation on delays
-volume automate noises and blips
-fade parts in and out slowly
-need to do builds without drums
-more effects on the big pad
-more careful use of reverb
-figure out how how wide the song should feel
-use gain plugin to swap l/r for liquid stereo-izing

Planning

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Mixing Hummin

Mixing the first song on the album, “hummin”, and listening to Bola “Soup”, Air “Moon Safari”, and Cocteau Twins “Heaven or Las Vegas”. This is the only track without any drums, which has made mixing it a bit of a challenge for me. I may also take the drums off the last track, “tea&t”, so there is some symmetry to the flow of the album. Or maybe not.

“hummin” to-do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-fix delay on bass
-bass is too hazy and distant, take off some effects
-little verb on bass
-eq big pad
-new reverb on pad chorus bus?
-effects/eq/volume on noises
-long verb on noise wash
-make clicky intro noises more interesting
-slowly fade percussion sounds in and out
-crash for big builds?
-automate volume
-automate width
-quiet/loud dynamics

Planning

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Mixing Upbeat

Whoops, forgot to post this while I was still mixing “upbeat”, and listening to Boards of Canada “Music Has the Right to Children”, Aphex Twin “Selected Ambient Works 85-92″, and Sly Stone “There’s a Riot Goin’ On”. I’ve actually moved on to mixing the last two songs now, they are going to take a little bit more work but we’re almost there.

The “upbeat” to-do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-tweak acid lead track
-fix delay volume automation
-automate chorus amount
-effects/eq/volume on noises
-add reverb to pads/etc
-tweak drums, add effects
-fix percussion sequence chunk fades
-sidechain bass/kick
-do something special in a couple places

Planning

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Mixing Puppy

Finishing up the “puppy” mix and listening to Autechre “Incunabula”, Metamatics “Mind Mushing Git”, and Mouse on Mars “Iaora Tahiti”. The mixes are going faster now, and I’m started to get excited about finishing everything up.

The “puppy” to-do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-adjust basspad volume
-add some phase/flange to the pads
-tweak delay trails on bass
-fix volume automation on delay tracks
-work on reverb presets
-effects/EQ on noises
-trim down noises
-mix needs more depth
-use automated pans instead of tremolo
-adjust volume on bubble sounds
-add special effects to percussion
-add some toms to builds?
-drums need work, listen on headphones
-add delay on drums during builds
-tweak transitions
-emphasize loud/soft dynamics

Planning

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Mixing Rollover

Mixing “rollover” while listening to Orbital “Snivilization”, The Orb “Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld”, and Fila Brazillia “Jump Leads”. Mixing this and “laguna” is taking a little but longer than expected, but I want to make sure they are good, and I want to spend more time making my favorite songs great rather than just polishing up all things that are only okay. I’ve also started listening to all the mixes on headphones and will be tweaking some things based on that. Hopefully these two will be done in a couple more days.

The “rollover” to-do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-make spacy parts spacier
-even out basspad levels
-bounce delay tracks
-automate delays w/feedback on dropoffs
-drums need work
-need a couple more drum crashes
-maybe put in short tom bursts
-work on hats, maybe use replicant?
-compress/distort parallel snare, mix in
-percussion needs something
-tweak those builds
-automate choruses to be deeper at key points
-tweak release times on all compressors
-tweak panning, mix on headphones
-focus on important parts
-emphasize loud/soft dynamics

Planning

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Mixing Laguna

Mixing “laguna” and shooting for lush and dreamy, while listening to ambient-electronic classics Global Communication “76:14″, Higher Intelligence Agency “Colourform” and Ulrich Schnauss “Faraway Trains Passing By”.

The “laguna” to do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-needs to flow more, slower fade ins/outs at transitions
-volume/pan/fx on noises
-level out bass pad
-pad needs something more
-”solo” parts in some sections
-blips need something, maybe edit down
-automate 04counter track delay
-sidechain bass/kick
-more crash/ride?
-pep up the drums
-add some KaossPad-like effects to drums
-percussion reverb
-precision buss compressor on drum bus
-tweak builds
-emphasize loud/soft dynamics
-automate chorus to be deeper at certain parts
-pick a couple places to do special things with effects

Planning

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Mixing Lurp

Mixing “lurp” and listening to Future Sound of London “Lifeforms” and “ISDN”, David Morley “Ghosts”, and Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon”. This is one of the darker and weirder tracks on the album, before things resolve with “flicker”, so I’m trying to emphasize that in the mix. In general, things are still going slower than I’d like, but steady progress is being made and this and “lemon” are starting to sound pretty good.

The “lurp” to do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-fx/volume automation on noises
-verb on bleeps
-lead needs something
-fine tune bass volume automation
-chords need work
-lusher pads
-edit blip arrangement at end to transition into “flicker”
-use soundtoys phaser, echoboy
-neve compressor on drum bus?
-snare needs something
-fx/verb on percussion parts
-sidechain bass/kick
-loud/soft dynamics

Planning

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Mixing Lemonzen

Mixing “lemon” and going for a modern, crisp, synthetic sound along the lines of trendy minimal melodic techno like Gui Boratto “Chromophobia”, Booka Shade “Movements”, and Trentemoller “The Last Resort”.

The “lemon” to-do list:
-SIMPLIFY
-fix bass level and sound
-use vapor, liquid, fluid, ricochet plugins for modulation
-use CSR for reverb
-dimension d on delay busses
-reduce delays in some parts to make it more noticeable in other places
-moving delay time on one part?
-eq/fx the noise parts
-pad still needs something
-more effects processing on the drums, especially the synthetic parts
-use the uad precision bus compressor on drum bus
-snare needs something
-maybe more rides?
-pan things wider
-vary width at key points in the song
-automate some pans
-have brief sections where focus drops to one part
-experiment with sidechain compression on kick/bass
-work on loud/soft dynamics

Planning

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Mixing Bubblepop

Mixing “bubblepop” and listening to 70’s funk/jazz/soul… Herbie Hancock “Headhunters”, Parliament “Funkentelechy vs the Placebo Syndrome”, Stevie Wonder “Talking Book”.

To-do list for “bubblepop”:
-SIMPLIFY
-balance out bass part volumes
-add EQ/effects to the noises
-automate volume on noises
-maybe blur the pad a little, add delay/verb or CE-1 chorus?
-maybe add some dimension D on voice parts
-trim down the delays/verbs, emphasize a couple parts/times
-bounce drum bus
-use neve comp on drum bus?
-need to add a couple 909 crashes
-add verb/something to toms?
-add verb on snare
-add verb on other perc?
-tweak room verb on drum bus
-add hall verb on pad/chord?
-tweak overall UAD plate verb
-exaggerate the loud/soft dynamic
-automate pan instead of using tremolo
-pick a couple of key points to do interesting things

Planning

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Mixing Flicker

The final mix for “flicker” is coming along, slowly but surely. I’ve been listening to Irresistible Force “It’s Tomorrow Already”, Plaid “Double Figure” and Spacetime Continuum “Emit Ecaps”, and comparing them to the song as I mix it to try to achieve a similar sort of atmosphere and feel. The plan is to do this with each of the slowburn tracks, and pick three of my favorite albums to listen to that have the sort of vibe I am shooting for with that particular song.

While mixing “flicker” I’ve been trying to come up with a general process for doing all the slowburn mixes, so hopefully after this one the songs will go a bit quicker. The biggest thing slowing me down so far has been freezing and tweaking and re-freezing UAD tracks as I mix, which takes six minutes each time I do it. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a solution for speeding that up other than not using those plugins, which is not really an option.

Another challenge has been figuring out how to deal with effects busses, because Logic 7 won’t let me freeze them or send them to other busses. The most common situation I would want to do this is with a delay bus, where I also want to add some of the main reverb to the delayed part. My current solution is to duplicate the audio track being delayed to a new audio track, then put all the same effects as the original on that track plus the delay from the bus plus anything else (EQ, transient shaping, etc) special I used on that bus. Since it is no longer a bus but now am audio track, I can then send it to the main reverb bus, and also freeze it to free up CPU and DSP power. A somewhat annoying workaround, but it lets me do what I want to do.

Logic 8 would let me do all of this directly, by just sending a bus to another bus, but at this point I’m not willing to risk upgrading and running into technical issues. So I’ll stick with this duplicate and bounce strategy for now.

For this final mix stage, the big things I’m tackling for each song are:
-Drum bus processing (compression, EQ, fake room reverb, Kaoss-like effects, volume tweaks)
-Reverbs (overall main reverb, individual verbs on pads and some percussion, ambience for drum bus)
-Volume automation (have loud and soft parts of the overall song, have individual synth parts louder or softer at times)
-Effects automation on key parts (automate amount and parameters of effects on certain parts at certain times)

For “flicker” specifically, my original to-do list looked like this:
-SIMPLIFY
-bounce down delay busses and add reverb
-trim some of the drums?
-add effects, automate volume on crash
-drum weirdness at 109, re-bounce
-trim/automate toms?
-trim some noises, place more in background
-automate volume on ramps
-add vapor effects on some noises
-blip part needs transient/eq/volume work
-extra effects to make a couple parts stick out
-hall verbs on pads
-individual plate verbs for percussion noises
-room verb on drum bus
-main UAD plate verb for all parts
-increase loud/soft dynamic throughout song
-use panning automation instead of auto-pan for some parts
-pick a couple key points in the song to do something particularly interesting

I’m now mostly done with “flicker” and am starting work on “bubblepop”, which was already in good shape, so I should hopefully be finished with both of them by the end of the weekend.

Planning

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