Planning

Upcoming live shows I’m going to

I’ve been avoiding going out to see live music for a little while, particularly live electronic music. Time to get back out there.

Stars of the Lid at the Independent, April 15th.
Mum at the Independent, April 26th.
The Field with live band at the Independent, April 30th.

I like going to the Independent because it’s the perfect size for a club (not too big, not too small), has consistently good sound, and as a bonus is within stumbling distance of my house, but they also just happened to book a lot of great music this month so everything is there.

I also bought tickets for the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in August.

And in Submodern news, in a couple months we will be heading out to Denver to play at the Transistor Festival on June 14th. We’ll be playing the slowburn music set to a faster tempo with a Kompakt-esque minimal-melodic-bliss type feel, so I’ll be taking lots of notes at The Field show…

Planning

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No… Sleep… ’til Slowburn

I have one month left until I get on a plane and fly to New Zealand, and I need to finish up this album before I leave. So, I’m basically planning to be a hermit for the next month. I won’t be going out to any shows (saw Ulrich Schnauss and Jeff Tweedy last week, both were excellent and very inspiring). I won’t be attending any tech demos (went to a great one on Logic 8 last week, which I’m looking forward to being able to install when I get back from NZ). I won’t be spending hours visiting random internet messageboards to read about recording gear and techniques. I won’t be taking any creative detours or wasting time on cool experiments. It’s time to finish this thing up and move on, so that’s what I’m going to do.

The good news is that when I listen to the album in its current state, it is still sounding pretty good to me. Since I will be listening to it over and over all day every day for the next month, this may be the last chance I ever get to say that. For right now, at least, I’m optimistic that it’s going to be a big step forward creatively for me and will end up being worth all the time and effort. So if you ask me about it in a couple weeks and I tell you it sucks, I suck, and everything sucks… well, please remind me that I did really like it at one point.

I’ll still do some occasional updates, but the focus from now on is going to be on cranking out these songs.

See you in a month.

Planning

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Re-doing rough mixes, then doing rough full length mix

After I finished recording “rollover” I listened to all the tracks in the order they will appear on the album. I noticed that the rough mixes for the last few songs I had worked on sounded much, much better than earlier ones. This makes sense, because the more songs I mix, the more I figure out what I want to be hearing, and the better I am at getting there. Also, however, I noticed that the mixes I liked best were using the new UAD Neve 88RS plugin, while the other ones were using the Neve 1073 and 1081 plugins. The two more vintage Neve plugins sound FANTASTIC, and they improve any track I use them on. The problem is when I use them on every track the result sounds heavy handed and thick. In contrast, the Neve 88RS actually sounds pretty boring when used, it does what you want in a sort of utilitarian way but honestly the first time I tried it on an instrument track my reaction was… ehhhh, whatever. But, when I listen to a mix full of them, it sounds fantastic.

So, I’ve been re-doing all the rough mixes to use just the 88RS, along with LA2A and LA3A compressor plugins, and they are sounding really good. When I go back to do the final mixes, I will definitely throw in the 1073, 1081, Pultec and other plugins on the standout parts to make them a little more special. I will also use the other EQs to help prevent all the synth tracks from sounding the same since they were all made using the Nord Modular, much like I did with the effects. And finally, I’ll try to use different EQs to get each song to sound different and have its own vibe, to try to prevent the album as a whole from getting too monotonous sonically.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing… re-doing the rough mixes… eight tracks down, two more to go. After that I’ll bounce the individual songs to disk and make a rough full length mix of all the songs. Then I’ll spend a few days listening to that to figure out what still needs to be done for each song and each transition, and then we’ll start the final mix phase, which will include recording drums.

A couple other things I want to do this week are:
- Hook up and learn how to use the Mackie Control and C4 combo, which will be used to do the final mixes
- Make a demo showing how to use an Electribe ER-1 and Kenton Pro Solo to program a Roland CR-78

Planning
Recap

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The Latest and Greatest Schedule

Alright, I’m about ready to start recording again. I’ve got my energy back, I’m nearly back to a normal schedule, and I’m excited about finishing this thing up. Hopefully we can get the rest of the songs recorded, and then start with the mixing/fixing/polishing stage of things in about a month. At some point I will also need to start working on an updated live version of all this, as we are scheduled to play in Denver in mid-June.

Things I want to get finished this week, so I am ready to record next week:
- Mix/fix/polish the bonus track “Stuck”, so it can be included on the Ambi-Sonic compilation.
- Clean up the studio, entropy has taken its toll and its getting hard to find things.
- Start the first wave of selling things that were tried but that I just didn’t click with for whatever reason.

After that, we’ll go back to the one song a week schedule. The songs we have left are: flicker, laguna, rollover, and tea&toast. They should all be pretty fun songs to record, I have done some work on flicker and it is sounding really good.

After recording, we will do the mix stage. I’ll probably schedule about half a week per song to replace parts I don’t like, add some overall polish in the form of additional textures, noises and effects, automate levels and effects within the song to emphasize different feels for different parts of the song, EQ/compress/gate to clear things up and give each song a distinct sonic personality, and record and mix some drum parts for the songs that need them. Originally I was only going to schedule a day for each song at this stage; I’ve changed my mind, we’ve already spent so much time on this I want to get it right, so I’ll have one last chance per song (if needed) to get it to the point where I’m happy with it.

Finally we’ll stitch together all the parts into a whole, and spend a week on making sure the continuous mix of the entire album works together well. We will be doing rough mixes earlier to make sure we are on the right track, but at this stage we will mostly be making do with what we’ve already got, and trying to add the final touches to make it sound great.

So… approximate timeline is one week of prep, four weeks of recording, five weeks of mixing, one week for the continuous album mix. In there somewhere we’ll need an extra week or two to get a new live set ready, and go out to Colorado to perform it. Which brings us to around the end of July to finish things up, later than originally planned, but hopefully the extra time and effort will be worth it.

Planning

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Week 3, Day 3 – Feb 1st

Lots of pictures today! I’ve noticed that when I put up a lot of pictures it seems like I’ve accomplished a lot, and when I don’t it seems like I haven’t accomplished much of anything. Actually there isn’t much of a connection between the two, and I didn’t get all that much done today. I think it’s kind of like a corporate weekly status meeting where the guy who talks the most about what he’s done that week usually hasn’t done anything other than come up with things to talk about in the meeting. Basically, I need to be spending at least twice as much time in the studio as I already am every day. I’m currently in there late at night, which is when I prefer to work on things, but I also need to be in there for a few hours every afternoon even if it’s just to get the random boring stuff out of the way.

Here again is the effects chain for the guitar-like distorted pad part. I’m going for a sound that reminds me of “Siamese Dream” from Smashing Pumpkins, only more synthetic and washed out. When we record most of these tracks, we’ll be going through a series of analog pedals that have no way to save presets, so there will be no way to recall the settings if we want to re-record them. Currently the plan is to take digital photos of each of these chains so we can reconstruct things if necessary. I have to work on getting the right angles and lighting to read the knobs well, though.

Notice that I also added a phaser to the chain. The Moog pedals are so large, I couldn’t fit it on the pedalboard on top of the effects rack with the rest of them.

This mp3 demo takes you through each step of the chain. First is the raw Nord Modular sound, then through the Little Big Muff fuzz distortion, then also through the Moog Murf, then also through the Moog Phaser, then also through the Moog Delay. You’ll hear that it sounds loudest and widest right after going through the distortion. A sound like that would pretty much dominate the mix when added with the other parts in the song, sometimes that’s okay, in this case we are going for a more washed out sound which the other effects give us. The Murf in particular limits the frequencies of the sound that pass through while adding some motion, the phaser adds some more swirl on top of the motion, the delay helps wash out the sound with faded repeats.

Stuck pad effects chain demo

Still working on the installation idea. I did a rough estimate of a budget for the project as currently planned and it came to over $8000… too much. I’m going to try to figure out how to get it to where we’re asking for about half that much.

Tomorrow keep working on “Stuck”, and try to get some parts recorded.

Planning
Recap

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Week 3, Day 2 – January 31st

Didn’t get a lot done today, but worked on two of the three “Stuck” parts that need a little something more. The first one is a pad sound that we treated with guitar amp models on the EP version. For this ambient version I’m going to approximate something similar but less in your face and a little more disconnected and floating. The current chain is: Little Big Muff (fuzz distortion) into Moogerfooger Murf (filterbank with movement) into Moogerfooger Delay (faded analog delays) into the Launch Pad (boost and impedance match) and then recorded. I’ll try to do some demos of what the various parts sound like tomorrow. I also worked on the lead part, which I want to be less acid-techno squelch and more Tangerine Dream Moog pluck.

Also still thinking about the installation. My current thinking is a six sided Stonehenge-like thing, which could be approximated with six lighting stands connected with T-bars, with a laser at each of the six stands connected to one or more controls, speakers in the middle, synced lights all around the edges. This portion would control various pads, noises, a pulsing heartbeart, etc and would be musical but fairly low key and ambient. The cart would have four or more Kaoss pads attached and be responsible for the more melodic sequenced aspects of the music, possibly add some more complex rhythm on top of the deep basic heartbeat of the installation, and be self contained enough to be able to do remote interactive performances on its own. The idea is the cart could go out and get people interested in coming and finding and seeing and playing with the whole installation, so that the installation itself is being interactive by going out and attracting people, as well as allowing them to interact with it once they show up. Eh, still needs some more ideas…

Tomorrow I’ll keep working with the “Stuck” sounds and sequences, narrow down the effects that will be used in the song to hopefully give it a distinctive sound and feel, and make some demos of the guitar-ish pad effects chain. I’ll also work on the installation idea some more. I need to get on a better schedule making these entries, they are slipping well into the next day. I’m also going to get rid of the separate “To Do” list entry, and just list it all here at the end of the previous day, since I’ve been writing them at the same time anyway.

Planning
Recap

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Today’s To Do List – Jan 30th

- Work on “Stuck” Nord Mod sequences
- Figure out what “Stuck” is missing
- Play with the tape echo that just arrived
- Maybe start work on Burning Man grant proposal

Planning

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Today’s To Do List – Jan 28th

- Finish up installations, authorizations and configurations
- Get misc things ready so we can record “Stuck”
- Go to Brian Wilson concert tonight

Planning

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Today’s To Do List – Jan 26th

- Recover data from ailing drive
- Reformat, reinstall, reauthorize everything

Planning

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Today’s To Do List – Jan 24th

- Convert “Puppy” patches to use KP3 controller
- Sort out what will be controlling the effects and how
- Hook up video camera

Unless something cooler comes up…

Planning

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