Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zabristical

Zambri is grooving to a kind of Siouxie and the Banshees sound in Hundred Hearts for You.


It's partly the Prophet-like sound of the synth and partly the voice which maketh the '80's.
They have a new album called House of Baasa.

Portatude

Samplitude, my digital audio workstation software of choice, is being ported to the Mac. Which means it'll have concurrent Mac and PC versions (at least that's the intent.)
Now that's interesting — for the longest time we here in the Pandora Machine have been running two platforms. Basically one for picture (Mac - based with Final Cut Pro) and one for audio (PC with Samplitude.)
But since Apple dumped FCP for the useless FCPX, we've been on the path to leaving the Mac platform altogether and doing picture edits on a PC with Premiere.
If I remember correctly, the reason that Samplitude is on the PC in the first place was because of the bankruptcy of Commodore. At the time, the zeitgeist was that developers didn't want to deal with a platform which was just going to disappear. And the sans-Steve-Jobs Apple at the time looked like it could just flop at any minute. And that's what led many of the hippest developers (who were, naturally, developing for the Amiga by Commodore because let's face it those were the coolest computers ever) to go to the PC instead of the Mac.
I hope that having Samplitude on the PC and the Mac only serves to make the program more popular. Because, you know, I'm afearful of them going out of business one day and me being left all alone with ProTools or Digital Performer or some such.

Monday, May 21, 2012

SNL SND

So. I complain about the sound of the musical acts on Saturday Night Live. It's what I do.
The sound of the acts with Mick Jagger, however, was very good. It tends to re-invigorate the theory that there are certain acts which SNL makes sure sound good, Mick Jagger being one of them, and the rest they don't care about.
One interesting thing was hearing the two different bands, Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters, with the same lead singer (Mick).
Arcade Fire was mixed really well. Drums sounded great, bass was all there. I say the mix was good even though I thought the guitar sound was... anemic. The guitars had a sort of plastic overdriven side to them. If I had to guess just from listening I'd say it was the sound of an older amp simulator with a cheap guitar. Really. It's sort of disappointing.
Now, one thing you can't say about the Stones is that they had crappity guitar sounds. So if you're covering a Stones tune and you're not actually Ron Wood or Keith Richards you've got a fairly high bar.   But really, just take an old amp and turn it up. If there are any boxes between your guitar and the amp — remove them. Oops. That's just my prejudice coming out.
The Foo Fighters simply sound like a better band than Arcade Fire. Although they also sound like they're freakin' loud onstage. And when you're that loud onstage the mix starts to turn to mush. It's an issue. And they were a tad on the mushy side. But I wouldn't blame the SNL mixers for that, the band is just too loud to do anything with at that point (and besides, they still sound pretty good.)


The Tears of Class

Smith was a band in the late 60's/early 70's. Interestingly a precursor to this band was "The Smiths" which, you know, isn't the same as The Smiths you're thinking of. But they had had this interesting non-hit "Now I Taste the Tears" before they picked up their vocalist Gayle McCormick.
 +++++
You know, one thing to hold against that sort of record-store hipsterism embodied by the "I knew that band back before they were well-known" attitude is that back in the day, knowing about music that wasn't on the radio was very expensive. Nowadays it's cheap, you can go through Spotify and Bandcamp all day long without shelling out money for singles and albums to listen to music.
But that weren't always the case. Indeed, the hipster attitude about pop music was essentially a class distinction: are you rich enough to buy a bunch of albums by groups you never heard of? Oh. Then you're cool. Do you only listen to music free on the radio? Oh, then you're not cool.

Learnings

You know, I've been recording for thirty years now, and it never stops surprising me how little I know. I mean sound is... well it fools you all the time...
+++++
Right now I'm using a pair of AKG 460's with cardioid (ck61) capsules. I traded an AKG 414 for them many years ago. Now I feel bad because it's clear I got the better part of that deal (sorry Walter).
++++
We've been using the Sound Devices 702 for just about everything of late. T-Mouse rehearsals, production sound, and even classical music.
The 101st Airborne has had good guitarists in their time. This one is named James Hendrix.
For nigh on 10 years now I've been the recordist for the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. And I just recently got a note about the way I've been recording which changes the way I think about recording.
The maestro, Nikolai Kachanov, prefers the "blended" sound of mics in the distance rather than (what I usually go for) the "articulated" sound which is fairly close up.
So, the simple answer is to move the microphones further back.
Now some problems with that include the fact that audiences are fantastically noisy. I mean... they're amazingly noisy. And with the microphones further from the chorus the audience becomes even louder (relatively) than the chorus.
What I'd really like to do is be able to get a stereo pair of microphones about thirty feet in the air. Like maybe on a silent floating remote controlled helicopter. Or some sort of balloon. Or possibly using magic. I'm willing to try anything.
+++
The other major cheat I've noticed with the RCCNY is to go ahead and compress the sound. Yeah, I know, in classical music circles that's a big "no-no". But you know what? It sounds great. It makes the sound bigger and thicker and everybody loves it. Purity? Feh.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Groovy Indy Music by the Pound

So you know that groovy indy song which plays under the ubiquitous (on Hulu) commercial for Emirates? Well it turns out that it was produced by a production house in Brooklyn which makes groovy indy-sounding songs for commercials.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Groovyness

A groovy place to find new music is actually Reddit.

The Chromatics version of "Into the Black" starts with a needle drop. Like all music should.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Danse Macabre

When I was little I had a Eugene Ormandy record of the Pittsburg Symphony (or was it Philadelphia?) playing the Danse Macabre by Saint-SaĆ«ns. That flute bit at the beginning always blew me away.
And it's occurred to me of late that it might be very amusing for Tyrannosaurus Mouse to play it.

Any attempt to play Mozart (specifically the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute) will be met with a general uprising of Tyrannosaurus Mouse. The bass player will glare at me and it simply will not do. There is a boycott on Mozart altogether as well as specific enjoinders preventing any piece which is in the regular season at the Metropolitan Opera House which, shockingly, two members of T-mouse have or continue to, work at.

But there are two downsides to the Danse Macabre. One is that it's really freaking hard to play. That great little thing at the beginning which starts with flute and then goes to violin? The fingering is actually quite tricky. Moreso there are violin section bits toward the end that are a bit crazed and although they might be played with relative ease on a keyboard, my speed-metal guitar-playing chops just aren't up to it. Meaning, that if I were a speed-metal guitar player I could do it. But I'm not. So I can't.
The other potential downside is that once we start playing it, I mean, how long do we really want to play it? This Stokowski version is actually fairly peppy and it clocks in at 7:10.

Here's the music in .pdf format. Like a bunch of Camille's music this was apparently a piano composition first and was orchestrated later. I dunno, maybe we could chop out the center section and just play the top and bottom of it.
But first I really have to get comfortable with the fingering of that little melody...


Monday, May 7, 2012

Vocalese

So I am the recordist for the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. Here's an example of how amazing they are.
 
This is with Adrian Daurov on cello and Mikhail Zeiger (who arranged this piece) on piano. The conductor, Nikoli Kachanov is simply brilliant. He's one of those certified geniuses. You could learn more from him just being in the same room for half an hour than studying for a dozen years in college.
Hearing the RCCNY is a spiritual experience.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Delicate Kickstarting



My buddy Chance's band, the Delicate Cutters, is releasing a new album soon. They're using a Kickstarter model to make a vinyl record.
Which, to me, means their record company is really really good to them. The business of music is tremendously hard, and they all know they need to work together to make something happen. Skybucket seems really awesome.

I wish we had a Skybucket for Tyrannosaurus Mouse.


Granelli Audio Labs makes an L-shaped '57. Which is, of course, super awesome. The Shure 57 isn't just an ubiquitous microphone because it's an old design and it's cheap — no. It sounds really good in many applications. You can mic guitars with it. Vocals. You can even use it for production sound (in a pinch). You can put it on a snare drum. Record a Hammond Organ with it.
And an "L" shape? Just makes it that much easier to get where it needs to go. Cheap too.

Heathens

Hedningarna is pretty interesting. If you're getting this in an email or an RSS reader I think you have to click through to see the video.
Now don't get too excited about this video because it's just a still. Yes, spoiler alert, it never changes. But getting 5/4 to rock out to this degree is pretty impressive.
The folk-song singing style probably has a name. I always think of it as the anti-bel canto style but I'm sure that's totally inaccurate.
I'm looking for inspiration for The Imaginary Opera and there's a 6/8 thing in Apocalypse Now (when the boat first arrives at Kurtz' compound) which has a similar feel in the bass.
And, of course, I love those chromatic changes.

Robot Christmas video concepts

So I came up with a little ditty called Robot Christmas . And it amuses me. The first verse is about evil robots. They are waiting for t...