Sunday, October 28, 2012

I want to launch missiles with this

Do you dig things which are crazy complicated? How about audio plugins which are mostly in Russian even when you set them to English?
You do?
Well you're going to love this then.
This is the Molot compressor. I have no idea what half the controls do even in theory, much less in practice. And this is after I watched the video about it online. Well, maybe I'm just confused about the filter, the alpha/sigma switch, the mid scoop and the mode. But still, that's pretty good.
I'm not going to come right out and say it sounds better than something like the Waves Fairchild 670. Because it doesn't sound as good, or at least it doesn't sound as good as easily as the Waves Fairchild 670. But it is super-duper cool. I mean, I want all my gear to look like it came off the communications station of a Soviet tank from 1968. And it does sound fantastic. And it's free.
Fairchild. Eventide. The next screenplay we do has to have those names in it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Song for the Old Moon

This is a rehearsal with just guitar, bass, and drums. The guitar is my LP through the Vox amp they had there at Looming Rehearsal Studios. The bass is Ethan's new fretless Rickenbacker. You can hear me demanding that it be louder. I think it was the first time Ethan had it plugged into an amp. We had 10 minutes left at the studio and we wanted to hear the Rick. And this is what we did.

I kind of dig that we're doing the inverse of Neil Young here -- you know, lead bass guitar.
C to Em is kind of the inverse of Cowgirl in the Sand. I mean, if that's what we'd done. Really we were playing Em to Csus, C. But I think if we flip it so the beginning of the phrase is Csus to C and then onto Em it would be betterized.

Experimenting with Antress plugins. You kind of need to look around and guess which ones you want.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

That's all I've got

When one believes it to be time to list all of one's favorite all-time recorded guitar sounds one will find that one does not include any recordings within the last 20 years.
We might... might... allow some U2 into the canon. And okay, Rage Against the Machine or Tool might be somewhat interesting.
But no. We don't have time or the patience to deal with those.
Why? Well because we have the entire recorded output of the Beatles. Virtually every guitar part on every album is the platonic ideal of whatever guitar sound they were going for. Peter Green or Jimi Hendrix pretty well takes care of the blues end of the rock guitar sound spectrum. And we can find ourselves all the rest of the sounds we need between Stephen Stills and Neil Young.
I mean, yeah, Clapton and Santana and a whole bunch of others... Wait. Why am I grumping over this like a cranky old man?

Oh right. It's because I hate the guitar sound on Elton John's Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting. This song comes from an era where some of the most awesome guitar sounds were born. But it is not awesome. Scratchy? Sure. Boxy? You got it. Yukky? That's where I'm going.
What if they'd used that guitar sound from the end of Solsbury Hill in Saturday Night? Then the song would have rocked. More. I mean it rocks now. But it could rock better. If only the guitar sound was better.
Well I think that's about it for me. Have a good night.

Mousalicious Notions

I'm struggling with the notion that I could put all the Prague Spring CDs on CDBaby. That would cost a couple hundred bucks.
Of course, all Prague Spring is up at Bandcamp.
CDBaby has a very thorough FAQ. It's pretty useful for all the details surrounding a record release.
I'm getting a bit chompy at the bit to play my new SG with a band.
Are we allowed to talk about the electric guitar sound at the end of Solsbury Hill? According to Wikipedia both Robert Fripp and Steve Hunter played guitar on that track. Now look. The acoustic guitar sound fantastic, and that electric is just added at the end to lift up the hook.
But that sound is one of the most amazing hard-rock guitar sounds ever made. I mean it's just a Townshend-esque slide down to an open... er.. D?
It's tougher than the darkest Jethro Tull. It's got more testosterone than War Pigs. It does a third, unnamable thing, to your soul. And it's just at the end of this Peter Gabriel song.
I'm a tad afrighted to put humbucking P90's in my SG though, because the routing might not be deep enough. And there's only a 5mm distance between the bottoms of the screws and the back of the guitar. Apparently. As far as I can tell.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Whot's Wat

So it seems that honestly "getting your music out there" and "making money with your music" are just two completely different things.
And, indeed, "making money with your music" is all-but-impossible.
The profit margins of the major labels, like major film studios, is not terribly high. Small labels must have a simply miserable time.
I mean, except that the small labels do it for love.
One thing is for certain when you look at the different between now and (say) the 80's is that the act of distributing is in fact vastly easier than the hell of making 12" records and trying to get them into record stores (because lemme tell you, that sucked.)
Sometimes the world, or just the Internet, complain bitterly about economic reality (or whether Spotify is good for artists.)
My goal is simply to ensure this blog continues to be not-safe-for-work.
The fact is that all small labels exist just because whomever runs them just loves having a record label.
Also, if you're in music for the money I have some very bad news for you...
Where am I going with all this?
Making CD's and/or LP's is cool. But not a money-making enterprise.
It's cheap to get complete worldwide distribution using (for instance) CDBaby or what-have-you.
I just want to put records out there. So inclined to ignore CD's and LP personally. But I ain't agin' 'em. There. That.
And people say I'm not a professional writer...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Imaginary Leon

Looming Productions in Greenpoint is a very nice rehearsal studio. Inexpensive, too (which in New York is a real rarity).
The gear is in good shape. And if you're good with the G train, it's fairly easy to get to.
The funny thing about the space is that you go up an steel staircase to the second floor and then you step outside onto the fire escape and then come back into the building. So that part is amusing.
But in studio C they had a very tasty Vox amp and a Tama drum kit that was in fairly good shape. I don't really know or care what the bass amp was because after all, who cares about bass amps?
The audio embedded below is from a rehearsal almost a year ago at Complete Music. This is clearly something we need to develop. I think it might be cool if it were under the first dialog interaction between Holden and Leon in The Imaginary Opera. Ha!
So last night we were experimenting with some stuff and I thought I'd do some of the spoken lines from The Imaginary Opera while we were playing. You know, it's the whole bit with "there's a tortoise lying on its back..." And I discovered why the guys in T-Mouse dislike The Imaginary Opera idea so much.
Ethan said "It's like bad beat poetry."
And it struck me. None of them have any clue what it's about.
Now I've actually gone and changed some of the dialog in The Imaginary Opera a little bit so it's more like Stars, My Destination so the references in it are even more obscure.
This is not helping my case.
I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that there are people in the world who don't have Blade Runner and Apocalypse Now all but memorized. Those people exist. Apparently they're all in Tyrannosaurus Mouse.
I think I might ask Maduka to do some of the spoken word parts and we'll put them on an iPod and do some in-rehearsal playback. But still if you don't get the reference and you don't get what the scene means, it might just all whoosh by you. Right? Who knows?
How much time do I have?

More about guitars

I might be convinced to put an inverted-polarity (I'm sorry, I mean "reverse wound") pickup in the neck position in my new SG.
Fralin actually makes a humbucking P-90 for, er, $130 a piece. So ha! For another $260 I could install new humbucking P-90 pickups in both positions. Heck, I might be able to re-sell the stock P-90 pickups inside the thing now.
Or I could party with a reverse-wound neck pickup. But the disadvantage of that is that it would encourage me to leave both pickups on all the time -- and both opened up all the way with their volume pots. And the last two T-Mouse rehearsals have shown me (finally) how to set the volume controls differently so I can flip back-and-forth between a clean and crunch sound simply by flipping pickups.
The whole reason for all this hand wringing over pickups is entirely the result of the dang EMF spit out by my multitude of computers. And since I record to some of those computers, I can't even turn them off.
These birds are more single-coil but I put them here as an example. Note that the second one is not reverse-wound.

I found an angle where the noise is reduced somewhat but it's still not adequate. Maybe I can figure something else? I'm not going to do anything right away. I'll keep the guitar as-is for a while.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Gibson SG

I got the SG. I have to wait 4 more hours to really be able to crank it up (there are other people in my office after all.)
It's light. The setup on it is excellent. Yup, it's a bit neck-heavy but honestly the way the guitar is made is that it's "center" is more toward the neck which makes it easier to play up high and also to avoid hitting the switch or volume pots with your right hand.
Yes. The guitar rocks. It's probably the loudest electric I have (when played acoustically).
More the actual, goofy, me.
My man Josh Dillon at Sweetwater really set me up. This is the best guitar/money I've ever bought. I can't wait to play it with the band.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

So This Is Happening

For $830 including free shipping and no interest for 18 months this is pretty much the best new guitar deal I've ever seen.
Josh Dillon is my sales guy at Sweetwater. Over the years I've bought lots of stuff from him. I do kind of appreciate having a person to take care of me sales-wise.
Every once in a while they get sales-happy and they do something like drop the price of new stuff down to ridiculous levels. Truthfully a thousand bucks was a reasonable price for this guitar. And with the free shipping and the interest-free financing (just make sure you pay it off by the end or you get zonked with 30% interest) it works out for me.
Is there anything I would change about this guitar? I can fathom changing the tuners and putting Lindy Fralin pickups in it, but I'm willing to bet that the tuners and pickups will rock just fine.
I do have an interest in replacing the nut with my Earvana nut. And that's all because of my life-long frustration with D chords.
The "value" part of these guitars is funny to me. The fact is that the price of them tends to not go down. Which ironically makes buying them new "cheaper" than buying them used.
I have always wanted an SG. I had a "Curley" guitar for a while which was... awful. Why P90's? Mostly because Chance Shirley insisted that was the coolest way to go.
Trapezoids. I know, there's a working-class "coolness" to just the simple dot inlays but I get my panties all in a twist over trapezoidal inlays. It's just the fey and aristocratic part of me.
I plan to play an open D chord all up and down the neck with my guitar amps wide open...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Copying, Mastering, Trusting

Today is experiment with this neat Copicat VST plugin. It's a WEM Copicat analog (tape) delay emulator. And it sounds pretty cool. I don't know if it sounds substantially cooler than the built-in "analog" delay inside of Samplitude, but it's pretty cool.
Alan Douches at West Westside Music is very liberal in his advice about compressing mixes before mastering. The real answer is that you really should be very conservative in your buss compression before sending off to mastering.
The trustworthiness of guitars. Via my cousin Kim Bellware.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Prague Spring now has a complete Bandcamp page with all our material on it.
Words on strings from Ethan:
I'm a fan of DR strings in general, but have never tried their acoustic sets. For Gibsons, I've always preferred D'Addario 11-52 and for Martins I always used D'Aquisto 11-50. D'Aquisto responded to my affection by going out of business. Now I'm in the market for new strings. Word on the street is that the D'Aquisto employees did a buyout and are only selling wholesale.

My feeling about the DR strings is that they feel, somehow, harder than the Martins I had on my acoustic. Is that because they're at a higher tension? Or maybe a lower tension? Who knows? Feelings. They're vague.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


You'll recall that I am obliged to make Ed McNamee a compilation album of Prague Spring.

The deed is done. I present to you the new Prague Spring "Greatest Hits" album. Buy, download, share, and thank Ed.


Morrissey is using all his wiles on me.
Grizzly Bear doesn't make a lot of money. But they do play Radio City.
Remember, Looming rehearsal studios. We're going there to actually rehearse. Soon. Very soon.
A CD booklet is 4.75 x 4.75". Or thereabouts.
It's about a thousand dollars to make a thousand CD's. Or it's a little bit less to make 500 CD's. Honestly, where do you want to keep 800 or so CD's for years on end? Because you'll have to figure that out if you get a thousand CD's.
Chicago Mastering Services is $90/hour for unsupervised.
Through Oasis CD Frankford Wayne is only $600 for the whole project.
But our favorite mastering house is West Westside Music at an estimated $625 for a CD.


The online tuning fork is critical to my being able to play something that sounds like music.
Jonathan Newman's piece on transcribing for winds is some of the best writing-on-writing music I've ever seen.
Even if you go with a minimum of 100 vinyl records it'll cost at least $1500 for the records and the jackets.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So Here's A Serious Question

No really, this is a serious question.
Why make CD's anymore?

Oddly, I see the merit in making 12" vinyl records. And I see the merit in making .flac files and .mp3's for download. But why get anything in-between?

Do people actually listen to CD's anymore? I don't think my parents listen to CD's.
And everybody listens to digital downloads on the computers.

Now sure, when I say "everybody" I'm aware that somebody somewhere actually buys CD's and listens to them. They don't, for whatever reason, listen to an iPod or have their stereo hooked up to their computer and are otherwise living in the 1990's.

This cover art is by Andrew Daddio. I made a filthy scan of it though.
But honestly, for those 100 or so people in the world, can't we just make one-off replicated CD's for them and save the cost of making a thousand CD's?

As far as vinyl goes I have to go ahead and say it's a novelty item. Get over it. It's a novelty. It may be a cool novelty, but it's still a novelty. No, sit back down, they do not sound better than a digital system. How do I know? Because you can't replicate a double-blind study demonstrating that anybody actually knows or cares. I'm glad we cleared that up. And I'm glad I've used the word "replicate" three times so far in this post.

But people will buy vinyl of their favorite bands. I will. I have. I do. So selling vinyl makes some sort of sense to me. And putting music on Bandcamp and the like makes sense too. But... why CD's?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Groove to the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. Kancheli's Ama O Omi. With a saxophone quartet.

Moving the Blags

I'm re-consolodating my blogs.  I know, you wanted them separate. But my little mind just doesn't work that way. All my blogging -- ...