Archive for the ‘album notes’ Category

unsurprising discoveries of the week

Unsurprising discovery of the week, nr. 1: people really like posts about glowy things. I cannot blame you.

When I mentioned this elsewhere on the net, Fishy replied that eventually the entire world will look like Burning Man at night. I can’t really argue with that, with the possible exception of less fire. Or more fire. Hard to say.

Unsurprising discovery of the day, nr. 2: I should not have been trying to do timing edits while recovering from eye surgery. Past me did not save current-me any time by pressing on while medicated. Sedated me had a… questionable sense of rhythm, apparently.

The biggest fallout from #2 is not realising it was happening until I nailed duplicating the iffy timing on mandolin. I thought it seemed funny at the time, but the mandolin part for this song (Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now) is actually quite difficult, so I thought it was just me struggling with what I’d written. But no. So I got to fix it twice yesterday.

Not helping matters: apparently when I do this live I… kinda slip in a couple of 5/4 measures and slide the note timing around to make it work. It’s as if I was just slowing down for part, but I land right back on the original beat when I hit the verse, just at a different point in the measure count, so I don’t think that’s it.

Either that or I’m just slowing down and speeding back up very precisely, even when sedated.*

That’s not going to happen in the studio version, and that’s a little weird to my ear right now. So, twice the work, half the fun, but fortunately, all of the awesome. It sounds really good now.

Whelp, rehearsal time. Catching a train down to Oregon tomorrow for six shows subbing for various members of Leannan Sidhe, and today is final rehearsal. Anybody gonna be in Toledo this weekend?


*: Given my history of successful! hax0ring while anaesthetised, paranoid, and hallucinating, a thing which I am not making up and can in fact prove happened, this does not surprise me.

guesting with leannan sidhe in may and june

I’ll be guesting with Leannan Sidhe in May and June, in Oregon and on the Washington dry side. In Oregon in particular we’ll actually just be a duo, which is kind of taking it to extremes, but nobody else in the band is available(!) due to Many Reasons.

Which means doing the little things, like wrapping some picks in fabric so my zouk loses a lot of the high-end harmonics and sounds superficially more like a guitar. I tried felt picks, but they just didn’t feel right, or sound the same. So it’s DIY, ahoy:


Double-sided Tape Solves Many Problems

Wrap in double-sided tape, then fabric, then trim with scissors. Doesn’t actually take long. I’ve used these with Leannan Sidhe before, but not in a while, because normally her guitarists are actually around, and then I don’t need them.

Got some decent mandolin recording last night, on Some for a Free Court/Anarchy Now. Also had some interesting discussion with Anna, whose books these are (and who has a new book out now, by the way) about future timelines and worldbuilding.

I love being on this side of the spoiler wall. Sure, Rebels of Adalonia is getting all the attention right now, but Free Court… this – all of it? It’s gonna be good. ๐Ÿ˜€

bass is awesome

I love bass. From any kind of typical standpoint, my bass lines are waaaaay too complicated, but that’s just how I roll. Aw yeah, bass. Anna said I should put this up as a work-in-progress track from the Bone Walker soundtrack album, so enjoy the first 39 seconds of “Something’s Coming (2014),” emphasis on the bassline:

In directly related news, the second novel in her Rebels of Adalonia series, Vengeance of the Hunter, is out! You can go buy it! It’s not the novel series I’m doing music for, but it’s still hers. ^_^

This weekend I worked out the mandolin track for Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now! – as I’m writing this I’m not quite capable of performing it for the microphones yet, but I’m close. Should in another day or so. It’s one of those things where I’m all, ‘goddammit this is hard I can’t even play it right’ and ‘goddammit this sounds great in the mix, fuck, I have to learn to do it.’

It’s not even that it’s so difficult. I could do it easily on zouk. Mostly it’s this power B that requires too many fingers in too little space on a mandolin, because I have absolutely no double-jointedness and can’t bend my fingers back even a tiny bit. Also I don’t have GIANT SAUSAGE FINGERS like so many mandolin players, so I can’t bridge all the strings with one finger. The result is a poor compromise of WHELP CLOSE ENOUGH I GUESS

Close enough for studio work, anyway. XD

But yeah, that’s what I’m doin’. Later this week: MOAR BASS. Yay!

how precise is too precise

I’ve been sitting here this evening timing-editing a bassline to within an inch of its life and I’m thinking, ‘do I really need to do this? Really?’

And I don’t honestly know. I mean, sure, it needs a little tightening up, and there are a few less-than-perfect notes here and there, but it sounded fine when I recorded it and even when I hit playback.

I’m not fond, to be honest, of doing these kinds of edits – even if I’m pretty good at them – I get really bored and look for other things to do. But I can’t seem to let it go.

There’s absolutely such a thing as too much precision, but you don’t usually find that in rhythm, and bass is essentially for rhythm in most songs, even if I play a lot more notes on my basslines than most, and…

…yeah. I’m just sitting here watching the wheels in my head go ’round and round, I guess.

I’m really good at this. I just need to be really fast at this, too, so I don’t start flailing around and looking for other things to do.

mine to love: shipped at last

Last year, I spent a lot of time engineering my first project largely for someone else. Leannan Sidhe’s first album, Fragile Dreams, had come out in 2011 and been well received. In 2012, she’d got the money together to put together the follow-up and counterpoint, Mine to Love, the darker opposite to the light first album.

Now, I know Shanti, Leannan Sidhe’s bandleader and songwriter, and I’d helped her a bit with her Kickstarter project. But there weren’t any plans for me to be involved in the project for real, other than occasional moral support. It was all going to be recorded and produced in Oregon, at Alec’s PhantaSea Studio, and mastered by his brother Doc, at Endless Creations.

But we’d played together a couple of times, and she’d even started her Roses and Ruin live/live-in-studio side project at my place, and I designed the album cover. So once a few Real Life Things happened – the normal sorts of budget issues, the problems of commuting 360 miles(!) round trip for recording sessions – she came to me, and asked if they could do some recording in my studio. The gas savings alone would salvage their budget.

I didn’t own the vocal mic she had been using in Oregon, and, for that matter, my mic supply was pretty small and specialised at the time. But she was able to throw me some advance money, all of which went to MOAR MICROPHONES, all of which I’ve continued to use elsewhere. So my studio got another level up opportunity. And I’d never stepped up on a major project like this before, not one involving other people – particularly other people in large numbers. I admit it: I was pretty nervous.


Shanti’s preferred vocal mic, the Oktava MK-319

So I started learning about miking other people, and other instruments, and more other instruments, and still more other instruments. And about juggling schedules (and cats – all events involve juggling cats, but musicians are the cattest cats of them all) and getting people to agree to things and editing and pulling out tricks and making guesses and other guesses that actually work and occasionally diffusing creative differences and feeding people who are sugar-crashing and and and.

I’d always been a good editor; I became a really good editor. Alec called some of my edits phenomenal. I’ve been told I have a good ear; I got a better one, at least in some ways – Mickey told me this was the first time a recording of his guitar sounded like his guitar sounded to him. I became very well acquainted with the term “audio fatigue.” I got good at working with people hundreds of miles away and upped my Dropbox account to Pro status, because I needed to. And the Big Board (and Big Book that goes with it) became a Big Deal.


Project complete

Along the way I started making suggestions. Not all of them were taken, but a lot were. I ended up on a couple of tracks, “Voiceless” and “Once More,” where in the latter case I’m everything but the voice. And I got first mix on four songs, which … it’s kind of a resume thing, where even if everything you do got redone, it still means you got to set the tone. All to the taste of the artist, of course, but nonetheless: first to set the tone.


The dual monitors got their first big workout, and it was good.

And now, here we are. The Kickstarter backers have had their copies for a while, the pre-release concert – a while ago at this point – went over well. I wish I had good photos, but I don’t, so have this bad one, gussied up with too many iPhoto effects:


Leannan Sidhe Pre-Release Concert

I’ve wanted to point people at this album for a while, on several occasions, often when talking about production tricks. Other than the core band members, of course, I probably worked as hard on this album as anyone, and while that work was technical, it was also creative. Just in a different way.

But it’s been delayed, because reasons; it simply hasn’t been available to anyone else. Now, it’s out, and I finally can do that pointing. I wish I could point people at “King of Elfland’s Daughter” in particular, because it’s great, but for copyright reasons it can’t be streamed. So go buy the thing, it’s well worth your 99ยข. I’m not even on that one and all I recorded were vocals and cello so it’s not even me tooting my own horn.

I think everybody involved learned a lot on this album. Some times good, some things necessary, some things difficult, but learned nonetheless. The production was, occasionally, troubled – and not just from studio-splitting – aad the result is dark, but strong. Even though it’s not the kind of music I do myself, the skills I acquired have already been used and heard on “Kaiju Meat” and will certainly be heard further on Bone Walker. All of these are gifts for the future.

But for now, what matters is that Mine to Love is finally out to the public. Given it a listen. See what you think.

woah, it came out!

Remember Mine to Love, that album I co-engineered last year at Supervillain Studios, and ended up playing on too? Leannan Sidhe’s second album? It’s finally out! It came out today! I didn’t know! SURPRISE!

I’ll post more about it tomorrow, but my favourite song on the album (which I’m not even on) is King of Elfland’s Daughter, which isn’t streamable because of copyright reasons. Just go buy it, it is worth your 99ยข, trust me here.

Here’s a player for the entire album other than that track:

aw yeah, new bass lines

Recorded new bass last night. Been a while. Feels good, despite beng off practice so much over the winter. I’m a better bassist despite that than I was when recording Dick Tracy Must Die. I like bass, as you can tell, since I have some of the most hyperactive bass lines ever.

Move the fuck over, Primus, I got rawk to do. n/


The rightful order has been restored… for now.

progress, if incomplete

Some of the problems I outlined in the afternoon post yesterday are cleared up, or at least accounted for – plugin status being saved and loaded is working, the asterisk cycling thing is seen by other people and also can be made to go away, loss of synchronisation when changing playlists during playback has been reproduced by dev and they’re interested – but the plugins are still problems. But I can work with this now.

Which means, I finally got to hear some percussion being done by one of our guest artists properly embedded into a mix, and wow, I am totally excited about this track in ways I wasn’t before. ๐Ÿ˜€ I left some space intentionally for this to be brought in, but knowing ‘a thing will go here’ is not the same as ‘an awesome thing is actually here.’ And the awesome thing that’s awesomeing around in this mix now is pretty awesome.

Because it is. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also, lots of Norwescon stuff, including this year’s new stage banner, which still isn’t huge but is the largest we’ve had – and we’ve never actually had a dedicated stage banner before, we just reused the concert directions. I thought I’d fix that.

Now if I can just fix those damned plugins…

proof of midi: The Seelie Host

Another work track from Bone Walker: The Free Court of Seattle; this is Faerie Blood chapter 23, third movement, the arrival of the Seelie host. I’m posting it as proof-of-MIDI; these chimes sound reasonable, I think, and the small bells, as well. I did play both, in the sense of playing on a MIDI keyboard tied to sampled instruments.

You should hear the Faerie Court of the Seelie come in at, oh, around 30 seconds or so? Depends upon how good your speakers are. You should hear them for sure by the 50 second mark. But don’t skip ahead, I mean, the thing builds, that’s the point. ^_^

Track credits so far: Ellen Eades (hammer dulcimer, faux double-bass with Dara Korra’ti), Sunnie Larsen (fiddle), me (see above, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, MIDI chimes and bells, recording, engineering).

I cannot wait for percussion tracks to start coming in. Normally I do my own percussion (see also everything I’ve done, but also Kitsune at War (work track), from this soundtrack project) but these are being done outside, and I’m really looking forward to them coming in. ๐Ÿ˜€

because i can, of course

I’m doing taxes – actually, I’ve been doing them all weekend, I’ll be doing them all day today, and I’ll be doing them tomorrow. I’m doing most of the math on this:


Original Odhner Mechanical Calculator

Why? Because I can, of course. But it’s not all taxes, I’m also working on Something’s Coming (2014), in the evenings – seriously, this tax bullshit is a four-day full-time job and that’s just to get things together enough to go to the accountant – and I’ve got a mandolin part charted out, and reminder notes.


Mandolin part!

I did a test recording on Sunday, and made a couple of changes. Between taxes and water heater replacement today, well, hopefully I can record it tonight. PROGRESS! ๐Ÿ˜€

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