Subway Stare

October 23, 2009 4:29 PM

Another archival excavation in lieu of forthcoming new material. This one is actually little more than an extended idea/seed. If anyone has suggestions for improvements/changes I'd, as ever, be interested to hear them.

More to the point given my pathological aversion to revisiting old material, if anyone wants to take this and work on it - feel free (I can provide the multi-track, I think...).

posted by MajorDundee (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I really like this. Such a nice, warm, clean recording.
Love the bell; reminiscent of Kelis; sounds like the same bell in fact.
I wrote a song a few years ago about waiting for the subway but it never went anywhere (haha.)
I'll have to pick your brain sometime about how you get your recordings so clear, as I'm an idiot when it comes to mixing.
posted by chococat at 8:22 PM on October 23, 2009

Take it to the bridge! On a subway train!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:21 PM on October 23, 2009

Thanks choco (and Flapjax.....I think....). The bell is just a preset on my Korg Triton LE - so chances are it is the same one. Funny you say about your track not going anywhere - neither does this one! It's the same bass riff more or less throughout, it doesn't modulate and - to be honest - it was a cut and paste job. The only real "recording" is the front end, the rest is just copied (including the vocal) and synched with some overdubs. Like I said, it's really just a doodle.

In terms of recording tips, there are people on MeFiMu who make better-sounding records than me - uncleozzy, Flapjax and several others. Apart from the "you can't polish a turd" cliche (i.e. you can't make a bad song good no matter what you do technically), all I can offer through experience is the rather trite homily "keep it simple". It's one of those things that you read experienced engineers and producers saying, but, as usual with advice, it's often ignored until you eventually find out for yourself that it's right (duh...).

Don't add parts unless they're really contributing to the track - got to always ask yourself "is that additional guitar twiddle really necessary??".

Keep the use of effects to a bare minimum - as a rule I avoid any treatments other than compression and reverb. Reason - things like flanging etc somehow tend to swamp a mix and fuck up all the eq.

Important to get a good source sound - I just plug into my amp and fiddle around till I get a sound I like with no little boxes in between.

Avoid using eq unless you really need it, and if you do need to eq don't start fucking around with knobs until you've finished the basic recording.

Get a vocal track down as early as possible and build the track round that - don't try to stick a vocal on top of a finished backing track, that's a recipe for real disappointment - you think you're onto something and have a great backing track......and then it simply turns to shit because you can't get the vocal to sit in the track naturally.

Finally, you need to think about the frequency and timbre of the instrumentation. Two cranked up guitars will more than likely just create a soup because of masking and leave no room in the track for everything else you want to do. So use different guitars to deal with complementary parts. And you need a lot less distortion on a guitar than you think you do to make it sound the business. Need to remember that distortion takes up a lot of bandwidth - it spills all over everything - in my experience the more you use the less good the record's going to sound in the end. A good "hot" guitar sound on its own might actually sound like shit in the context of the whole recording - you need constantly to check the sound against the overall track/context.

Hope some of that helps!
posted by MajorDundee at 2:47 AM on October 24, 2009

Yeah, that bell is great, it was the first thing I noticed. This track is totally hypnotic, it's neat.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:53 AM on October 26, 2009

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