Occupy My Heart

November 2, 2011 10:41 AM

Entry for this week's Songfight. Set the time signature to 15/8 and janglepop to maximum!

Kind of ran out of time for the vocals as came up empty on the lyrics until half an hour before the deadline, but happy with the rest of it.

posted by unSane (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Staggeringly derivative of Liberty Belle-era Go-Betweens but hey.
posted by unSane at 11:28 AM on November 2, 2011

Lovely track.
My favourite thing is the octave-y doubling on the guitars around 1:23 which gives a nice 12-string Rickenbacker sort of feel.
posted by chococat at 12:22 PM on November 2, 2011

Yeah, that's my favourite bit too, Choco. It should probably reprise that at the end in some form instead of stopping dead. It's actually a Burns 12-string panned hard left and right playing the same thing, with a Jazzmaster up the middle playing an answering riff.
posted by unSane at 12:46 PM on November 2, 2011

This is great. It needs to be listened to from a cassette.
posted by umbĂș at 7:56 PM on November 2, 2011

I want to hug your guitar production skills.

When you say "panned hard", do you mean 100%?
posted by vanar sena at 2:13 PM on November 3, 2011

Yep, I recorded the 12 string part twice, played exactly the same. One gets panned 100% left, the other 100% right. It's the only way I know to make an electric 12-string really sound like a 12-string... they tend to sound like a bit of a pale imitation otherwise when recorded, for some reason. You have to compress 'em pretty hard too, to get them to ring, which tends to knock down the highs, so then you have to EQ them back... and so on. It's a rabbit hole.
posted by unSane at 2:50 PM on November 3, 2011

There are so many bands who should summarily quit the business, were they to hear this track.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 4:39 PM on November 3, 2011

Now the deadline's passed, I re-recorded the vocals, redid the drums, changed the final chorus and ending, and remixed. Better, I think.
posted by unSane at 6:38 AM on November 4, 2011

This is great.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:28 PM on November 4, 2011

Yeah the vocals sit in the mix a lot better in your updated version. Really cool.

Speaking of compression and EQ, I've been having some fun messing around with ReaFIR. Being able to compress particular ranges to see what happens is proving quite educational.
posted by vanar sena at 3:05 AM on November 5, 2011

It's an interesting idea to have a unified approach to EQ, multiband compression, gating etc.

The thing I absolutely hate about digital recording is the interface to signal processing. It's so painful having to open up little windows and tun little knobs with the mouse. Obviously you can map some parameters to physical midi devices but it's a painful process with little reward. And every plugin has to reinvent the interface it seems.

Some DAWs do it better than others (Logic is just horrible, MixBus much better, Presonus Studio quite good) but none of them do it well. There is nothing that remotely compares to twiddling the physical knobs on a box. I particularly hate the EQ interface (like on FIR) where you have points on a graph that you move around to set the frequency and gain, and then some other modifier to set the Q. It's beguiling because you can put up the waveform and see what frequencies are peaking very easily, but you end up mixing with your eyes and not your ears, which I hate.

I guess it might be possible to do something cool with a tablet, where selecting a plugin throws up the interface on the touchscreen, but we're not there yet that I know of.
posted by unSane at 5:45 AM on November 5, 2011

Yes I agree completely re reaching for the mouse, particularly when I'm sitting with a guitar or keyboard. I've been daydreaming about touchscreen-based remote VST UIs for some time now, but it's not there at all yet - I think the closest that anyone's come so far are things like AC 7 for the iPad, but that's more like a DAW control/mixer than a replacement for a plugin interface. Part of the reason it's difficult is that the VST standard doesn't make it easy to generate good generic UIs for plugins. New open source efforts like LV2 are making a laudable effort at addressing this, but obviously its unlikely that they're going to be adopted by a majority of DAWs and VST vendors anytime soon.

I'm going to have to disagree with you about the ReaFIR-like graph/FFT interface though (with some trepidation, since you actually know what you're doing). These kinds of interfaces are exactly what computers are good at, since it would be a hard to replicate this kind of visual display and control in a "pure" hardware interface. I really dislike "turning" something-that-looks-like-a-pot-but-really-isn't on a computer screen. It just feels so dumb, as there's really no connection with the physical action I'm performing with the mouse and what is happening on the screen. Of course, I'm quite certain that this is a function of my never having messed with real hardware effects so far, unless a POD counts.
posted by vanar sena at 11:52 AM on November 5, 2011

Yeah I don't disagree that the interface presents a lot of information in a way that's next to impossible on a physical analog device. My problem with it is that your interaction with it is necessarily visual. The one thing you CAN'T do is close your eyes and twiddle a knob until it sounds right. The other thing about knobs is they stay put. If you set up your rack compressor for a guitar sound, that's how it stays into the next session. Yes, you can do the same thing with presets but you never do and it's not the same. Every big producer I've ever heard of basically has a rack set up with compressors that they hardly ever touch. One's preset for vocals, one for guitars etc.

There *are* some very good digital compressors out there with nice intuitive interfaces but they are almost all replicas, eg the Waves SSL one which is excellent.

My biggest bugbear is EQ. The way I *want* to use it is set to the Q to a spike and lots of gain or notch and then sweep the frequency with my eyes closed, then change the Q and gain, still with my eyes closed. I really really DON'T want to be looking at a waveform. Or indeed anything.

The other thing I really hate is just that, you're listening to a mix, and something sounds wrong. On a physical board with physical effects you have this kind of muscle memory of where everything is. You reach out and change a setting. In a DAW you have to figure out where on the screen that channel is, double click on relevant insert, which opens a plugin on some random point of the screen, then you have to move the mouse to some tiny knob or slider and so on. I just hate it. Of course I do it because I can't afford a 72-channel SSL desk and a bunch of old compressors and gates and stuff. But the digital realm has a LONG way to go before it's as intuitive as a big old desk with a huge array of channel strips.

Harrison Mixbus is the closest I've found, because it has EQ and compression built into each channel right there in the strip. It also sounds really good, and has K-metering. I really like it but it's built on top of Ardour and doesn't spread itself across cores on OS X yet.
posted by unSane at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hello! This is really neat. I have a lot of trouble with weird time signatures but this sounds really natural -- I wouldn't necessarily notice it if I was listening, unless I tried counting it out.

Really nice backing vox, too. The whole thing sounds great. (I'm listening to the remix, btw.)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:19 AM on November 6, 2011

Whoa, unSane! Great job. Did you think of the title because of #occupyeverything etc? Anthem.
posted by Corduroy at 9:41 AM on November 6, 2011

Thanks, Cords... the title was set as the subject at Songfight, presumably riffing on #OWS. There were a couple of other tunes for this round that I liked, especially the ones by Panacotta Army and Son of Supercar.
posted by unSane at 10:16 AM on November 6, 2011

PS anyone can vote
posted by unSane at 10:20 AM on November 6, 2011

Whotta production! Kudos!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:45 PM on November 6, 2011

Still digging this! I had almost asked in my first comment if you had a 12 string...I thought it was just clever fakery. Stupid me.
I like the new vocals.
"I baked you a cake 'cause a cake needed bakin'" makes me think you've read that damn Jimmy Webb book too many times.
posted by chococat at 4:36 PM on November 7, 2011

Ha ha! I was pretty desperate when I wrote that lyric. The whole song is based around the feeling I used to have when the future Mrs unSane would come to England from Canada and I did indeed use to spring clean the flat in preparation. I don't think I ever baked a cake but I did cook a curry. However, that didn't scan.
posted by unSane at 4:42 PM on November 7, 2011

But did you leave the curry out in the rain?
posted by chococat at 5:31 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think that I could take it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:57 PM on November 7, 2011

One of my favourite SCTV moments. Ironically, shorter than that fucking endless song.
posted by chococat at 7:31 PM on November 7, 2011

I've got to admit I love MacArthur Park, mostly because of my lifelong obsession with Donna Summer. Back in the far mists of time when I used to DJ, I used to put it in the middle of a full on retro disco set. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't, but when it does the moment when the beat drops in (at 1'16" in the short version - I've no use for the long version) is a thing of wonder.
posted by unSane at 2:32 AM on November 8, 2011

You're so good it's just not FAIR!
posted by fleacircus at 11:21 PM on November 17, 2011

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