Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One of my fave pics from Counterpoint (Mitchell and Brett)

Day 3 / Session 3 / Year 2

I can't believe how much we've been able to do in 3 days, but we've managed to complete most of the tracking that was left without feeling rushed, including a whole new track, drums (most of the drums were done last year at Counterpoint studios). "Ministry of Truth" is turning out really cool. That song was half baked before we came into Matt Winegar's studio, and it took some lobbying from my part to to convince the band that this song had potential. I think we are all pretty happy with the results so far, including Matt.

So far, beside some minor edits here and there, all that we have left are the guitars and extra arrangements for "The Gathering Darkness" and vocals in all tracks. I think subconsciously I've been leaving this song for last. I know what I want my parts to be, but I'm not so sure how well they will translate to tape (figuratively speaking, the tape thing that is). I'm also a little nervous about my solo on this track. I only do a couple of solos in the new stuff anymore, Brett has taken most of the leads. It is not such a big deal, but for some reason I've been worrying. Another reason I was holding back on this track, is that the guitar I was planning on using (it is a custom made guitar, tentatively to be named $30 Phat Tele Deluxe), was missing a couple of pieces on the tuning pegs, so it was having a hard time keeping in tune. Today I was able to finally get the parts to fix it (props to Gary at Guitar Technologies).

We are also improvising a track with Matt called "Journey to the Central Machine". Or I'm trying to make Matt interpret my thoughts through weird keyboard voices. Tentatively to be the intro track or a bridge track somewhere in the record. That is TBD.

Brett was supposed to leave his mark on this blog too. Are you there somewhere, Brett?

- Oliver.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Feeling the weight of the music.

What a great day at the studio. Every time we start a new session, we are all scattered on the first day, our late loading, our distracted minds, trying to structure the day... but once the day aligns (with the universe in our heads?), and things start to fall into place, it becomes a very focused and enjoyable process. We spent most of the morning setting up and then getting the drums ready for "Ministry of Truth". I thought we would just do that, and leave guitars for some other time, but we recorded bass, and most of the guitars. To say we are pleased with the way it is sounding, it's an understatement. But as of right now, they are just words, the real test will be when everything is done and put down as a final piece on a CD or another digital format.
We started at around 11:00 am and finished at 9:00pm and I would say about 70% of the day we spent it on the aforementioned track. No complaints.

Then we moved on to "Empty Places". At first, we thought it was going to be a pain to put the contents of the Roland MC-505 onto the computer, track by track, and I thought, oh no, we are not leaving at a decent time tonight, but once we figured out a simple way to dump it into the computer, that part went a lot more smoothly. That track, at least for me, put a very somber atmosphere in the studio. We were very pleased to listen to the drumming tracks again that we had done at Counterpoint last year. We had forgotten how good they sounded. Moving on to "The Gathering Darkness" didn't help the gloomy mood. We wanted to do some sort of marching drums, so Mitchell layered a few tracks with different snares.

Then it dawned on me.

I started feeling the weight of all the atmosphere, mood and sentiment we were putting into the music. It almost feels like a big responsibility to do it right. But how do you do it right? when you do art, it is a very abstract thing, even though you try to structure things. My only comfort is that we are doing the best we can, we are being true to ourselves and our music. As for the rest and how people react to it, I have no control. Am I being melodramatic about the whole thing? I don't know, but I think a lot about our music and what we are doing, especially during this process.

Until the next entry, beloved recording blog.

- Oliver.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back in the studio 2010

Lyrics updated, bass strings changed, studio tasks almost done, transportation from the rehearsal space to the studio figured out and to record we go! Almost a year later (just for a few days) we were finally able to get back to what we started in March of '09. Way overdue, but all this time gave us a chance to improve the current songs, add arrangements, work on new material and come more prepared to finish something we have great expectations for.

A new song we are going to do drums for tomorrow, is called "Ministry of Truth", it would make it the 8th track we have for the album (we are trying to keep the track count low, especially since some of the songs are fairly long). We may still add a 9th one, but I guess we'll figure that out this week, depending on the feel of the recording sessions and the album as a whole.

Now, I need to convince the guys to change the title for Warning 09, I'll let you know, dear studio blog, if I'm successful.

- Oliver.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Studio Re-Cap.

I guess we got too excited with the blog and then too busy wrapping up everything at Counterpoint. Right after we were at the studio we took a "baby break", Brett and his wife were expecting a boy, so we went our separate ways for a few weeks.

Going back to the recording sessions at Counterpoint, the second day we went right back to business. We had 7 songs we wanted to accomplish, at the very least, the drum parts, since we wanted to take advantage of the room and the nice mixing board and outboard gear. The songs we worked on are: "Last Warning", "Icon" (Icon of Distress), "Life As We Knew", "Spies of the System", "Warning 09", "Empty Places" and "The Gathering Darkness".

"Last Warning", is one of our newest compositions. I would say very "House of Love" influenced and it was what made me feel that this album wouldn't be all about "industrial" sounds and electronic beats after all. It was nice to go back to a basic setting without worrying about all the ornamentation of pre/post production.

"Icon" (aka Icon of Distress), originally recorded for the "Unfamiliar E.P." is being slightly re-worked, mainly due to the fact that when Brett joined the dynamic of the song changed a little and it was injected with more energy which is what we want to accomplish with re-recording it. I think we were thinking of using this song for the album anyway since it fits the general thematic.

"Life As We Knew". We finally were able to wrap this songs that we've been working on for years (about 3). Even though it has a gentle start, I never thought it would end so heavy (thank you very much Mitchell) but I like how it progresses. I really like Daniel's bass parts on this one. The lyrics talk about how there comes a point in your life (and it can be applied to many stages) you realize you had it good up until then and your life will never be like it was before, either because of life itself happening or due to outside influences.

"Spies of the System" is to me one of the highlights of the album, mainly for it's message (I believe the title says a lot more than the lyrics themselves!) and it's sonic embarkation, which even though has many of DulceSky's elements it's very new and unique compared to our catalog.

"Warning 09", basically an instrumental, from what I recalled, Mitchell came up with a beat and a few notes. He showed it to me once quickly and I really didn't have much time to digest the brief exposure to it. Brett came into the picture and they developed it together to a point where Daniel and I could add our parts.

"Empty Places". Mitchell created the core of it on his Roland MC-505. It could be a song of its own just the way he showed it to us. The funny thing is that at the time I was thinking that we should write a song with a similar slower tempo with this Great Depression kind of a concept, so Mitchell's idea came right in time.

"The Gathering Darkness" it's an epic song. It's ambitious, so once the song is done, we'll be able to know if we accomplished our goal or not.

We have a few more ideas of what songs to include in the album, even though we've been toying with the idea of just making it an 8-track album, but if it feels right, it might even be 9 or 10.

- Oliver.

Monday, March 16, 2009

First Day (By Oliver)

I thought I would rewind a little to our first day. It was mainly a load-in and set up day. It was very exciting to just come in into such a nice studio. I got there first (a rarity these days) and then Gianny (studio owner) showed up. Mitchell and Matt (Winegar, our engineer and producer of choice) came after and Brett came in later. We spent most of the time setting up things around with an "emphasis" on drums, since it is the main reason we came to Counterpoint. The room acoustics are great, and we enjoy the availability of a few iso booths, which makes the tracking more convinient. To my understanding, these are "tuned" rooms, and you can open them up or make them more opaque with curtains and panels.

We set up the drums in the big room (right next to the grand piano). The room is a hybrid mix of Mitchell's Yamaha oak custom, a Ludwig Vistalites and a series of snares, including a couple of ludwig supraphonics (Mitchell's and Matt's), a Black Beauty and a couple of Joyful sound (Mitchell will have to fill you in on the details and also the symbals). Soon we'll post a video of Mitchell going through his drum set up.

Matt has a nice mic setup for the drum. He went back and forth with a couple of mics and settings. The drums sounded big and roomy, just what we were looking for. Big snare sound and boomy bass drum. We were all pretty happy with what we were getting drum-wise. The conversations were animated, interesting and funny to say the least. I couldn't believe when I realized it was midnight. I had this feeling I had stepped into a time machine, a time machine of recording goodness.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day One

Finally the day has come and spirits are high.......The drums are sounding amazing Matt and
Gianny (the engineers) are micing the set Im using a mix of a ludwig vistalites (The ones that John Bonham played - props to ttop ) Yamaha Oak Customs also black beautys props to Randy Herbert and supraphonic snares I wish i could tell how many microphones are in the room ...It is mind boggling. gotta sign off for now, out to play.


Drum Setup at Counterpoint Studios.

Drum Setup at Counterpoint Studios.
right click / View Image to see whole picture.