Day Twenty-Four (i): Going Solo

A thousand apologies for not updating over the weekend or after; simply put, we put in so much energy and effort on Friday and Saturday, I could barely string a sentence together, let alone a blog. But here we are now, so I'll fill you in...

Friday was brill. I met Andy from Wintergreen in the less-than-glamourous environs of the Wood Green branch of Morrisons supermarket, and he took me up to the second floor site of Studio Klank. It occurred to me that despite being a recording artist for seven years, this is only the third recording studio I've ever used - outside of Running Frog in Windsor where my first band recorded a three-track demo, and the usual Flyers haunt of Soup Studios, any other work has been done at home studios etc. As it stands, Klank is technologically the most impressive studio I've been in, and despite its early days, there were a multitude of eye-opening ways of recording that led me to be Very Impressed Indeed.

The entire plan for Friday was to record the majority of the track for one song. Since the whole thing is synthesised- more or less - I thought it'd be a challenge to myself to play all the instruments myself rather than waste valuable rehearsal time with the band fiddlign with sequencers and whatnot. I was slightly worried that I'd under-rehearsed; all I had was a sequenced bassline on a MicroKorg with a song structure.

As it turned out, with the assistance of Ableton and the Virus keyboard, Andy managed to turn my scrappy idea into a decent basis for a full track. With what looked like nothing more than a couple of buttons pushed, the slightly dubious BPM of the MicroKorg was sequenced perfectly against the drum pattern that I'd programmed in (that is to say, Andy showed me how to do it, and I simply chose the drum sounds put the beats where they should go). With a couple of extra flourishes, before I knew it, we were done with the synth parts.

Alec, Andy's fellow Wintergreener arrived and we had time to add some extra bits; a subtle guitar part went down relatively easily, but Andy's suggestion for an E-bow drone using an amplified autoharp instead of guitar was met with a defiant jack that fizzled and crackled everytime we tried to play the instrument. Nonetheless, we managed to capture enough of a sound to modify it in Ableton and loop it to make it sound smoother. It sounds nothing like an autoharp now, but it's still a nice sound.

The last bit was the most fun. Wintergreen's drummer Andrew (formerly drummer/ bassist/ keyboard player in the Flyers) had finally got around to building his long-threatened theremin - lest we forget, it's Andrew's homemade synthesiser that's all over our first album, It wasn't housed in a shop-window mannequin as promised, but it was impressive nonetheless. It had to be used. Andy said we had two approaches; we could either painstakingly tune it and work out how to play it, or we could just make some random noise over the top. The latter seemed far more entertaining. So with Andy manning the echo controls, we ran the track, and summoned all sorts of unholy noise from the theremin. It was extreme to say the least. Even mixed in the background, it adds an element of unpredictability to the track. Whether all of it will make it to the final mix or not is another matter, but hopefully it'll be there in part.

By the time the session ended, we'd had so much fun, we hadn't noticed we'd been working for six hours instead of the original four. Still, I came away with the beginning of the RPM album. Saturday's session would certainly add more to the stockpile...


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