December 27, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-12-26

* Orient – Occident: 1200-1700 (Hesperion XXI/Savall) (Alia Vox SACD)
* Di Lasso, et al.: In Dulci Jubilo (Monteverdi Choir/Jürgens) (Telefunken LP)
* Schutz, et al.: Glad Tidings: Baroque Christmas Music (Norrington) (Argo LP)
* J.S. Bach/Sándor Veress: Suite No.1/Sonatas (Demenga) (ECM CD)
* Miles Davis: Blue Xmas/Devil May Care (Columbia 7”)
* Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano (Impulse! CD)
* Steve Lacy: Momentum (RCA/Novus LP)
* Archie Shepp: Mama Too Tight (ABC/Impulse! LP)
* Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (Columbia LP)
* Billy Cobham – George Duke Band: “Live” On Tour In Europe (Atlantic LP)
* Terumasa Hino Sextet: Fuji (JJ/Catalyst LP)
* Lonnie Smith: Funk Reaction (Lester Radio Corp. LP)
* Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas OST (Fantasy/Analogue Productions LP)
* Nat “King” Cole: The Christmas Song (Capitol 7”EP)
* Elvis Presley: Elvis’ Christmas Album (RCA/Friday Music LP)
* The Beatles: From Then To You: The Complete Christmas Messages (Purple Chick CDR)
* John Fahey: The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album (Takoma LP)
* John Fahey: Christmas With John Fahey Volume II (Takoma LP)
* Vashti Bunyan: Lookaftering (DiCristina LP)
* Lindisfarne: Dingly Dell (Elektra LP)
* Flower Travellin’ Band: Satori (Phoenix LP)
* Marcos Valle: Previsao Do Tempo (Odeon/Light In The Attic LP)
* Alceu Valença: Molhado de Suor (Som Livre/Sol Re Sol LP)
* Sidney Miller: Linguas de Fogo (Som Livre/Sol Re Sol LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Firestarter OST (MCA LP)
* Bescombes-Rizet: Pôle (Pôle/Gonzai LP/M4A)
* Deuter: Call of the Unknown: Selected Pieces 1972-1986 (Kuckuck 2LP)
* Sam McClellan: Music Of The Five Elements (Spirit LP)
* John Serrie: And The Stars Go With You (Miramar CD)
* John Serrie: Ixlandia (Miramar CD)
* R.E.F.M. (Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye): White Christmas/No Jestering (Jason 7”)
* Imagene Peise (Flaming Lips): Atlas Eats Christmas (Warner Bros. LP)
* Boards of Canada: In A Beautiful Place Out In the Country (Warp EP)
* Flying Lotus: You’re Dead! (Warp 2LP)
* Goldfrapp: Seventh Tree (Mute CD)
* Mew: Frengers (Sony CD)
* Sunn O))): Kannon (Southern Lord LP+flexi)(†)
* Baroness: Purple (Abraxan Hymns LP)(†)
* Triumphs: Beekeeper/Bastardknocker (Monkey Killer/Bandcamp M4A) †
* FKA twigs: M3LL155X (Young Turks EP)
* Beach House: Depression Cherry (Sub Pop LP)
* Deafheaven: New Bermuda (Anti- 2-45RPM LP)



Hope you all had a very merry Christmas! See you next year!

December 20, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-12-19

* Albinez, et al.: Spanish Harp Music (Zabaleta) (DG LP)
* Berio: Points On The Curve To Find, etc. (London Sinfonietta/Berio) (RCA LP)
* Xenakis/Penderecki: Akarta, etc. (Buffalo/Foss) (Nonesuch LP)
* Herbie Mann: Stone Flute (Embryo LP)
* Joe Henderson: Canyon Lady (Milestone LP)
* Archie Shepp: Four For Trane (Impulse! CD)
* Sonny Sharrock: Seize The Rainbow (Enemy LP)
* Sonny Sharrock: Ask The Ages (Axiom CD)
* Mahavishnu Orchestra: Apocalypse (Columbia LP)
* Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny: Beyond The Missouri Sky (Verve CD)
* George Duke: Faces In Reflection (MPS/BASF LP)
* George Duke: Feel MPS/Delta LP)
* Luiz Bonfa: Softly… (Epic LP)
* George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (Capitol 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Dave’s Picks Vol.16: Springfield, MA 3/28/73 (d.2-3) (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* String Driven Thing: String Driven Thing (Charisma LP)
* Steve Hillage: Fish Rising (Virgin LP)
* Heldon: 2: “Allez-Téia” (Cuneiform/Superior Viaduct LP)
* Perigeo: The Valley Of The Temples (RCA LP)
* Steve Roach: Midnight Moon (Projekt CD)
* Steve Roach: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces Pt.1 (Projekt 2CD)
* Steve Roach: Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces Pt.2 (Projekt 2CD)
* Steve Roach/Byron Metcalf/Mark Seelig: Mantram (Projekt CD)
* John Serrie: Midsummer Century (Miramar CD)
* Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch 2LP)
* Triptykon: Melana Chasmata (Prowling Death/Century Media 2LP)
* Electric Wizard: Come My Fanatics… (Rise Above 2LP)
* Sunn O))): Oracle (Southern Lord LP)
* OM: Pilgrimage (Southern Lord LP)
* Boards of Canada: Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp 2LP)
* Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant (Sub Pop LP/EP)
* Baroness: Purple (Abraxan Hymns LP)(†)



Recording drums is difficult.

They turned out reasonably well on Cosmologies, I think, given it was my real first attempt, and the sound is much improved on Aphelion (as well as the upcoming Perihelion, due out early next year) -- but the kick drum always required enormous amounts of massaging tweaking to be heard (and, more importantly, felt) in the mix.

I was talking with my nephew, Brian Totoro, about the problem -- he is, after all, the guy who built my studio and taught me how to use Pro Tools -- and he said, "At this point, you're talking about a better microphone."

I have been using a Shure Beta 52a on the bass drum, which is admittedly on the cheaper end of things when it comes to microphones (though I'm more than happy with my SM 57s, the $99 workhorse which I use on everything from snare drum and overheads to guitar amp -- "the best microphone ever made," says Richard Dodd, who knows about such things). While it did the job, the Beta 52a was just not giving me what I wanted to hear.

As usual whenever Brian and I get into these gear discussions, he started out with whatever is the ultimate solution, usually costing several thousands of dollars, before winding down into more realistic options. Finally, he said, "You know what? I think you should get an Electro Voice RE20. Not only will it massively improve your kick drum sound, but it can also be used for lots of other things, like vocals, horns, bass cabinets, all kinds of stuff."

A little research demonstrated that Brian is, of course, correct. The RE20 is a large-capusule dynamic cardioid microphone specifically designed for broadcast work. An industry standard for decades, its unique "Variable-D" technology and heavy-duty internal pop filter make it ideal for close-in vocals -- as well as other plosive, high-SPL subjects such as kick drums. You have heard it on countless hit records over the years and, while not exactly cheap, it is a rock-solid, American-made piece of gear. And lord knows you can easily spend a hell of a lot more than $450 on a good mic!

Brian came over this week and help me out with it and, wow, what a revelation! Extremely sensitive to positioning, the RE20 is capable of producing a wide range of bass drum tones, from a dry, "clicky" attack to booming resonance. We eventually settled on a spot a few inches away from the rim pointed at the resonant head, which yielded a rich, full-bodied sound with a nice balance of beater and "bloom." While it was probably the last place I would have thought to put it, the recorded results were undeniably fantastic.

All this is occurring just in time for the arrival of Sam Byrd for the holidays and we are hoping to get another two (2!) full days in the studio. That will be the best Christmas present ever! And recording his drums just got a whole lot easier, to boot.

December 14, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-12-12

* Biber: Violin Sonatas (Romanesca) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Schoenberg: Die Jakobsleiter/Friede auf Erden (Nagano) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)
* Finnforest: Demonnights (Love LP)
* Lonnie Smith: Funk Reaction (Lester Radio Corp. LP)
* Eddie Henderson: Runnin’ To Your Love  (Capitol LP)
* Isaac Hayes: Black Moses (Enterprise/4MWB 2LP)
* Joni Mitchell: Night Ride Home (Geffen CD)
* Joni Mitchell: Turbulent Indigo (Reprise CD)
* Kevin Ayers: Joy Of A Toy (Harvest/4MWB LP)
* Can: Ege Bamyasi (Spoon/Mute SACD)
* Can: Tago Mago (Spoon/Mute SACD)
* Can: Future Days (Spoon/Mute SACD)
* Cluster: Zuckerzeit (Brain/SPV CD)
* Heldon: Stand By (Cuneiform CD)
* Tritonus: Between the Universes (Acanta LP)
* Klaatu: Klaatu (Capitol LP)
* Steve Roach: Light Fantastic (Fathom CD)
* Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra/Rhino LP)
* Japan: Exorcising Ghosts (Virgin 2LP)
* OM: Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain LP)
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner 2LP)
* Anathema: Weather Systems (The End 2LP)
* Zombi: Cosmos (Relapse 2-45RPM LP)
* Pelican: What We All Come To Need (Southern Lord 2LP)
* Chris Forsyth: Solar Motel (Paradise of Bachelors LP)
* Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band: Intensity Ghost (No Quarter LP)
* The Sword: High Country (Razor & Tie 2LP)



I keep forgetting to post my YouTube videos on the blog, so here are the last few I put up. 

"VCLT" stands for "Vinyl Community Love Train," the amazing phenomenon where folks send each other records with no strings attached, just because. That is so cool.

Feel free to "subscribe" to my channel so as to never miss a single, exciting minute (haha!). I will, nevertheless, be posting them here from now on (if I can remember!).