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-T√©ia” (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.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Like I say, I hope my foot can do it justice!

Here are my lists from last week. See you soon!

Playlist 2015-12-21:

*Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Favorite Excerpts (London Symphony Orchestra)
*Anthony Braxton: 20 Standards (Quartet) 2003 (disc 4)
*Anthony Braxton: Piano Music (1968-2000)/Performed by Genevieve Foccroulle (disc 7)
*John Coltrane: On Stage 1962 Featuring Eric Dolphy
*John Coltrane: Live Trane: The European Tours (discs 1, 2)
*Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas
*Dave Holland: Prism
*Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: Live at “A Space” 1975
*Paradoxical Frog: Paradoxical Frog
*Tom Rainey Trio: 2012-12-30 Brooklyn NY (CDR)
*Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra: Sign of the Myth
*David Torn & Prezens: 2007-08-24 Saalfelden (CDR)
*David Torn Prezens: 2008-01-10 Cologne (CDR)
*David Torn Prezens: 2008-01-14 London (CDR)
*David Torn & Prezens: 2008-01-19 Budapest (CDR)
*David Torn Prezens: 2008-03-14 New Haven, CT (CDR)
*Various artists: Spirits Rejoice! Listening Guide (Chapter Two) (streaming)
*Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare
*Arctic Monkeys: AM
*Beatles: With the Beatles (2009 mono remaster)
*Beatles: Hard Day's Night (2009 mono remaster)
*Beatles: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band (side 1)
*James Brown & the Famous Flames: Live at the Apollo
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Get Happy (2003 reissue, disc 1) (selections)
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Trust
*Disturbed: The Sickness
*Fall of Troy: Doppelgänger
*Matching Mole: On the Radio
*Matching Mole: March
*Freda Payne: Unhooked Generation: The Complete Invictus Recordings (disc 2)
*XTC: Nonsuch (selections)

Reading List 2015-12-21:

*Domini, John. “Later John Barth: The Wrong Peak, the Reach for Magic, the Feminist Argument” in The Quarterly Conversation (2015-12-13) (started/finished)
*Green, Daniel. “The Story of a Storyteller: On John Barth’s Collected Stories” in The Quarterly Conversation (2015-12-13) (started/finished)
*Johnson, Michael. “Music’s Restless Avant Garde: Still a ‘Wonderful Adventure’” in Open Letters Monthly (2013-09-01) (started/finished)
*Barthelme, Donald. Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme (finished)
*Ditko, Steve. The Art of Ditko (finished)
*Jones, William B., Jr. Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History (2nd ed.) (reread/in progress)
*Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest (reread/in progress)