One night a few months ago, I met a local folk singer through a friend of mine and jokingly (and slightly drunkenly) introduced myself as the avant-garde producer from hell. Long story short, after talking about music for a few minutes, we decided to start recording the next day.
The recordings started out as normal folk that were being recorded traditionally, but neither of us were really happy with that. We were both bored with normalcy. After talking for a bit about musical sounds, we decided to put on some music. I put on the Velvet Underground and told him about how one day I would like to do something like that. It turns out that he had pretty much the same view. After that, we got to talking about Leonard Cohen because I pointed out that alot of his lyrics were very similar in tone to those of Cohen. We talked for a little longer and got onto Phil Spector, and then got onto talking about how analog is better than digital.
Eventually, I pulled my old Teac a-3440 out of a closet and got some fresh tapes. He was impressed by it in all of its hideous glory, and after doing some tests, he decided that he loved the tone, especially after I would crank the gain and allow everything to blow out during the more energetic parts of the song. We then jointly decided that we were going to record all analog, limit ourselves to just those four tracks, throw all convention out the window, use no unnatural effects (all reverb was created naturally by selecting rooms with the right properties for certain tracks including a bathroom at one point) and try to have fun. The sound we agreed on was Phil Spector shooting up with Lou Reed and John Cale as Leonard Cohen sang. I think that we came pretty close.
On this first one, I recorded both the guitar and vocals on small diaphragm condensers. The guitar was recorded in a tiny glass bathroom in order to give it a hollow and thin reverb. The vocals were recorded on the instrument mic in order to make his normally lush voice sound thin and brittle in order to complement the melancholy and reflective lyrics Andrew wrote. I underrecorded everything in order to give it a warm and homely layer of hiss at the bottom of the track.
I was thinking about using these two tracks as the base tracks to build on, but decided after we finished the vocal track that it's just too beautiful. There's nothing more I can add. We were briefly thinking of giving it an orchestra during the end in order to go for an epic and grandiose ending to a song with a simple beginning, but ultimately nixed that idea because it wouldn't have matched up very well with the tone of the rest of the EP.
This next track isn't quite complete, but it may take a while to finish. We're going to add drums and a Hammond B4 organ to the mix, but unfortunately, the Teac died before we could finish it. I'm currently looking for someone in my area who knows how to fix older reel to reel decks, but I'm not having alot of luck. I may have to buy a new one in order to finish this one.
We recorded everything in a large room with a distance between the instrument, vocals and mics in order to capture some of the echo being created in this large room. I let everything skirt on the edge of clipping until Andrew starts screaming at which point eh drums and organ will really start laying into the track in order to go for something of a 60's garage rock sound.
Go ahead. As of now, this is just an ongoing art project. I only plan on using it as a part of my portfolio for when I decide to go back to school, and Andrew and I are going to be doing alot of recording this summer in order to hopefully expand on the ideas we had with this. We had some technical issues. Since we were recording all analog on a 30 year old 4 track that I own, we couldn't add more than four tracks except digitally, which we were against. Hopefully I'll have an 8 track and another four track this summer so that we can do bounces and add as many tracks as we want.
Also, here are all of the tracks as they appear on the tapes before being split up into separate tracks. Some of the mixes in this are sloppy, but they were only meant to be rough mixes until my four-track died on me.