Thursday, January 12, 2017

HNY 2017

Long time, no post.
There's been so many awesome sessions happening, I simply haven't had time to post! So here we go...

Since I last posted, I started a record with Boston's Vundabar. They're awesome! And they're touring a lot so look 'em up and go see them when they're in town. They have great dynamics and raw energy. Their songs are fierce and fun and their sound has bite and grit. None of those words mean anything so just go check them out. They rule. They've got a pretty good following and for good reason. We cut the record in 2 days and mixed it on the 3rd day. Since then we've met a couple of times to refine mixes and we're in a REALLY good place with them. It's a good'n! For the first time in my life, I added EQ to the mix buss. I'd always thought about it but never really wanted to mess with it. It just seemed so radical and best left to the mastering engineer. Vundabar wanted more presence out of the mixes and rather than adjusting EQ to every source, I decided to use my Universal Audio 509 passive EQs to the mix. I added 2 db of 10k and it was MAGIC!

Here it is! It sounds so good!

Around this time, southern CT's Death Black Birds came out to record their new full length. It's rock with a nod to the "alt-country" thing. Some of their songs remind me of the sweetest moments on Neil's Ragged Glory.. others are a bit darker. The song writing and playing is tops but still maintains a great vibe. They're another very dynamic band and singer Greg Moran's vocals range from whisper-quiet to loud, melodic yells. Each Death Black Birds session begins with a visit from Wood and Weather Drum Shop. They're great for drum repairs, sales, rentals, sessions, etc. All around high quality.

New Hampshire's Scuzzy Yeti came down to make their new record. It's great, heavy, riffy, rock. It's got a bit of an old school vibe to it but still heavy as f*ck! They play through LOUD 2x12 open-back combos, which is a really rad contrast to a lot of bands in their genre, who tend to play through closed back 4x12s. Amazing the difference, especially once you start stacking up guitar tracks! They just released to EP and it's absolutely worth picking up.

Scuzzy Yeti Overdub rig. All rhythm tracks were done with open-back cabs, some, not all leads with 4x12.

Kris Delmhorst had me come up with Verdant Studio in Vermont to record her forthcoming full length. We spent three days cutting basics and working through a large batch of songs. Jeffery Foucault is the producer and lead guitar player. Alex McCullough on pedal steel, Jeremy Moses Curtis on bass, and Bill Conway on drums. We had a great time at Verdant and have been hunkered down at Sonelab finishing mixes, overdubs, and edits. We might have done the very last session for this beautiful record tonight. Kris requested an RCA 44 for lead vocals and luckily, there was one for us to use at Verdant. I really loved the sound and am pretty sold on using ribbon microphones (44 in particular) for certain singers. It was a first for me. Very cool!

In the days leading up to Christmas, I worked about 70 hours straight with Elder. If you're not familiar with Elder, they're an amazing band who play heavy music on the more progressive side of things. They're one of the best in their genre and a band I've worked with since their second record. We finished their 4th full length at the end of 2016 and I must say, it was an amazing experience. They feel like family to me at the point because we've made so much music together and ALWAYS have an amazing time. Check out their record Lore and get psyched for their forthcoming record. It truly rips. The Obelisk dropped into Sonelab to visit Elder and check in on the sessions. Here's the article. It's extensive and very cool! Great studio shots!

We all agreed that this record needed more bass than Lore, so we used more amps.
There have been many more sessions between all of these but these ones each had unique significance so I figured I'd write about them. In the works are new records from Wydyde, Bunnies, Young Tricksters, Rysev, Bill Nace and Samara Lubelski, and many many more! Here's some gear stuff I'm currently psyched about:

I tested and wrote a review for Tape Op for the Hilbish Design Beta Preamp. This is more or less an exact clone of the Sunn Beta Preamp, commonly associated with King Buzzo's guitar sound. Check it here.

Here's a pic of the Hilbish Beta Preamp!

I picked up a pair of AEA's redesigned RPQ500 mic preamp. It's amazing with ribbons, condensers, and dynamic mics. It's clean but can be driven a bit. What I've noticed about them is since they're designed to couple with ribbon mics, they have loads of clean gain and tend to not color the microphone you're using. In the case of a Coles 4038, for example, I think that's an invaluable tool.

I also got the Warm Audio EQP-WA, which is essentially a clone of a Pultec EQP-1A. I've used the original Pultecs a fair amount over the years and I've always found them to be very useful tools when trying to sculpt a sound. Too harsh? Attenuate the highs, too wimpy? Crank the lows! Too boomy? Cut the lows. It's kind of a problem-solver EQ, though I used it as a sweetener on ALL of the guitar tracks on the Elder record, and was VERY happy with the results! It's always been nice to use for blown out drum mics. Heavy compression sounds FUN on drums, but when the cymbals start to get loud, it can start to get gross. Sometimes I'll put this EQ in before the compressor and attenuate high frequencies to avoid this problem. It's pretty fun.

Here's the EQP-WA and RPQs above it. Note the killer Symetrix comp below it (not kidding. it's cool!)

About two years ago, someone gave me an old Allison Research rack with 6 KEPEX gates and one Gain Brain. The other day, I was emailing with another engineer and he inspired me to plug into the Gain Brain. I've read about them for years but never bothered to patch into mine because I have so many compressors that I love. Well, the hype is real. These things rock. So far I've used it on lead vocals and guitar overdubs with great results.

Gain Brain on far right

Two gear things on my radar are:

Matamp GT120 clone made by Hilbish Design. It's currently being assembled by Jim Metz (local amp tech). It will be the loudest amp I own by far. Coming soon to Sonelab

ADR SCAMP S01 compressor pair. I just ordered these beauties. I'm hoping they'll be in the rack by next week. They're basically Compex compressors without the Gate/Expander. Absolutely psyched for these!!


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