PC running Cakewalk Pro Audio 9, Sony Sound Forge 9, and iZotope Mastering Bundle; Alesis MultiMix 8 USB mixer, Mackie 1602VLZ mixer, Mackie HR824 monitors, Zoom 9030 effects processor, Alesis Nanoverb and Nanocompressor, Korg 01/WFD, Yamaha DX7S, Alesis SR16.
Production Notes & Credits:
“Mikami” is an instrumental “world” music track. David composed, programmed, performed and recorded the piece. David tells us, “MIKAMI was recorded in early 1996, and later refined over the course of eight years. The original composition was first done using MIDI tracks. Using Cakewalk Pro Audio I recorded each individual MIDI track into Audio, adding individual insert audio compressions, and gating to tighten some of the tracks. I used the Yamaha DX7S and the Korg 01/WFD to add performance tracks to the overall multitrack session I developed. Later I mixed down the combination of MIDI and Audio tracks to develop a very big sound. Years later I used Sound Forge 9 and iZotope Mastering Bundle to tailor the final mix into a more present mastered version. This work has been a favorite of mine to work on. I hope you enjoy the results.”
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: David describes “Mikami’ as a “world” music tune and while we find it short on the poly-rhythm and exotic instrumentation of that genre, what we do find is drums. Big drums, loud drums, wet drums, DRUMS!!
The track intros with an esoteric piano, distant and kind of New Agey, followed by a kick and snare beat that would do any hard rock song proud. Next up are some synth strings and a unidentified high pitched sound similar to a triangle or a saw, not really sure on this one. Unfortunately their origin is of little consequence because by now the DRUMS have beaten us into submission.
David, David, David... we are mightily confused. One can only assume that the volume of the drums was by design and not a by product of bad monitoring; it’s simply too out of balance to go unnoticed, even on the most modest of speaker systems, let alone your good Mackies. Compounding the problem is the fact that there is no bass guitar to round out the rhythm section, only the drums and a fair amount of high frequency information via the piano, synth, etc..
Suggestions: While we are certainly aware of many crossover recordings that mix and match disparate elements such as rap/hip hop married with heavy metal, this seems to not be the case with “Mikami”. Instead, to our ears it sounds like an attempt to “excite” a basically mellow track by forcing some rock drums on it.
So is this wrong? Certainly not! The problem lies in the balance issues, not the intent. To that end, we suggest that David try a few things that might lead to a more successful mix.
First of all, we highly recommend that he A/B this mix against several of his favorite commercial releases. Listen to the relationship between the various instruments, focus in on the dynamics and what we call “shadow and light”. We also would encourage David to take a rather different mixing approach. By making the drums the last sound source that is added to the mix, he may get a better feel for the amount that is necessary to propel his track. Speaking of propelling, we also would love to hear either a bass guitar or synth bass added to the track to complement the kick drum.
Summary: Not unlike Wall Street, it’s all about the balance.
Contact: David Akimori, DavGMZ67@gmail.com.