Recorded and mixed on a Mac running Apple Logic 7 with a MOTU 828 interface. Vocal mic: Pawel P1. Guitar and accordion mic: RØDE NT4. Virtual instruments: Logic EVB3 organ, Spectrasonics Trilogy bass, Toontrack drums. Effects plug-ins by Apple, Waves, and Universal Audio.
Production Notes & Credits:
Music: “Java Java” is a female vocal swing style jazz tune. Michael co-wrote, recorded, programmed, and produced the track, and played guitar and accordion. Lilly Martin co-wrote and handled the vocal.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Very cool tune, guys! Swing jazz and coffee seem to be a natural fit. We like the acoustic guitar, despite a bit of “squeak” here and there. The programming is also well done—the pseudo-acoustic bass and brushy trap kit certainly capture a realistic sounding performance, and the tones on both are credible indeed.
Unfortunately, we are a bit less enthusiastic about the lead vocal. The vocal level in the intro dominates the acoustic guitar, and is it us or did Michael apply some filter/eq to Lilly’s voice in order to “antique” it up a bit? We also hear compression artifacts on the lead vocal that are smearing up a pretty darn good performance. The question is, why? While Lilly certainly possesses a strong voice, she is by no means a “belter” in need of taming.
Suggestions: Many, many recordings over the years have employed the old “telephone” voice trick in order to give a vintage vibe to a recording. That and the ubiquitous “needle drop” or scratchy record background noise technique have become two of the more cliché effects going.
In the case of “Java Java” it is absolutely not our intention to tell Michael what aesthetic to apply to his tune. After all, the golden age of acoustic swing jazz peaked some sixty years ago, and those recordings do have that old direct-to-disc, 78 RPM sound. Our issue is with the volume level and the compression, and in both cases we encourage Michael to revisit his decisions.
All sound sources contain energy, n’est-ce pas? Increasing the volume in most cases increases the perceived energy (which would also explain our last speeding ticket, but that’s a story for another day), whereas decreasing it has the opposite effect. Since Lilly’s vocal level decreases after the intro, the track experiences a decreased energy shift at a time when just the opposite is in order. We suggest that Michael “seat” his vocal evenly throughout the song and let the arrangement dictate the energy.
As for the compression, we have to ask if it was necessary in the first place. Too often folks seem to be applying compression using the Sir Edmund Hillary notion of “because it’s there”, and not because it’s necessary. We would urge Michael to explore other methods of gain reduction, including automation, in order to tame whatever offending transients he found in Lilly’s vocal performance.
Summary: Does this Java Java come with free refills?
Contact: Michael Dolmetsch/The Loop, www.theloop.ch, www.myspace.com/lillymartintheloop