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Current Tape Reviews

Artist Name:
Chris Hooks / Voodoo Loons
Date Posted:
September 2009
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

G5 iMac with Digi 002R running Digidesign Pro Tools LE 7.4, Waves Super 2 Taps, Trillium Labs TLSpace reverbs, and Smack! compressor plug-ins; fretless Steinberger bass and 12-string electric/acoustic guitar through Avalon U5 DI; Fender Telecaster and Fat Strat through hybrid POD/Atomic amp setup, miked with Sennheiser e609 through Blue Robbie preamp; mandolin miked with Neumann KM 184 through Universal Audio SOLO/610 preamp; vocals through Blue Kiwi mic and Robbie preamp; strings from Korg TR-Rack. Mastered through TC Electronic Finalizer Express.

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Production Notes & Credits:

“Downhill” is a male vocal rock song. Chris played the bass and sang, Mark Daly was on mandolin, Bill McCarthy sang and played percussion and Dennis O’Hagen played the guitars and sang.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 3
Recording: Holy Phil Spector! The Voodoo Loons may have submitted the only “wall of sound” recording featuring a mandolin that we can remember. Mixes like this one are some of the most difficult to dissect because, with the exception of the drums, it’s often hard to tell what sound source is responsible for what sound.

Things start out with some definition, acoustic guitar (12-string?) and mando (panned at approximately 2:00 opposite each other), along with the lead vocal and some nice percussion. Rather quickly an electric guitar appears right on top of the mandolin and either replaces or masks it. Next in are the bass and drums, and off to the races we go.

As we said earlier, from this point on, it becomes tough to tell exactly who’s doing what, and that was through studio monitors. What we would be able to tell via a car radio at 65 mph with the windows rolled down is anyone’s guess, but somehow we can’t help but get the feeling that Chris and the guys are far too skilled for that to have been an accident. Which leads us to the matter of intent—a slippery slope if there ever was one.

Suggestions: Countless hours of debate have been logged through the years as to the method and the madness (skip the pun) of Mr. Spector’s “Wall of Sound”. Would it have really mattered if there were only five guitar players and two bassists on the recordings? Were four pianos really required? And let’s not even get started on the reverb chambers! The answer is, only Phil knows for sure, and he’s not talkin’. What is clear is, that for at least a brief shining moment, the concept was hugely successful and influential—just ask Brian Wilson if you don’t believe us.

My point is, no novice was involved in the making of “Downhill”. We’ve heard enough accidental masking in our day to know the difference. No, what we have here is a conscious plan to create an agitated state of sound that fits the band’s lyrical message, and Chris and the fellows have pulled it off with precision, energy and conviction.

Will it be everyone’s cup of tea? Who knows. Have we heard more defined recordings? Yes indeedy. What we can say with some relative certainty is that the Voodoo Loons obviously had a plan with their mix, and it was executed and brought home safely.

Summary: This ain’t your granddad’s mandolin!

Contact: Chris Hooks,,,

About: Marty Peters

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