Intel Quad processor PC with RME Fireface 400 and three Universal Audio cards (two UAD-1 and one UAD-2 Duo) running Steinberg Cubase 4.5, Native Instruments Guitar Rig 3, IK Multimedia SampleMoog, and UA Neve 1073, 1176LN, Plate 140, LA-2A, and Pultec Pro eq plug-ins; Universal Audio 2-610 preamp; Alesis Monitor One MK2; Shure SM57, RØDE NT2-A and two NT55s; Ampeg SVT III bass amp.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: “Quirky” would be a reasonable description of Bob’s submission to us. We hear a very bass-guitar-heavy mix that also features some unsteady timing from the drums. The other prominent aspects of the mix center around a “group” lead vocal, not so much a choir as a chant, along with a heavily reverbed, quasi-psychedelic electric guitar.
O.K. then, so how does it all work? Well for starters, due to its volume, the bass actually assumes the area usually reserved for the lead vocals, while the vocals here assume a role usually reserved for secondary sound sources. Is it wrong? Well, yes and no. Bob obviously had a vision in mind with his placement. However since there are actual lyrics being sung/chanted, the placement of them inhibits our ability to clearly discern them. As for the bass, after several minutes of listening, it began to wear us down some.
Regarding the drums, Bob tells us that although he started out his tracking utilizing a click track, most of the instruments here were tracked without it in order to get a more “organic” feel to the performance. From the sound of things it sounds like this includes the drums... and I’m afraid that’s not a compliment!
Suggestions: While there are certainly songs that historically have used the “chant” formula to great success (“Give Peace a Chance” comes to mind) for the most part they benefitted from very balanced instrumental tracks, thus allowing the lyrics/message to be heard clearly. For this to work with Paul’s mix, he will need to re-think the role of his bass guitar. We suggest that he consider a more “traditional” approach for said bass by reducing its volume and allowing it to become a part of the rhythm section.
As for the drums, while we are all for the “organic” style of recording, in our opinion timing issues are not synonymous with “organic”. We have heard many, many recordings that utilize concepts such as distant miking, minimal production and processing, etc., all the while maintaining a solid sense of time. The fact that Bob had a click track available but chose to ignore it makes us wonder if we fail to share the definition of “organic”. At any rate we would love to have Bob go back and retrack his drums with the click track in play.
Finally, we would suggest that the entire vocal section volume be raised to a level where the lyrics are a bit more intelligible. After all, why have them if you can’t hear them?
Summary: A cool idea in need of a bit of tinkering.
Contact: Bob Davidson / Bob’s Bottom, firstname.lastname@example.org.