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SPOTLIGHT 54: Smokescreen
Artist Name:
Eric Wilson
SPOTLIGHT 54: Smokescreen
Date Posted:
January 2012
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

Avid Pro Tools HD3 system, Trident Series 80 console, Mics: Neumann U87, Shure SM81, Earthworks; API 512, Manley Massive Passive eq, Empirical Labs Distressor, Teletronix LA-2A, EMT 140 plate reverb; Tannoy Ellipse 8 and Yamaha NS-10 monitors, Grado Gold Series headphones; McPherson and Martin DC Aura acoustic guitars, Epiphone 295 electric guitar with Fender Concert amp, Rickenbacker 4001 bass with Trace Elliott amp, Yamaha Maple Custom drums, Steinway grand piano, Hammond Combo organ with built-in Leslie speaker.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Smokescreen" is a male vocal acoustic rock track from Eric's album "The Twenties". Eric wrote and arranged the song. He also sang and played the acoustic and electric guitars. Nolen Theis played bass, and the remaining credits are as follows: Drums by Cooper Heffley played drums, Taylor Tatsch played electric guitar, Josh Goode played piano, Toby Pipes played organ and percussion, and Todd Pipes sang background vocals. The Pipes brothers recorded and mixed the track at Bass Propulsion Laboratories studios in Dallas.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 5
Recording: The term "organic" is often used to describe certain sound qualities/vibe, and this month's Spotlight is a glowing example of it. Here's what Eric said about the process:

"Once tempos and song structure were established, guide vocal and acoustic guitars were recorded. Drums were next. After that, we made sure to get the acoustic guitar track, since it was the most important instrument. From there we just followed the song where it was leading. For 'Smokescreen' we wanted to resist making the song sound too big, too early, which listening back now, works because it adds tension. Even the organ keeps the Leslie off (which makes it sound mono) until later, and when it switches on, the song opens up -- but subtly. The backing vocals (and other instruments too) were recorded with their mix perspective in mind -- much further off mic for instance, than the lead vocal. Mixing was easy because we tracked it the way it was to be mixed. I don't really recall any hard decisions."

So what is it that we mean when we describe something as sounding "organic"? Well, keeping a lid on overproduction and processing is certainly a big part of it, along with an openness or ambience that can relay a sense of intimacy.

To that end, Eric has followed the formula with great success here. We absolutely love the drums on this track, Cooper's performance is stellar and the airy "room" sound of the kit, in concert with Eric's dry acoustic (gotta love those McPhersons!) and the "in your face" lead vocals provides a great platform for Todd's solid backing vocals.

We also have to acknowledge the nice panning and delay choices applied to the electric guitar tracks; the delay in particular adds a bit of "spice" to the proceedings. Finally, is there any better combination than acoustic rock and Hammond organ? Like raspberry and dark chocolate... Yummy!

Summary: Organic, and tasty to boot.

Contact: Eric Wilson,
About: Marty Peters

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