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Current Tape Reviews

Artist Name:
Alan Lowe
Date Posted:
June 2014
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

Intel Core i7 PC with Focusrite PRO 40 audio interface running Windows 7, Cakewalk SONAR X3, and IK Multimedia AmpliTube. AKG D7 dynamic and AKG Perception 120 condenser mics (for acoustic guitar). Cort 6-string acoustic guitar, Gibson SG electric guitar, Fender Jazz bass, Roland EM-55 keyboard used as controller for True Pianos sound library. Drums and orchestral sounds assembled in SONAR.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Windride" is a melodic rock instrumental. Alan wrote, programmed, performed and recorded the track at his home studio.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 2
Recording: Really nice recording in general here, although the programming/arrangement gives us pause at times. Starting on the plus side, Alan's tones on both the acoustic and electric guitars are pristine and presented forward in the mix. Given his level of skill on the instrument, it is not hard to imagine that guitar is Alan's primary instrument, which would certainly explain its prominence in the sound field. The sparse piano is a nice addition to the overall proceedings, although we sure would have liked to have heard some reverb/ambience applied to it in order to give it some "air", something we also felt to be lacking on the compressed electric lead guitar.

As for the remaining instruments, in our opinion the faux string pad fails to add much to the mix, while the overactive drums and hyper bass arrangement seem at odds with the dreamlike nature of the guitar melody. The drum programming also comes up a bit short in the tone department, in contrast to the richness of many of the other instruments.

Suggestions: From his production notes we understand that Alan recorded both his electric guitars and keyboards direct/in-the-box, and this certainly would explain the ambience issue detailed above. We suggest that he investigate the many fine spatial options contained in his Cakewalk SONAR X3 software and apply some subtle room style 'verb to both.

As for the strings, the concept is sound, but their fixed placement and lack of inter-dynamics give them a leaden feel. Perhaps some very controlled autopanning would breathe some life in here.

Finally, as we have said countless times in these pages, realistic drum programming is difficult for most of us on a good day, and nearly impossible for someone whose primary instrument is something other than drums/percussion. With that in mind, the most successful examples are usually the ones that stick to less complicated parts. We urge Alan to revisit his drum arrangement. If he is really sold on it, then enlisting the help of an actual drummer to aid in the programming would be prudent. Getting an actual player on an acoustic kit would also be great if circumstances allow. Failing that, redesigning a simpler rhythm section may actually serve the song better in the long run.

Summary: Plenty here to work with!

Contact: Alan Lowe,
About: Marty Peters

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