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Current Tape Reviews

Artist Name:
Isaac Horn / Evan Pierce
Date Posted:
July 2014
Equipment Used:

Mac with MOTU 828 MkII FireWire interface running Steinberg Cubase 6; Audio-Technica AT4033 mic, through Aphex 107 Tubessence preamp.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Backseat" is a male vocal folk tune. Isaac played the acoustic guitar, mandolin, and sang the vocals, Reese Martin played the violin while Evan played violin and tambourine and handled all of the recording duties.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 4
Recording: I flat-out loved this submission and struggled mightily over whether it deserved to be included in our "too good for an advice column" Spotlight e-newsletter feature! Ultimately a few EQ choices and an overly abrupt fadeout kept it out of our "best of the best" category... but boys, it was close!

It is rare that we receive an acoustic guitar performance as flawless as the one featured here. Every note of Isaac's guitar rings like a bell and there are literally no artifacts present -- no string buzz, no squeak, nada. A hearty "Job well done!" goes out to Evan as well for capturing it so cleanly, with extra credit for his masterful control of the acoustic guitar's notorious 250 Hz frequency "bump."

Moving on, the plaintive vocal is dry and present in the mix, befitting the singer/songwriter style, where the lyric is oftentimes king. The secondary sound sources are also generally successful, although we found the violin to be a tad thin in tone, while the tambourine (drum?) sound probably could have been fleshed out a bit more.

Still and all, things were going along mighty fine until approximately the 3:20 mark of the song, when after a slight rest, Isaac switches to an aggressively strummed part that essentially ruins the tone on the acoustic guitar, in our opinion. To make matters worst, the violin follows suit and goes from "thin-ish" to downright scratchy. The track retains this new character right to its end, which sadly comes too soon via a very awkward rushed fadeout. Dang! So close, though.

Suggestions: Tonal changes in songs are not all that uncommon, particularly if they are subtle. Sadly, subtle is not the word we would use here. Luckily the arrangement of the song offers a perfect solution to the problem. We would encourage the guys to go back and re-track both the guitar and violin from the rest at 3:20 to the end of the song, re-miking both instruments to capture a tone conducive to the aggressive playing. Once that was done, Evan could easily "stitch" the two sections together on his DAW thanks to that nicely placed rest.

As for the other issues, a ribbon or dynamic microphone may be a better choice to give the violin some roundness. And as for the fadeout, barring any blemish that you're trying to hide (which would go away if this part is re-tracked), letting the song come to a more "organic" end would certainly serve this excellent effort more gracefully.

Summary: Fine indeed, but...!

Contact: Evan Pierce,
About: Marty Peters

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