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Current Tape Reviews

SPOTLIGHT 103: Neuromotion
 
Artist Name:
Les Finnigan
  Title:
SPOTLIGHT 103: Neuromotion
 
Date Posted:
November 2016
 
Genre:
Folk
Equipment Used:

In Les' own words: "The guitar on this album is an Alberico OM with a German spruce top and Honduras mahogany back and sides. It was recorded using a matched pair of Miktek C5 condenser microphones through a Pendulum Audio SPS-1 preamp, a Sunrise magnetic pickup through an ART Project Series Tube MP with a Tung-Sol 12AX7 tube, a Lexicon MX400 reverb, into an Apogee Duet interface running at 24-bit/96 kHz. Monitored on Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones and Dynaudio BM6 monitors."

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Neuromotion" is a solo acoustic guitar instrumental. Les composed, performed and recorded the track at his home studio. The final mix was mastered by Graemme Brown at Zen Mastering.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 5
This month's Spotlight is a superlative one-man-band effort showcasing some world-class talent and tone. For the record, although our coffers are full of one man/woman projects, instrumentals comprise a very small majority of their number, and solo instrumentals are practically unheard of. Imagine our delight, then, to come across this diamond in the rough!

Now, I can imagine many of you loyal readers wondering to yourselves, "What's the big deal about the live recording of an acoustic guitar?" After all, in the modern recording environment with limitless track counts, plug-ins, pitch correction. etc., capturing one sound source has got to be pretty simple, right? Well, actually no, not if you want to achieve this level of quality.

Sure, on the surface it's all pretty basic -- stick a mic in front of a guitar, hit Record, and we are on to the next bit. However, and this is a pretty big however... which type of guitar is in play? Is it a Martin, Gibson, Taylor, or any of the plethora of other choices out there? What about the woods involved? Spruce, rosewood, mahogany, maple? How about body shape... Dreadnought, OM, 000, Parlor? Oh, and don't even get me started on the various types of bracing that that enter into the equation. Not to belabor the point, but add in string type and gauge, pick variations vs. finger picking, distance vs. close miking, stereo or mono... Whew, as the great Madeline Kahn so famously put it, "I'm tired!". The takeaway here, friends, is that there's a lot to consider in this supposedly simple operation.

Les, in his wisdom, has followed a very basic guideline here in tracking "Neuromotion", starting with his signal path, which as you can read above is quality up and down the line. Still, all of this sonic goodness isn't worth a hill of beans without a masterful performance. Fortunately for us, Les delivers. In a style not dissimilar to the work of the great British tandem Bert Janch and John Renbourne, Les attacks the guitar with a flurry of runs and harmonics, beautifully separated and captured by the C5s and the Sunrise pickup. The separation of sounds is quite extraordinary, particularly for a one-take live recording! Add in an equally impressive composition, free of artifact, ideally mixed and mastered. Yeah, we were impressed!

To be clear, Les is clearly a skilled musician, probably capable of making even the most modest instrument sound above its station. That said, we all choose our individual tools, and Les has obviously done his due diligence in picking out the ones that work at a high level for his particular style and needs, and the success of his recording bears witness to it.

Would this same setup work for each and every one of us? Highly unlikely. As we said before, there are simply too many variables at play for any one-size-fits-all situation. Instead, we would suggest that you loyal readers find inspiration in Les's beautiful recording. I know that we certainly did!

Summary: Simple is beautiful.

Contact: Les Finnigan, stringplunker@telus.net
About: Marty Peters

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