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SPOTLIGHT 106: Distant Horizon
 
Artist Name:
Peter Hanmer
  Title:
SPOTLIGHT 106: Distant Horizon
 
Date Posted:
February 2017
 
Genre:
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

PC with MOTU 16A interface running Cakewalk SONAR Platinum and Adobe Audition with Fabfilter Mastering Tools. Yamaha mixing desk (using the built in preamps). Mics: Shure SM57 (snare, toms), AKG D112 (kick), Behringer B1 (overheads, hi-hats), sE Electronics sE2200 (acoustic and nylon-string guitars). Yamaha HS50 monitors, beyerdynamic DT150 headphones. Ibanez Artwood acoustic guitar, Takamine nylon-string guitar, Gibson Les Paul electric guitar and Ibanez Roadstar bass played directly into mixer through Line 6 Helix guitar multieffector, Gretsch Catalina drum kit, Roland JV-2080 synthesizer and various soft synths.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Distant Horizon" is a rock instrumental track. Peter did it all with the exception of the drums, which were played by Larry Rose. To hear Peter tell the tale: "The track was recorded in my converted double garage at home. The studio consists of a separate control room and soundbooth. The track was completed as a demo, with most parts recorded with programmed drums. The drummer then came in and tracked the live drums. Once they were completed, the other instruments were re-recorded. I usually record guitars using amps and mics, but this time I tried the Line 6 Helix and was extremely impressed with the recorded tones. The song ended up being the final track on my third solo album, entitled Wide Open Spaces."

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 5
This month's SPOTLIGHT is a multi-layered bit of sonic goodness that successfully pays tribute to one of the most creative rock music minds of the past four decades. Peter tells us that "Distant Horizon" was written as an homage to the Alan Parsons Project. Well, now! Given Mr. Parsons' incredible career, Peter has placed the bar pretty darn high. Fortunately for all involved, he delivers the goods!

Taking a closer look, some of the defining characteristics in the Alan Parsons "sound" were intricate arrangements displaying multiple layers of instruments and voices, often in long "concept" form. In his production notes, Peter tells us that his track was constructed in a two-step process, first as a completed demo and then completely re-recorded in his converted garage studio. That's, dedication my friends -- let's dig in and check it out!

Many of you loyal readers are aware of our general disapproval of long laborious song intros. The failure to engage the listener fairly quickly can often be a dealbreaker in our "I want it now" world. That said, the "Parsons" formula was very much built in this manner and Peter has done a bang up job emulating it. With creative use of panning, the intro to "Distant Horizon" uses some great synth sounds to engage the listener for a reasonable length of time until the rhythm section joins the party.

Peter has captured a excellent tone on the bass guitar via the Ibanez Roadstar/Line 6 Helix signal chain. We dig the clarity of sound, as well as the "bigness" afforded it in the mix, the benefit of the wide panning and non-competing frequencies among the sound sources. Moving to the drums, the kick has a snappy tone (we hear the drum head and beater distinctly) while the snare employs enough ambience to give it a powerful gun-like crack.

Next up are some beautifully recorded and presented guitars, along with a killer castanet sound expertly woven into the mix. (Can't have Alan Parsons Project without castanets, right?) Staying with the layering concept, Peter next introduces a nylon string guitar, again beautifully played and recorded, that solos into a long gentle fadeout.

Or does it? Ah, it seems that we are just getting started, folks! Just prior to a total fadeout, the track shifts gears and volumes back up with a stripped arrangement that continues to showcase the nylon string guitar, as well as the spectacular-sounding toms and cymbals captured in Peter's converted garage. After a brief "palate cleanser," we are treated to a ripping electric guitar solo with a great Santana/Brian May-style distortion and sustain, again courtesy of the Line 6 Helix, this time paired with a Gibson Les Paul. Peter told us in his notes that he was truly pleased with the Helix, and we can see why. This ain't your father's amp modeling, kids!

From there, the track becomes re-energized as Peter goes full "Parsons" mode with all sounds on deck, including additional synth orchestration as the electric and nylon-string lead guitars duel it out to the song's conclusion. Whew, what a ride! Fantastic!

Suggestions: It is truly a joy to be able to bring these SPOTLIGHT submissions to you each month. Over my twenty years at the helm of Readers' Tapes/Tracks, I have seen an incredible sea-change... in not only gear and technology, but also a huge uptick in the quality of the work you all are doing out there in Recordingland.

Peter took on a mighty task here with his homage, and in our opinion, he knocked it out of the park.We urge you as always to use these SPOTLIGHT features as both a learning tool and an inspiration -- we sure do!

Summary: The complete package!

Contact: Peter Hanmer, peter@peterhanmer.co.za, www.peterhanmer.co.za (with a video of the recording!)
About: Marty Peters

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