Ableton Live Intro, Izotope Ozone 9, Neutron 3 and Nectar 3, Waves Abbey Road TG, Behringer U-Phoria 404 interface, Neat Microphones King Bee, Pyle Pro 57, AKG P2, Taylor 110c acoustic guitar, Epiphone banjo, Rogue mandolin, Squier bass, Vox AV60, Samson Graphite 25 MIDI controller, Puremagnetik Microtron, Pacific Concept 20/12/14 maple drum kit, Tama SLP Bubinga 14×6 snare, Sabian HHX cymbals.
‘In the Shadow of the Western Gods’ is a progressive folk song performed and recorded by Gabe in his home studio.
Reviewed By Marty Peters
Gabe has submitted a dynamic and ambitious track that features quite a few instruments sharing similar frequency ranges. Not unlike the music of Mumford and Sons or The Lumineers, the primary melody instruments in Gabe’s recording center in the mid to high frequency ranges. The flatpicked acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin were all tracked through his Neat Microphones King Bee condenser mic. Gabe faired pretty well for the most part, although there are a few EQ and balance issues that he could improve upon. That said, before we dig deeper, we must congratulate Gabe for successfully wearing so many hats here. While the vast majority of us struggle with one instrument, Gabe is skillfully handling five while also assuming the recording duties. Wise panning choices help separate the stringed instruments to a certain degree, while the dynamic playing gives the track a nice tension and release throughout. As for the balance issues, the acoustic guitar volume often exceeds that of the lead vocal, particularly during the intro, and the vocals are a bit recessed in the mix overall. We also find the snare drum to be a bit wooly and lacking in snap, making it a tad underwhelming underneath the pluck and brightness of the stringed instruments. Lastly, the high-hat volume is on the high side, drawing focus away from the lead vocal.
Gabe has got a mostly successful project here, just a few tweaks from being even more so. We urge him to revisit his mix and devise a strategy to rebuild it. In this case, we would treat it as a solo singer/songwriter-style mix. Starting with the acoustic guitar and lead vocal, establish a balance with the guitar slightly behind the voice in volume. Then, bring in the rhythm section (with some brightening on the snare and reduced volume on the hi-hat) and work that until everything is melding. There are myriad commercial releases that can and should be compared for reference, from James Taylor to Mandolin Orange. Following this, bring in the banjo and mandolin, retaining the pre-established panning so that each has its own voice.
Strong effort, Gabe!
Gabe Schwartz, [email protected]