Sunday, December 24, 2006

Mastering at Sterling Sound of course

I made a spelling mistake, mastering will be by Ted at Sterling Sound

Happy Holidays to all my readers

And thanks for reading, and all your comments and support.

9 Mixes ready for Mastering

We had a great last day in the Studio - Daniel was very helpful with a couple of tracks - they really came on in the final stages. We finish next year with the rest of the tracks and some extra B sides that Vince is working on at the moment. Andy will be back in the studio at the beginning of January to voice those tracks and we will finish the LP mixes then. A great end to the year. Thanks Everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Meet the Mute Studio Office Team

James buys a Christmas Treat

James made a nice sign

But when he pinned it to the door he pricked his finger so you can see his blood on it. After the event I helpfully suggested he use Blu Tack.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Daniel makes a comment

Daniel is in the studio with us, overseeing (!) the final tweaks as we prepare to upload the 24 bit masters to Stirling Sound in NY for Mastering on Jan 3.

More (non album) news from Andy

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You don't want to know

For reasons too boring to go into I had to briefly reinstall my original hard drive (Guitar Rig could not find the Bank elements and loaded up incorrectly)

Hot Off the Press

We have prepared the single Pro Tools Session (tho' we might do a few more tweaks!) for a fab Jeremy Wheatley mix scheduled to happen early January.

First Mixes of all tracks finished

So I have 14 tracks mixed now, and we are generally VERY pleased with them all. We have just had lunch and are running offsite AIT backup, and then Jeff and I are going to have a listening session when we listen to everything and make notes of any alterations we feel we would like to make. Luckily Andy has just turned up so he will join us in our listening session.

Then we will start tweaking the mixes (I love this bit!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sie Medway-Smith finishes his session

Sie has been beavering away in the editing suite on the iMac G5 and a rented G5, simplifying the bass and drums on one song - in line with Daniel's vision. They have also added a bit of percussion and a new sound on the solo. They have been working with Arturia's Mini Moog. I had a listen to the results yesterday and it didn't freak me out - so it must be OK :-) Well done team. We will be rough mixing the results today, in preparation for a single mix early next year. Before Sie left I got him to sign the scrapbook:

Friday, December 15, 2006

Finally - I have a computer that runs!

It has been a depressing and non-musical experience sorting out this problem drive/software/whatever it was, and there has been a knock-on effect into the Mix Suite as well- everyone has felt my pain and we have all been slowed up a bit (partly because I have not been able to pay proper attention to Jeff's work) - I was so tied up with reinstalling my machine that I let one of Jeff's mixes go off on the "wrong" track (there are always some mixes that need more steering than others) and we had to reconstruct it, which all takes time. Coming along nicely though now.

However all that is behind us now, and Jeff and I both got stuck into new mixes today - we will be slightly behind schedule at the end of this week but we still have time to achieve our target.

I heard from Vince that he has not been receiving the mixes - that's why he's not made any comments! He thought maybe he had been sacked :-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drive Saga continued

So I lost the bet with myself that the faulty drive had somehow recovered - it worked for a short while his morning and I exported a big song for Jeff quite happily, then problems set in - so back to the other drive, and more reinstalls and faffing about. Extremely irritating, and I still don't know the cause. Anyway I managed to get back to music in the second half of the day, and completed my mix from Monday. I am now quite a bit behind schedule. Everyone very tired today so we had an early finish (before 23:00!). The mixes coming out of Jeff's Mix Suite are sounding very good though - I am particularly pleased with this last one we did. Great Bass! Well done Jeff.

The team at Lunch

Responses to Mixes

Just heard from Paul that Andy has heard all the mixes at home and was "blown away" - that means he likes them!

Haven't heard a word from Vince :-)

Daniel referred to the mixes yesterday as "the rough mixes"!!

So that's a mixed bag of responses from the team. Off to the studio now.

Around the Houses

So I picked up a hard drive at Micro Anvika after my Pilates Class & arrived at Mute to find a worried looking James. Logic would not start up - it was freezing at a certain plugin and the hard drive was clanking badly. I disconnected all peripherals (except the Logic Dongle and my iLok) but the problem persisted. The Mac was starting up erratically and clanking at Startup too. We had a brief meeting with Jeff and all agreed that something had to be done. The problem was definitely getting getting worse and more one had a better idea than reinstalling software, and if we were gonna reinstall we figured it was better to go to a new drive, in case the old drive was at fault. So, not really knowing what was going on, I reluctantly embarked upon a reinstall. Long Job.

In teh meantime Jeff was beavering away in the Mix Suite - implementing my tweaks from yesterday's mix and building up a great vibe on today's mix. I popped in and out to advise, steer and occasionally confuse.

Early in the evening I spoke to Sie Medway-Smith who is coming in to help with a bit of programming on one of the tracks (a potential single) that Daniel has a special vision of. He will be setting up in the edit suite - so we will be a real hive of Erasure activity for a while. One of my aims of the day was to bounce out all the parts for that room so the guys could build on what we have done so far and so they can experiment freely. So, well after midnight, and as as soon as I felt I had enough plugins installed I attempted to load that Logic song. Still Absynth 3 would not reinstall (complaining that it had already been deactivated on that machine ID - NOT!!) and I could not reinstall FM7 for some reason, so I put the "faulty" drive back in the machine to have one final attempt at bouncing out this song for tomorrow.

Of course everything runs as smooth as silk now - on the OLD drive (the one that had all the problems) No clanking, no freezing. I comfortably exported all 67 tracks and we all headed for home. Bemused, but job done.

I am betting the faulty drive will work fine for the rest of the production now. :-) As soon as I have the new drive all perfectly installed I shall be making a Disk Image, or a clone or something so that I can put it back together much quicker next time if I need to.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monday - Mission accomplished

I started the day by writing a yesterday's Blog entry - I woke up very early, my mind racing. Too much paperwork on Sunday maybe? Then it was off to Fulham for my Alexander Lesson. Jeff was in Cardiff at the weekend for his birthday, and he arrived back after lunch, looking a bit the worse for wear, but holding it together (ie pretending he felt fine!) :-) We mixed 2 tracks today - and I was very pleased with both of them. Of course I will check them in the morning and probably make a couple of adjustments, but it was a very good Monday, and agreat start to the week.

I am having a weird problem with my system drive. Every so often the drive starts clanking and Logic freezes up. At first I thought it was a Logic Preference issue, but the problem re-occours even after creating new preferences. Disk Utility reports the SMART status as verified, and I rebuilt the Catalog with Disk Warrior. Now I am running the project Manager again to recreate that database. Perhaps the drive is going faulty? Anyway tomorow I will pick up another internal drive - perhaps I will have to reinstall - that will be a tedious interruption, just as we are getting on a creative mixing roll. I guess these things happen......

Daniel has lent us his rice cooker, and I bought a Saucepan and a small electric hob, so we make brown rice or pasta in the evening - we are also eating lots of garlic to stay healthy, but it does stink the place out sometimes. No real complaints yet.

Tomorrow Pilates and 2 more songs to be mixed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Busy busy busy

I am sorry that the frequency of my posts has decreased so much - it is a very busy time towards end of the album, getting all the loose ends tied up and crafting the mixes. I will try to summarize the last week now.

I started the week by greeting my colleague and friend, engineer Jeff Knowler, who is joining the team to help me with the mixes. Jeff and I have already worked on the Battle album, a Clinic album and a Moi Caprice album this year, so Jeff is pretty tuned in to my vibe. We have set up a mix suite in he room next to mine, with tie lines throught to my room so we can check the mixes on all the monitor systems we have available (and I can eavesdrop!)

We have NS10s in both rooms of course and Genelec 1029s. I have Dynaudio BM15s in my room and Jeff is experimenting with PMC ALM1s in the Mix Suite. We both use Sennheiser HD600 cans - I have installed my Grace Design m902 in Jeff's room, and in my room I am using my Benchmark DAC-1 so we can definitely hear what we are doing :-) Jeff is using a large Pro Tools HD rig. I am not a PT expert, but I can interface very nicely with it when I use the Mackie Controller. I am using my expanded Logic Audio Rig with TC Powercore, Waves APA, UAD-1 and Focusrite Liquid Mix. I also have an SSL Duende but I am finding it impossible to get that working in addition to my other DSP cards (none of which I want to give up).

Of course it is not about the equipment - it is about the ears and the sensibilities of the people involved, about getting the right balances between the musical parts and the vocals, and serving the songs as best we can. I take my responsibilities seriously.

It is great to have 2 rooms working, and to have another set of ears across the mixes. Basically I set Jeff up with the parts for a song (all synths are bounced out in the Logic system using the "Export all tracks as Audio" command which makes files for Pro Tools and Audio Files for Logic, freeing up the DSP of my Logic system for mixing) and a rough mix then he gets things going - I go in occasionally and make adjustments. I leave him to get on with things and work on another mix in my room. At the end of the day I take the mixes from both rooms home and check them on my home system the next morning, then I make more adjustments accordingly. When I am happy we get James to load the mixes up to EMI's secure server so that Vince and Andy and Michael and Paul and Daniel can access them and make comments and criticisms. We have done 4 mixes so far, and look forward to doing another 10 this week.

Daniel is in the building too, and comes in to offer his opinions whenever he has a moment. He has known the band longer than any of us, and is simultaneously their biggest fan and our harshest critic, so that keeps us on our toes :-)

At the start of the week I still had quite a few vocals and backing vocals to finish with Andy, but by the end of the week (Friday) all vocals for the album were finished. A significant milestone reached, I gave Andy a big hug and Jeff, James and I celebrated later in the evening with a small beer.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I had a puncture on my way to the studio today - I called Cycle Surgery and Mario said to bring it straight in, and he would fix it. Great Store. On the way back to the studio I went to Fresh and Wild and picked up lunch for James & I. What a pity they have stopped doing the "lunch special".. That was a great deal! Might have to shop elsewhere for lunch now. Planet Organic perhaps?. I passed a Modernist Masterpiece on the way back to the studio:

Also some geese and a swan

I found a nice feature in Logic - when I "Export all tracks as audio", the track names come over (I don't think this used to be the case). This means I can bounce all tracks very quickly and then free up all my computer DSP for lovely mixing plugins. We have worked very hard all week and James and I both are recovering from (his!) cold, so we had a shorter day and stopped work at 19:00.

View from Studio:

Sunday is a day off.

zucchini bread recipe

Somebody asked for the recipe - I asked Vince's wife and she sent me this:

Flaxseed zucchini bread
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
3 cups flour(I use 1/2 wheat flour)
6 tbsp milled flaxseeds (If using whole flaxseeds, soak in warm water for ten minutes before adding or grind them in a coffee bean grinder)
1-3/4 cups sugar (I use brown sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup applesauce
3 eggs( I substitute with egg whites)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tbsp water

In large bowl stir together flour, milled flaxseed, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nuts and raisins. Make a well in center of mixture.

In another bowl beat eggs, oil and water, stir in zucchini and applesauce. Pour over flour mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Divide the batter evenly between two greased 1 lb. loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until pick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely. Try it with a dab of peanut butter or cream cheese. Yummy!

Makes 2 loaves, 24 servings.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Andy tells us what he's been up to

Andy came to the studio today and did some more excellent backing vocals. We tried the "problem" lead vocal again, and still it's not really doing it for us. It just never seems as good as it should be (unlike the other songs!). O well - there's always one! I was feeling a bit under the weather (I've got a bit of a cold - in fact I am enjoying a hot toddy right now) and I forget to save all the backing vocals for one song. Then the machine crashed. oops. Obviously the vocals were all on the hard drive, and because had been using "punch on the fly" and always starting from a bar it was a relatively simple matter to put them together again. Irritating all the same. We all make mistakes. Luckily I got away with this one.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Scrapbook Pages 19 -30

First Proper day at Mute

After my Alexander Lesson I cycled up through Hyde Park and Notting Hill to the Mute building, where I met James, our assistant for the session.

We did a bit more plugging up (I wanted to get my small Genelec monitors working) and pretty soon Daniel arrived for our meeting.

Our plan is to listen to all of the tracks in some detail over the next couple of days, and we made a really good start. One of the songs Daniel felt was still very busy, so we threw around a few ideas and were able to enhance it quite nicely - I'm sure Andy and Vince will like it too. Other songs we simply discussed mix ideas and approaches or made minor "tweaks" . I also started showing James how I want to get all the soft synths recorded, which is something we are going to do on a track by track basis.

Polly Scattergood is in Studio 1 with Simon FT and Kevin - I heard a little of what they are doing and it sounded GREAT.

Daniel and I had a great Lunch and Dinner from Fresh and Wild

Monday, November 27, 2006

Scrapbook Pages 13-18

Scrapbook Pages 7 -12

Pages 1 to 6 from my Scrapbook

When we left for New England I started a scrapbook - here are the first few pages. Chronological from right to left, and bottom to top

Moved the Studio

It took 6 hours to move the Studio and set up again in Mute Studio 2, so it was a big chunk out of Sunday - I blew a fuse on my Benchmark DAC-1 (it was still set to 110 Volts - oops!) but Oli managed to find a replacemnt and I was so pleased to hear Erasure coming out of the speakers at Mute - sounded great!! And it was a great feeling to be prepared for next week.

I look forward very much to the next phase - hooking up with Daniel tomorrow, finishing vocals and Vince's updates this week, and mixing everything next week.

The sky was very striking - this shot looking out over the canal.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday Night Summary

So the "Vocal Recording Session" is finished now, although the Vocals are not quite finished :-) We have one Lead Vocal to redo, and one Lead Vocal to do, and quite a few backing vocals - I guess we have done about half the bvs. Andy and I work very fast at backing vocals - we have a long history of working together and we trust each other. Vince has worked his way through most of the songs and I have incorporated all his updates into the Master versions.

Tomorrow Oli (one of the assistants at the Mute Studios) is coming over to the Hampstead "studio" and he is going to help me clear everything down and set it up again in the Mute Studio 2 for the "Mix" phase. On Monday and Tuesday I have our A&R guy (Daniel) going through the tracks with me. Andy is rehearsing for his Food Chain gig early in December; he will be back later in the week to finish off the vocals. Hopefully all the recording will be pretty much finished by the end of next week. This is pretty much all still on schedule. (I tell myself and the record company!)

Then I shall be exporting all the synth tracks (which at the moment are running "live") as audio files, freeing up the DSP of the computers for all the lovely mix plug-ins that I want to use, to bring the tracks to the next level. Can't wait!

I use Logic Audio by the way, in case anyone is interested.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Dinner

After an amazing backing vocal session (we did 41 tracks of BVs on one of my favorite songs) on 2 songs we went to have Thanksgiving Dinner at Andy and Paul's house. Andy's husband, Paul, had made the whole dinner (Organic Turkey of course) and my wife and I went over with Andy at the end of the session. I bought Pink Champagne and we enjoyed a glass each.

Warming Up

Andy always does a warm up before he starts singing - usually 20 minutes to half an hour. He uses an exercise CD by Sam West that I bought for him a long time ago they use this on tour as well - Andy and the backing singers warm up together). Andy has the CD in his iTunes. Today he came without his iPod or Laptop so he had to warm up all alone - when he came back from his warm up he said "It's just not the same without Sam". Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

3 More Excellent Lead Vocals

We started with a listening session:

First we did the final lead vocal! (Andy had been worrying about the lyrics - unduly in my opinion - but had sorted them out to his satisfaction). Warm sound:

Then we started on re-doing lead vocals that we are not happy with. One song is still a bit of a problem - Andy is not feeling the clubbiness he is wanting to feel - and we are working with Vince on changing the bass. Otherwise everything went swimmingly :-). Another very productive day. After Andy left I edited one of the vocals, and then to early night. Pilates in the morning!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Daniel Noack still keeps up his Genius Artwork

Daniel sent this nearly a week ago, but I forgot to share it:

Friday - Good to see Daniel in Studio

Started the day with a meeting with our Financial Adviser in the West End, which was helpful and positive!

Then back to the studio for editing and starting to check through the Vince updates. Had a telephone meeting with Vince, but he was on his cellphone somewheer Upstate Maine and reception was awful. We just about understood each other though, after multiple re-dials. I was really happy to have been in Maine where we had some real face to face communication.

I spoke to a helpful guy at Synthax Audio UK about getting a replacement Fireface whilst mine is repaired. (Thanks for the suggestion Guy) . I also disconnected Kore from my setup (I was having communication problems with the Virus TI) - I figured that 2 USB Audio devices might be interfering with each other. The Virus communication seems much better now. Andy came back early from his radio rehearsal and we did a really nice vocal on one of the songs. I had already edited the version from Falmouth, which was good anyway, but Andy felt it was too much "Falmouth Foghorn" :-) So we re-did it in a less "shouted" altogether groovier style. We were both very pleased, and I did the edit on Saturday. Great.

Daniel arrived shortly after and we played him a few tunes and got some comments from him. He seemed genuinely enthusiastic about some of the songs, which was nice. Daniel and I agreed to start the mix session in Mute with a Studio meeting where we go through the Multitracks of some songs together, so he can advise and criticise further. So busy playing him tunes and chatting taht I forgot to take a photograph. :-( In the evening I went to see/hear Maps at the Luminaire. Good gig and nice to meet some of the Mute Team.

Saturday I was up early in the studio listening to vocals and editing. I downloaded UAD version 4.5 software (Thanks Guy!) and am now cautiously optimistic about everything running together (which I really would like to have for the mix - I enjoy the SSL sound of the Duende and the great sounds from the other DSP boxes: The RE201 in the UAD is fantastic , and I like the Plate and the Fairchild. I like the TubeTech and Fairchild and Urei compressors in the Liquid Mix, and the Sony Oxford compressor and Character in the TC Powercore. etc etc. Also downloaded the latest Nomad updates.

Had a great day, feeling very excited and positive about my work with Erasure, and even went for a walk on Hampstead Heath.

Saw a touching film on TV in the evening. Oscar Wilde "An Ideal Husband"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quick Update

I am getting a bit tired - so much to do, so little time! Andy is singing so much and so well it is hard to keep up with him - in fact I am glad that he has to do a radio show rehearsal tomorrow so I have a chance to sort through the vocals (from London and Falmouth).

Vince is working on the tracks and is sending me updates, new riffs rhythms and sounds. I am also working on the tracks and it is getting hard to easily combine the work that we have done - there is no simple "Merge" function available to make a song that contains the new work of Vince and me. So tedious manual labour! Vince and I are scheduled for a telephone meeting tomorrow, so we can catch up.

Daniel is visiting the studio in the late afternoon so we can catch up

A firewire socket on my Fireface has broken - everything still works, but I need to get it fixed, and I can't work without it! Might have to buy a new one and then sell it when I get mine back from repair. Running costs I guess.

I can get the Duende, the Powercore and the Liquid Mix all working together, but as soon as I try to use the UAD-1, the Liquid Mix crashes. :-( Work in progress.

Having fun with Albino.

Must pump up beats on 2 or 3 tracks! Drum fills!

Backing Vocals still to do - I always really enjoy that with Andy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Me, admiring my 6176 innards

Vocals - update

As we go through the songs and complete the final vocals with the final lyrics we generally improve upon everything that we have done so far. Andy continues to be in fine voice. Thanks Andy! There are some songs though that had a really good vibe from Falmouth, and so we will be checking through those carefully as well (especially the ones where the lyrics were already complete in Falmouth). It will be nice if we come away with some lead vocals from Falmouth too.

I just had a nice surprise - Vince sent a couple of songs over in eMail, I look forward to hearing what he has done tomorrow.

And now, to bed.

Andy at the Controls

Monday, November 13, 2006

Weekend Work

I "gave" Andy the weekend off, and I did some vocal editing - when a singer (Andy in this case of course) performs a song we usually do about 5 or 6 really good takes and then I go through and select the bits that I like from each take. That is really fun and part of modern vocal production (in my opinion). That process can be very simple (one complete take) or very complicated (lots of edits) depending upon the singer and the song, and over the years Andy and I have voyaged between these extremes. Finally I play the edit back to the vocalist and change anything that they do not like (which is usually just the odd word or phrase here and there).

I also got NI Kore working, which was pretty simple but rather longwinded as Kore needs to scan all my plugins. I had a problem with it before because I tried to go straight to plug-in mode and this time I ran it in Standalone mode first. Anyway - great to have it working, it will help me use Komplete4 which is in the mail to me now. Also downloaded a demo of Massive, which seems like it is going to be a great tool.

This weekend I also went to the movies with my wife, which was very nice. We saw "The Prestige" and "Borat".

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Day 2 London Singing

Andy hardly slept again, but boy was he in good voice! It just shows you (but thank goodness he now has the weekend off to rest and recover) sometimes that feeling must come out anyway. He did an OUTSTANDING interpretation of one song, and a great version of another too. I am very excited. I was just too tired to do an vocal editing, but will get to it over the weekend.

London Sessions - some technical musings

I had many backups of the Falmouth sessions. I brought 2 versions with me, Vince had 2 versions and I had a DVD backup and spare hard drive sent over by UPS. The night before the first Vocal Session I had transferred the Audio and songs from Falmouth (on an Avastor drive) onto one of the Internal Drives of my dual 2.7 G5.

We have used a large number of Reaktor synths, and I have always had AutoSave on, so the Ensembles have saved in the relevant song folder. Nevertheless because I have now got the Project folders on a different drive, when I open each song none of the Reaktors play, until I manually load in an ensemble. Once I do that all other relevant ensembles for that song are loaded automatically. It is a pity that they are not loaded by default, but still it IS workable, and all soft synths are playing as expected.

Another major production tool for me has been my Virus TI (even Vince has been having fun with that one) and that has also been a little erratic loading up the correct sounds, even though it worked great in Falmouth and on my G5 before I went to Falmouth. If the song is saved without the Virus loading correctly, then the next time the song is opened the Virus does not load any correct sounds, and you have to go back to an earlier song and re-import the sounds. Workable, but irritating! Great sounds they are though.

On Thursday I called Anne at Mute to check if my backups and SE Reflexion filter had arrived from the USA, and she sent them over, together with an SSL Duende that M had organised for me. I will be mixing this record "in the box". I really like the "recallability" of this style of mixing (just to be able to get a bit of distance from the song and then work on it for half an hour if necessary - great!) and I have had some great results with it. I sub mix to stems of course and then I combine these stems in the TotalMix of my RME Fireface. This gives me a deep and large sound.

I have been working with the Powercore for a long time, and the Waves APA44M, and recently have added the UAD-1 and the LiquidMix to my setup. These 3 pieces are all working very well together. My challenge now is to add the Duende to this setup. I got the Duende working really easily on its own - and it brought a smile to my face to hear that "SSL sound" that I know so well (from the 80s onwards). Very characteristic and enjoyable at extreme EQ and compression settings.

Anyway I have tried 2 different PCI cards to add extra Firewire busses to my system to cope with all this and both seem to have their issues. In fact Belkin tell me that the F5U508 I bought from the Applestore will not work with my system, and I should get an F5U504, so I will try that next week. The F5U508 kind of works, (and supplies power to the Liquid Mix) but I have to keep replugging things to keep them recognised.

Both the F5U508 and the Sonnet Allegro card prevent the LiquidMix working on the Mac Firewire buss. Focusrite tell me the solution is to put the LiquidMix on the PCI card Firewire buss, and it kind of works with the F5U508. I must get some longer Firewire 400-800 cables to see if I can get it to function better with the Sonnet. (but there is no buss power on the Sonnet I believe)

I am anticipating using an Intel machine as a Node, and to this end I have also bought a PRO/1000 Gigabit Ethernet from Small Tree so that I can easily run the APA as well, but at the moment this is not working either. Small Tree are being VERY helpful. It may be that there is sufficient bandwidth on the built in Gigabit ethernet to run the APA and a Node for Logic. I already have a high speed NetGear hub to try this too.

And so it goes on......

Back in London

The first thing we did was try to recover from our jet lag. Not too make too much of a fuss about it, but it is nearly a week now and I have woken up in the middle of the night and I sit here typing when I "should" be sound asleep. Funnily enough I thought I was completely over the jet lag, but I stayed up late last night experimenting with different combinations of the equipment (more about that later) and I guess it has thrown me off. Andy has had it even worse, poor love......

I had planned to try to find a cheap space to work to record and edit vocals - somewhere with a pleasant vibe and daylight and a reasonable acoustic, for convenience, in North London where Andy and I live. I was not looking for fancy equipment (we have everything we need), and I thought it would be easy to find the right space. I had meetings on Monday and Tuesday with owners of a couple of spaces and they were just not suitable. MJ, out A&R co-ordinator at the record company was also active trying to find a space, but somehow it seemed impossible to get something appropriate at the budget I had in mind. Then I spoke to some friends who had an empty apartment in Hampstead, and realised straight away that it would be fabulous - comfortable, high ceilings, broadband wi-fi, big table. The only issue was that it is a residential area, and so Andy and I made a plan to be finished with singing every day around about 18:30. Obviously I can carry on editing vocals after that when necessary. We aim to start everyday at 13:00 or 14:00, giving us time in the morning to get to the gym, Pilates, Alexander Lesson etc etc. So I set up there on Wednesday, and on Thursday Andy came down for his first session.

He was very tired, having been unable to get to sleep almost throughout the night, until 07:00 in fact.(and he arrived a couple of hours later than we had planned, but this was the first day and I have plenty to do anyway, listening through to the tracks and starting to enhance and organise them for the mixing). That was funny I told him because at 07:00 I was in the "studio" finalising the setup, before I went to my Pilates class. However Andy was motivated and determined about singing, and after a cup of tea and a warm up we tackled the first song. The lyrics are still getting tweaked, and the network printer didn't work with Andy's laptop so he hand wrote the alterations he wanted to make and we were off. After an excellent session on this song (in spite of the fact that I still feel the music is not REALLY working for this tune - we put it back to more of the demo vibe after out A&R meeting Andy reminded me, but it ain't working yet!) we took a small break for Bengal Spice Tea.

We were now using Andy's mic (a Neumann TLM 103) and this combined with the sound of the room, gave us a vibrant and crisp vocal sound. My trusty 6176 with Monster cable was already in place. The SE Reflexion Filter had not arrived yet, so there was a little bit of extra room sound on the vocal, but not at all unpleasant.

And then on to the second song: I was impressed because I had not realised that Andy woud be tackling a second song, but that is a nice precedent for the session - 2 songs a day! We had done a great deal of preparation work in Falmouth on vocals (working every night on 1, then 2 tracks a night) and that is really paying off now. We have a clear vision of what we want to achieve, and that is, of course, invaluable. I finished the session by editing the first song whilst Andy snoozed on the couch.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One last photo from Falmouth

On the last night as we were clearing up, there was a full moon (or nearly a full moon), and the ocean looked amazing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Beautiful Drive

The drive down to Boston was a goodbye to New England, and I took some pics of the trees along the way. Beauty all around.