Ghost

Back when I started mucking about with recording as a teenager one of my inspirations was a little-remembered and, in my view, underrated US alternative rock act called Live. They first made it big with an album called Throwing Copper in 1994 which got a lot of repeat play in my bedroom as a teenager. But while their 1997 album, Secret Samadhi, was less commercially successful I actually think it’s far stronger musically with it’s touches of Southern Gothic and sweeping strings. One of the tracks, Ghost, really jumped out at me and I recorded a simple guitar version by myself using very basic equipment. Fifteen years later when I wanted to find a simple song I knew well to experiment with, Ghost came to mind.

I set aside a weekend to do all the recording. Originally I intended to just do a straight remake, keeping the very simple two guitar arrangement I had before but as the day went on I added bass, then drums, then MORE drums, guitars and MORE GUITARS. I used my Ibanez S540 on this rather than the strat. It gives such a rich tone and takes distortion really really well. Before I knew it I’d gone to a sort of 90s alt rock place without really planning it. However, like Ring Of Fire, after working a lot on folk music this is much more my cup of tea.

The slightly backwards recording approach wasn’t ideal really – it did throw up a few minor timing glitches here and there. I threw virtual amps and effects rigs on everything other than the main drum kit using Line 6′s Pod Farm 2. I really like working with virtual amps and effects, the ability to tweak settings in the mix is invaluable – especially if you don’t have a concrete idea of how you want things to sound at the start.

Really pleased with the sounds of the rhythm section on this. The kit is sounding really good and I’m getting back into playing shape. I’m pleased with the bass sound in particular too as I find my bass sounds to be something I need to work on (partly because I have an inexpensive bass guitar!)

The timing issues made for a fun editing challenge though, and over the course of a week or so I was able to get this out.

Enjoy.

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Dedications, that’s what you need.

Hello world, it’s been a while.

2013 has so far been an appalling year in practically every way, and without exaggeration just the worst time of my life. So much so that it’s taken me until nearly the end of August to really get back to being able to breath and think clearly.

However those who have been paying attention at the back may remember we talked in this post about an album release for this year. Not only did we make an album in my (totally unbiased) view we made a HELL of an album. We dipped a whole bundle of well-crafted fantasy folk tunes into a strange brew of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle, Fleetwood Mac, Clannad, Levellers, punk, funk, folk and rock and pulled out something a bit unexpected.

Jamie Wakefield’s Hit & Mist came out this past weekend, and promptly sold it’s entire first printing run in just four days. … Whaaaaaat UP?!?

There will be another print run, and further copies can be obtained from the public Facebook page for the album launch. I believe Jamie will also be looking at the possibility of digital downloads in the future. Personally it’s still bizarre for me to hold in your hand some sounds you made in your back bedroom… and then give it to someone else… and they give you money for it. And when you see lots of people doing it… Mind. Blown.

What I never got any space to do was to put my own little comments and thoughts down about the whole project. So…

THANK YOU

To everyone who bought the album, especially the preorderers. You keep independant music alive.

To all the musicians and singers who came in on their free time and gave it their all; especially those whose contributions ended up getting cut in whole or in part and took it with such good grace. You allow me to do what I love.

To Ronnie and Paul, who back when it started helped me mess about with tape machines in the living room – who knew?

To all the musicians who ever supported me, taught me, inspired me, or drove me to be better just so I could kick your ass.

To Char, for not understanding but being incredibly amazing anyway.

To Dan, Simon and Gwen who were there when it mattered.

To my dad, who showed me what music was and who never got to hear how it all turned out. I hope you would have liked it.

And of course, to Jamie; for his patience, for believing me a long 18 months ago when I said I could do this, and for providing such wonderful tales and tunes. For real.

Living the bloody dream, people.

Coming in 2013

Eh, I’ve been neglecting this blog (and indeed music in general) recently. No excuses, just been busy with real work etc etc. However I do have a new project to announce here: I am currently working with Jamie Wakefield to produce his first solo album, Hit & Mist, which will be released in 2013.

For those who don’t know Jamie personally, you might remember him from the two tracks he penned for Visions Of A Dragon, widely regarded as two of the highlights of the project. I’ve already been listening to rough demos to the material and there’s some really great writing in there. All we have to do now is deliver a great sound!

In order to help us make this album, you can pre-order a special edition of the album, with an accompanying book of lyrics and artwork, from Jamie here.

I hope this will not be the only project I can announce soon, but for now, that’s all folks. 🙂

Ring Of Fire

I’ve had this idea for a cover kicking around in my head for weeks now, and it’s been really bugging me. I was supposed to be doing other things tonight but for some reason I had to get this down instead. This afternoon someone said to me “what music would you rather be doing?” after a couple of folk projects on the trot. This is much closer to what I’d rather be doing!

The drums were built in Native Instruments Studio Drummer using the Garage kit. I’ve never used the Garage kit before on anything because I find it the worst of the Studio Drummer kits. It has a rough quality, which to be fair is what they designed it for, and that was exactly what I was after for once.

Ever since I worked on Blood & Honour for Bría McAllister I’ve been using Line 6’s Pod Farm 2 for a lot of virtual guitar amplification, so that’s what I went straight to for the bass and rhythm guitar tracks. Some classic 60s bass amp action, along with a variation on The Ramones guitar sound for the wide-panned rhythm guitars. I used the Brit J-800 amp head A LOT on this track.

The vocals went on next, with some overdriven distortion from the preamp and a touch of slappy reverb. Finally, messing around with lead riffs. It’s actually quite a long time since I recorded any electric guitar, and my Fender Strat had some quite nasty old strings on it. Pretty pleased with the results anyway though! More judicious use of Pod Farm here for distortion and amp modelling.

A bit of volume automation, and jobs a good ‘un. Short, nasty little recording but I kinda like it.

So what’s it all about?

Well for those who don’t already know me (and I hope that this blog will attract some new friends over time), I’m Phil. I’ve been obsessed with music ever since I can remember, listening to practically every genre I could get my hands on. Over the years this fascination led to learning to play various instruments and eventually mucking around with some home recording equipment with friends.

Since those crazy days with a little tape deck I’ve been gigging and performing here and there, as well as branching out into recording and producing demos for other artists. A few years ago I made the move from tape to digital audio, and I’ve been recording exclusively using Pro Tools ever since. In 2010 I put together a group of like-minded and talented associates and produced my first full album, Visions Of A Dragon. This turned out to be pretty popular among those who like that sort of thing, and led eventually to my producing a second full album, Blood & Honour, for a talented lady called Bría McAllister in 2012.

Examples of my audio work can be heard online hosted at: http://soundcloud.com/musoholic

  Currently I’m working to develop my sound portfolio and I’m always looking for talented people to work with, whether for fun or profit. Sadly I have to maintain a day job to pay the bills, so I can’t be available for tours and far away live opportunities. However, I am definitely interested in hearing about:

  • Recording music for other artists for fun or professional release
  • Playing and singing on other people’s compositions
  • Collaborating on musical projects
  • Live or theatre sound design opportunities, including spoken word and radio work

Please get in touch using the form below to discuss availability, rates or just shoot the breeze.

(Oh, and the hats thing? Yeah. I like hats.)