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Echolyn Update - Shark Sandwich

The new echolyn album is chugging along nicely. We have three songs done, while the remaining six are in the final stages of lead vocals, backing vocals, and percussion. I have a light schedule this week, with a break in my sociology classes, and hope to knock out my two lead vocal songs, a bunch of my backing vocals and talk Ray into swinging by Chateau Fornance to get another one of his lead vocals done… and maybe have some Tito’s Vodka.

One of the things I’m digging about these new songs is that the mixes are naturally coming together with little to no EQ and minor compression (only on the lead vocal) in the mix stage. I was really focused on getting sounds and performances that worked immediately in the cutting stage – this included (most importantly) great performances by my band mates. Paul, Chris, and Tom played beautifully, appropriately, and in context with the music. My job was to get good sounds to match the style of the song (from a production standpoint) and to match the way the guys played their instruments. This included, microphone placement, tonal quality choices, compression where needed, and EQ where needed. All the sounds built upon each other to create the vibe we were looking for. Doing this has made the mixes sound great (before mixing) without tinkering for days, sussing out sonic compatibility. In all honesty, when you get right down to it, this is friggin rock music. How hard can it be?

The hard part is to not over-think it or add ingredients that mess with the basic principals of recording music: musician + instrument + convert sound energy into electrical energy + press record. It’s that simple. With a little experience, these simple ingredients can be fine tuned into a powerful form of expression.

On a similar note, I’ve really been trying to preserve dynamic range on this project. Having my own band (and band mates that trust me) allows me the freedom to experiment. I think our last record really touched on something that frankly is sorely missed in music recordings these days – natural dynamic range and sounds that don’t sound like they’ve been injected with cocaine. What I mean by this is that much of the stuff I’ve been hearing has this heightened sense of EQ, i.e. supper highs and super lows, all of which are squashed to death into a very un-dynamic ball of sonic annoyance… just like the guy at the party who’s been doing cocaine for three days. Rock music can have a superb amout of dynamic range. I think Zeppelin were great at it. Most bands that try to be as heavy as Zep forget that to be heavy you need to be chill too. The juxtoposition of the two poles is what creates BIG dynamic range.

Is it just me, or do a lot of mixes these days sound distorted and/or pinched? I listen to songs on the radio and I can even tell what notes are being played because the sound is mangled and compressed into a wall of mushy blah. It’s not natural I tells ya (spoken like Yosemite Sam)!

On a final note, what the hell does mastered for iTunes mean? From what I’ve heard and purchased it means, (and I quote the wisdom of, This is Spinal Tap), “Shit Sandwich” aka, Shark Sandwich. I’ll stop at this point because this is a subject worthy of more time and attention. I’ll just say that our new album shall not be related to or sound like any sort of sandwich. Instead it will sound like music…, which stupidly is exactly what it is.

– More soon on my humble quest for regaining control of the volume knob and utilizing the power of dynamic range.



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