Welcome to Cassette Corner #2. So far it's been very rewarding talking with people about how they record their music. I guess that's what Tape Op is all about. Last time around I somehow managed to focus on one-man projects. This time it's all bands. I assure you I didn't intend to concentrate on any particular type of recordist when I started either column. I'm just writing about the best and most interesting tapes that have come to my mailbox. If any of these cassettes sound good to you, by all means send for a copy. These artists would love to hear from you.
Nerve Generator (2 song cassette)
This Philadelphia trio has put together a nifty little two-song cassette. It was recorded in guitarist James Botha's bedroom on a Tascam 424 4-Track PortaStudio. The songs have an exciting British pop-punk sound. Kevin Kajetzke's drumming is reminiscent of Keith Moon's and is a perfect compliment to Botha's Pete Townshend-style guitar riffs. Rob Markoff has some nice keyboard lines throughout, courtesy of a Moog Rogue and a Farfisa. Markoff and Botha take turns on lead vocals, depending on who wrote the song, and they each add backing vocals. Nerve Generator have no bass player because "there are no good single bass players around."
To put these songs on tape, Botha first records drums and rhythm guitar on two seperate tracks. The drums are recorded with one mic on the kick and two mics overhead, all going to track one. At the same time rhythm guitar goes to track two from a mic'd Fender Twin. On track three goes a second guitar and on track four goes the Moog. These tracks are then mixed down to DAT, which is then recorded to two tracks of a fresh cassette on the four-track. The remaining two tracks are used for more vocals and miscellaneous solos. By recording this way none of the tracks are bounced within the four-track, which Botha has found really affects the recording quality.
Nerve Generator is a band I'm looking forward to watching develop. The tape is available for $3.50. Nerve Generator also has an earlier 7-inch single available which is also $3.50. $6 will get you both the 7-inch and the cassette. In May, Nerve Generator plan to release a full-length CD (which will run $10). Write: Nerve Generator, PO Box 42784, Philadelphia, PA, 19101. E-mail: email@example.com.
BISHOP OF BATTLE
"Entertainment at any cost!" sing Bishop of Battle from a cold, computer driven future, as they "address man's constant search for new frontiers; no matter how hostile those frontiers may be."
Bishop of Battle is a four-piece (drums, 2 guitars, Moog Liberation as bass) Portland band that was formed by former members of Moon Patrol in late summer '97. Prequel's six songs were recorded and mixed at Gas House studio in North Portland over a week in December. Gas House has two ADAT's and a Mackie 24x8 board. Although Prequel itself was recorded quickly (even at $25 an hour most bands can't afford to be the Beatles at Abbey Road), Bishop of Battle must have done a lot of homework during the demo stage. They have a ?" Tascam 8-track and consider themselves to be primarily a studio band. The arrangements are really good and exciting. The most impressive quality about the band is it's tightness. Several musical avenues are explored within each song. There's tempo changes, instruments dropping in and out, and effective backing harmony vocals. And it all works.
Moon Patrol was blessed/cursed with the "new wave" tag early on. While these recent songs have a harder and noisier edge, the new wave description still fits Bishop of Battle. The songs are quick and jumpy. "Id Ego" reminds me of speeded up early U2. "Doomed Metropolis" is busy and noisy and sounds coldly futuristic. "Coldward and Stormward" has a great catchy chorus about the evolution of man's inventions.
Prequel can be ordered for $3.50 ppd. from Bishop Of Battle, 916 SE 13th Ave., Portland, OR, 97214. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE CORNELIUS BOOTS TRIO
New Series One
I know next to nothing about jazz or avant-garde music, but this tape sounds really good to my uneducated ears. The trio is Tarquin O. Bisquitbarrel on drums, Spayne on bass clarinet, and Cornelius Boots, also on bass clarinet. The recording is pretty basic: Boots is on the left at about 10:00 in the stereo spectrum, Spayne is on the right at 2:00, and Bisquitbarrel's drums reside pretty much in the middle. Nine of the the eleven intrumentals on New Series One were recorded to a single ADAT 8-track machine using high-quality microphones by Audio Technia and Neuman (a U-87). Boots explained to me that with jazz, unlike rock/alt/punk/etc., higher quality condenser mics are often necessary...