AUDIO ALCHEMY

Various Artists (Ubiquity)

I was ready to dismiss the whole trip-hop/dub whatever thing as a waste of time until I heard this stuff.  You can tell there's people out there who have been listening to Byrne and Eno's ...Bush of Ghosts and Sly and Robbie's old dub experiments (check out Reggae Greats).  Hell, I even heard some Pink Floyd samples from The Wall at one point.  None of these artists have made a huge name for themselves yet, and somehow the songs flow together well like a real album, so check this stuff out for some amazing work. 

 

BETTIE SERVEERT

Dust Bunnies (Matador)

The third album from this fine Amsterdam combo finds them in the Bearsville Studios of Woodstock, NY, with Bryce Goggin behind the board.  Now, I really, really like the first two Bettie albums, and I listened to them a lot and turned folks onto them, but I got real tired of that voice-through-the-flanger trick.  I don't know if it was the producer or the band but Jesus, turn the damn thing off!  Bryce is an excellent engineer, check out those recent Pavement records that he "engineered" for proof.  (How come no one ever produces a Pavement record?  Look for the answer in a future issue of Tape Op.)  Anyway, he helps give the Serveert family the best recorded sound yet with clearer dynamics and more distinct instruments sounds...not to mention no damn flanger on the vocals.  Yeah, I've been listening to this a lot, too.

 

THE REVELERS

The following is an excerpt from an article by Mike McDonald — a portable recording studio owner (Big Toe) in Cleveland.

The Revelers are a rare treat:  A band in the true sense of the word.  An "us against the world" attitude pervades everything:  their beer selection, their songwriting, their dress, their live shows, their equipment, their van, and their ideas about recording.  Andrej and Joel both sing and play guitar, Tommy drums, and George plays bass.  Whenever we spoke about recording over the past few months, it always reminded me of a Tape Op article.  Hence, the interview.

 

Mike:  Let's see... You guys have recorded on 24-track, 16-track, 8-track analogue, 8-track ADAT, and cassette 4-track, unless you've done something else I'm not aware of, which do you prefer?  Do you have a preference at all?

Joel:  I don't know... There's certain things that I like about all the different recording experiences.

Andrej:  (Laughing) You're the perfect guy to answer that question!  "There's certain things I like about everything."

Joel:  Ummm... Ahhhh...

Mike:  Well, you seem to like your 4-track recordings more, from what I understand.

Joel:  Yeah!

Mike:  Why so?

Tommy:  I think that weíre more relaxed recording in our own space, and I think thatís what comes across when we are recording like that.  Weíre more confident with doing 4-track.

Andrej:  Well, that could just be not being on the clock... A money thing, you know?  It's just in the back of your mind.  Maybe that's what it is.  I don't know, it's weird.  It is a different atmosphere for sure.

Joel:  The 4-track recordings seem to sound more like what I, personally anyway, imagine us sounding like, whereas once you get into a 24-track studio like Kramer's, it's just so... ahhhh...

Tommy:  They're intimidating!  So much you can do!

Joel:  Plus, you're standing out there in the studio, playing your guitar through this amplifier, and it sounds, you know, great!  Then you hear it back on the tape, and it doesn't sound good at all.  Whereas on 4-track...

Andrej:  I don't know if that's true, though.  I mean, that stuff sound pretty much the way it sound, you just don't get it all muddied up and distorted.  Maybe that's the thing.

Mike:  you think 4-track is more forgiving?

Andrej:  I think it blends everything together.

Tommy:  Plus, I think what happens is that a lot of times, if you really have the time to work with the final mix, then 24-track is the way to go, but I think we've had bad experiences where we've had all these options, but not enough time to spend to really get the sounds we were looking for.

Mike:  Bad experiences just because you didn't have the cash?

Tommy:  Sure, sure.

Andrej:  It also could be that the style of music that we play just doesn't sound good like some other stuff sounds great, like done really separated and clean.  I keep thinking, I don't know what to compare it to... You know how you see a realistic painting of a cheesy landscape?  No matter how good it is, it's cheesy.  I think that if you screw it up a little, maybe you take the cheese out of it.  If you polished us up, we'd just look like any other band.....

 

A FAMILIAR PROBLEM?

"If I had ever learned to read music, I don't know whether I would have gotten as hung up on recording, and if I wasn't as hung up on tape recording as I was, I don't think I would have learned to write."  -Pete Townshend, from Behind Blue Eyes, the life of Pete Townshend.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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