Solomon Green Back In The Recording Studio
01 April 2009
Another couple of days in the recording studio, finishing up the speedy job that will be the debut album from new beat combo The Strange Case of Solomon Green. What other bands spend months and years doing, we've done in four days. Recording done, most of the mixing finished, just have to complete the mixing on a couple of songs and then have the album mastered and we'll be ready for world domination. Of some sort.
Mixing is one of those things that the professionals and serious people spend many many more hours on than we did. They probably spend a month mixing a song. There are so many knobs and buttons on a mixing desk; with every effect that can be added to an instrument or vocal, there are endless possibilities inherent once the process has started; there's not just echo on a voice, there are an infinite number of degrees of echo. Apply this to other effects and to every instrument in the song, and it's obvious why the process can last several centuries.
The dynamic changes when you're paying for it yourself and you want to get everything done in a hurry. It's much more raw, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. However, even within the terms of a hurried mixing job like hours, it's still very much the engineer's preserve and a fairly passive process for the artist.
There's nothing like listening to your voice in isolation, over and over again, stripped of all effects, to make you want to be a drummer. Then at some points he will start with maximum effects - reverb or echo or some such - before gradually turning it down, and you sit there in a small room, your ears consumed by your own other-worldy voice, and it's like you are in an episode of some really bad 60's sci-fi show.
And then the engineer will make some incredibly slight change that only he can hear, and he turns to you with a look of excited expectation at the way his latest twiddle of a knob has altered the very fabric of the song, and he can immediately tell from your face that to you the thing sounds exactly the same as it did two and a half hours previously when he first started the process.
At some point over the last couple of days I realised that I quite enjoyed going to work. I live the usual life of a writer, I suppose, (not that I talk to many other writers). Get up, run after the kids until they're ready to get out the door, take them to school, come home, sit at a computer for six hours writing "hilarious and pointedly brilliant political satire", go and get the kids, do battle until bedtime. The six hours in the middle have no particular structure, however, and I realised yesterday that it was quite enjoyable to actually go somewhere and be working, and have TPCKAM pick the spawn up from school.
Then, on the very point of applying for a job somewhere so that I could give up writing and give my working day that structure that I obviously need after all this time, I suddenly realised that the reason I'd enjoyed the working day was because I'd been doing something incredibly cool. Recording is a cool job, much in the way that all sorts of other jobs aren't cool. And so, this morning, I held back the application for desk clerk and the one for Front Of House Cafe Assistant, and scurried back to my proof reading of a Barney Thomson book...