Sunday, July 10, 2011

Recording, mixing and production

Recording of the Obscure Film Music

One year ago, I wrote on a piece of paper the title of a dozen of film music tunes that were all musics that have influenced me at some point in my life. I filled the page with titles from the soundtracks of my youth, like John Carpenter's Escape from New-York, but also with things that I had discovered more recently such as the music of composer Stelvio Cipriani.

The goal was to pick my guitar and bass, a couple of computer programs and plug-ins, and with the help of my little home studio, to make a re-interpretation of these classic themes and see how I could render them. Initially, the idea was to arrange the songs in a way that I could eventually play live with a 4-5 pieces band. It quickly turned out to be a more complicated adventure when I used more than 6 different guitar tracks in the first song I recorded !

That first song was Ennio Morricone's Mystic and Severe recorded in april/may 2010.

Now, one year later,  I recorded practically all the songs that I had wrote on my list and even more !

Mixing for vinyl

On the way of doing this project, I came with the idea to produce a LP out of these. Would I be able to make it, from start to end, eventually handling in my hand my own vinyl ? That was a nice challenge.

With that goal in mind, I had to make some homeworks about the production. Indeed, you don't mix for vinyl like you would mix for a CD. The mixing process follows the recording with the purpose of balancing the levels and creatively enhance the tracks. At the end everything must blend in a consistent piece of music. You will EQ, compress, add reverb and effects, automate faders, cut and edit, group, arrange tracks together, route things to channel, pan left and right, etc... The objective is to create a final stereo track that will be sent to the mastering, wich is the last processing step before printing on the medium. In fact, you don't mix for vinyl with as much precaution as when you master for vinyl with very specific considerations (we'll see that later). But like in any job, it's good to understand what will happen next (in that case, at the mastering stage) so you can already adress certain things correctly and avoid many undesirable back and forth with the mastering engineer.

These considerations would take more space to explain in details.Quickly, they are such issues like : average sound level, maximum peak level, low frequency stereo phase, high frequency control, etc... Music is a lot of math and physic you know...

For the ones who are interested, here is a nice list of things to keep in mind when mixing for a vinyl release :

In the meantime, I subscribed to an overnight music recording and mixing course which turns out to be a very good thing to help my project to evolve. In fact, at the time I'm writing these lines, I'm still working on my mixes, because for most of them I just started over from scratch 2-3 times, always trying to enhance my production with the new skills I've learned in my courses. This means one thing : what will end up on the LP should be of a higher level of production than everything I uploaded on the internet so far (on Youtube for instance). So once you'll put the needle on and ear the comforting crackling of the vinyl, the music shall comes with all the warmth and presence that justify the use of this medium.

Well, that's what I'm still working on... :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Orgasmo Sonore goes Vinyl !

After more than one year of work on this project, I decided to take the big road : to release my music on the good old LP vinyl. There is no ambition to take over the world, really. It's a very personnal obsession : I HAVE to do this. And because there is a hell lot of details to take into account in the process, I thought I could share the experiences of the making.

When I say there is a hell lot of details, you have no idea. Let me remind you that I do this as a part time independant producer, between family and job. It's a lot of personnal investment that involve time and money and that can be frustrating for people around you. If my experience can inspire other people who are in the same kind of situation, with similar goals, I'd be very happy.

I'm already at a pretty advanced stage in the process. Enough advanced to affirm that this is going to happen. There will be a limited edition of Orgasmo Sonore - Revisiting Obscure Film Music Volume 1 available soon. But for the sake of that blog, I will rewind back a bit in time so you'll know every step that I had to deal with. These steps include :

  1. Recording of the songs
  2. Mixing and production
  3. Copyright matters
  4. Mastering and cutting the lacquer
  5. Making of the cover design
  6. Printing of the jacket
  7. Pressing the LP
  8. Release and distribution
 As I said, I am dealing personaly with everyone of these steps, but along the course of it, I am also calling for the help of professionals in the different fields. One of the best advantages of  auto-production is that I can take all the decisions with whom I'm going to work with. I have 100% control of my project. However, It can be confusing to wear multiple hats, sometimes the musician, sometimes the producer and sometimes the sound engineer. So for instance, I will definitively send the music to someone else for the mastering. And I can also count on one of my good internet bodies Davidfromlille to design the cover. Working alone is fun, working with collaborators at specific step is clever.

Now, curious about this project ? Let me give you a nice teaser. Following is the complete and definitve songs list that will goes on this volume 1.

1. Mistico e Severo (Ennio Morricone - Da Uomo a Uomo/Inglourious Basterds)
2. Deshominisation I (Alain Goraguer - Fantastic Planet)
3. Escape from New-York main titles (John Carpenter - Escape from New-York)
4. Under the Earth (Alejandro Jodorowsky - El Topo)
5. Zombi 2 - seq 1 (Fabio Frizzi - Zombi 2)

6. La Dolce Sandra (Stelvio Cipriani - Solamente Nero)
7. l'Atesa (Stelvio Cipriani - Incubo Sulla Citta Contaminata)
8. Ecologia del Delitto (Stelvio Cipriani - Bay of Blood)
9. Connexion (Goblin - Alien Contamination)
10. Chaser (Piero Umiliani - Il Corpo)
11. Klaus Kinski (Orgasmo Sonore)
12. Jean-Pierre Melville (Orgasmo Sonore)

How about it ? This is really intent for the fans of these old soundtracks and I'm putting all the love and respect I have for this music into the making of it. I promess it will be a very nice object to hold in you hands and obviously a nice disc to listen to !!

Stay tuned for more details about it !!