Summer Mixing 2014

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

Following a short family break to France, I got back in the studio & stuck straight into mixing the latest project for AudioNetwork (plus a couple of extra tracks) – Dirt Rock.

After a few days away from the studio, it’s always hard getting back into the swing of things… I often find myself asking ‘what if I’ve forgotten how to do it…? Which bit? All of it!’, but it soon comes flooding back & before you know it you’re strapped into the mixing chair being ‘Wizard of Oz’ and it’s all coming together and sounding great… Then, after a few weeks, you feel like you need a break… again…

I jest of course… I love what I do, and there’s so much good music going on right now that it’s easy to forget the ‘man-hours’ that goes into making the music and albums.  But it’s a great learning experience… trying new ideas, approaches & different takes on the whole process. Always fun, never dull (with the added exception of maybe Melodyne)… Of course, you have your ‘face-palm’ moments but generally making music really is the best job in the world!

Thanks for stopping by… more new music coming soon…

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NEW MUSIC ‘Garage Rock Gods’ Album Released

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6 brand new songs featuring 49 versions, ‘Garage Rock Gods‘ is released today!

  • Crash Down – Triumphant rock anthem with chugging guitars & emotional male vocal
  • Do It All – Punk rock with stabbing guitars, reflective male vocal & anthemic chorus
  • Real Life – Twisted rock with double time chorus, insistent male vocal & enticing lyrics
  • No Regrets – Hard & fast rock anthem with screaming guitars & rebellious male vocal
  • When You’re Famous – Stadium rock anthem with male vocal singing about an unrequited love
  • We’re Unbreakable – Rock anthem with emotional male vocal & powerful half time chorus

To read all about the making of this album go here… ‘Big Drums, Big Guitars & Big Vocals

As always… please listen to & download the tracks.

Thanks for stopping by…

NEW MUSIC ‘Rock with the Top Down’ Album Released

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Today sees the release of the much blogged about MOR Symphonic Rock album ‘Rock with The Top Down‘.
6 brand new songs and 74 versions in total, with huge production and sound.

Free Your Mind – Sunny 1970’s symphonic pop song about enjoying life & letting go. Male vocal

A New Beginning – Feel-good, classic 70’s MoR symphonic pop with positive lyrics & male vocal

Join As One – Uplifting symphonic pop song with lyrical strings & optimistic male vocal

You And Me Forever – Epic symphonic pop romantic ballad with lyrical strings & male vocal

Dust From A Star – Uplifting pop ballad with rich strings, male vocal & floating on air lyrics

Wishing – Anthemic symphonic pop ballad with lush strings & emotional male vocal

To read more about the making of this album below… It’s been an epic journey…

As always, please listen to & download the albums.

Thanks for stopping by…

A Month of Writing New Projects & Sessions…

Composing

It’s been a solitary month…

Following on from a hectic release schedule, album launch concerts and gatherings, this month sees me locked away in StudiOK working on ideas for new projects.

Whilst many of you are outside enjoying the beginning of a good old British Summer, the humble musician takes to locking themselves away in a darkened room, where the only tan you get is from staring at their computer monitors. It could be deepest Winter out there for all we know…

I do write music on my own, but it’s always more fun to work with others, as they bring along ideas you might never have considered for a project, plus the obvious camaraderie.

This month I’ve been working on tracks for various future albums which will see me busy writing, recording & mixing through to the end of 2014 and beyond.

One of the projects is a Bhaṅgṛā Fusion album with my good friend Prem Joseph. A relatively new style for me, but something Prem has a deep knowledge and understanding of. Prem is a well established Indian music specialist with roots in India and uses India based musicians for his work.

I’m also writing some funky 70’s music with Kes Loy and coaxing Lucy Kimmings into providing some suitably syrupy vocals…
Pop Drum & Bass, Dirt Rock… plus a few others, are also in the pipeline.

© Barrie Gledden 2014

© Barrie Gledden 2014

I’ve also been busy with drum session work. Drums are my main instrument (insert gag here) and I play on a good few tracks for others. I’m presently lending my drumming hand to a project with Richard Lacy. Richard has a great approach to music, I’d almost describe it as organic… his songs tend to evolve & develop and it’s always nice to approach his work in the same way he does. It’s very rarely a straight forward ‘play through’… it’s soundscapes and changing kit sounds & textures. Challenging for a musician, but very rewarding.

Here’s an example email from Richard describing what he visioned for a track…
‘It’s a steady 7/8 time. Needs to feel a bit like a 6/8 with an extra beat. I had this idea that in some places, we could move the snare by one beat in each successive bar. ie. snare on 2, then 3, then 4, then 5 etc.’…
I had a slight chuckle to myself when I read his direction… but dya know what? I knew exactly what he was after… It sure beats the old ‘… er… the mix… could you slow it down by 2dB?’

There are a further 3 albums about to be released for AudioNetwork in the coming months, which I’ll blog about when they are available.

SO, a busy time indeed, but I’m not drowning, just waving…

Thanks for stopping by…

The J.J. Binns Organ in Providence Church – A Centenary Celebration with Dr. Gordon Stewart

J.J. Binns Organ

The J.J. Binns Organ in Providence Church, New Mills

In March 2000, I was working as part of the ‘house band’ on an episode of the BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’ from The Showcase Cinema in Leeds.

Conducting that day was Dr. Gordon Stewart. This was the first time I’d met Gordon, as it happens, it was also the night I would meet my future wife… but that’s a very different story.

Not only is Gordon a fantastic musician, he just so happens to be one of the leading lights in the world of Church and Cathedral organs. In the years following our initial meeting, Gordon and I have worked on various organ recordings all over the UK, and been involved with post-production on some from abroad.

I have to confess, before working with Gordon, my knowledge of organ music was very limited… I didn’t really understand the workings and what’s actually involved in such a monolithic instrument. I learned quickly and have been given various ‘behind the pipes’ looks at a good number of ‘classic’ organs.

Organ recording really is the epitome of Mohamed going to The Mountain. They ain’t moving… so if you want to record one, you’re going to have to travel.

Gordon @ Huddersfield Town Hall

Dr. Gordon Stewart at the console of the Huddersfield Town Hall 1860 Father Willis Organ

Luckily, I have at my disposal (thanks in most part, to some very kind musician friends) an excellent mobile recording setup. Technology allows the use of a laptop as a ‘tape machine’ and through various microphones, pre-amps & 500 series outboard equipment, I’m able capture the essence of the organ & it’s environment, without the need for the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.

Whilst the organ is what you’re there to record, the surrounding acoustic space is really what makes the instrument sound the way it does. There are various microphone ‘techniques’ aimed at this type of recording, and whilst I observe the ‘dos and don’ts’ I always find it best when arriving at a recording session of this type, to wander around the space & simply use my ears to work out best positioning for microphones. Too close to the pipes & you end up with a very unbalanced sound, too far away & all you hear is the ‘space’… it’s not rocket science, but get it wrong and you’ll know about it when you get the sessions back to the controlled environment of the studio.

The organ is a dynamic instrument; from ear shatteringly loud, to whisper quiet all within a single piece. It’s important to make sure you have enough ‘head room’ when recording, as you don’t want to lose a take by not allowing for this and clipping the pre-amps.  Get your levels & stick with them… when it comes to the final edit… you’ll be glad you did as you won’t have to match up differing recording levels.

A major consideration is also the ambient noise.  The mics are so sensitive, even the placing of a coffee cup on a table during a take is a ‘no-no’. The positioning of a Church or Cathedral isn’t something you can do anything about, and we often fall foul to environmental factors beyond our control.

Here’s a few examples of some of the things Gordon and I have encountered during our sessions…

  • We’ve recording in Hastings where gulls cries were a constant annoyance (though arguably part of the ‘soundscape’)
  • Dewsbury where, ironically, Gordon was recording an album to raise money for the replacement roof lead which had been stolen. We had to stop constantly due to water dripping through the ceiling onto plastic sheets placed there to protect the Church floor…
  • At Huddersfield Town Hall, which is adjacent to a sub-bus station, we had to contend with squealing bus brakes
  • Clifton Cathedral was open to the public during recording so had constant traffic & slamming doors…

The list goes on… but basically, it’s my job to try to get the best recorded ‘clean’ take without any ambient interference to ruin the final recording.

Of course, before any recording is possible, Gordon spends days if not weeks preparing for a recording. Choosing the repertoire, having the organ tuned, preparing the organ stops and voicings, organising page turners, etc. It all takes a lot of planning.

At the end of April Gordon & I headed over to Providence Church in New Mills to record an album in celebration of the 100 year centenary of the J.J. Binns organ that’s stationed there.  We chose a Bank holiday Monday to limit any unwanted outside noise and Gordon set himself the challenge of recording the whole album in 1 day. Normally for such projects, Gordon allow himself a couple of days recording. The pieces he chooses are often taxing and involve lots of stop changes, and it’s important to make sure every piece, movement or variation is recorded and faultless before moving on to the next.

At providence, we got cracking as soon as I set up the Mobile Studio (plus cup of tea), and had everything we needed recorded & ready for editing by early evening.
The time on preparation Gordon put in really paid off. For example, Gordon recorded his practice days before I arrived to ensure the balance of the organ voices were as he wanted them for each piece. It’s all in the fingers… & feet apparently…

Editing took place last week in my studio (StudiOK) & the album has been mastered and sent to manufacture ready for release on 7th June – a very fast turn around for any album project – 6 weeks from recording to release.

Huddersfield Town Hall's Father Willis Organ

Huddersfield Town Hall’s Father Willis Organ

As I write, Gordon and I are in the process of putting together a ‘Big Cathedral Organ’ project for AudioNetwork and discussing the possibility of recording the 1889 Charles Anneessens organ at Priory Church of St. Mary in Bridlington. Watch this space for more details.

Gordon has a website highlighting his work & recordings – www.gordonstewart.org

The album recorded at Providence Church, New Mills will shortly be available here – www.gordonstewart.org/recordings

Thanks for taking the time to stop by…

‘Songs from The Rockface’ Album Released

Songs from The Rockface

Once in a while you get your teeth stuck into a really tasty project that has you grinning from ear to ear, and a feeling of excitement right from the very first chord… ‘Songs from The Rockface‘ was one such project.

In mid 2013, Jason Pedder and I started work on a rock project for AudioNetwork. Rock is something I really enjoy… the ‘80s Hair Rock‘ & ‘Modern Rock Anthems‘ albums being two recent projects in this, very wide, genre.

This time though, I felt we needed something a little different. A little edgier & ‘now’… more a Zeitgeist of rock music.

We threw ideas around between us & got the arrangements in pretty good shape, but what we really needed was a standout singer, someone to take it further, someone to ‘make’ the project.
Jason & I approached Gavin Conder to get involved. Gavin is a great singer & what he produces lyrically, musically and sonically, I always find interesting.

On this album, Gavin’s lyrics go from gambling, to Vampires, to the development of Mankind, to  insanity. I took Gavin’s lead and included a song about nightmares… Hardly a romantic album is it?

Initial recordings from various studios were assembled together and the project mixed here at StudiOK.  Mixing took many weeks, if not months; the result of which has now been released, and can be heard here.

Track by track…

Lady Luck – Hard rock song with male vocal about a high pressure poker game

Run Away – Powerful rock with punctuated riffs & male vocal about nightmares

Immortals – Heavy rock song about the legend of the immortals (vampires). Male vocal

Insanity – Dark, powerful heavy rock song with disturbed yet resolute male vocal

Future Unlimited – Gritty heavy rock song with male vocal about mankind’s progress & future

True Grit – Stomping muscular rock with heavy guitars & off-beat drums & bass

 If you like what you hear… you know what to do…
Thanks for stopping by…

New Album ‘Spirit Of New Orleans’ Released for AudioNetwork

Spirit of New Orleans

 

In 2013, David Tobin headed over to the good ol’ U.S. of A. to record a number of albums in New Orleans for AudioNetwork, with his Chicago based writing partner, Jeff Meegan.

They wanted to use players & musicians that really had the ‘spirit and feel’ for the music made in the city, and so what better way than to head on over and find the best cats in town…?

Here’s a video of their trip…

 

I’d already worked with Jeff & David on another recording from the same sessions; ‘Authentic Cajun‘, released in November 2013 – blog here

I was called upon to initially mix 5 of the 7 tracks on the ‘Spirit of New Orleans‘ album.
However, on hearing what I could bring to the table sonically, I eventually ended up mixing them all! Mixing was done here at ‘StudiOK‘.

I had a lot of fun with this album… The music is so uplifting and always has a great groove…

Creating ‘versions’ for other usage was a blast, as they’d recorded special arrangements with different orchestrations with this specifically in mind.

Hear the album here… ‘Spirit of New Orleans

Song by song…

Back to My Roots – Grooving bar room blues with vocal by New Orleans legend, Big Al Carson

Captain Crawfish – Funky New Orleans piano with hot brass, cool Hammond & blazing blues guitar

I Climbed – Brooding Delta blues song about adversity & hope with male vocal

Meterman – Freewheeling jazz piano with a New Orleans backbeat & tasty guitar solo

Loving You Undercover – Laid back 70s funk song with punchy horns & infatuated US male vocal

Mid City Midnight – Driving blues shuffle with distorted harmonica & guitar lick trade-offs

Know It All – Feel-good 1970s funky jazz/RnB fusion with horn section melody & piano

As always, these tracks are there for you to use in productions & to buy for your own personal listening pleasure… so please do…

 

Next blog – Songs from The Rockface