Fiona Hall's Wrong Way Time - *Recently I’d been thinking about significant contemporary Australian artists and concluded that Fiona Hall is at the top of my list.* I think it was 1991 ...
This week the Disquiet Junto incorporates a technique used by Walter Murch.
The idea is to exaggerate the reverb of a space by recording playback sped up with a recorder that slows it down again. I think the result is meant to stretch the resonance of the space, while keeping the original recording relatively unpitched.
It reminded me of a technique I'd tried that's attributed to Alvin Lucier in 'Sitting in a room', where you record room reverb on room reverb on room reverb. That didn't really get the bell-like tone described in my effort.
Similarly the result this week wasn't as described and I think both examples share a common failing in using digital recording rather than analogue tape.
When Marc proposed the Junto I began thinking of what vocal recording I'd use. I suggested this on his Facebook post and he replied that an instrument could be interesting. This led me to drums as I was thinking I might get a big 'When the levee breaks'-type reverb.
Then it occurred to me that stretching a digital recording would produce a bitcrushing-like effect, as stretching data is a lot less musical than slowing analogue.
I persisted though, curious to hear the effect. Using drums recently recorded for the track 'A friend's eye...', I used the Ocean Way reverb that mimics the famous recording studio. My thinking was that it was a lot less time-consuming than setting up speakers to record, so if it worked then it'd be more likely that I'd use it as in-the-box technique.
The result of speeding up the drums to double-time, adding reverb and then slowing the recording down did create a kind of bitcrushing effect. So I thought it would be interesting to contrast this result with drums at normal speed and also at half-time.
In the resulting remix of my track, the drums sped up with reverb and then slowed down open and close the track. In the chorus you can hear drums with reverb added at normal speed.
In the middle section, you can hear drums with reverb added while stretched to twice their length. The result in the latter is snappy, particularly when contrasted with the big sound in the chorus. There's something in their sound that reminded me of drums sampled by The Chemical Brothers, which would make sense as their early stuff probably sampled and sped up breaks from funk like those used in hiphop.
I used gating on all three drum parts to remove much of the original room ambience. The two bass guitar parts were added to give a song structure to the result and, hopefully, take attention away from my drumming. (In the original song I layered three takes on the drums and then added a lot of reverb to hide inconsistencies in my playing.)
Finally, I added a reverb shimmer to the bass part. Then I added a resonator effect that fades in during the track to add more interest. The result sounds like the drums get closer then move away again.
The haiku shared by Naviar this week called for something a bit spooky.
I'd been playing around with chords on the bass guitar and this morning settled on the key F#.
This is the third take, so it wasn't entirely improvised but I wasn't at the point of following an established song yet.
In Ableton Live I added a couple of reverbs, one to mimic a room to fatten the tone and another for the high-pitched ambience. I also used EQs to filter the lower frequencies, which can be overpowering even when playing higher notes.
The haiku from Naviar this week reminded me of a line I'd seen in a friend's toilet that 'a friend's eye is a good mirror'.
I came up with the chord progression last weekend while lying around in my tent while camping.
There are lyrics I'd written for the song but my voice is still croaky from a recent 'flu.
Three drums takes, three acoustic guitar takes, two bass takes and two electric guitar takes are layered up in this recording. All takes were unedited other than adding them together.
The Disquiet Junto this week asked for a recording of a single source using three microphones. I opted to use an electric toothbrush through three very different mics: a stereo Rode NT4, a blender motor and a contact microphone.
The stereo mic is heard first and, aside from my partner typing and my heavy breathing, it captures the toothbrush being switched on and moving around a bit.
The blender motor captures the electromagnetic field of the toothbrush, mostly a high-pitched whine of the motor. It drops in pitch a little as I push the spinning part against the inside of the coil, creating resistance.
The contact microphone is a deeper sound as it is capturing the vibrations directly from the chassis of the toothbrush. In effect this bypasses the air molecules that would normally come between a source and a microphone, so in a way it places the listener's head against the sound source.
These were all treated to a little reverb, mostly to give a sense of stereo to the mono sound sources, as well as EQ and limiting and compression.