Ramblin’ Man

Hope you’re having a great holiday season. I’ve been unplugged from reality more or less for the past week.  One more week of non linear life and then back to reality.  I’m writing this in the back seat of my truck while we drive across the frozen tundra of Illinois (ironically Frozen is on the video thing – which my daughter will happily watch on loop).  On my musical front Work progresses on the relic tele. It’s coming out about how I’ve envisioned – possibly even older looking. I’m waiting for a things to arrive but all in all, assuming the electronics go off without a hitch this is shaping up to be a best-of-class project for me. I’ve been encouraged to pursue these relics as a business— start a LLC and start doing made to orders.  I have to give that some more thought and perfect the process a bit more but insofar I’m not opposed to going commercial.

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In music news- a Derision Cult EP is coming together. I’ve been tracking vocals and mixing this past week. I still have a bit of production work to do but on the whole it’s working out. I’ve taken a new approach to vocals on this one. I’ve always struggled to get this wide/gang vocal sound.  Think Ministry So What or Rob Zombie Dracula. I think I’ve come the closest I’ve come. I’ve always tucked a heavily pitch corrected track under the main vocal to tighten things up…now I put  3 stereo tracks of vocals under it as well…these are shifted up 3, 6 and 12 cents on the right and left sides alternating and then shifted down those same intervals on the opposite sides. The net effect is a really wide sound without an obvious chorus effect. Then, because it’s industrial, I muck it all up with various tape sats, vocal shreds and various slap echo things courtesy of my trusty Eventide H3000.  But left to its own device it’s obvious to me that alternating shift trick is all over the place. I hear it on the last couple Jason Isbell albums,  Ben Howard records…basically anywhere the vocal needs to be huge even if the singer isn’t belting it out.  The downside to this approach is that it takes a big load of CPU to generate all that pitch shifting. So it’s a bit of a challenge playing everything back if you do this a lot.

anyhow…some samples, guitar solos and a couple vocal tracks still need tracking but I’d say by Feb it should be live. I seem to put my best work out that month so I have high hopes for this one!

Things are happening!

Well Imminent Domains is out the door and finding it’s way in the world, so I’m well onto my next things.

The guitar build I mentioned is well underway. In my opinion the relic’ing has been a raging success. I took it to a much greater extreme than I originally intended but it felt right so I went with it. Here’s where I’m at now:

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I aged the hardware with muriatic acid and started aging the wood with vinegar/steel wool as well as a coffee/tea mix. This plan started life with a pickguard but the aging just wasn’t working out. There’s a guy in Canada that makes Tele pickguards out of reclaimed scrap metal I was going to hit up but in the end that felt like it’d be fake.  I beat the body up grinding it on my bar in the backyard and gave it a good chiseling. Sometime this week it’ll get a teak oil finish. I’ve never done a whole guitar with that but i think it’ll work well here. Teak, in my experience darkens the finish and the guitar could be a lot darker to my tastes.

Next up on this is to relic the pickups (still waiting on parts for that), making sure the neck aligns and wiring this bad boy up.  Looking forward to seeing it come together.

in other news work is proceeding well on the next Derision Cult album.  I tracked a bunch of vocals today and tried some new techniques (I’m trying to find ways to not destroy my voice).  I still have a few more to go which I hope to have wrapped up on Wednesday. Then there’s the long process of treating all those vox (DC is by far my heaviest treated vocals…chains get 10-12 effects long all the time).  I’d say it’s entirely possible this could be out in February.

Couple of new production approaches on this one. First I stopped obsessing over being down the middle and embraced the stereo field. Lotta hard pans. I was worried about phasing because I’d compared tracks to commercial mixes in a goniometer and they looked totall mono. I chalked that up to perfect phasing but I think I may have just been loading the tracks wrong. Anyhow I like the really wide sound so that’s that. The OTHER change is that I tracked guitar last. That’s the opposite of how I worked previously. Normally I’d lay down riffs and build the track around them. I still write on a guitar but I lay in bass and drums and some basic synth sounds first. I did this with the last Sys Machine project and it was much tighter and I dunno? Robotic?  It also gave me some new ideas and guitars are a lot more textural here.

As far as the tracks themselves…it’s both the heaviest and most melodic album I’ve done as Derision Cult. I deliberately tried to make the drums very Machine like— so no swing and very little AI stuff like Apple drums. It’s also a lot more drum synth heavy vs real samples.  My goal was to basically make the tracks sound like what they are verse fooling the listener into thinking they’re hearing real drums.  That’s not to say it sounds like the sugar hill gang but you should be able to tell you’re hearing a drum machine.

I also put guitar melody lines over things which really brought out a new grandiose sound. It also ties the tracks together.

After vocals I still have some guitar solos and production work (samples etc) and then we’ll mix this bad boy. I’ll definitely take some learnings from Sys Machine….particularly around effect automation…very happy with how that worked out on Imminent Domains