Julius Smack has one of the most beautiful voices and was one of the most amazing people I met during my time in Norway. Hailing from Los Angles, his creamy voice and use of electronic samples tickle the ears. For this single, he wanted to try using acoustic instruments mixed into his soundscape. Along with Elisabeth “Busy” Ganges of Telepathe we recorded organ, percussion, drums, clarinet, violin, flute, oboe and vocals with “intention of crafting an ambiguity between past and future sounds”.
This single was completed with funding and support from the Rogaland Kunstsenter in Stavanger, Norway.
You can check out “Before it Is” and previous Julius Smack releases on the Practical Records label on Bandcamp or order the vinyl as of today.
This post comes at the end of 7.5 days of hard work, laughs, and great sounding tracks that will make up part of the debut LP for Victoria/Vancouver based band, Bridal Party. It felt good to be back in a studio this week and especially to be working with pop-style group after a year of almost entirely jazz and classical recordings.
I’d been to Infinitistudios once before with my recording class back when I was in university. It was fun to return not just as an observing student, but as the session engineer on a project. We had some great toys to play with too, including some great vintage mics and one of my new favourite discoveries, the Shadow Hills Equinox, which became a quick favourite as a vocal preamp for its depth and clarity.
Bridal Party recently finished up their first cross Canada tour and is already gearing up for their fall shows in Victoria, Vancouver, and Nanaimo. Their songs are catchy and energetic, musically interesting, and totally original– I can’t wait to hear the finished album. It already sounds incredible.
You can check out Bridal Party’s current discography on Bandcamp and follow them on the Facebook.
During my internship at Galaxy Studios, one of the busiest days we had was a press event for Toontrack’s new Superior Drummer 3. Up until now, I haven’t been able to talk about the software; but, now that it’s been officially announced I can tell you it’s incredible (as are the people behind it).
I wasn’t in Belgium for the recording, but we did have to recreate the recording setup to demonstrate how the sounds were captured. There was also a lot of technical setup behind the presentations and demos that took place in nearly every room at Galaxy. Along with the team from Toontrack and writers from all the major audio magazines, George Massenburg, who produced the sample recordings, was there to prepare for the event and present the software. It was really amazing to meet such an industry legend and he definitely knows a thing or two about sound!
The new Superior Drummer has a sample library capable of not only stereo playback, but also multi-channel playback– all the way up to 11.1! Having heard the 11.1 capabilities, I can tell you it sounds great and will be very useful for game/audio/VR applications.
Probably the most exciting feature of Superior Drummer 3 is called “Tracker”. This sound recognition AI allows you to input an audio file and it will then pick out the individual hi-hat, kick, snare, tom, ride, and cymbal hits with a great deal of accuracy. Great if you want to replace the drum track of an old recording or if you want to isolate the drum line of one of your favourite songs. During the press event, they used Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” as an example and isolated Neil Peart’s drum line. It sounded great and was a good way to win over my Canadian heart!
Sometimes, it’s tremendously funny to look back and see where we’ve ended up.
Back in October 2015, I walked into the 139th AES Convention in New York City and heard the term “immersive audio” for the first time. Now, a year and a half later, I found myself interning at one of it’s key players: Galaxy Studios, the home of the Auro 3D format.
I had been feeling unhappy in the program I was enrolled in in Norway, and on the advice of my friend at Sonovo mastering, I send an email to Galaxy Studios seeing if they needed an intern. And low and behold, the timing was right! So at the end of March, I packed up my bags and moved from Norway to Belgium where I’ll be living in (yes *in*) Galaxy for the better part of the next three months.
I’ve never been in a studio like this in my life. All of the control rooms are suspended on springs, and there is 9cm thick glass in the main hall and between the control rooms making everything totally isolated and soundproof. There is a video documenting the construction of the studio and in it, Wilfried van Baelen, who co-founded the studio with his brother, Guy, fires a blank in the hall while others stand in one of the control rooms. They can’t here the gun go off.
The hall itself is near silent and has a very nice sound that can be modified with curtains. The Steinway piano it houses is one of the most beautiful sounding pianos I’ve ever heard. I try playing it when no one’s around, but I’m definitely not doing it justice.
There are two main control rooms, a digital and an analog room. The digital room, used for most of the recordings in the hall, hosts a Neve 88D. It’s definitely easy to see why a digital console is so convenient for these large scoring projects– you can store and recall all your settings easily! The analog room contains an API Vision console which I’m already in love with. It has a great sound and despite the convenience of the digital board, I’m a sucker for patch bays and knobs. This board in particular was a prototype and apparently one of the first boards capable of mixing in 5.1! I’ve been using it to remix some of my 9.1 recordings from Norway earlier this year. There is also a really beautiful mastering room where Darcy Proper used to work, but I’m told it’s seldom used anymore which is really a pity.
Outside of the music department there is one more really amazing room– the Aurotorium. This room is a full sized dubbing stage equipt with the ability to playback up to 22.1! The first time I heard the Auro demo in this room I was blown away. It’s a rare thing to be able to hear content played back this way!
So far things have started out a bit slow here, but it’s still great to be in this facility for the next 3 months. I’ve been adopted by the post production department mostly to help with editing so far, which I’m happy to do. There are some larger scale film projects happening here and it’s interesting to sit in on projects of this scale. On the music side we just finished recording music for a new attraction at Madurodam, a theme park in the Netherlands. We have a couple of musicals coming up and at least one film scoring session. Should be fun!
I’ve had a really amazing opportunity this past week to sit in with tonmeister Ulrike Schwartz and professor/engineer Jim Anderson while they record the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra’s (SSO’s) next CD release. Being around engineers with so much experience is really amazing, plus the symphony and hall are world class. It’s a real treat.
I’ve also had the opportunity to listen the last album they recorded with the SSO of Brahms Symphony No 2 in 5.1. The surround channels really add a lot to the overall sound, especially considering how great the hall is. They did record it (and are recording this time as well) in 9.1, but a 9.1 version has yet to be released. The setup for the 9.1 is different from what I’ve seen before. We are using a traditional decca tree with surround mics, but we are only recording the height channels for the front here, and even those are not directly above the LCR. The rear channels are being recorded at the 3rd row of the symphony, above the room microphones. We only have a 5.1 playback in the control room, but I’m really curious to see how this sounds with the microphones so spread out. I suspect it will create a natural rear reverb. It would be interesting to try this and compare it with using an AB cube like the one 2L is using.
I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about the music they are recording as the CD won’t be out for a while, but it is a symphony by a Norwegian composer and more modern than Brahms. We are using over 40 microphones in total with some very nice ones including TLM50s on the decca. Most of the spots are KM 140s and 84s which I found surprising because I expected more diversity between the choices for winds and brass, etc; however, it did make our lives much easier when we had to strike everything in the middle of the week and then reset it the next day because of another event in the hall. Also, the gear was rented and brought in, so this makes sense.
I can’t wait to hear the finished result. I’m just helping out with setup and running around as needed, but watching the interplay between the composer, engineer, tonmeister, and Pyramix operator is really interesting. Also, there are lots of gummy bears, which if you ask me, are super important for any audio work ;).