Re-focusing a recording: having set out to capture a live-band feel when tracking, our engineer is tasked with steering the mix in a more polished pop direction.
Regular readers will know that I’ve written a few times about my recording and mixing adventures with Bristol-based band the Travis Waltons, and I’ve worked closely with the band’s songwriter Daniel Flay on a number of albums over the last few years. While I do worry a little that they’re in danger of becoming the SOS house band (I prefer to think of us as ‘long-term collaborators’!), I want to return to them here, as there are a few useful points of discussion to draw out of their latest project. This had started out as a reasonably straight-up indie-rock affair, and I described in SOS September 2016 (sosm.ag/sn-0916) how we tracked the drums for the album over a single weekend. The intention was that this album would be much more ‘raw’ than previous offerings, and that it would more closely reflect the band’s live shows.
But ideas evolve, and as the technology we now have at our fingertips allows us to change the course of a project with frightening ease, we ended up experimenting with various approaches to fill out the band’s sound. And, eventually, we found ourselves heading towards a much more lavish, layered and ‘produced’ sound. This month, I want to write about a few of the techniques that I employed to achieve this, and also to reflect on the issues this sort of ‘reinventing’ work throws up for engineers. While it puts us in an increasingly influential position, how do you decide where and when to stop?
There was one song on the album, ‘Bright...
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