The audio files on this page accompany Session Notes, which appeared in SOS July 2013 (/sos/jul13/articles/session-notes-0713.htm).
'Kalvis' showcases Reckless Play's full range of unconventional percussion. At the start of the song you can hear Conor tapping his guitar (left channel) and Anja on coffee table (right channel). Kick drum and shaker enter later. All three band members take it in turns to sing lead; as you can hear, Conor's voice (left channel) still sounds quite sibilant despite being recorded on a smooth dynamic mic and heavily de-essed.
'Through A Thousand Miles' and 'Get Spirits, Live Longer' probably gave the school piano a better workout than it had experienced for some time, and as you can hear, the tuning is pretty dodgy, especially at the low end. The former is a nice showcase for Anja's powerful voice — the wordless backing vocals were overdubbed later — while the latter features three-part harmonies sung live all the way through. 'In The Car', featuring Conor on lead vocal, is an interesting contrast, as the minimal piano part was overdubbed on the Nord rather than played on the real instrument. Not having to have the piano mics open makes the overall sound quite a bit tighter, but some of the excitement of a live performance is perhaps lost.
Singer and guitarist Conor Daly has an extremely sibilant voice, as you can hear on the third of these files, recorded with a Neumann U87. On our first session, I used an old Oktava ribbon mic, which was reasonably effective at taming the sibilance and rejecting the guitar, but didn't deliver a particularly good vocal sound. This song, 'If We're Back', was re-recorded at the second session as they had rewritten the chorus, and second time round, a Sennheiser MD509 dynamic gave a better vocal sound, though still not entirely free of sibilance. There is a lot more guitar spill, but in context, this sounded surprisingly OK.
For the first session I recorded with Reckless Play, Conor played a Washburn dreadnought which I miked with an AKG C414EB at the neck/body join, and an AKG D19 dynamic behind the bridge. For the second session, he played a Larrivée OM-series guitar, which I miked in figure-8 M/S with a Pearl ST8 stereo mic. Both the guitar sound and the vocal rejection seem to me better in the second example. (Piano spill is audible only in the second example, as the first version of the song didn't include piano.)
'Hear The Air' was the other song that we recorded in both sessions, though as you can hear, the arrangement changed. Piano spill and head movements often make miking a singing pianist problematic. For the first session, I had given Jason Signolet an old AKG D222 dynamic mic. This isolated the vocal effectively as long as he stayed on the mic, but did not suit his voice all that well, so for the second session I switched to a Neumann U87. Spill from other sources is more audible, but the general vocal tone was improved.
I fear this kick drum sound would not have impressed John Bonham. Ever wondered what a coffee table struck with a mallet sounds like? Me neither...
Neither of the songs that were re-recorded from the first session featured prominent piano parts, so a direct comparison is hard to make. In both cases I used a pair of Neumann KM84s, but the position in the second session was further from the keyboard. The sound is not quite as rich, but works better both in mono and with the vocal mic. Unfortunately, however, the piano itself had deteriorated in the year or so between the sessions!