My Alter Ego “I am Dead!”

I’m sitting in my studio with absolutely no voice whatsoever but I’m gleefully smiling :D I’ll explain in a minute. I’ve been working on segment music for a Broadcast Radio client of mine that’s been with me since 1995. The music was for a new gaming segment they’re adding to their “Computer Talk” radio program, of course it has to be the metal! (By Request). They want and I quote “a tune that sounds like a hot wheels commercial.” I’m not much of a Metal fan unless it’s Tool or Dream Theater, it seems to me and my taste Metal has all been done before. I don’t play metal at gigs and I wouldn’t audition for a metal gig unless someone tried to pass it off as something else (been there done that). It’s just not my cup of tea as a player.

The timing on this project couldn’t have been better.  I just finished watching “What we do is Secret” the story of the Germs. I was a little to young for the punk scene but I lived in the middle of it being in Los Angeles during Middle School. I remember kids wearing Germs shirts and hearing stories from my brother and his friends about Darby Crash (and his epic Heroin habit) and Pat Smear (Nirvana – Foo Fighters). I already had it in my mind to do some heavy Punk Riffing for fun in the studio because I’m a huge Germs fan and the film inspired me. I’m a huge fan of Punk Rock, I listen to the Dead Kennedy’s all the time still as I never seem to tire of them. Plus I resonate artistically toward the minimalism in Punk and good old 3 chord Rock. Angus RULZ!

In the same day (I know a lot of Netflix but I’ve been really Sick) I watched another film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. I’d never heard of this film but it reminded me of working with scummy A & R people back when I was a young Lad trying to work my way up in the music business in LA 20 years ago. There’s a line from the Movie “Don’t Put Out” that was perfect for this tune so I threw it in there. I liked the film, but I usually like any film that has to do with musicians. Coal miners daughter, Walk the Line and the Pick of Destiny are among my favorites.

This is one of those projects where almost everything went perfect, almost, which is rare. I had some trouble with the drum production but I’m not a good drummer so I have to “fix it”to make it sound righteous in the mix. Outside of that I composed and recorded the music in less than 2 hours. I only did one take for the guitar solo and kept it as hinckey as it is in a few spots. The vocals aren’t going to the client just the arrangement, plus I can’t sing lead (my voice is nasally). So what is it that one must do when your voice is great for harmony but a Vick’s commercial a capella? Why bring out the Cookie Monster voice!

Cookie Monster Metal!

Cookie Monster Metal!

For many moons I’ve used a character  as a catalyst to write with before, the Staten Worshiping, Heroin addicted, on a Murder spree Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol. His mother let the neighbors rape him as a child while his drunk father beat him and his siblings which formed him into a psychopath. Loki is an alter ego kind of character bloody and violent to the core! Loki comes straight out of a Quentin Tarantino nightmare, he gets his kicks by stabbing people in the eye with his needles after he shoots up as a type of murderous mayhem and torture.

Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol

Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol was here!

As I’m doing the vocals on this project my voice is just getting tore up but I saved one last blast for the blood curdling scream Loki lets out in the intro. Oh my freaking Lord it hurt! The end of the story, I had so much fun doing this arrangement, more fun then I’ve had in quite some time solo cholo. FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!! It wasn’t work, it was an enjoyable process especially when everything goes as easy as this one did. My Egnater Tourmaster sounds just brutal on this track, I cranked it up so loud I had to run cables all the way to the bathroom on the other side of the house to stop the bleed over. Check out my *cough* Loki’s blood curdling scream in the intro, I don’t think I will be answering the phone anytime today :D

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Oh, and remember to play this FUCKING LOUD!

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M@ over at Guitar WTF posted this very cool bee bop inspired piece using free Windows compatible VST’s (Sorry Apple folks) that as he put it “as an instrument sitting in a track in might just do the trick.” I think so, Read on and listen :)

Guitar WTF

I am always on the lookout for cool free plugins.  This week I came across two, that I think when put together, turns a guitar into a pretty decent fake organ.  I wouldn’t use it in situations where the organ is the primary instrument, but as an instrument sitting back in a mix, it might just do the trick.

The first one is the Stomp King SK-6 Ro-Tube.

As the name suggest, it’s a rotary speaker emulator.  This is one of the better ones I have come across.  It has a warm, retro, slightly over-driven, pulsing sound that reminds me of an old jazz organ trio album.  I also like its straight forward layout and simple controls.  I see myself using this one a lot in the future.

The second one is the 4 Band Shifter.

The cool thing about this one is that you can shift the…

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Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part IV

 

Part IV of Garageband for iOS has us covering how bad instruments can sound by themselves and yet how great that same sound is in a full mix of instrumentation.

First I would like to pass on I’ve been very busy as of late. I would have liked the opportunity to work on this track a lot more but time didn’t permit that this week. Maybe when time is available I can, I think the “hooks” have fun potential.

Right! Now one constant has remained the same throughout the process and that was the original guitars (one somewhat clean one overdriven and saturated) from the iPhone track. They are still using the original virtual instruments that both Garageband versions share iOS and OS X. The guitars and especially the Bass sound good in the Mix but by themselves not so much. The artifacts in the more clean guitar are really noticeable as are the very digital gutless stale sound of the overdriven guitar. The bass just sounds overloaded to my ears but not very good. The bass was bounced without the side chain compressors.

Stick them in the full mix and they sound really good. Not like a million bucks but I’ve listened to far worse on A & R rock and pop radio. I decided I would isolate these tracks and let you listen to them solo and in the mix. There’s been something of a mystery to me since I changed from a real analog Multi-tracking recorder to DAW years ago.  How things sound in the mix and how it’s mastered are two very different sonic pallets. As for me? I blame the iPod as the instrument of death! but also the money people who backed the mp3 format in its infancy. mp3’s sound like garbage for the most part and iPone / iPod ear buds are downright crap sonically so no one could hear it anyway.

Mixing for mp3 as far as the industry goes (which includes software vendors) has everything to do with volume increases and nothing to do with pristine uncolored quality of sound. In the 90’s it was the Digital VS Analog crowds but these days it’s almost all facets of the industry, Mix and Master pump up the volume.

Case in point:

Go listen to any of the band 311’s studio releases, they were all recorded on 2″ tape completely analog no computers. Listen to The Eagles Hotel California, it’s an analog masterpiece but has a different sonic vibe in the mix that’s very noticeable. Now go listen to anything from the 90’s and on from 311 historically as a comparison and see if you can hear an over all difference in the sound. The reason I’m pointing out 311 because they’re one of the only bands left who record total analog, it sounds different. The Foo-Fighters recorded their last album Wasting Light in Dave Ghrol’s garage using the same type of equipment, see the documentary!

One to my ears is very different and one is good but a little harsh being the Digital recorded and mastered route. If these 3 tracks I’m adding here were in a Tape mix you would have to record them again, you cant fix garbage sounding takes in that realm that sounds like this by itself. However recording on a computer it sounds great as long as all the other instruments are playing along together i.e. the whole mix.

Lastly, there’s a lot of sound artifacts on the solo tracks you can’t hear on the complete mix. ALmost all of them are in the modulation starting at 1:19 Keep in mind these 3 instruments are MIDI running through amp simulators not a real player. The final track will have plenty of human playing on it as does the second version.

Here’s the examples of the isolated guitars and Bass. #3 is Over Driven Guitar, #4 is Clean guitar and #5 is Bass.

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part III

In part III of this review we will continue to build the track and instrumentation to our Garageband for iOS arrangement. In part II we imported the raw Garageband for iOS project:

Garageband for iOS

Garageband for iOS

Titled “Dream Jam” into Logic 9 and did some very minimalistic tweaks with EQ and Garageband compressor leaving the song in a very raw form. Notice at 1:19 from the Part II review how badly the artifacts in the clean guitar fall apart when the melody modulated ascending up the score. I completely changed that sections guitar arrangement which will reflect in the Part III Track below. 

Here’s a screen shot from Logic 9 at it’s first mix right after import from iOS 5 and Garageband for iOS:

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

This bring us up to date. The track has now been significantly EQ’d and had a real percussion arrangement added to it Via Superior 2.0 and a sound library I put together piece by piece and input to Logic 9 via my percussion pads and triggers. In addition Grand Piano, Violin I, II and III, Viola I and II, Cello I and Double Bass I were added to the arrangement. The Kick drum and Bass Guitar have been side chained which was very necessary since we used a 32” Kick drum YIKES! It sounds really good during the Modulation at least for now, who knows what might change down the road.

Here’s a Screen Shot of the new Mix in Logic:

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

My preliminary conclusions thus far are Garageband for iOS can be used as a real tool for composers and Singer-Songwriters.  This app is no Toy. The MIDI composing interface can be used to nail down specifically every note in all rhythm  possibilities like any MIDI interface in any DAW. It can be quantized in Garageband for iOS at the touch of a finger even on an iPhone, no iPad required. I can’t wait for my next train trip, I’m going crazy with this app!

Here’s part III’s mix from Soundcloud, make sure and select Part III (3) as I set all the tracks for this review in 1 player:

IK Multimedia Sonik Synth $29.99 US/€24.99 2 days only!

WOWZA! IK Multimedia has a new holiday-inspired discount program called Krazy Deal. IK Multimedia is offering  Sonik Synth for $29.99 US/€24.99 normally $199.99 US for father’s day. Very Nice! I haven’t updated this Virtual Synthesizer in so long I had to purchase the new version even thought I use it all the time, especially for integrated Web Flash soundscapes. They’ve added so much sound content since my last Version that especially focuses on Strings I’m giddy with joy. I have needed to update this software for a long time but wasn’t willing to dish $200 for it.

My current creative obsession is owning the sounds of the Vienna Symphonic Library, only Danny Elfman has $10,000 to spend on virtual instruments. However they are what creates all that magnificent music you hear in the new (since 2005) Doctor Who and Harry Potter movies. It’s an incredible tool, especially if you can read and write music scores. Thank you (my High School Band director) Danny Wagner! If you’re a savvy Engineer they sky’s the limit with VSL. What I could do with the 11 years of band geekdom my public education passed me with a tool like that, well I can dream for hours. Back to the point, Sonik Synth’s normal street price is $199.99. This is a great deal, check out the link. I downloaded several additional libraries that came with the new version totaling well over a 1 GB compressed as a .dmg file. I would say in size its new sound library is large enough to be the next thing in line to Omnisphere after playing around with it.

Check it out here: IK Multimedia Sonik Synth $29.99 US/€24.99 2 days only!