Autumn Owls Take Flight

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Lori Kennedy


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Autumn Owls

Autumn Owls

Ireland’s atmospheric indie-rock trio Autumn Owls are set to release their first full-length album, Between Buildings, Toward the Sea October 23 on Epitonic. Gary McFarlane (vocals/guitar), Adam Browne (bass) and Will Purtill (drums) enlisted producer Brian Deck and mixing engineer Ciaran Bradshaw to help create the rich textures and sometimes soothing, sometimes haunting sounds of their debut LP.

Deck, working at Engine Studio in Chicago, recorded the band to Pro Tools 24-bit, 88.2kHz. “I’m done with tape,” Deck says. “I haven’t heard any tape that sounds as good as 456 used to. And really, anyone who romanticizes the ‘sound’ of tape didn’t spend the first 12 years of their career trying to get it to give back what you put in.”

The album opens with “Semaphores,” delivering spacey, haunting vocals. “In the intro of the song, we treated the vocal with the same processing that the band used on their demo,” Deck says. “The distortion comes from the SansAmp plug-in and the ambience comes from the DigiRack Non-Lin Reverb. I used two reverse reverbs: One short mono plate and one longer stereo hall, both made with AltiVerb by reversing the vocal track, printing the reverb and then reversing the reverb and lining it up with the original vocal track. The process is really exactly the same as what we used to do with reels of tape.”

Bradshaw adds, “For the start of the track, we distorted the vocal track quite heavily and then filtered it through an MS-20 synth before recording it back in to Pro Tools. This track stays in for the whole song at various levels. When the drums kick in, a cleaner vocal comes in over the top.”

With regard to the song’s eerie tone, McFarlane adds, “We got the sound for the intro by jamming a small mic inside my 12-string guitar,” McFarlane adds. “One of us held the chord and the other struck the body of the guitar with a mallet. The guitar has a big jumbo body so the hum really resonates. We then slowed down the sound and lowered the pitch. The result is a really eerie organ-like sound that runs right through the song.”

Click "Next" to read an extended Q&A with Brian Deck, Ciaran Bradshaw, and Gary McFarlane.

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