Autumn Owls Take Flight

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


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Massey De:Esser

Massey De:Esser

How did you lay down the tracks?

McFarlane: Drums and bass were put down together in the live room in Engine Studio. The lads were well rehearsed and put down the tracks in no time. I did my guitar parts separately, due to my fussy nature for tones and because very few of the songs have the same guitar sound from start to finish. The guitar parts were recorded in Soma a few days after the drums and bass tracks. After that it was a matter of making sure the more ambient noises that were recorded at home in Dublin still lined up and worked with the new recordings.

What are the key pieces of gear or software in making Between Buildings, Toward the Sea?

McFarlane: We do like to play with recording speed for creating unusual guitar tones and drum samples. Avid’s X-Form plug-in was very useful for this. Another Avid plug-in called Synchronic was great for slicing up sounds into interesting offset loops. As for gear, I suppose my trusty Taylor 210e acoustic guitar deserves a mention as nearly every song was written on that. We had a lot of fun with effects pedals, especially the HOG from Electro-Harmonix, which we used on both guitar and keys.

Ciaran Bradshaw's pedals

Ciaran Bradshaw's pedals

Deck: Two of the greatest consoles ever built were employed in the making of this record. We cut basics at Engine Studios on their newly restored Sphere Eclipse C. It’s a wonderful-sounding console. A lot has been said about it having certain characteristics of Neve and certain characteristics of API. It just sounds great! Everything has proper weight and detail and clarity and harmonic prettiness. Theirs had two fantastic EQs—the graphic inductor one and the parametric IC one. Both super useful and great sounding. Every other console I've used has problems. Smooth but bulbous. Aggressive but tinny. Whatever. I wish they made these things new.

The other one was the Trident A Range at Soma Studios in Chicago. All the guitar overdubs and vocals were cut with it. This console should need no introduction to Mix readers. It’s a mother**ker.

I’d also have to say the Urei 1176 and LA-3 and the Neumann U367. This is a mic you don’t see in many collections. Engine has four of them. They are great on most things. They were the drum overheads and rooms. I used one on a couple acoustic guitar tracks and on piano. It probably would have won the vocal mic shoot-out if we had done vocals at Engine.

Sony Oxford

Sony Oxford

Bradshaw: For me, it’s the Korg MS-20 Filter section.

Do you have a studio fix-it tip?

Deck: It’s not a technical fix. It’s a guideline, an approach. We spent a lot of time talking about this in preproduction. I think that all things are of greater potency in the presence of their opposite. The demos were very dreamy and atmospheric. I pushed to get more moments that were present to help throw the atmospheric bits into greater relief. It’s a general principle that I use all the time.

Bradshaw: Embrace what you perceive as a mistake! I think uniqueness is invaluable in a record. There’s no “correct” sound so just take the hiccup—do something to make it sound awesome and turn it up!

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