William Tyler’s ‘Impossible Truth’

May 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Barbara Schultz


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William Tyler

William Tyler

William Tyler’s breathtaking instrumental album Impossible Truth takes inspiration from the American landscape. But it’s how the landscape sounds in Tyler’s mind: darkly shimmering in layers of intricate acoustic and electric guitars, delicate pedal steel parts, and soft echoing brass notes. This thing of beauty was created in the Beech House, personal studio of engineer/producer Mark Nevers (Laura Cantrell, Jason Isbell, Mount Moriah).

At the center of Nevers’ facility are a 1970s Sphere Eclipse analog console and an MCI JH16 2-inch tape machine. “Back in the days of all-analog, you would run into problems or mistakes, and you might have to scrap the song, or you would let the mistakes kind of guide you, and that’s what we did on a couple of songs when his guitar playing went a little out of the pocket. On one of the longer songs, William said, ‘Is there anything we can do?’ And so we faded in other guitars and drums over one spot and faded it back out. It makes you do something you didn’t plan on.”

Nevers says he and Tyler paid special attention to creating sonic differences between these guitar-based tracks; Nevers switched up mic placement (often using a close SM57, Royer ribbon farther back and a U 87 room mic) and moved musicians to different positions and amps. In the end, though, it’s the tone of the players: “The console has its own color, but I try to mix my stuff to where you don’t notice what I’m doing,” Nevers says. “I like it to sound like the band’s in the room when you listen back to it.”

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