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A music podcast from Risen

While going through old recordings from the way back machine, I stumbled upon these tracks from my old high school band. After receiving my first 4-track cassette recorder in 1994 (which I still have and still works), we spent the following two years doing countless recording sessions, with the last one being Christmas of 1996. We did a lot of recordings, but this is the best 13.
The recording process consisted of us cutting the tracks individually to isolate each instrument, as in most recordings. Drums first, bass, guitar, then vocals, and then the next day, with rested ears, I would mix it down. To capture the drums, we rented a PA system with studio-quality drum microphones capturing the best sound possible and then squashing the whole kit into one Mono (not stereo) track. Remember, we only had 4-tracks to work with, and it was before digital, and the media was an analog cassette tape.
After getting the drums down, I would cut my bass tracks. Using an Ampeg combo with a 15” speaker and two tracks left (3 total), I would mic up the center of the speaker cone with an SM57 and the edge of the cone with one of the kick drum mics angled at 45 degrees, (estimated as we were drinking a lot of beer the whole time) each microphone going to its separate track. So with the drums on track 3, the bass split between 1 and 2, and track 4 completely free, I would even out the two bass sounds and blend them with the drum track getting the perfect rhythm section balanced, and then bounce them (mix them) together squashing them into one mono track on track 4 leaving tracks 1,2, & 3, free for guitar work and vocals.
That was the basic plan for every song; however, we would deviate from that plan depending on the need for the song. For the rhythm guitar, all the songs have just one rhythm recorded on a mono track, and in some of them, such as “BlueBeer” it is pretty apparent. But in tracks like “Teresa” & “Need,” etc., it sounds a bit thicker and more comprehensive and more than one. For recording the guitar tracks, I used one microphone (SM57) directly on the speaker, pointing straight just within three inches of the speaker. Two microphones (SM58) 3 yards back from the speaker, and one SM58 focused directly on the wall for reflection. One guitar track, 4 microphones strategically placed about captured loud and squashed down into ONE MONO tracks. During mix-down, I would take all that craziness and pan it hard left, then add a BOSS delay pedal, producing a millisecond delayed carbon copy on the right in real time. This gives the illusion of two guitars or at least a full stereo spread.
At the start of the 3 years, I didn’t know much, if anything at all, about compressors, until later in 97, and the discernible differences are prevalent within the vocal tracks. I had to have Daniel stand a considerable distance away from the microphones so as not to distort, and I was controlling the fader as he cut the track, acting as a real-time human attenuator. There are three songs in the collection that the vocals sound balanced, and they were recorded on my first winter break from Berklee, where my engineering knowledge grew. “Mr. Coaster,” “Jaded,” & “Purple” are those three tracks… and the last ones we did.

For the remastering process, I used iZotope RX 10 & Ozone Pro 10 from the original DAT tapes used in 2002 for CD mastering. The 2022 mastering was for streaming specifically. I still have the original 4 track recorder and the original session tapes. I could remix them but maybe another time. But more than likely not. I like how they are preserved for the time and technology used to record. So enjoy them; I don’t think there will be another revisiting of them again.

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