November 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

I am about 2/3 of the way done on recording my new album, so yesterday I took advantage of a daytrip to see a friend in a small coastal town to “public-transport-test” (the roadtest version of people who don’t drive! 😉), then “stare-at-the-sea-test” the finished and unfinished tracks as mp3s with my Urbanears headphones.This is a ritual I’ve always had when making albums, trying to put myself in the position of an imagined listener, but since I’m still the one who created the music, I approach it with equal parts dread, equal parts excitement: by that stage I have already carefully listened and decided on final take(s) – spoiler: I haven’t managed to record every song in one take as I was hoping I would – and made a rough mix, so theoretically there shouldn’t be any terrible surprises, but these kind of listening conditions have a way of removing detail and making salient parts jump out, so it’s definitely a moment of truth.

I was a bit worried about issues of tempo: I don’t know if it happens to a lot of composer musicians, but it’s sometimes really hard to determine what is the most fitting tempo for a song (I typically start with slower tempos when I first create songs, but that’s often because I’m actually still learning the instrument I’m using!). With this album it’s been particularly tricky as the tempo is sometimes purely marked by the way I play the keyboard with the Space Echo doing its own magic on top, which means that if I’m nervous/overexcited I do tend to go too fast (in much the same way an artist will play faster live). But the Elka Drummer One also sounds pretty different depending on speakers and headphones : obviously my Blue Sky nearfield monitors are my point of reference, but even then, because my studio is so tiny, the subwoofer placement is what it is, and moving in that tiny space hugely changes my perception of the sound, which in turn – pretty amazingly – changes the perceived tempo.

In any case, I think my face says it all: the test surpassed my hopes.

photo by Luis Torroja

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