Recording Rhodes

Scott’s 73-key Rhodes, a Mark I with the Janus amp like to the one below, has been with me in Lawrence for about a year now.  I’ve been recording with it this week; two h&s songs where the Rhodes is the primary pad & rhythm sound (instead of guitar), and one Night Mode piece where the Rhodes plays counterpoint to a main synth track.

Image credit: fenderrhodes.com

I’m taking the stereo headphone output of the Janus direct into my Scarlett interface, with some guitar pedals in the Rhodes’ “Accessory” loop for the Night Mode part.  This has a nice, clean, clear sound.  I’ll probably experiment with analog re-amping and/or digital amp and cabinet simulation, but it isn’t required and I’ll try to keep a light touch with any further processing.  Some amount of compression/saturation will sound good, however it’s achieved, as you’d naturally get playing through the Janus, another amp, or a PA.

The instrument would certainly benefit from a tune-up by an experienced technician (who are harder and harder to find).  I tuned the tines’ pitches pretty well myself, but the action varies widely.  Some keys hardly sound when played, and overall it’s tricky to control volume and play expressively; the range from sort of piano to mezzo-piano is good (below piano there’s not much sound at all), and above mp it’s kind of straight to forte and then nothing further beyond forte.  To some extent this is the nature of the Rhodes, but a tune-up would improve things.

It’s a very cool piece of gear to have in the house.  I’m grateful to Scott for the loan and excited to share the work I’m doing with it.

Vistalite is Vista-Live

Forgive the photo quality; I played in the poorly-lit garage out of deference to our neighbors.

We don’t have a Dark Satellites show booked, but when we do, EDIT: The next Dark Satellites show is Thursday, July 20, in KC at minibar and I’ll be bringing this guy – a three-piece Ludwig Vistalite in smoke – and I’ll be a lot louder.

The snare is a stand-in Slingerland marching snare (not the one I’ve been using live.  I did use this one recording Ventura); Matt’s working on some custom hardware that will let me use the middle Vistalite tom as a snare.

The garage is reflective as all get-out of course, so while it sounds good I want to play it out before I make decisions about a resonant kick head, second cymbal stand, and heads generally.

It sits higher than the other kit (which, you may remember, is a tiny jazz kit) due to both the rack tom mounted on the much larger kick, and the enormous snare.  Felt good, though.

I plan to loan Cory the gold sparkle Slingerland kit for a while to see if it’s of use to him.

The Colour And The Shape

Twenty-year anniversary pieces in Stereogum and The AV Club this week reminded me that the Foo Fighters’ sophomore album reached that milestone recently.

I remember the excitement of seeing the video for lead single “Monkey Wrench” on MTV for the first time; the red room, Dave’s short hair, the impossibly high level of energy captured in the recording, and then the third verse hitting and taking it from 11/10 to 12.  It overwhelmed every pleasure center in a rock kid’s brain.  It was like switching to color TV from black and white.

Bear and Matt have been my super-geek-out fellow Foo Fighters fans.  Bear and I traded links any time there were singles out for upcoming albums, news of tours or recording sessions, or random Dave or Taylor interviews and videos.  I watched “The Pretender” video on repeat with Matt for the first time together (itself 10 years old in August) at his old house before Five Star Crush practice one night.

It’s not cool to be a big Foo Fighters fan and hasn’t been for a long time.  I think that too-cool-for-Foo take is pretty tired; they’re the best mainstream rock band of the last 25 years and it’s not really close.  Criticizing them for not being what the critic wants them to be – noisier, less popular, more arch, whatever – says more about the critic than anything else.

I don’t listen to The Colour And The Shape very often because I don’t need to; I know it by heart.

Thingsss

  • All five Falcon Heavy Drives are built and tested; the final two should be delivered this week.  This has been a successful run on both fronts I was pushing on: I broke even, and I learned some methods for making multiple pedals more efficiently and reliably.  Three of the five required zero troubleshooting, and a fourth had one tiny, easily fixed issue.  (The fifth is the one I’m keeping.)
  • Both Night Mode shows were successes musically and in terms of attendance, in my book.  The concept is proven and we’re now a fully functioning recording and performance collective.
  • Cool internet uncle, actor Wil Wheaton, has a good ambient EP out (embedded below).

With the Falcon Heavy and Night Mode projects hitting these milestones I get to transition to some other things.  For fun I’ll be working on my next solo-ish Night Mode recording and some new pedal designs, with no particular deadlines for either.  I should edit howie&scott drum tracks, which is kind of tedious work but necessary for us to have fun later.

It’s also time to release the EP Cory and I made last fall ;-0

This may be worth a listen

Link (expires 4/1): https://we.tl/7vCNMine7j

Remember those Chipmunks songs a guy slowed down? I re-created that with mid-side processing on The Romantics “What I Like About You.” Low quality (source file; mp3) but you get the point and it’s weirdly addictive to listen to. For me, anyway.

The mids and bass are glitchy and don’t resonate like they would with an analog source, I assume because of the mp3 data compression.

In a related story, I have not worked out as I planned to this morning.  The working theory is that I’m metaphorically hung over from yesterday’s political victory for health care and the weeks and months of tension that preceded it.