Bigger Sounds’ 4-Track

In the course of writing a yet-to-be-published post about sonic connections between V For Voice songs and older stuff, I got stuck listening to most of Bigger Sounds From Fewer Folks a weekend or two ago.

My memories of hunkering under my bunk in Frees Hall, recording those first songs to 4-track, are pretty clear.  (For my own parts, anyway; I have no memory of recording Scott’s!)  But it struck me; I didn’t own a 4-track at the time, so it must have been borrowed.  Cory helped me narrow the suspects down to Josh O, Wisecarver, and Lupo.

Pretty sure it wasn’t Lupo’s; that just doesn’t ring any bells at all.  I feel like it was Josh’s, but a passionate advocate could probably convince me it was Matt’s.

It doesn’t matter at all, it’s just a bit weird to think back to how for the first couple years I was working with borrowed gear (the 4-track for Bigger…, then Fred Ritter’s digital 8-track for Near and Far, etc.).  I could have afforded a system like either of those, and I wonder why it took two records plus a doing bunch of other less-official recording to go ahead and buy something.

No real point here; idle observation only.

You Will Be Surprised…

… with some of the sounds we used a bunch on the h&s record. I’ve noticed this week as I’ve been able to step back and listen to the whole thing, not focusing on crossing off the last to-do items for each individual song.

Some of these are:

  • Bass fuzz!  I don’t mean a little color or grind; I mean full-on fuzz to take song sections over the top
  • Hammond.  Unfortunately this had to be done with a plugin – for all our gear, we don’t have a six-thousand-dollar organ and rotary speaker cabinet lying around – but it’s a very good-sounding one and it shows up in a lot of tunes
  • Winds (beyond sax and flute); trumpet, clarinet, and bass clarinet add a lot to one song in particular.  Hearing what Scottie did with the clarinets whet my appetite for more of that
  • Guitar feedback, for transitions, live-in-the-studio leave-it-in vibes, and in one case as a massive, many-voiced choir of soft-ish feedback
  • Analog synthesizer including Korg MS-20, Akai AX-60, and Korg Volca Bass.  The polyphonic AX-60 was the workhorse here, for pads and arpeggios; the others make special guest appearances
  • Guitar modulation effects; phaser, flanger, and filter (with modulated cutoff frequency).  Sometimes these are used conventionally, sometimes… not

All in all we’re probably just short of pocket symphony / “lush” territory, but squarely in full-band, kitchen-sink mode.  In other words, remember the end of “Blues or Astroblue?”

Almost every song gets there :)