ABEND

Last night I was finishing up production on a song when I loaded up a sound that took me in a completely different direction. I closed the song project (which I hope to finish this weekend) and did something amazingly unusual for me…

I started recording without having any clue what was going to come out.

 

 

This is unusual for two reasons. First, I have a big mental hurdle to overcome before pressing record just about any time. Second, I’m a huge control freak about my music and normally like to know exactly what something is and where it’s going before I commit anything. This was sort of a cross between improvisation and stream-of-consciousness. More than a noodle, but less than a song.

It took me twenty minutes to record it, almost certainly a personal record. Each part was done on the fly and in one take. This is probably as close as it gets to sitting in the studio with me while I rummage around on the keyboard.

My mental image of the piece is also right in line with my nebulous “Technology Album” idea. It’s sad, vaguely nostalgic, and made me think of technologies that were abandoned prematurely. I did a quick search and found the perfect term: ABEND. That’s an old IBM System 360 error message meaning “Abnormal End of Task.” An unexpected termination; a crash. It made me think of old technologies that should have hit their prime but were surpassed or simply forgotten. A walk through an abandoned missle silo, a darkened data center.

Four raves from the production:

  1. Valhalla DSP plugins make me happy. Forget about the (super-fantastic) audio quality for a minute, they’re just flat-out easy to program and manipulate. It’s easy mode for reverbs, delays, and other sonic shellacking.
  2. Digital Performer’s POLAR feature makes massive multi-vocal recording quick, easy, fun, and inspirational rather than an exercise in madness.
  3. Proper gain staging is the best thing I’ve learned for audio in the last ten years. The noise issues that were plaguing me are just gone.
  4. Omnisphere is an amazing synth and production tool.

Colophon:

  • MOTU Digital Performer 8 (POLAR, Masterworks plugs)
  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere (All instruments)
  • Neumann TLM-103
  • Focusrite Voicebox Mk II (Vocal signal chain)
  • Valhalla DSP Vintage Verb (Vocal reverbs)

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