Producer Fran Ashcroft: More insights into minimalist recording
SotoSoundz : Octopus Head
A true psychedelic garage rock album, in the 60's West Coast vein - think Doors, Jefferson Airplane. The format was a Boss BR8 recorder, and one mic, an Oktava 319. All processing was generated by onboard effects of the BR8. I was impressed with the warm sonic and roomy reverbs of this machine, which unfortunately is limited to 2 inputs, one mic/line, and a stereo line in.
Guitar and bass tracks were sent direct to the Boss, using its built in amp modeler, and keyboards were live miked. Drums were very effective in mono, using the single Oktava behind the drummer at a distance and height of roughly 2 ft.
The musical arrangements were very well thought out and economical, and the artist's clever use of guitar tones made for a deceptively wide soundscape. Consequently, most songs only required 6 or 7 tracks.
A typical track sheet:
- Track 1: guitar 1
- Track 2: guitar 2
- Track 3: bass
- Track 4: keyboard
- Track 5: lead vocal
- Track 6: harmony vocal
- Track 7: drums
Oysterville Underground: Acoustic Home Detention
Not by any means intended as a million seller, but very much an uncompromising indie release, with an almost audio-verite approach, all recorded on location. The venue was an Oyster cannery in the remote Pacific Northwest, with a 30 ft concrete slab running from one end of the building to the other. The major part of the album was made in this room, and as it was simply acoustic guitar and vocals, I opted to record in mono, straight to a Sharp cassette deck (which had attractive tape compression qualities) rather than Minidisc, to avoid the likelihood of peaks in this very 'live' environment. Microphone was a single unbranded dynamic, which I knew handled high SPLs well, and had a wider pick up area than say an SM57.
The album was made between 11 pm and 1 am, during a heavy storm, with the connecting spoken word sections taped the following day in various places in the nearby town. No mixing was needed, though I removed tape hiss on mastering, balanced relative levels, and edited the takes.
Producer Fran Ashcroft has 30 years of recording know how, with credits diverse as Damon Albarn (Blur) and Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds.