Friday, May 30, 2014


Our last rehearsal at Flood Studios in the depths of Gowanus, Brooklyn.
Lily couldn't make it so it was just:

  • Ethan on his 5-string fretless going through a Small Stone (I think) flanger and another thing that was noisy which he eventually unplugged directly into the high impedance input on a Neve 1272 
  • Greg going through his regular rig through his Deluxe into a Lindell preamp 
  • Lou playing mostly replaced drums but the overheads were Ear Trumpet Edwina's going through the Tascam preamps (I know). 
  • And me playing through the JCM 800 combo into a Neve 1272.

This is, surprisingly, one of the best recordings we've made. Remember when I said I wanted to steal that Annie Clark riff? Well we did that. Check out the Wooly Mammoth song above.
I've been a tad stressed about not being at the rehearsal studio because I feel that I'm getting something special out of that Marshall JCM 800 combo amp they have. I'm probably the only guitar player in the world who likes the 800 for its clean sound. But it's a very nice clean sound.
I especially dig that groovy way the low E sings when I play sort of "cowboy" riffs. The P-90's on my SG give me the best of single and double-coil sound when I do that and I've been afraid I won't be able to get that sound again. Which is silly because I do have an excellent custom JTM-45 clone and a custom Deluxe/Champ amplifier. I can get most any sound between those two amps that isn't one of those silly high-gain modern rock sounds.
But I've discovered other odd things. I have a Joyo "American" pedal which emulates a bunch of Fender-like sounds. And the joke is that the pedal is vastly more touch sensitive than the JCM 800. With the 800 pretty much any sound you dial in is going to be the sound it makes whether you're wailing away or picking very lightly. But this little solid-state (and extremely cheap) guitar pedal lets you roll from very lightly-picked chime to laying-down-the-law rock sounds simply by playing harder.
So, you know, maybe the JCM 800 isn't the only way to go. No. Not at all. But it does sound nice (my guitar is on the right). ;-)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saint Vincent

What do Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Annie Clark of St. Vincent have in common?
If you said "They both play a fingerpicking style with rings on their middle fingers" you would be correct.

Annie Clark is the only example of a guitar-player's guitar player in modern alt rock I can think of. I am not a fan of the Lower East-Side noise-rock tone she goes for. She tends to play in a very staccato style. But she's really quite a fine player.
But there are a couple other things she does in this video which I want to steal. At 8 minutes there a nice funk riff which might could use some interesting variations applied to it. At 10 minutes there's an interesting harp-like thing which totally sounds like Pleasure for the Empire to me.
They're also both from Texas. Could be a coincidence.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Antedeluvian Conflagration

Another Wednesday another album.

This one is just me, Greg, Ethan, and Lou. No Lily.
Greg and I are hitting Neve 1272 preamps, Ethan is going through a Lindell, and Lou's drums are all replaced except for overheads which actually were Tascam preamps but then thrown through some non-linear-summing emulation which presumably sounds like the old EMI console Dark Side of the Moon was mixed on.
The mix is kittywhumped with compression. Mostly LA-2 emulation. Is that good? Bad? I don't know.
Oh. I did another thing. Uh. I did this without permission from the rest of the band. I added some Hammond organ to the tracks. I was hearing that in my head the whole time we were playing. It just help fills us out a bit. We'll see how that goes.


There are days when one must praise customer support. This is one of those days.

Jake at Cineform fixed my Neoscene (which had mysteriously stopped working). He actually logged into my machine and remotely dealt with it. I told him to go ahead and look through all my personal stuff and to edit the three features on there but I don't think he did either of those things. ;-)

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Oh man. Ian Hubert has done it again. The fifth episode of "Dynamo". It's not so much a movie as a tone-poem of the mind.

DM4 vs DM3

I own a Suunto Vyper wristwatch-style dive computer. It's a fine little computer except for one thing: Suunto went and crippled the software for it -- seemingly to force divers into using their "movescount" social-network site. For me the most irritating thing is that it won't export DL7 files which I can then upload to Scuba Earth or DAN or whomever.
Here I am thrashing around in the pool trying to get used to a dry suit.

But there are places you can grab a copy of version 3 of the software. It ain't as pretty as version 4 but it'll export pretty much whatever you want.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finishing the Finish

I keep "finishing" the movie. Meaning, I do all the changes on the punch list and then upload it again hoping that the changes are enough. So far I've addressed everyone's issues except for our sales rep's issues. Because he hasn't sent me a list of his issues. Oh but believe me, he will. He will.

So I've finished partying with a new mix for the entire picture. Wait. Do we even know what movie I'm talking about? It's 1202. Oh right: "Dead Raid".
I like this movie. It amuses me. After this there are two other movies to get to. The dragon movie needs to be finished up, and we have post-production on the Masquerade movie to do. I feel like I've been in exactly this situation for a goodly number of months.
Which I have. But soon. Soon there will be a Finishing. Right now I need a cookie.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Post Antediluvia

We had a Diatomaceous Earth rehearsal without Ethan. It went like this:
I played with a distortion box and the HOG2 and a Strymon Leslie. I know. Right? Not all the time though. When I'm playing it I don't hear it being like a Hammond organ so much but in the mix it can fool one for a while.
The overheads are recorded with Lindell preamps. The rest of the drum kit, intending to be replaced, is just the Tascam preamps in the US2000. Last week I was digging the snare sound we were getting but this week the snare wasn't really doing anything for me. And since Lou can pretty much bring the sound of any drumkit up to the best it can do, I have to blame the kit and not my engineering.
I'm enjoying the JCM 800. I plug into the high-gain input but then turn the gain and the master way down. All the EQ's and the presence are set to about 1 or 2 o'clock. With those P90 pickups I can get a pretty nice chime out of the instrument.
The bass in this recording is going directly into a Neve 1272 high-impedance input.
Greg's guitar (left) is using the Tascam preamp.

This and this

Minbox is like Wetransfer or any of those other big-file-sending applications. But it will do files larger than 2GB, which we frequently need. And that's for the free account. I've used it twice now. Seems to work. There's even an app for OSX but only for 10.7 and higher and I've been afraid to update my OS.
I got wiped out in the May 11 Doge Crash. So sad. I has no Doge.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sequis Motherload Elemental

The Sequis Motherload is a possible answer to my volume problems. The newest version of it is about five hundred US dollars.

Another option is just to build an isolation cabinet. It has occurred to me that actually building the box is not something I'm either terribly good at or have room to do. It might be cheaper and simpler to start with a shipping crate.
If I did start with a shipping crate I'd still have to punch holes in it for the 1/4" speaker jack and the XLR cable for a microphone. Then I'd have to silicone the joints and then figure out a way to make the top come on and off yet still create an air seal when closed. The inside would need to be lined with some sort of noise-dampening foam.
Oof. The Elemental looks better and better from that standpoint.
But I would be able to record my very nice Celestion Alnico Blues if I had an isolation cabinet. Or I could just do those recordings at my studio.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


We're going to be leaving our home at Flood Studios soon. It's just begun to cost too much. And you know it's not that nice a place. It's called Flood because it's right on the Gowanus Canal so it's just a couple feet above sea level.

I have been really enjoying the Marshall JCM 800 combo amp at the rehearsal studio though. I get an amazing clean sound out of that amp. I know. You're not supposed to be able to use Marshall's for their clean sound. Well I do not do many things on guitar well, but you cannot fault my tone.

If we're to do things like record music at my apartment we simply can't have loud amps. Options include moving the Whisperroom to my apartment, building an iso cabinet for guitar amplifiers, or using software plugins.
I think we kind of like having the Whisperroom in our studio rather than the apartment.
Building a cabinet seems like a lot of work. But possible.
I have been more than disappointed with the sound quality of guitar amplifier emulators when doing a "clean" sound.
But LePou Plugins makes some amp emulators (free, VST) which are quite interesting and can actually sound pretty good clean. Amplitube by IK Multimedia might very well be the holy grail at $200.
But I'm also interested in what the SansAmp by Tech 21 -- but the bass guitar version -- could do for a good clean guitar amp sound. Maybe. Just maybe.

Friday, May 09, 2014


I mixed this album on my laptop. Which surprised me.
The drums were intended to be replaced. But I thought the snare sounded okay. The tom sounds are nothing to write home about and before we release this album they still might be replaced. But the snare sound was perfectly decent.

The kick? Well we were never thinking we'd keep the kick but... I mean I just threw a mic inside the kick drum to use as a trigger. So after a bit of EQ and a bit of compression I... I may have shifted the pitch down a fourth to make it sound better.

We improvised the entire thing from start to finish but we were thinking "this is the first movement, this will be the second movement" etc. and we decided on keys and (sometimes) tempos and time signatures. I was very happy with my own guitar sound thank-you-very-much.
I did another thing -- I did quite a bit of editing. Actually, I made exactly zero structural edits (so far) but I did do things like cut out instruments selectively.
All the unedited sections are drums. That's kick, snare, tom1, tom2, a track which is blank, overheads, another blank track, Greg, Ethan (the Stick on just one track), Lily's bass (we went through a Neve preamp after her own preamp), and my guitar (the bottom "track" is just a submix buss for the stereo overheads.)
To add some discipline to this we could most certainly make it shorter. Take out some sections. That sort of thing. But if you want to just sit back and groove to some Diatomaceous Earth, I think it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Two Things and a Beer-Drinking Mouse

Doc's Proplugs -- for those (like me) who have equalization difficulties scuba diving. I tested mine at 5 feet and they seem to be better than no earplugs. The real trick will be going down to 33 feet. Well, probably 24 feet. We'll see.
Via Jeremy Crowson. A Minute of Arc is 1/60th of a degree. Because we just love having measurement systems which don't divide evenly by any number system. 1/60th of 360ths. Yeah. Gotta love that.
By coincidence a minute of arc is approximately one inch for every 100 yards.
There's also a metric unit called the MilRad.
When I was in the Terran Mobile Infantry we didn't use any sort of explosive projectile weapons at all: just rail guns and lasers. And because I'm such a wuss they mostly assigned me as android liaison officer.

I like this mouse so much I'm just gonna keep blogging him.

Axis of Thrones

The beater angle set screw on the Axis pedal I have is probably 3/32 allen.

Here is the Game of Thrones theme on wine glasses.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Grief in Morning

The obituary of my father.
My experience is that the stages of grief, as much as they exist, aren't linear. And it's not necessarily true that you re-go through them if you'd started grieving early -- something I know I did when my mom was dying and I've certainly been doing now. At least the way I experience them.
The trick is from minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour, week-to-week, you never know what's going to hit you. I went to get his personal effects today with my sister. We drove to the physical rehab place thinking it wouldn't be such a hard job to pick up his stuff.
We were way wrong. Nurses came in to tell us how much they liked my dad and how he told them he was dying and they cried and that he was at peace now. So then of course we cried and everyone started crying and it was much harder than we thought it was going to be.
And to make mourning more difficult -- maybe -- there's the part of it which is dragged out. If someone's been sick and then getting better you might find yourself dealing with grief or what we might call "potential grief" for a while.
For my dad, 5 years ago was cancer. Which he beat. The chemo sucked. It was really awful. I remember him asking me if I could get some marijuana. This is my Dad we're talking about. I was stunned That's how much he hurt. Of the four of us kids I was actually the least likely to know where to score some (and I worked in theater -- what a dork I am -- I've since got much better connections).
And although eight months before he broke not just one but two vertebrae in his back and in the meantime became legally blind he was able to function (primarily with the day-to-day care my eldest brother was able to give him). He was, for most all that time, able to go to dinner, tell us all how much he hated computers (yet still answer emails), and read (his new historical interest was the period between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and the writing of the Constitution).
When the time came, my father died without a long and drawn-out horrible time. Just four days ago I'd picked him up and sat him in a nice chair in the "lounge" of the rehab center. He wasn't in chronic pain. He was just tired. We sat and talked about stuff. He was very animated when he was asking about my business and what I was up to. Pretty much the way I remember my dad all the time.
I spoke to my dad about 12 hours before he passed away. I suspect I was the last of us kids to talk to him. Mostly he said the same thing to each of us. He said he was "done".
To me, though he sounded what I might actually call cheery. I asked him if he wanted me to come to visit him that night and he said "No, no, no" -- he'd see me that weekend and it would be fine. But he didn't, he passed away in his sleep instead. No long painful goodbye. That would have probably hurt him more than anything I suppose.
The nurses told my sister and me how kind "Mr. Dan" was. They told us that he was in a better place -- like it was their medically professional and informed prognosis -- they knew he was.
He trusted his nurses so I see no reason we shouldn't either.

Thursday, May 01, 2014