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Album Update

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Octagon Studio in Brixton

As I mentioned last week, I'm recording a music album. We've had two more studio sessions since my last update. In the first session, we went to RAK Studios. It's been around since the 1970s and is highly regarded in terms of professionalism and quality. It's a fairly big studio. We were in Studio 2, which has a desk from 1976. Which is a good thing, I'm told, because it gets the best sounds, particularly with a guitar. Our session at RAK included recording Yul Desai's incredible guitar playing, and then Kevin's (the album producer) magical piano playing. I actually didn't like the fact that in order to hear everything well you have to be behind the desk, and then you can't see the player(s) because the recording room is a floor below. It makes for an odd, disembodied experience.

The session yesterday was at Octagon studios in Brixton. It's a smaller (and much newer) studio, and we had a lovely, long day there recording Ben Woollacott's unbeatable drumming (sorry, couldn't help myself there) and Lucy Andrews' moving cello playing. I actually liked the atmosphere at Octagon better, as you can sit in the control room and see the players and interact with them, and I was also able to sit in the recording room for a bit. I like sitting in the recording room and pretend that I'm doing any good, but really in the control room, you can hear everything much better and comment on the music which was the point of me being there in the first place.

Luckily, in both sessions, the fantastic sound engineers (Will at RAK and Alex at Octagon) lowered the volume of the vocal guides so that it wasn't intensely painful to hear myself and I could focus on the music. It was a little bit like trying to read an academic paper during a visit to the dentist. Doable, but awkward.

In both sessions, I had glimpses into what this might sound like once everything is done. I was a little freaked out by the cello at first. My grandmother's voice at the back of my head kept saying: what is this, the Philharmonic? It wasn't at all like that. Kevin's arrangements call for little bits of cello (and violin, apparently) at crucial moments of some of the tracks. I'm not yet entirely convinced, probably because I don't have enough experience to have a clear vision of what this is going to sound like. But, as I said, I got glimpses of it, and it's starting to sound like an actual record.

There's a lot of waiting around and doing the same thing again and again when recording. There's a lot of technical stuff like setting up cables, and replacing the cables because one makes a noise that the engineer isn't happy about, and saving files on the computer, and finding the exact spot to start the recording with. But there are also fun people, and interesting conversations, and, of course, music. Which makes the people come together. Yeah.


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