I used to enjoy spending a week every summer in the sun and sea on the Delaware shore. Bethany Beach used to be a quiet vacation spot for land locked folks where you could ride a bike or surf fish, go sailing in the bay or just float in the ocean watching dolphins go by. There were small streets with houses built on pitch pine pillars to keep them above the sea water should it break through the dunes in the fall. Most of the houses were wood with cedar shingles and big screened in porches and could be rented out for a week or two. Some were big enough for twenty or so of our family to camp out in, but most were small and modest and efficient. They weathered well, as cedar does, and looked like they belonged there by the shore, silvered and mossy and smelling of sea salt.
These days there are a few of the old houses remaining, but mostly they have been replaced by giant multi story PVC clad monstrosities. The real estate boom that promised to turn even the dullest of the middle class nobodies into millionaire barons inspired unrestricted development which naturally required cheap, plentiful construction materials. The developers needed big cheap houses built fast. The old wood houses were too small to meet the needs of Big America. Square footage would be maximized with the minimum material cost. Natural materials cost too much and required too much maintenance. So the chemical companies and building manufacturers supplied the ultimate in low cost, low maintenance building materials: PVC.
Bill Xxx, valve genius, built us this 5 watt guitar amp. It whips a horse's ass with a leather belt. It roars like a lion.
I live in a town where a lot of the younger males (early - mid 20s) have taken it upon themselves to become some kind of hip hop stars seeing as how they growed up hip hop and its been very popular around here for the last few decades. Now I don't mind people following their dreams. Its OK if your dream is to make up lyrics about yourself to give us a glimpse into a day in the life of a rap star. Even if every day in your life is pretty much the same. Walking down the street, smoking weed, drinking 40s with your headphones on, looking for some place to chill and get your drink on. No really that sounds incredibly interesting. I'm fascinated. I'm listening. I'm skipping to the next track. Guess what this one's about? Its about how cool but humble you are, how people like you, and how people that don't are gonna get beat down. Now that you've earnded my everlasting respect, allow me to provide a few items of critique, so that your next album will be even better than this one, if that is even possible.
1. Delivery is key. Yours is pretty good! Its important to get that slimy, fast slim-shady style delivery down. Since you're caucasian you need to sound like you aren't from the suburbs without sounding like you're trying to be something you aint. So remember to stay within bounds of accepted white boy vocabulary and wibonics, but stay hard. Think Slim Shady. Think Complete Douche Vol 1. You know, old school.
2. Make sure other people featured on your album call you by your assumed name, or an abbreviation thereof, a lot. That adds a shit-tonne of credibility. And make sure they are very vocal on all the 'party' tracks. That will probably end up getting you an ass-tonne of Ass when people play them at parties where you're at. You don't have to pay them, they get to be on a famous hip hop album for fucks sake*. Soon you'll all be famous.
3. Double, no wait, triple Quadruple your vocals. Cause we want to hear 4 of you at the same time! Make sure you go back and do 6 add-lib tracks where you emphasize key phrases. I just love the sound of mid-20s white boy gangsta angst. Gangst.
4. That big silver expensive looking Korg Trident keyboard over there by the mixing desk, yeah that one over there, its great for basslines. You should do all of your basslines on this thing, and have the engineer run it direct into whatever board he's running cause this thing sounds PERFECT man. It doesnt sound cheap or cold or digital or anything like that, it sounds fat and punchy and warm and most importantly it can be any instrument you want without having all those tricky, expensive instruments, and actual human musicians not to mention microphones, pre-amps and all the time involved. Its all about the MUSIC man, and all those musicians just get in the way. Its a Workstation, and it has Comb Filters and Additive Synthesis, which is some high tech shit. The bass presets are the shit. They sound just like De La's basslines**.
5. The engineer's job is to make you sound FANTASTIC. Make sure he applies all the known engineering tricks, cause if he doesnt' people are going to notice. You wouldnt want it to sound too different, or it might not be hip hop. Make sure he gots Pro-Tools and shit.
6. Make the album an EPIC. The subject matter (you) is so important and full of depth, how could you not make it a complete epic? You got to get all your ideas on there, and anybody else's while your at it. At least 29 tracks, maybe 30. It has to tell a story. YOUR story. Everybody wants to hear about how you're living, and they want to be there when you wake up at your boy's house after a party and how good you are at this. It's inspiring.
7. Cliches are important. If its not so cliche that it makes you want to puke, its not cliche enough. Cliche rhymes with something, you should use that.
8. Liner Notes: This is something most other artists slack on. Dont make that mistake. Your liner notes should be incredibly detailed. Extremely wordy. Don't just name the tracks cleverly, you got to describe them just in case we didnt get entire idea in the first 5 seconds. And make sure the CD duplicators can print out your cool ass wild style graffitti font or just do everything in caps.
9. Dont forget to thank your parents for all their support. If they hadn't supported you for the last 25 years, you probably never would have been able to afford your own rap album.
10. Give a shout out to all your peeps. All of 'em. Line em up and shout out at them. And thank everybody that you know, even if they had nothing to do with the album, cause that way people know who you know, and maybe they know some of those people and then they feel kind of connected to you and that makes you real, not fake, never fake, don't fake.
As a side note, I was feeling lonely so I decided to give a shout out to my peeps. Here's how you do it, in case you didn't know: Get a box (or bag, kind of a box in a bag) of Marshmallow Peeps and open it up. Line your peeps up in rows, 1 or 2 deep is ok. Shout at them real loud. Holla At Your Peeps. I hollered until my throat went dry, but I didnt get one peep out of them. Those fuckers are going in the microwave.
This Is Where My Peeps Is At
My Peeps Rolls Deep.
* don't worry about the financial aspects of the whole thing, cause its not about money or fame. I don't know what its about however. You're not going to see a dollar. You should have a job.
** not actually.
I'm not going to explain this. It may dissapear.
Arch Enemy doesn't suck either. But her. RRRR.
Wait, she doesn't eat meat? Oh. Well i don't mind if she don't.
A metaphor for the common tendency, particularly among children and miscreants to do exactly the wrong thing in a given situation.
I am a bit of both, so the Imp is frequently at work when I'm making critical decisions. I apologize in advance for this. However, placing the blame on a literary device will not make up for my poor impulse control. I think being impulsive can be a very good thing most of the time, but occasionally things don't turn out well. Now, I don't have any really bad impulses. Its just that when given a choice of right and wrong, sometimes the difference is not clear. If you always had time to stop and think "What Would Jesus Do", I'm sure you'd get in a lot less trouble and lead an ordinary, unexciting life devoid of adventure and excitement. Fear is the deciding factor. Fear of pain, injury, punishment, woman's wrath, God's wrath, the police, embarrasment, and generally feeling bad. Fear is a real bummer. Most of the time there is way too much going on to allow fear into the equation, although it is always there to some degree. Fortunately the Imp knows no fear. It IS possible to reign in your impulse control without becoming a total Catholic. When situations present themselves that require impulse control you must think for a split second "is anyone else going to be harmed by this action?". It's not all that difficult or time consuming and it makes a really really big difference. That is my moral code.
This things fully loaded. I got like, 1 billion songs on here. The ipod. This old WASR-AK? Its loaded. Can I get some fuckin headphones please? Wheres the fucking speaker on this thing?
9th April, 2007: Apple marks its 100 millionth iPod. I'm pretty sure nobody knows how many Russian AK-47s have been produced since 1949. Probably more than 100 million.
AK-47s go for about $30 (US) in Africa, depending on where you look. You can get a new WASR AK clone (Romanian made) or Norinco (Chinese) for less than $350 here in the US. I don't know what the iPod market is like in Africa, so I can't really make a comparison. But I imagine mobile phones and iPods are hot items for your modern chic tribeswoman, along with the massive lip plate and 50+ year old rifle from Romainia which will probably outlive its owner (and all of us).
I've heard a few people say that the AK-47 is the deadliest weapon ever produced, that it's been used to kill more people than any other weapon in history. I think that statement is not too far off.
You bunch of bible banging jesus freaks. Your equipment fucking sucks. Its all a waste of tim e, space, electrons and most of all, cash dollars. I used a Digi001 and Pro-Tools for many years without any real problems. Avid/Digidesign and M-Audio are pretty low end. Cheap stuff. Made in Indonesia. But at the time it was the best thing for the money. Now Presonus offers some pretty compelling looking tools, the Firepod and whatever that top line controller / interface thing is. They have some good ideas. The Faderport is a really good idea. Problem is the shit doesnt fucking work. The Firepod has serious fucking jitter problems. I think it has problems syncing its word clock. So if you're playing something back or recording, you get jitter distortion. Which sounds like something somewhere is clipping, but no matter how hard you listen, you cant find the source. Its the fuckin Presonus. Turn it off, wait a while, turn it back on and the jitter is gone! Meanwhile you just recorded 5 minutes of stuff with all the pops and clipping jitter noise that you can now throw away. I like doing this every time I record. I fully expect to reboot everything at least 3 times before I can get anything done. Faderport worked for a while, but then just started crashing everything. Theres nothing in that price range that can do the job RIGHT, so don't waste time with this shit if you are planning on doing more than recording your fucking stupid bible talk AM radio show once a week. The Letters from Paul to the Corinthians were to the fucking CORINTHIANS. They mean fuck all to anybody else.
<-- Holy fuck look at this beast. $4k. Shadow Hills Industries Golden Age Mic Pre (8 channels). Discrete op amps with switchable transformers (per channel). So you can switch between hand wound nickel or steel transformers. Cause nickel is clean and bright, steel is punchy and tight. They make single channels for ~$750. Oh yeah.
So I got a Electro Harmonix Metal Muff, which should have been the ESP, but ESP decided to not have one in stock when I ordered it so it will probably show up some time in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Metal Muff didn't come with a transformer and doesnt use the older EH transformer with the 1/8 plug. Its got one of those newfangled inverted male +(-) sockets, which is not cool because most other transformers are -(+). I think. So its got a 9 volt battery inside but of course I killed that the first night by leaving it on all night. I was breaking it in. Anyway it kicks ass, has a nice treble boost and gets really dirty without losing definition like the fuzz type pedals do. Its kind of like the Rat but meaner. It grinds fetuses into nice crunchy chunks, so that you can still tell they are fetuses.
Fri Mar 30 16:04:08 CDT 2007
This is what I'm talkin about:
- Jackson RR3 -> ProCo Rat Dist. -> MXR 10 band eq -> AMPEG R12R type AB tube amp
- Front: Josephson C42 small diaphram condensor -> Avalon 737sm -> DAC
- Rear: AEA R84 -> DAC (presonus class A FET pres. Meh.)
The JE C42 Mic is some where in front of the cabinet. The AEA ribbon is behind the cabinet about 10" out and a little off-center, dark(cable) side of the mic. Uh, its kind of amazing sounding. I can fry my eardrums and still get really good dynamic response from the bottom end. Like JEH JEH JEH JEH NANANANENEENERNE JEH JEH JEH JEH JEH. Thats exactly what it sounds like. Sounds fucking good. Soon there will be another really nice preamp for the R84 and an AKG 414 large diaphram condensor, but thats a different story. Maybe I'll go over to Hardy's and get one of his op amps. So if an amp is not a push-pull circut, where do the electrons go? Cause when a balanced circuit becomes unbalanced for some reason, like someone puts in the wrong resistor, it blows up.
The piece of shit steinberger knockoff that I was using for dropped B flat/C/D tuned stuff is really a piece of shit. I should have listened to my brother, who told me it was a piece of shit. He would know. So I have one guitar that I really like; a transparent green Jackson RR3? which kicks ass and needs some new pickups. The only problem with that thing is the giant offset V body which is always trying to impale people. I bang that thing into the stripper pole in my studio at least once a day. Not a huge problem, but the shitty little headless POS is nice it tight spaces. However, the neck is completly shite, and is impossible to tune/fix/setup so that the intonation intervals are correct. Its going to be made into a lamp. Which brings me to the point. I went and got an ESP. All the metal dudes cream their spandex over ESP guitars, and they're not too expensive. So I got one to try out. I think ESPs are Japanese made. Looks like a jackson dinky reverse head, but its not. Its also not transparent BLACK, not green, which is a plus. If the head says 'LTD', its made in Korea or Indonesia on an assembly line, which is fine. If it says 'ESP', its made by the custom shop in Japan. You can't afford the custom shop.
Tue Mar 27 11:19:04 CDT 2007
subList returns a non-serializable view on a List. I think you aughta know this. Do List.sublist(x,y).clone(); if you need a segment.
I'm trying to remember a dream fragment here. There is a field by a road. Its wet and cold, not yet green. I'm looking for hawks, because it seems like a good place for them, and they are fucking awesome. There are three big shiny ravens making a ruckus about something, I figure its a hawk nearby. A rabbit is running almost directly at me, but is heading off a little to my right. Its a big grey rabbit, and you can see the fear in its eyes and its open mouth. I've never seen a rabbit run with its mouth open, but it lends the aura of panic that suits the situation. Its running much like a dog would, and not really going fast enough. The ravens are descending towards it, but I spot a raven to my left on a wire that is taking flight. Its big. Much harder to spot than the shiny black ravens, but it makes an unmistakable hawk shriek as it takes off. It hits the rabbit well before the ravens ever get there, and they kind of scatter. The hawk hits the rabbit in the head with both clawed feet, apparently for the second time because it does about same amount of damage as was already there. The hawk kind of bounces off the rabbit. It reaches the apex of an arc and drops directly on the rabbit like a rock. Now there are other animals running around this field. Bigger ones, maybe a coyote, a cat, raccoon. It's carnage all around. The hawk is tearing a the rabbit, a coyote is chasing something else that looks like a cross between a fat cat and a rabbit and nails it.
The rest of that scene is lost. Now I'm on a sidewalk. Same damp cold day. I don't have enough clothes on so it seems like a good idea to run wherever it is I'm going. As if I were out training early in the morning. I am cutting through people's side-house ways where there are lots of nice rusty obstacles to climb over. Now I'm in a clearing and someone else is nearby, but they go away because a giddy wild wolf looking dog just trotted in. And another. Longer hair than a coyote, but not as big as a wolf. And there aint no wolves around here any more anyway. I get the feeling they can't decide if I'm for them to eat, or the other way around. They're kind of hungry/scared, so its going to be one of those kinds of fights where somebody loses some body parts they rather didnt.
Hawks are awesome, I like rabbits but they are mostly just good for food (low IQs), coyotes are also fucking cool. I'm going to wake up early and see if I cant find some coyotes around here to hang out with.
Fri Mar 16 18:15:44 CDT 2007
Do not GIS for 'maggots'. Just don't do it. I didnt wear any socks to work today. Its not bad. No FQA build tonight, maybe because almost nobody came to work. Or maybe they were warned that I was out of socks.
Here is an airline stewardess in the catacombs. What is she doing there?
Mercenary Audio sent us an Avalon 737sm, special Mercenary edition. Its big, black and bad ass. When you turn it on with the big rocker switch, there's this sound it makes as it opens the gates. Everything goes dead quiet when Conor slowly reaches for the switch, eyebrows raise as we look towards the beast. Theres the thunk of the rocker switch, and then a metallic ringing clink as the transformer shoots billions of electrons down the wires and into the tubes. Its pornographic. Its like in Star Wars when they power up the Death Star and blow up a planet.
So I had recorded a bunch of vocals with a Beta 58 and the class A FETs in the firbox. Firbox does a nice job for the money, but I did the vocals about 8 times and didnt get the sound I was looking for. We ran an AEA R84 Ribbon into the Avalon and set it up for vocals with a little de-ess. The R84 is really nice for vocals if you flip it around and hit it from the back. The back side is brighter and more open, you can open up your lungs at it from a foot or two away and it sounds great. I had a few pints in me, Conor had a few glasses of Rioja, so we burned through two takes of the lead vocals and did some backup vocals as well. It would be unfair to compare the Beta 58 to the AEA. An aged golden retriever would not fare well against a mountain lion. Its also unfair to compare an Avalon preamp to the Presonus's class A FETs, they are completely different animals. The Presonus is better than any other multi-input firewire box in the same price range. Maybe you record music to 'praise him' or 'worship', or maybe you need to do the sound tracks for you ameteur porn movies. Its the one for you. There are many other sub $600 firewire boxes out there that you could waste time and money with. If you do music for yourself and not some god who doesnt give a shit how well you can belt out that awful contemporary church music, you'd spend a little more of that crack money and get an Apogee converter. If you're like me and you do music because the power of Satan compels you, then you want that ultra high sample rate to make the ears of the minions bleed and cause their eyes to explode from their sockets. Yes, anyway, the catacombs beneath my small house are sounding really really good today. Maybe we were a little drunk, and maybe the power of that big black box with the giant knobs and the limitless overhead pushed my violence level up a notch. Something made those vocals sound really good.
AEA R84 @mercenary:
Thu Mar 15 15:12:41 CDT 2007
Amplifiers with good tube circuits and good tubes are expensive. Solid state amps (FET or OP amp based circuits) CAN be made for cheap, and are generally more affordable (See presonus, mackie mixers, etc..). I've heard enough of engineers saying things like "I mixed 'Bad Touch' with all solid-state gear, no tubes and it sounds great. You don't need tubes". Yeah, sure it does if you like that kind of shit. You can record solid state all the way through to the DAC and things will sound fine. BUT, if there is ANY significant clipping anywhere along that signal path, you better start over. Cause its gonna sound like shit.
Now I dont dislike solid state gear at all. There's a lot of high quality solid state gear. Hardy M1s and Avalon M5s are affordable and REALLY nice. High voltage, class A with top notch input transformers and all. M1s have big ass Jensen input transformers and a 990 discrete op amp.
All about the Jenson 990 op-amp: http://www.johnhardyco.com/pdf/990.pdf
I don't know whats inside the Avalon M5, and I never used one for recording, so I'm not going to say shit about it. HOWEVER, I've use the M1 many bunches of times for all kinds of shit. It kicks ass. Its extremely quiet, accurate, sensitive, transparent. Hook it up to an Apogee 24bit/192k DAC. Any mic. This should be obvious. If you have any problem with it, its probably in your head and you should have your ears checked. What you don't do with a discrete op-amp is overdrive it. Audio signals need to be levelled/limited properly. Tell that rapper to back the fuck up off the mic. Or something. Yeah you got to be careful with the levels on solid state gear. It is not very forgiving in the overdrive deptartment. BUT, with high quality solid state stuff, you can record at low levels without losing details below the noise floor. Really good solid state mics and pre-amps will give you a shitload of dynamic range with very little noise and be totally transparent. Then you compress and limit the shit of of everything anyway, so whats the fucking point? Well now that you've completely remove any ACTUAL dynamic range, the percieved dynamics sound much better than they would with cheaper, less clear circuits. This should be obvious.
Sitting in front of an Oxford console or all analog SSl with big slow bottom lit VU meters you might think that technology has come a long way. Well you'd be kinda wrong. The designers probably weren't thinking "damn I wish I had some new fancy technology to make this thing better". They may have been slightly dissappointed by the fact that they had built something so perfect that it could not possibly be improved. Most people will tell you that the tubes which are available now had reached the peak of their design cycle many many years ago. The circuits used for pre-amps (combinations of triodes, pentodes etc) are well known and also have not changed much. So for an engineer or scientist, these things may seem obsolete since they have no chance for further evolution and thus, provide no interesting problems to solve. Maybe so. Solid state circuits and later digital recording came along and provided a less expensive, more compact, less power hungry solution. Editing tape is a pain in the ass, tracking in software is slightly less painful. So there were some improvements, but they never made the all analog, all tube systems obsolete. You could even emulate tube saturation in analog solid state circuits or approximate it digitally by adding the correct harmonics with DSP. At very high sample rates, this might actually provide nearly the same sound. Unless your ears are sensitive enough to hear aliasing of sines at 24bits/192kHz.
It all boils down to this: if you want a clear, transparent quiet preamp and you want to keep watching the level meter for clipping, use a FET or op-amp circuit. If you want to color the sound with nice harmonics and not to worry about the VU metters pegging +3 once in a while, use a nice tube circuit.
Thu Mar 15 15:12:41 CDT 2007