« Return of the Swine »

Well, all good things come to an end. And good for me, so does at least one bad thing. After a few months of depression, distance and deliberation, I did in fact decide to put my studio back together again, albeit in a more modest configuration than I have used in years. At the time of writing, it is built up around my modest 8-track VS 880 that I used for a long time starting in summer of '97 and sort of retired in mid 2001 when I went to a larger VS 2480 and then to ProTools. I’d be using Pro Tools still if it were not for the need to keep my computer in the house. However, there is an interesting challenge to me as an artist to use only eight tracks. My whole CD was done on that little VS-880, track by track, spanning a year. So I know there is a lot of potential.

As it has been much reported, the depression drove me to close up the bigger two room studio configuration that I used for nearly a year and a half. That setup was great for me to behave as engineer, recording things from the control room. It was the most evolved my studio ever got. But the thing was, it was utterly impossible to record the way I wanted to as a solo recording artist. I mean, the space and instruments were really spread out so that I couldn’t use the place much myself, though the idea worked great for recording anything up to 18 tracks at once. Well, now I return to a modest four inputs at once, and eight tracks at mixdown, and the old room that I used to work in. It's pretty small, doesn’t have ventilation except when the door is open, has a mess of gear in it (all carefully arranged) and now that I have been “off” in a creative sense for months or even years, I am looking forward to using the space again and doing something, at least in the name of some self expression. I don’t feel like trying to be engineer for hire now, or even tracking bands (I play in) live at once. No, it seems as if it's time to go in and keep the place to myself.

Already, I’ve had a far more productive time in the last week and a half or so since I got things wired up again. I’ve had some pent up ideas and lots of time to dream of playing again, or at all, and finally I had the drive to get it all together into one room, the way it makes sense for me to work. I can play any part and jump to another instrument and lay down a track in short order. I can do this at least so I can get ideas out. I work pretty sloppily, but I get the ideas out fast. The gear itself is simpler than it has been in some time. With the help of a patchbay, for the “front end” I have eight channels of Digimax and one channel of VXP (both from Presonus) and just today I bought a Sans Amp Bass preamp rack unit and have had a hard on for it all day. I am not even using a mixer or effects but for those on the 880 itself. So the front end is really simple and the monitors are better. The room is still an acoustical disaster, but hey. I mixed my CD in there so it won’t stop me. My mic set is very different than the old days of recording my CD (the last significant stuff I did in the studio before it went changing gear, purpose and players in the 2001-2003 period).

Well, whatever it is, I just feel like I got my groove back. The few times I’ve been in to work in there, it has been fun, and spontaneous like the old days, and in at least one case, the music is giving me the willies. It's like getting an old friend back. One drawback is that it may be a bit of work to get mixes up for listening. I sort of haven’t worried about how to do that. The Roland mixing and CD burning options are a pain in the ass to deal with so I may mix directly to ProTools, but I still don’t know how I will pull that off. But the thing is, it's not time to mix. It's time to record stuff, and keep doing it till I have my ideas out and shaped some so that I can do something with them. I tell you, there is an album in my head just waiting to go. Surely something has to happen. The last three years since my CD was finished has had enough of life and a lot of new music in it to make things different than before.

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