Just Curious...

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
cgarges
zen recordist
Posts: 10844
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2003 1:26 am
Location: Charlotte, NC
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by cgarges » Sun Feb 13, 2005 6:06 pm

Knights Who Say Neve wrote:Lo-Fi, for this generation, is the sound of our youth- video arcade sounds, tape 4 track, ham radio heterodyne, etc. have pleasant associations. They sound like youthful idealism...
That's a really interesting observation. Nicely put.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC

Judas Jetski
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1578
Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:30 pm
Location: The US North Coast
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Judas Jetski » Sun Feb 13, 2005 6:07 pm

Im looking to see what people like about thheir favorite lo-fi recordings, what is integral about them and what aspects of a lo-fi production they would want to keep for themselves and which they'd want to improve on their own recordings.
The best example of what I like about "lo-fi" would probably be the Dangerhouse version of "We're Desperate" by X. The thing I like about it is in the lyrics. Exene sings something like "I stay out and play when I really oughta sleep/people pick on me 'cause I really got the beat/some people call me a creep." By the time the song got to an album, "some people call me a creep" got changed to "some people give me the creeps," which isn't nearly as clever or honest. She changed the lyrics because she didn't want to be talking bad about herself, but in retrospect the candor was a really nice touch.

I'm willing to put up with low recording quality on that particular song because it seems more honest.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say my favorite lo-fi recordings are almost all on the Rhino Records DIY compilations. I have to say the thing I like about lo-fi isn't the lo-fi-ness of it all. It's the feeling that I've got the genuine article in my hands. I guess that's what drives the bootleg market as well. People like to feel a connection with their heroes.

For a more classic-rock perspective, think of when the airplane shows up in Physical Graffiti and they left it in, or the horrid tape hiss which fills in the blank spaces so beautifully on Steve Miller's "Space Cowboy." It brings things to a more human level and creates an aura of accessibility.

trianglelines
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 193
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 10:22 am
Location: Sunny Seattle, WA
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by trianglelines » Sun Feb 13, 2005 7:07 pm

I agree with the above:

When the Song transcends the Production it is a classic. I can listen to hissy bootlegs or hi-tech remixes of a song and if it still gives me the same feeling regardless of context and treatment then I know it is about the Song.

Guided By Voices hit it hardest and best on Alien Lanes, where the songs get about as nice a mastering job as can be had considering the sources were mostly 4-track or 2-track boombox tunes (with a couple 8-track songs thrown in? GVB fans come forth!).

"Motor Away" just is so great and it could have come off a mid 60's Kinks record- it sounded that crappily fantastic. Great Great Melody and the collapsed, difficult to discern musical performance actually elevates the greatness because it seems like it came from Anytime, Anywhere and not the mid-90s. To me, that is the "Spirit of Lo-Fi" - the Energy above all else.

"Louie, Louie" suddenly springs to mind and that is hardly part of the "Lo-fi movement". Just dense and powerful and head-boppin' and cool.

-TimT
Post-Punk Power Pop
Popstar Assassins
http://www.popstarassassins.com/

User avatar
soundguy
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3182
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:50 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by soundguy » Sun Feb 13, 2005 7:37 pm

Andy Smash wrote:For a more classic-rock perspective, think of when the airplane shows up in Physical Graffiti and they left it in,
not to nit pick, but this wasnt left in, it was edited in.

dave
http://www.glideonfade.com
one hundred percent discrete transistor recording with style and care.

User avatar
Wonderland
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 2:20 pm
Location: the Isle of Charm
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Wonderland » Sun Feb 13, 2005 8:05 pm

Either way...ZEPPELIN RULES!!! :wink:
JupiterFalls @ The Space
JupiterFalls @ The Planet

We are The Musicmakers...
& We are The Dreamers of The Dreams.

joel hamilton
zen recordist
Posts: 8876
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 12:10 pm
Location: NYC/Brooklyn
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by joel hamilton » Sun Feb 13, 2005 10:47 pm

trianglelines wrote:I agree with the above:

When the Song transcends the Production it is a classic. I can listen to hissy bootlegs or hi-tech remixes of a song and if it still gives me the same feeling regardless of context and treatment then I know it is about the Song.

Guided By Voices hit it hardest and best on Alien Lanes, where the songs get about as nice a mastering job as can be had considering the sources were mostly 4-track or 2-track boombox tunes (with a couple 8-track songs thrown in? GVB fans come forth!).

"Motor Away" just is so great and it could have come off a mid 60's Kinks record- it sounded that crappily fantastic. Great Great Melody and the collapsed, difficult to discern musical performance actually elevates the greatness because it seems like it came from Anytime, Anywhere and not the mid-90s. To me, that is the "Spirit of Lo-Fi" - the Energy above all else.

"Louie, Louie" suddenly springs to mind and that is hardly part of the "Lo-fi movement". Just dense and powerful and head-boppin' and cool.

-TimT
Just being devils advocate because this is an interesting thread:

I think any of the songs referenced above would be great regardless of the way they were recorded. Even if they sounded "better" they would be awesome classics. I LOVE the way some of those mentioned above sound, but you know what Im saying?

I am in the middle of recording a band that said "we want it to be super raw" and when they heard the drum sounds they were like "awesome... do whatever ya want, we are with you."

I personally think "RAW" should come from YOU and not the recording.

I guess it depends on whether you think your record should sound like a recording of the event, or sound like the event itself. I like records that sound right there in my living room. Not in someone elses living room... (for the most part, unless it is appropriate to the material of course ;)

numberthirty
pushin' record
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 11:39 am

Re: Just Curious...

Post by numberthirty » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:36 am

To address the Lo-Fi thing: I think that just like a Tascam(Insert portable cassette-based recording device of your choosing) Portastudio will not sound like two inch tape, you can't expect two inch tape to sound like a Portastudio. Artists like GBV/Bob Pollard or Sebadoh have still released cassette-based recordings even after putting out releases recorded at pro studios. Or take Centro-matic/Will Johnson: Will's last release was a Portastudio effort. Lot's of Centro records have been recorded at the Echo Lab. Why? To me, Will sounds fine either way but, the fuzzy elements inherent in cassette four track really do complement his voice. Bob Pollard has said that four track cassette is the first time(after going to studios) that their vocals ever had the warm sound they wanted. True, warm is a term I'm not so keen on using(Bob's warm may not be my warm may not be your warm) but that's what it took to find the sound they wanted. An ex-girlfriend of mine is a really big Grifters fan. Between her and an old guitar player article, I got the sonic information to go along with Dave Shouse talking about the built in mic in a boom box and how they loved that sound for drums. It all seems sort of like when you hear about John Lennon wanting to sound like the Dhali-lahma singing on the hilltops. Except now people are trying out those things on their own instead on going into studios and suggesting trying those things. All that said, I'm not sure this is the take you were looking for but, it is my take on what I like about various records that seem to fall under the Lo-Fi umbrella.

User avatar
Brian
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2228
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2003 6:00 pm
Location: corner of your eye
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Brian » Mon Feb 14, 2005 7:00 am

People STILL use those portable 4trk cassettes?
Wow! I haven't had one for years, that ain't sayin I wouldn't use one if prodded properly, I got good at it. It was my first machine.
These days it's a digital 8 track. 16 bit, soooo ghetto!
Harumph!

MT
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 172
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 5:15 pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by MT » Mon Feb 14, 2005 7:36 am

soundguy wrote:Take something like Foreigner "hot blooded". Yes, Im sure everyone hates foreigner, please try to get over yourself for a second.
Foreigner has a ton of good songs from that part of their catalog. Of course, I love Rick Springfield's early stuff too, so I guess I'm a total fag.

And as far as the hi-fi/lo-fi, maybe it's more about capturing the artist when they're comfortable. Bands that are tight from being on the road all the time (that don't use much rack gear live) - maybe just throw up some mics and go? Mix like it's FOH? Get the energy as well as the performance?

I think Sloan's a good example of what I mean. They pretty much sound the same live/CD. And their CD's are far from overproduced, but because they're such good musicians, they have a slight polish to them.

Talking out of my ass again.

MT

User avatar
Devlars
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 611
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:38 am
Location: In front of the computer

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Devlars » Mon Feb 14, 2005 11:03 am

Joel Hamilton wrote:I personally think "RAW" should come from YOU and not the recording.

I guess it depends on whether you think your record should sound like a recording of the event, or sound like the event itself. I like records that sound right there in my living room. Not in someone elses living room... (for the most part, unless it is appropriate to the material of course ;)
A friend of mine who, despite musical disagreeances (sp), I respect as an engeineer has said many times over, "The recording process for the most part should be transparent. If a band wants to sound raw, slick, lo-fi, hi-fi, or anything in between then the band must already sound like that. My microphones record what the band creates. If that fits they're ideals great, if not then the source of the "problem" is them not me." I have to agree with him. There are techniques to make something sound similar to _______, but ultimately if you're a lo-fi/ hi-fi sounding band and you want to sound like the other then perhaps you ought to reassess your playing not the recording process itself.
"Yes, you're very smart. Now shut up."
-Peter Falk
Speakerphone
Rexrode Records

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8680
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by vvv » Mon Feb 14, 2005 11:34 am

Great thread with many articulate and well thought-out, inspiring responses.

I always thought of lo-fi as a sort of movement of indie-type artists, back when indie meant "independent" and not "marketing," that resulted in a kind of aesthetic sound, and including less overdubs.

And because they/we had no money, they/we used non-recording industry standard, (i.e, cheap) equipment, studios, mastering, etc.

Now I consider it a sound, and while Frank Black records live to two track his stuff is not lo-fi, but I'd say Paul Westerberg has that sound, that aesthetic.

Incidentally, listening to the first Tom Petty record by Denny Cordell this morning, well, it sounded kind of lo-fi to me, often kind of like an 8-track in the basement.

Basement, bar; to me lo-fi as a sound sounds like an 8-track recording with sometimes brilliant compromises in arrangement, even mixing, but something where the art transcends the medium, where maybe murk and hiss, even though unavoidable, are acceptable.

Incidentally, the Grifters were one of my favorite all time bands, and as great as Crappin' was, I think with the more polished Possession they came into their own. Of course, then they broke up!

Anyway, I would have suggested different vocal mic's, but as those are evidentially not the problem, and as long as I'm making a fool of me, the two-buss compression concept mentioned above, maybe with more room mic, and less or stupid compression on the drums, no or "low-quality" reverbs, and liberal use of the LPF's and HPF'z...

And lots of beer or jug wine for the vibe.
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
JGriffin
zen recordist
Posts: 6739
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:44 pm
Location: criticizing globally, offending locally
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by JGriffin » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:41 pm

I grew up listening to Foreigner, Steely Dan, Boston, Styx, REO, Fleetwood Mac, Toto...all these slick productions through the '70s/early '80s. I admit I love the sound of that stuff. I think the Police and Sting solo records sound fantastic. I guess I'm the last guy to ask about any sort of "lo-fi" thingy. I do recall an anecdote where Bono complained to Eno (Oprah...Uma. Uma...Oprah) about his vocals sounding too lush on one of the U2 records, so they processed 'em a little differently.

I enjoy lo-fi elements within a hi-fi song I guess, that little bit of trash in an otherwise slick recording. Like the gnarly lead guitar on "Reelin' in the Years" or the rattling wine bottle at the end of "Long Long Long." Seasoning rather than main course.

Don't know if that will help any.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

tommy
steve albini likes it
Posts: 385
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 7:44 am
Location: chicago

Re: Just Curious...

Post by tommy » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:50 pm

Low fi is really starting to become one of those loosely used terms that dont mean anything anymore. I've heard reviewers use the term for describing Albini recordings as well as Brian Decks work. I get the feeling that often (with the critics), if the recording doesn't sound like your typical FM RAWK mix then it must be low fi which is LAME.

It sounds like your on the right track with your client. Sounds like fun. Good luck.

kayagum
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:11 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Re: Just Curious...

Post by kayagum » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:56 pm

I'll preface this by saying this is a general comment.... without hearing the specific tracks, no way anyone can comment on soundguy dave's predicament.

What's too good?

I'll probably be hated for saying this, but maybe everyone's fetish with transformers, "big iron" and circuit topology is finally biting them in the ass.

Everyone laughs at the 80's gated reverb on drums, but I don't think enough people laugh at the big snare splats that are so prevalent on today's recording. Or the hyper-real upper mids of guitars. Or the vocals that are so compressed that a vocoder robot has more dynamic range.

The very tools that are the object of everyone's lust (particularly on audio boards) remove the listener from the actual recorded sound, even if it's considered pleasant or desirable. But it leaves not only an audio imprint, but an audio timestamp. Very few of these survive the test of time.

I remember an old thread where somebody was waxing poetic about Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road", and all I could think about was how much the snare splat annoyed the hell out of me. It's not the sound I would expect to hear in my favorite bar - it seemed out of place with the material. Maybe I'm not creative enough, but just jolting me out of the song and even noticing that damn snare hit is bothersome. Now, it's nothing compared to, say, every Shawn Colvin album ever recorded, but I have that annoying distracting experience with just about every single I hear, major label, indie, even folk.

I don't think this is an issue of "lo-fi". Maybe all of those Lundahl transformers and 1108 style line amps are making material so hyper-real that the sounds aren't matching the reality of what the musician is hearing, or what audiences would expect to hear live.

Case in point: I was watching the recent episodes of Austin City Limits, and I was blown away by how thin everyone sounded, even by veteran bands like the Pixies, Guided by Voices and Wilco. Did they really play thin, or was I just expecting all of the sounds to be bigger because that's what I heard on their albums? Probably some of both. Curiously, Elvis Costello didn't seem to have that problem... can't explain why (besides him being great).

Going back to the original topic, maybe some of the tracks in the mix needs to be culled a bit. Dilute it with EQ cuts, take it individual tracks all together, I'm sure there's a lot of options. You don't have to make it sound like Liz Phair's "Girly Tapes", but maybe more like something you'd hear at the Mercury Lounge.

Is mid-fi / decent / live sound such a bad thing if the music is good? Maybe we just need to step out of the way as engineers and let the music do the talking. I know, it's not glamorous being the "obituary writers" of the music field, but maybe we need to let performance outweigh gear, even if just by a little bit.

Just my insignificant opinion.

xonlocust
tinnitus
Posts: 1228
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 3:38 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by xonlocust » Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:34 pm

dave-

a couple thoughts: in my bands recordings, and consequently when i record bands - i try and use lo-fi as an aesthetic and just another paintbrush to work with. i hate outright lo-fi recordings. well, not hate - but growing up, one thing that pissed me off about early punk was how bad i thought it sounded. songs? awesome. bands? loved em - but i thought it sounded terrible. anyway fast forward. like everything, it's all about context. using some shitty mics on one source in contrast to a super hi-fi section sounds bad ass IMO. it's an aesthetic call at that point, not that these guys don't know what they're doing. obviously this dude and you both know what you're doing - he chose you cuz you're good at what you do and is comfortable with you cuz you're bros. i guess i see it exactly as you do when you're choosing your amplification stage. why do you choose a neve on one track and a hardy on another? why don't you choose lofi on one and hifi on another? i see them as an extension of the same mindset and accomplishing the same things. vanderslice had an interesting commentary on this in a recent mix - his whole hifi/lofi aesthetic.

but anyway, it's like the depth of field thing. with the absence of lofi - there is no hifi, and vice versa. another observation i've seen is that in better studios bands tend to get more freaked out and play less like they really do, and why so many home recordings sound bad ass from a player/songwriting point of view. if we as recording people can pull off the technical precision and fidelity of the big studios while tricking the bands into being as un-self-conscious as they are at a basement show or at thier practice space - that's when we get on to something good. put them in the flattering light.

i really think all engineers should be in bands too. play shitty shows. have your van blow up. deal with asshole promoters. whatever. anything to be on the same page as the people you're recording - but that's better for a totally different thread. i think every engineers work that i like is someone who was in a touring band that put out records at some point.

and also - please, geez - everyone - the band is always right. remember that. even if the idea sounds totally retarded to you, do it. the band knows itself and what it wants. the amount of hours in the studio with you the engineer vs how many hrs they spend in the van playing shows, discussing ideas, seeing other shows, hanging out at bars talking about favorite records, successes and failures of thier contemporaries and everything else that goes on... really, when the band is in the studio, you are looking in on maybe 2% of thier existance. if they're asking for something, they probably know something you don't. help realize that not assume they;re idiots. most bands i know spend maybe 5-10 days a year recording, if that. you are not some enlightening genius there to show them the light. if you give them a chance, you will probably learn something.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests