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system that all runs digitally from channels 25 to 32. It’s a 32 in-out system. If you want something else the

studio can source it or you can bring it in. “Te idea of the place is that you’ve got a manageable and affordable amount because it enables us to bring the cost of the studio in line because we’re not buried in gear that we don’t

often use, that’s the point. If we had eight Neumann U87s it would be nice but the first two would be coming out the cupboard all the time so we’ve just paired it back so that we’ve got a few of everything that you need really,” comments Swift. “For me it works very well – it’s a simple setup.” Te live room remains available as a rehearsal space simply for economic

reasons and has become a favoured space due to its nice acoustics and space. Te studio has an isolation booth where people naturally end up doing vocals and other small-scale overdubs but a bass rig and a couple of guitar amps can be dragged in here. “It’s a good space and it really is perfectly isolated. I come in here to make phone calls that I don’t want

anyone to hear, because I know you can’t hear through these doors at all.” In July a studio will be built upstairs and the fledgling production rehearsal space will be knocked through and improved. Te complex is putting a mobile rig together as well so it can do pop-up recording in the rehearsal rooms or elsewhere.

Brighton Electric for British Sea Power Dan Swift talks us through his work on the British Sea Power (BSP) LP Machineries of Joy

Dan Swift

What was the vocal chain set-up? Did it vary from member to member?

Te vocal chain for Scott Wilkinson [vocals/guitar] was U47/Neve 33115/ LA-2A. It suits his rich tone well. I used the same chain without compression for Phil Sumner [keyboards/cornet/guitar] but pushed the console channel close to overdrive, not to achieve distortion, but because his voice seemed to explode into life with the added turbo drive. Tis is most noticeable on Hail Holy Queen.

Were there any challenges or special technical skills you had to rely on during the sessions?

First off, tell me how you got involved in the project.

James Stringfellow [manager, Brighton Electric] has a long relationship with BSP and had just appointed me as senior engineer. I have a long history of working with slightly off-centre bands so in a sense it was long overdue. We had a meeting on James’ recommendation and managed not to annoy each other out of a good situation.

What were some of the technical considerations when recording them?

Te intention was to record as much as possible live. BSP have a fairly involved set up with multiple amps, concert bass drums, and of course a stuffed bear. Te viola had to be separated so we put Abi Fry [viola/ keyboards] into Live Room 2 using my laptop for a Skype link (no window). Surprisingly, the tracks were recorded to clicks that to my mind keep things a little too stationary. Yawn. One has to be in ‘ready for anything’ mode with a band like BSP, because

they work a very varied palette. Some tracks were live smash outs while others began life on laptops. Te fun thing with a project of this kind is that once you have the whole studio plugged in you can plonk people down in the live room to record say, an acoustic overdub, and listen out for mics that are being accidently interesting. Te gorgeous Tird Man-sounding acoustic guitar on When a Warm Wind Blows Trough the Grass is a combination of mics not including the KM 84 I positioned correctly in front of it nor the mic pointing at the Marshall it should never have been plugged into. If you see what I mean...

Te guitar sounds are mostly generated by a Twin/AC30 combination with combinations of Royer ribbons and SM57. Martin Noble [guitar/keyboards] uses a lot of FX but we managed to get by without them much to the delight of Geoff Travis [Rough Trade joint MD]. It’s so much easier to get good tones in the studio when volume is not an issue.

I had to ween Martin away from his pedal board to get any kind of tone in the guitar. He was very up for letting me fiddle with the amp settings and a delight to work with. Te main challenge is getting a decent sound all in one go, judiciously angling the amps so as the mics point away from the kit. I like to put all the amps back to back like the members of ABBA in the original Mamma Mia video. Tat way they block each other off very effectively (and give me a chance to tell my ABBA joke). With a band like BSP you have to be careful not to assume they’re having a run through, so get set up fast and record it all.

What was the atmosphere like during the sessions? BSP have been going for 10 years so are used to the studio. Tey recorded their previous LP themselves and discovered the true horror of trying to be engineers, producers, and writer/performers all at once. Having said that they are very microphone literate, especially Matthew Wood [drums], so it was fun for me to be shown new things, like the Josephson e22S, which sounds enormous and was used on the concert bass drum. You can hear it on When a Warm Wind Blows Trough the Grass. I used a Shure SM58 on the bear.

British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy

June 2014 29

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