Rip Chords -- "Skinker Blvd"

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Rip Chords -- "Skinker Blvd"

Postby jthelegend » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:33 am

i don't normally like to start threads about albums i've worked on, but had one quick question after reading the review. first of all, let me thank all the reviewers for taking the time to give it a thoughtful listen.
anyway, my question is actually for elie:

Elie Landau in his review wrote:We start with Stop. When it begins, it is virtually unrecognizable as being performed by human beings. Without dredging up years old discussions of just how much processing and sampling is or isn't palatable or acceptable, I will say that when I'm listening to a cappella, I like to have at least some small reminder that there are people rendering the music — without the assurance of liner notes.


listening back to tracks on the album...that seems to be a strange one to call out for overproduction to me. just wondering what about it really tipped your ear too far? [just...all things considered with the rest of the disc...]

also, i will apologize that my evil twin Joseph Cannon apparently got a little too heavy-handed with the efx for you :-)
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Postby MattRyd » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:43 am

I haven't listened to the whole album, but I iTunes'd this track out of curiosity and have to second James' (and evil twin Joseph's) question. It does start off with some "sounds like actual drums" VP all by its lonesome in the intro, but as soon as the voices come in, I think it's pretty clear that they are voices.

Unless Elie was referring to the drum intro. Which, granted, doesn't sound like a girl beatboxing, but also isn't anything egregious when compared to the majority of contemporary a cappella.

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Postby kevin47 » Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:46 pm

just wondering what about it really tipped your ear too far?


I'd wager it's the beginning. I mean, the sentence reads as follows:

When it begins, it is virtually unrecognizable as being performed by human beings.


Also, it sounds heavily processed, moreso than the original (which: Spice Girls!), so it should be flatly obvious why it was called out.

Personally, I get the direction. Contemporize decade-old kitsch by channeling new kitsch viz. Miley Cyrus et al... Valid choice. But that choice has certain drawbacks, as noted by the reviewer. That seems obvious to me. No?
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Postby jthelegend » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:52 am

i get that his quibble was mostly with the beginning of the tune as opposed to the rest kevin. i'm capable of reading.
my question was, as the mixer, i know stuff on that album that is much more processed than even that moment, so i was asking kinda what about his tastes with respect to the rest made that particular moment too much for him.
thanks for responding though kev :-)
always a pleasure!
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Postby billhare » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:10 pm

JtheLegend wrote:my question was, as the mixer, i know stuff on that album that is much more processed than even that moment


...cue another discussion about "Code Red"...

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Postby dherriges » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:40 am

billhare wrote:...cue another discussion about "Code Red"...


Oh, you mean a discussion about the fact that the stuff that people complain about as "too processed" on that album is not actually very heavily processed at all compared to other parts that don't get singled out? I think I heard that somewhere before. But I dunno who would have told me a silly thing like that. Probably some producer on his soapbox. ;)
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Postby MattRyd » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:59 am

dherriges wrote:
billhare wrote:...cue another discussion about "Code Red"...


Oh, you mean a discussion about the fact that the stuff that people complain about as "too processed" on that album is not actually very heavily processed at all compared to other parts that don't get singled out? I think I heard that somewhere before. But I dunno who would have told me a silly thing like that. Probably some producer on his soapbox. ;)


I think the debate always turns into something like this:

Person starting argument: "Code Red" wasn't even a cappella! Have you heard the opening of "Mr. Roboto"!? You can't even tell that it's voices! I heard that Bill actually played the whole thing on a MiniKorg, then ran it through the AutoT-Pain plugins and used teh ProToolses on it!

Bill: Actually, it's just human voices with no attack or decay. I used to do the same thing on old reel-to-reel machines by splicing tape! In fact, the Beatles once achieved the same effect when they recorded directly to a Victrola--they had George Martin put the needle down after they started singing, then lift it again before they stopped.

Deke: It's like you're eating a delicious souffle, but you don't experience actually putting the fork in your mouth, or swallowing the bite. It's still the authentic taste, just without anything that surrounds it.

Alex Green: Can we please stop using "production" to describe all things effect-related?

Suzie Merchant: Blimey!

Matt Ryd: Don't mind me, I'm just gonna casually mention my latest YouTube video. Not a cheap plug at all, I swear.

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Postby Mnemosyne » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:33 am

MattRyd wrote:I think the debate always turns into something like this:

Person starting argument: "Code Red" wasn't even a cappella! Have you heard the opening of "Mr. Roboto"!? You can't even tell that it's voices! I heard that Bill actually played the whole thing on a MiniKorg, then ran it through the AutoT-Pain plugins and used teh ProToolses on it!

Bill: Actually, it's just human voices with no attack or decay. I used to do the same thing on old reel-to-reel machines by splicing tape! In fact, the Beatles once achieved the same effect when they recorded directly to a Victrola--they had George Martin put the needle down after they started singing, then lift it again before they stopped.

Deke: It's like you're eating a delicious souffle, but you don't experience actually putting the fork in your mouth, or swallowing the bite. It's still the authentic taste, just without anything that surrounds it.

Alex Green: Can we please stop using "production" to describe all things effect-related?

Suzie Merchant: Blimey!

Matt Ryd: Don't mind me, I'm just gonna casually mention my latest YouTube video. Not a cheap plug at all, I swear.

I didn't realize I said that all that much. Then again, I'm the one who separated "produced by" and "production coordinated by" in our liner notes for the first time in 10 years... sigh.

I really wish everyone could do S2N. Seriously. That wasn't even a plug. I came into it being like "Well, I dunno what I'm gonna learn here that I can use with the 'Mates because of 'how we do things'..." and came out realizing that EVERYTHING is singing. Literally everything (except breathing). Everything else you do to it is just enhancement, the same way as amping a guitar or throwing a pillow in a tympani drum, and if you put in garbage, all you get out is shiny, shiny garbage.

*grumble* I'm just in a bad mood from staying up until 6am all last week for auditions. Pardon if I seem grumpy (but it was worth it! six newbies!).
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Postby kevin47 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:40 am

Editing out the attack and decay is a pretty bold production choice. The result sounds like beeps. So, if you like beeps (and I do), then you like the track. If you don't, you're likely to wonder what's up with the beeps.

A listener can only assess a final product based on what it sounds like. If it sounds artificial, the sound will turn off certain listeners. It has little to do with the volume of edits, or the number of effects.

To me, this track is a rather obvious candidate for a discussion of artificiality. That is not the same as saying the producer went out of his way to create an artificial sound. I'm sure the cinematographers and editors of Casablanca had no idea they would be subject to shot-for-shot commentaries half a century later. How it came together just sort of happened.

In fact, this track is pretty much the Casablanca of a cappella.
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Postby billhare » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:30 pm

Haha, great posts! :-)

To clarify the Mr. Roboto stuff - if we're just talking about the intro, no, nothing funny was done to that - it was many tracks of Bubs singing through their noses, blubbering their lips, etc - that was the part Rebecca referred to as a "synthesizer" in her RARB review:

This is an exceedingly digitized album. In the opening song, Mr. Roboto, it's to the point where I thought, "Oh cool, a synthesizer. when do they fade to the voices?" Oh, those *are* the voices. Or what's left of them.


And again, those voices were pretty much untouched when it came to *ahem* "production" (sorry Alex - I agree with you about that word!)

I agree with Kevin that removing the front and end of a vocal tone IS drastic, and creates an inhuman beep-like sound, but the argument I was having at the time was that it was called a "computer-generated album played with keyboards", and I was saying that processing-wise, it was actually quite analog in its execution - something that could have been done (and WAS done) 50 years prior to "Code Red".

All that aside, no matter how we got there, the album was what it was - loved by some, hated by others, but either way a pretty strong reaction - I'd rather have that than an album that everybody likes any day! Not that a 5.0 is a bad score... ;-)

But as Kevin pointed out, that doesn't matter as much as the listener's *perception* of what happened - I just find it ironic that the stuff I have to digitally manipulate like crazy to make sound "good" is hardly ever the stuff that people think are trickery, and vice-versa!

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Postby MattRyd » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:38 pm

Mnemosyne wrote:I didn't realize I said that all that much.


Haha, no, you don't say it too much. And I don't think that I actually overly pimp my YouTube vids. I just got on a roll and wanted to add more people to the fictional discussion. :-)

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Postby ceegers » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:49 pm

Mnemosyne wrote:I really wish everyone could do S2N. Seriously. That wasn't even a plug.

I was checking out the videos somebody put on youtube, and learned a ton just from those! I would totally go if I were going to be around :-/

As for code red and similar kinds of things... part of the reason I like a cappella is because it's stuff I can potentially sing with...
...and I can't sing oohs without attacks and releases :P

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Postby Ed Boyer » Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:01 pm

...and I can't sing oohs without attacks and releases


Why not? We did something close live. It was more of an abrupt glottal attack/stop than a non-attack/stop, but the effect was similar (albeit much less crisp...and way more clan-of-angry-monkeys sounding).

The Harmonics do a similar attack on Escape Velocity (can't remember the song) for some wah guitars.

P.S. The man behind the clipped note idea/engineering/"production" was Jesse Silver, a former Bub who was helping us edit the album.

P.P.S. Anyone interested in this stuff should check out Pierre Schaeffer, who, among other things, did experiments where he cut off the beginnings/endings of single-note instrumental recordings to see if listeners could still identify the instruments.
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Postby RnBMrE » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:20 pm

kevin47 wrote:In fact, this track is pretty much the Casablanca of a cappella.


Pretty much...

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Postby ceegers » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:08 am

Ed Boyer wrote:(albeit much less crisp...and way more clan-of-angry-monkeys sounding).
yeah, that :P

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