Friday, November 17, 2006

What I've been doing lately.

Pratie Heads Rag Faire coverBob and I decided sort of casually to make a new cd, our first since 1988. We chose the music casually, and we ambled casually up to Satterwhite where a young engineer is renting part of the house Bob built and recorded with him. He isn't very experienced, but it's a comfortable place.

The studio is fit into the "mother-in-law apartment" Bob had built for his Finnish aunt Helve. She was in her late 80s and quite feisty. It turned out the country life held no charms for her after a lifetime in Las Vegas - I guess, like my friend Beth, she preferred concrete to trees and meadows - so she left Satterwhite and moved back to a city.

It's a long drive up there, so we did a couple of overnights. I put my cot in the living room next to the wood stove and read some of Bob's junky books when we were done recording for the night.

Well, then we had to mix the stuff we recorded. A thousand questions: which mics are too loud, which are not loud enough, each track has to be EQ'd so it sounds right (it's better to solve this BEFORE you record, with good mic placement, but oh well), how will the tracks be panned (in stereo, we can make some sound like they're right in the middle and some, like they're off on one side or the other), what kind of reverb to use... usually the engineer is a big help, but this one said, "honestly, I s--k at mixing," and Bob is mostly concerned with whether he played every note perfectly (I think he played only two incorrect notes on the whole album) so I made most of the decisions.

Pratie Heads with rags and miter boxMeanwhile, back home, I was painting the album cover, and I'm a rotten painter, so that took a long time.

We set up a photo shoot with a table covered with "rags" (which included some of my favorite dresses and a lot of Zed's boxers, sorry Zed), and a saw in a miter box. My friend Paul shot the pictures, and this is the one we used on the back of the album.

Next, the rest of the graphics had to be prepared. In the olden days, I would do them myself in WordPerfect, and then have everything rendered as films and send the films off to the replicators. But now, it's all done electronically, and I don't have any of the programs that the replicators accept for uploads. Once again Paul came to the rescue, he had InDesign, but it's a hard program to use and it took us days to get everything right.

We got all the graphics files sent off to the replicators, and then our young engineer had a meltdown just as we were supposed to get our final mixes. The cd drive in his fancy Roland console died, and he had to haul his hard drive into town and perform some firewire procedure to make copies for me.

He brought the tracks to me finally, one track each on 18 cds, and I mastered them at home on SoundForge. SoundForge is an amazing program: things I can now do myself - sitting in my office - in the old days could not be done by anybody in the greatest studios in the world. Having all those tools leads one to obsession so I spent a whole day tweaking, then burning a test cd, then walking around the neighborhood listening to it, then coming back and tweaking some more and burning another cd and walking again.

Finally I just had to say: ENOUGH. So I packed it off to the replicators.

Then, I overhauled my websites and put together the "Pratie Heads Electronic Press Kit" - this is something I didn't know existed until a couple months ago, when somebody told us it was the now only acceptable way to throw your hat into their bookings ring. Making that work took lots of time.

Then I did one for Mappamundi, my world music band, too - it's not quite ready for prime time.

Then I had to clean up the house. Then we had another gig. Now it's now.

And that's why I haven't been blogging.

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At 9:53 AM, Blogger melina said...

I love the cover! The colors are great.

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Sylvia said...

This is very exciting! You have done an enormous amount of work, very impressive indeed. Thanks so much for sharing and updating.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Alma said...

Phew.. I'm out of breath just thinking about all your work! Congrats on finishing the album!

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!--I'm tired just reading about that process. I need a beverage before I settle down to watch ''Mundo.'' Congratulations! ~~~Susanlynn, much too lazy to be a Renaissance woman

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the cover. ~~~Susanlynn


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