At our last session at the Plough a couple of weeks ago (10 June 2008) we played for three hours. A record. Like parts of the Kent coastline, our staple C-major ending is retreating further and further inland these days. We ventured on for another 45 minutes after what I assumed would be this gig's ending version.
I blame that session's youthful guest newcomer Ben Lubin on guitar, who is either partially nocturnal, or has so much music in him he cannot bear to stop once he gets going. Both the mark of a true musician, I say, and advantageous either way, because he was a great addition to the line-up.
As such, combining Ben with regulars Mike Bearpark and Nick Cottam yielded, not surprisingly, a pretty good gig, rockier than usual, but laid-back and sweet all the same. For our opening piece (I uploaded a section a couple of days after the gig), I had finally worked out how to do vocal loops reasonably well. Use a volume control to swell them in and out. Simples. Oh, and you need to sing them in tune as well. I got that bit right at the beginning of the gig and then billuxed up every other attempt for the rest of the evening. The trouble is I don't yet have any vocal monitoring until after the looper, so I only know it's crap when it's already in the loop. It's OK if there's not much other noise, hence I could do it reasonably well at the start of the gig, but once there's a noisy guitar bending all over the place, it's much harder. Maybe I need an extra earphone signal.
Probably just as well that I concentrated more on the drumming anyway. Having exhausted my current capabilities with bringing just the SPD-S to the last few gigs, I brought back the bigger electronic kit this time, to the clear gratification of our bassist, who nodded, smiled and gurned more than usual as he plucked out the grooves.
I recorded this gig, and one of only two advantages compared to when Os does the recording is that I get the MIDI signal from the drums as well as the audio. This means that if I do keyboard pitches, I can reproduce their original stereo in the mix. If only I'd used them a bit more. The other advantage is that the audio is on my hard disk when I leave the venue. On the other hand, one of the many disadvantages of having to do the recording myself is that I can't just mix down the complete gig in one go. All my effects (delay) and notemap settings are different for each track, so I have to mix each track individually. All that explains why I uploaded a track from this gig couple of days after it, but still have not listened back to the gig all the way through.
As a recording experiment, I thought I would mic and DI both guitars. I brought my Joe Meek VC5 dual EQ preamp for the job. It has two outputs for each channel so it can be used as a DI splitter, intercepting the guitarists' signals on their way to the amps. Plugged Ben in. Fine. Plugged Mike in. Mike's guitar started coming out of Ben's amp. That was the end of that idea.
I brought one more idea to this gig, but only remembered it towards the end. Or at least, what I thought was the end of the gig, 105 minutes after we started, with no clue that we would be carrying on for a further 60. I brought a little old FM radio with a tuning wheel, and happened upon a talk station, building up looped layers of what sounds like Christian evangelistics. I wasn't really listening. Not the work of creative genius, I suppose. Sounded great anyway.