The return of the JamMan

This is a slightly belated report of a Darkroom recording session that happened on 17th Feb. We were continuing work on the "long awaited" (tm) new album.

I had prepared an unusually large amount of keyboard parts for Mike to play over, so I just sat back and let Mike play this time. We mic'd up a cab driven by a lovely old amp that Mike keeps in his basement. Not least among its features are the rather nice backlit controls - leading us to ignore the music for a bit and have fun taking photos of it in the dark.

This was the session I finally persuaded Mike to break out the legendary combination of Lexicon JamMan and Vortex, which pair formed the basis of the Darkroom sound for some time - until I started doing all the looping in the laptop. It was well worth the effort, as you'll hear when this material ever sees light of day.

More photos here.

os, March 2008

The Dragon's Ball

Wednesday 27th Feb: To Croydon, for the Dragon's Ball at the Green Dragon. Darkroom + Andy Booker, or Improvizone with Mike & Os? (Not sure if there's a difference...) Supporting Croydon-based Burning Shedders, The Resonance Association. Thanks Daniel.

We were billed as 'lo-fi dreamy techno' (!) The theory was we'd play drones with percussion... but to me, the venue didn't seem right for that, and it's definitely not what came out. Haven't heard the recording back yet - but towards the end,  I remember picking up on something Os played and thinking "no echo & maximum fuzz". Darkroom go ambient metal?

The fuzzulator helped make this work: Small but flexible, it handles vintage, gargly non-linear as well as brutal, bright & focussed with compressed lows. Varying the guitar's volume & tone does something useful as well, and given I typically use a volume pedal after the fuzz, there's a whole range of tones to explore even without echo. Somehow last Wednesday I rediscovered this!

Audio & video to follow...

Mike, March 2008

Update: Andy has written about the gig on the Improvizone blog.

The return of the Space Echo

Another recording session for the new album the other day. Unexpectedly productive - by means of recording some long improvisations from Mike, we ended up with the basis of at least three tracks, I'd say. Never mind that Mike ended up playing in a totally different key to the backing track that we were supposed to be overdubbing on.

As is becoming traditional, here's a photo of Mike's pedal selection for this occasion.

There was a new toy this time - in celebration of our recent BBC gig Mike had splashed out on the new Space Echo re-issue. It has an interesting sound - it's supposed to be an accurate recreation of the vintage Space Echo, but not having used one I couldn't say. It sounded a little digital to me. It also has a slightly redundant Knight Rider-eque red light on the front, which is probably supposed to indicate the progress of the 'tape', but wasn't obviously useful.

We also tried mic'ing up the fretboard of a fretless bass (do fretless basses have fretboards?). If that's useful, which it may not be, it will be for a Talk Talk-style "record a string quartet and only keep the sound of someone dropping his bow" effect.

os, Feb 2008

Recording for TV

On Sunday (6/1/2008) Mike & I did some recording for some music we've been asked to provide for a TV show. More details later, when we can reveal what show it is.

It was a slightly hectic session, as we had to record in about 4 hours all of Mike's parts for some fairly varied pieces. (Not to mention actually coming up with the music too!) The bonus side was that, unrestrained by any consideration of portability or live robustness, Mike was able to get out a lot more pedals than usual.

More on this later. There should be a web-viewable version of the final TV piece, and the music will most likely make it out on our podcast.

os, Jan 2008