Back to the future

Finally back in Stockholm after two years, writing an essay on future GUIs at the Faculty of Philosophy, Södertörn University College.
The album is done. Promo copies are going out.
Have been working like a dog the last month–and I’ve lived like a dog too for that matter. A nomadic dog.

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet Mark, who convinced me to mix every track on the album from scratch in his studio.
It has been a lot of work–but it has really saved the sound of the album, so I’m nothing but happy about it.

My nomadic home

Mark has a wonderful combination of digital and analog equipment. We have beefed up numerous beats by running them through his API with wild eq settings. You just can’t do that with digital. If you try, very quickly things starts sounding like representations of the real thing.
“Oh, that sounds like a tape delay”, people who listen to music will say, because they often know how a tape delay works. They know that there is a vintage, slightly unreliable mechanism involved in the production of the delayed sound. They can tell the difference between a real tape and a mimicked one–just like most people can tell the difference between fake marble and real.
That’s the whole dilemma of digital–it tries to, and it has to, mimic analog counterparts that has a long tradition with them.

Say you want to achieve distortion–in the analog world you can do it in many ways, basically it means sending an over-driven signal into something, so that when it comes out, it will be distorted. The distortion will get a different color and body depending on what you send the signal through.
With analog, there are no bandwidth or dithering problems. You can use really extreme settings and it will sound extreme–but still “good” in the sense that you won’t end up with a “reduced” or “flattened” sound that “sounds processed”.

With digital you never know exactly what you get–professionals talk about a “Black Box”-effect.
They refer to the fact that there are undocumented algorithms in most plugins that might alter the fundamental character of your sounds in a very dull, predictable way.
An example: the highly regarded Waves Renaissance plugins; because they all are all based on the same internal architecture, they all narrow and distort the stereo image of your sound in a very characteristic way as soon as they are applied–even when they aren’t doing anything!

Another example: Logic (before version 5) deducted 1 bit in the global mix-engine for every extra bus that you added to your mixer, which would gradually reduce sound clarity. It wasn’t documented, so people got gradually more disappointed with their mixes–without knowing why!

My music already lacks context. It suffers from a kind of post-modern sickness, with sounds coming from many disparate sources. Some people can’t listen to it because they start to focus too much on the individual sounds–they desperately try to identify and classify them. I’m not saying this is a bad thing–I think that is an interesting part of the music. That’s what got me hooked on sampling in the first place.
But I’m not sure I would have coped with contextlessness of my old mixes. So thanks again for the hard work, Mark!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to spring in Stockholm–and live gigs in summer. Will do a serious update of the Forss Official Site when the album is released in June.

The 21 jun, 03 my blog participated in the “Blog Ta Musicque” event organized by these guys!
More than 60 bloggers will participate. Some examples will be interesting : Kill Me Again will create a song for this day and will post it on his blog, Philippe Allard will cover the Music Day in Brussels by moblogging, and on a Wiki page Christophe Ducamp will create a collaborative page about Joe Strummer.