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Sojourn - 2012

Sojourn is my fifth instrumental effort. Its been a long time coming due to being involved in some other projects that popped up along the way. The three big ones were tribute CD's through BHP Records. I had fun working on these projects but they did take up a lot of time resulting in me falling behind a bit. I started writing for Sojourn in 2007 so these tunes have been around for quite a while. There order of conception/recording are: "Threshold", "Asleep In The Barrows", "A King's End", "Nauticull", "The Gate's Of Golgotha", "Out Come The Wolves", "Azrael's Fatal Intent", "Exhale Into The Pit" and, "The Reanimator". I would write the main riffs and figures for each song first. Then I would write out the arrangement, then program the drums. From there I would record the drums into my DAW and then start putting down rhythm guitar tracks, bass tracks, synth, and finally solos. I've always strived to make the music as compelling as possible before recording the solos.

Production Notes:
I learned a tremendous amount during this recording. First off I used my new recording rig (which isn't really all that new anymore) but it has proven itself to be quite worthy and musical. It's based around a Sonica Audio PC and two Presonus Firepod audio interfaces. The DAW itself is Samplitude Pro 9. I really enjoyed using Samplitude Pro and I've found that I've gotten very decent results upon mixdown. It was a radical change from my Roland VS-1680. I'm still using my Event 20/20 monitors which I've grown to know and love.

Drums:
The drums this time around are a radical departure from what I've been using in the past. A couple of years ago I picked up BFD 1.0 and fell in love with the software. I initially used them on a demo for "Get The Led Out" - A Salute To Led Zeppelin. They sounded so realistic that I started using them on my material. As the years past BFD 2.0 came out and they really hit it out of the park with this new and improved version. The interface is easy to use and the sounds are amazing!

Guitars:
For 90% of this recording I used my Carvin DC747c sevenstring guitar. I find this guitar easy to play and a lot of fun to record with. For a couple of rhythm parts that needed a low F# I used my Agile Pendulum Pro 8 string. This was a great purchase and well worth the money. I used the Agile for a few solos as well. For preamps it was a big mix. The rhythm tracks for "Threshold", "A King's End", "Nauticull" and "The Gates Of Golgotha" I used my POD XT in conjunction with my Carvin Tone Navigator. I found the POD XT gave me a cold digital feel that I was actually looking for while the Carvin gave me the warm and fuzzy analog sound that worked very well with the POD. I found mixing the two together gave me a nice articulate fat sound that seemed to work well with my style of playing. All the solos and the balance of the rhythm tracks were recorded using my AXEFX Standard. The models I used for rhythm tracks were mainly Marshals on one side with Mesas on the other. I don't use a heck of a lot of gain as it seems to cloud over the articulation. For the bass guitar I used my Carvin LB76p bass. This bass is a real treat to play! I used it through my SansAmp RBI bass preamp which gave it a very modern sound. In the future I'd like to try to find a preamp that comes across a little bit more old school for a bit of variety.

Synthesizers:
Since I'm no where near being a keyboard player I use a Fender Roland Ready Strat to trigger any involved synth parts. The main synth module I used was Spectrasonics Atmosphere. This synth was great for laying down textures and moods throughout my tunes. The majority of the synth sounds were triggered by a M-Audio Oxygen keyboard. Another synth plug-in I used was Sample Tank.

Mixdown:
The mixdown was challenging as usual. I employed a lot of subtractive EQ to get everything to sit in the mix properly. Samplitude has a nice 4 band parametric EQ built into every channel. Before my next project I have to take some time to re-tweak my AXEFX patches as they came across very full spectrum and encroached on the other instrument's frequency range. All in all I really didn't use that many effects. The one's I did end up using were in the box and part of the Samplitude program. I mainly used Samplitude's compressor, delay and reverb. The compressor I used mainly on the bass and some solo tracks that needed to pop out a bit more. I mainly used the reverb as a thickening agent on some of the rhythm tracks and drums. The delay was used on mostly all of the solo tracks to create a bit of ambience as everything else was quite dry. I ended up making a lot of mixes of these tunes to make sure that they sounded decent on many different playback devices. One of the hardest thing I came up against was dealing with the subwoofer in my car. I found it very difficult to properly adjust the bass in the mix to make it sound good with and without the subwoofer. One of the things that helped was that I used a multiband compressor on the bass and just compressed it on 20hz and lower. I found that this tightened up the low B string. Another thing that helped was applying a shelf eq of 10hz on the bass channed as well.

Mastering:
I like to master my own tunes. I probably shouldn't as they always say that its best to get another set of ears to listen and make objective decisions on the final master, but I just can't let my stuff go. Ozone 5 turned out to be my mastering software yet again. I used the program on
Homunculus and really enjoyed its ease of use and quality of the end product. I don't master super loud as I like to leave a lot of dynamics in the material. If it ain't loud enough then reach for the volume knob and crank it up!

 

Song List/Description
Threshold:   ;
This was the first song I wrote for this project. I initially recorded a version of it in 2007 but I wanted to use BFD 2.0 which came out a couple of years later so I tweaked it and rerecorded it. This song is kind of the send off tune that starts the listener on his way. I tried to incorporate a lot of dynamics and variation throughout the tune that kind of foretells what's coming.
Exhale Into The Pit:  
I enjoyed writing this tune a great deal. It has a kind of groove metal sensablity to it that really appeals to me. I named the song after the sample that I used that opens up the tune. There's plenty of mixed meters in this one that I found challenging to play over. The first solo is over a 15/8 section that was brutal. I had to write everything out in Guitar Pro, practice it, and then attempt to record it. It was one of the most challenging solos to write.
Out Come The Wolves:  

This tune I find to be the moodiest. I tried to give the song a lupine quality through its brooding nature. It also happens to be the longest song on the CD clocking in at over 9 minutes. When I was putting this one together I really liked the last section so I kinda exteneded it a bit, which kind of makes me a bit guilty of self indulgence but I really liked the part so I couldn't help it. There are plenty of variations and riffs throughout.

Azrael's Fatal Intent:  
This is probably the weirdest tune on disk. It juxtaposes a lot of very different parts so it sounds very angular and strange. It has a bit of a mechanical feel to it as well.
Asleep In The Barrows:  
This is another old tune. This song depicts being asleep in a place that may not be as safe as you would like.
Nauticull:  
I nicknamed this song "The Pirate Song". For some reason I think it has a nauticul sensabililty to it. In an earlier promo video I used this song as the bed track and described its concept in the video.
The Gates Of Golgotha  
The fly in the beginning kind of foreshadows the meaning of this song and what its about. I had a lot of fun with this song. I even tried my hand at putting a bass solo in it to spice it up a bit.
A King's End  
This is a place where all good kings, and bad ones, must come to an end. This song was written a while back as well. I remember I was listening to a great band called Twisted Into Form and in one of their songs they double pick one of their riff lines. I loved the idea of the double picking so I used it on the intro.
The Reanimator  
This song is depicts renewal through reanimation. The initial riff is in 9 and goes into this weird bass/guitar arpeggio counterpoint thing. After that it gets a bit heavy then finally a solo line comes in over a funk in 9/4. This song was written on bass for the bass so the guitar is taking a back seat in this one.
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