This past weekend Troy and I spent some time at Kawari Sound with Matt Muir, recording rhythm guitar/vocal shells for six Almshouse songs. Kawari is in the sun-filled annex to an enormous Victorian house in Wyncote PA, and it’s full of guitars and vintage amps and snare drums and percussion treasures and microphones and keyboards of all shapes and sizes. Troy, with his acoustic (Martin CEO-7) and electric (Thorn Jr. through a Fender 70s Deluxe Reverb), was in one soundproof room and I was in another, and we could see each other through a nice big window. Matt — with his calm, easygoing voice in our headphones — was upstairs in the red-curtained control room, listening, adjusting, assembling click-tracks for each song according to metronome markings we worked out in advance. And then Troy got to play and I got to sing for hours — it was very cathartic to finally begin this process after the craziness of the last few months.
The shells we came away with are just my scratch vocal and Troy’s guitar, with the click track removed. Performance critiques aside, I’m excited about the quality of the vocal sound. The studio is a bi-level space connected by a staircase in a hallway with amazing acoustics, and Matt used the unique sound in the stairwell by installing a mic on each landing to pick up the ambient vocals from my room. So, in addition to the sound recorded directly by the main vocal mic, there’s this natural haunting reverb from the staircase track — a ghost in the machine enhancing the recording in an unexpected way.
I’ve listened to the shells — Gettysburg, Bitter Thing, Into the Night, Shooting Stars, Fretz, Ghost of Yesterday — about a half dozen times now and I feel energized about where we’re heading. And, these recordings are a promising foreshadow of the format we’re using for the “unplugged” Puck show next month. Meanwhile, it feels like there’s a new song idea being born every week. It’s a struggle to focus on the other things that make our lives so busy and stressful, when there’s all this music.
Next step is adding Ken’s bass tracks, and the drums.