Saturday, May 5, 2012

Suckfest '95

Your Weekend Listening
"Empty House"
ca. 1995

A few entries back, I mentioned that I came across a treasure trove (well, some kind of trove) of old four-tracks, from 2000-thereabouts.  Sadly, this isn't from that.  I haven't yet gotten the energy together to spin up the old Tascam Porta-One and the Alesis Multimix Firewire 16-channel.  Also, I haven't gotten drunk enough yet.

Those recordings were pretty good - some interesting, quirky songs that showed the mix of influences I'd had on my writing in the last half of the 90's, decent enough playing and engineering that at least showed a minimal awareness of what EQ ranges might not curdle one's tympanic membrane.

Today's entry shows none of that.  It's a shitty song with lousy playing and engineering that checks every single box on the 'How Not to Engineer a Home Recording' list.  But I present it here as a reminder of how you can delude yourself into feeling that the work that you're producing at this moment - any moment - is worth your time.

The best weapon against not sucking for posterity is to find a way to apply some kind of objective criteria.  Measure yourself against it.  Is the beat iffy?  Is the guitar out of tune?  Are the lyrics insipid?  Is the mic, as they say, 'hot'?  You've got ears and a brain - use them, and don't be afraid to give yourself a hard time.

I don't really have anything of interest to say about the song itself.  I had completely forgotten or purged the memory of its existence until a couple of years ago, when I was importing a bunch of old four-tracks from Ansley and Bran from 1995 or so, and this turned up in-between a couple of their songs, buried deep in a decaying cassette master.

The only real shame is that whatever minor listenability the song might have had is completely hampered by the godawful engineering.  The reason that piercing electric guitar drowns out the mildly inoffensive acoustic is that they had been bounced onto the same track, and the effects were live to tape, so there's no un-crapping it.  Ditto the overdriven vocal.  Just basic issues of setting levels, not even dealt with.  I suspect that even when it was fresh, I didn't think much of it, given the half-assedness of it and the fact that I never mixed it down.

So, that's now rectified - but as a warning to myself, not a presentation for you.  Feel free to listen.  I challenge you to enjoy.


P.S.: Christ, but that bridge is awful.

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