Friday, June 21, 2013

Booker Long Duo

Another day, another groundbreaking album to mix.  Another day out of time and into space. Home, home on the range...

I'd just finished recording and mixing the hard rock band 100 Watt Mind in a non-stop sprint of work to get more done than time allowed.  Mildly frazzled, to say the least, after working every day for a month starting with the Massacre show in Japan.  Just the perfect space to mix a mostly untrodden genre of music - free jazz dub.

Working daily left me no time to research the musical leanings of the Booker Long Duo.  I only knew their instrumentation, - drums, and saxophone, with and without effects.  Their music turns out to incredibly interesting, free jazz with funk grooves, explorative improvisations into the geometries of rhythm and melody.  The coalescence and crystalization of a vehicular construct of sound that will take you places, show you things.  Education for the soul.

Ryan Scott Long makes the Booker long.  Long as in duration of event, stretching each moment toward eternity.  He is the drummer, the time-keeper, the duration planner and maintainer.  Long comes across as a very intense, musically charged, major drum personality of the future.  He soaks up aesthetic influence like a body-builder does protein.  His playing is very free, but also very precise with a great sense of tempo and steadiness of meter.

Michael Booker seemed a little more laid back when we met.  He definitely has his own voice on the sax. Haunting, spectral, melodically compelling and leading phrases grace the skyways and byways of their music transmission.  Transporting, opening gateways into other realms of perception.  I'm reminded of H.P. Lovecraft's Yog-Sothoth:

"The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be.  Not in the spaces we know, but between them.  They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.  Yog-Sothoth knows the gate.  Yog-Sothoth is the gate.  Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate."

Down into the depths and heights we go, like Alice for an adventure through the looking glass.  Some passages sound more like Dante's trip through Hell.

This music seems dangerous to the robot.

The album is called The Chance and can be pre-ordered and previewed HERE.

Track listing:

1. Darkness Into Light
2. Materialism
3. Rage
4. The Journey Begins
5. Sacrifice
6. Trip
7. Anti Depression
8. Migraine
9. Jameson
10. Paul Simon
11. The Chance

We had one day to mix the whole album though there were minimal tracks involved: drums, sax and sax effects.  No overdubs.

They instructed me to mix it dub style  which made it incredibly fun and creatively enjoyable.  Free jazz dub brought me back to the days of Painkiller and of mixing with Bill Laswell at Greenpoint.

So I set up a number of automated sends with different efx in each one.  An old school plate reverb, analog Echoplexish tape delays, overdriven vintage mic pres giving sweet distortion, photon torpedos, phase shifters and flangers were some of them.  The Solid State Logic (SSL) mixing desk also allowed me (of course) to feed efx into other efx for strange timbral combinations, and colored feedback decays.

The mixing went much faster than I prefer.  Two days would have been better.  Consequently, a lot of the efx and triggered explosions were done on the fly.  Very little to no thought occurred for planning and placing the efx.  The Chance truly merits the free jazz dub title both in the playing and in the dubbed out mixing.  About 17 - 23% of the dramatic efx came from unintended mistakes that sounded great!

The Chance was recorded by Mike Brown at the Annex Reharsal Studio in San Lorenzo, Ca.
I mixed it at Prairie Sun, Studio A, Cotati, Ca.  It was mastered by Myles Boisen at Headless Budddha Mastering Lab in Oakland, Ca.

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