R/E/P > Terry Manning


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i, definitely, think music can be too hi-fi

i think it relates to the idea that studio musicians can be too precise and clean and lose the "trashy edge" (to quote terry)

in my opinion, what is really exciting in art is contrast, so to have a lo-fi gtr against hi-fi drums (or vice-versa) makes us pay attention to both

sometims an upright fits the mix better than a grand

everytime you lo-pass a track you make it less hi-fi

sometimes, distortion on vocals is just what's needed to give it the right emotional impact

i also believe that what humans want from performers is to see them try and succeed (in fact, sometimes, even failure is acceptable if the person gave it their best shot)

if they succeed without trying, it makes for pretty boring viewing

often, the "character' comes from the person's attempt to better themselves (the raspy edge in the voice as they try to hit the high notes, the buzz of an amp as it tries to amplify the sound, etc)

It's a Lowrey organ on Baba O'Reilly (just being filtered through the synth) and I don't hear Moonie as out of time at the top.

and I CERTAINLY don't hear the piano as distorted.
In fact, I think it's absolutely stunningly good recording on that record.

but it's also certainly redolent of 'character' in Brian's sense.

Which I think has much more to do with being performance oriented, which we hope gets captured in the recording, rather than recording oriented, and hope it also has some performance left in it... if that's clear... which has become the trend.

people don't ask "is it a great drum take" until AFTER they ask if it's all perfectly on the grid and "phase aligned"

I also don't think that these recordings sought a "lo fi" sound, they simply did the best recording they COULD in any given circumstance.
I frankly find intentional "lo fi" as pretentious and pointless as attempts as "perfection"

I certainly will always fight for a performance that is compelling even if it has a "flaw" in it of some kind, whether musical or technical

Brian Kehew:
(Baba = Yamaha organ; Pete still has it, it's on a lot of Who tracks. Lowrey + EMS synth is Won't Get Fooled.)

Character is something that IS hard to define and anything can have it. Performance, tone, pitch, timing, phrasing, the material.

As indefinite as all that is, I find the concept to be a good one though, as a guideline. Not all your tracks need to have character, and it may truly cause a problem. But I do see myself asking "How INTERESTING is this thing I'm doing?" Could it be more clever and maybe unique, rather than a sound someone else has done? (Also good to abandon this idea and get dumb sounds - probably a great way to make a terrific overall track)

For me, a U47 into a Neve preamp is the last vocal sound I would use; lots of other options are good out there... "Family Affair" MUST be a talkback mic, and the vocal sounds AMAZING. But a bold move - or maybe he was high....

I also don't think that these recordings sought a "lo fi" sound, they simply did the best recording they COULD in any given circumstance.
I frankly find intentional "lo fi" as pretentious and pointless as attempts as "perfection"

Perhaps 'lo fi' is not a very descriptive term when used in a general sense.  Aspects of fidelity vary between people and situations and there is a good deal of training involved as well.  I am reminded of a story a professor friend of mine tells, which I can't assure the veracity of, but will relay anyway:

In the late 1960s a group of researchers/film enthusiasts found a man who had not seen a movie since the silent era.  They got him to attend a screening of '2001' expecting to overwhelm the fellow with the technical advancements of the medium since his last experience.  When asked what he thought after the film, he responded simply: 'It still flickers'.  The guy didn't even have the physiological conditioning to register the persistence of vision and motion blur!  

That story illustrates the often assumed role of acclimation to the medium in order to suspend disbelief.  I think we all know that trying to get the sound of a group of musicians in a space reproduced from an analog or digital medium into the wholly untreated and unknown environment of a living room remains a fool's errand.  The typical overdubbing and production process makes it even more absurd, particularly when considering that the most general ballpark approach to recording is enough for listeners to recognize and distinguish sound sources.  Consider the very early wax cylinder era of recording and how far those sound from live acoustic performance yet audiences could readily identify performers and instrumentation.  

For me, the more interesting area lies where the blurring of standard, recognizable and unexpected, foreign elements occur.  The type of timbral, structural and spatial manipulations required might get construed as 'lo fi' because it contradicts the more typical notions of 'faithfulness' in sound reproduction.  Everything I do in a studio recording context is fabricated, synthesized and lies outside of any single event.  I hold no illusions otherwise, and that tends to lead down a different path compared to many studio dwellers.  

As Brian pointed out in the opening post, no absolutes really exist on the subject and we often have difficulty describing the more abstract notions of 'quality' and 'character' to one another.  That's why I can joke about trading some 'hi fi' Terry Manning sounds for my 'lo fi' ones because obviously if we were given the same environment to work in the results will naturally differ.  Although I would put money on 95 out of 100 people preferring the other guy's results over mine, and that doesn't really bother me too much either.

Ryan Moore wrote on Sat, 02 April 2005 18:18

I never thought I'd see Basic channel mentioned on the forum!

Just wait until I regale everyone with my Mego and Autechre touring stories.


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