Recording vs Recording

02008-02-21 | Music, Recording, Studio | 5 comments

I am entering an exciting phase in the work on the new album. Here the process of this type of recording shows a very different character to the process used on “One Guitar” or “Up Close“, for example. At best the studio fades away, becomes a mere vessel for the music to pour forth in those recordings, documenting the music, coloring it as little as possible.

This new album is more like “La Semana” in character. The studio becomes an instrument, is not documenting the music as much as defining it, coloring it, shaping it. Whereas I might think of “One Guitar” as a photograph or a video of a performance, “La Semana”, and this new album, are more like architecture. Now that most performances have been captured and added to the songs, I begin a process of revising, re-shaping, editing, perfecting the blueprint of the building. I might create a window by muting a kickdrum or a percussion element, to throw more light on a guitar or bass phrase. I might take a phrase and repeat it, delayed and displaced, like repeating an architectural element on a wall to the left or right of the original. I might even tear down a wall that stands in the way…

I begin to listen to the material over and over, writing down notes regarding elements I want to remove or change or new elements that have to be created and added. The main volume of the building – or maybe buildings, if we look at each song separately, one a tea-hut, another a tent or a cathedral – has been created, now the details need to be sweated. I enjoy this part a great deal. It is through the details that the listener discovers the urge to hear the music again and again. I find this is very true for two other albums of mine that are good examples of this type of architecture – “The Hours Between Night + Day” and “Opium”. It is also through the detail that the listener can seemingly enter the work – the detail becomes the door to the building. Something as simple as a hole torn into the percussion-weave at the right moment allows us to enter…

I am documenting this process and am keeping all of the many rough mixes I make along the way. It might be nice to deliver them as part of the subscription/paid podcast we will offer later this year. Sometimes I fall in love with a rough mix and prefer it to the version of the song I end up releasing, although the rough mix might be missing a wall or part of the roof…


  1. Gudrun

    Thank you, Ottmar!

  2. dave

    You’re teasing us. Will the album be available by the time you come to Cambridge in April?

  3. gerry uk

    I love to read about the creative process, (I’m trying to create some new music myself). This is a great insight – thanks.

  4. victor

    As always thanks for sharing and I am very much looking forward to your new releases.

  5. laurie

    process and product – inseparable


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