Track Listing & Credits
- Moving Things Around
- Can’t Fix Crazy
- End of the Day
- Still Got Your Picture
- Mystery Plane
- Cargo Cult
- Sargasso Sea
- Hunting for the Sun
All songs written by Fitz except “Still Got Your Picture” by Fitz & James Ridgeway. All music by Fitz with the following help:
Vocal engineer & recording: Dave Hanbury (House of Jam Studio)
Bass on “Can’t Fix Crazy”, “Cargo Cult”, & “Mystery Plane”: James Ridgeway
Live Drums & percussion: Andy Hamburger (House of Jam Studio)
Mixing Assistance: Jim Ebert
Mastering: Bruce Cane
Album art: Jared Keith Lee
Date Released: March 11, 2014
The Goal & Results
I’ve wanted to make this album for years. A (mostly) synthpop album with lots of ethnic influences and nary a dance track in sight. Drawing from a lot of early 80s music (Toto’s Africa, various Peter Gabriel albums, etc.) I wanted to craft an album with all the exotic textures grounded in solid songs. I also wanted to draw in a lot of the early 70s sound in terms of production. I stuck with plate reverbs, analog delays, and kept the mix a lot less compressed than is fashionable these days. Overall I think it worked. You can hear me fishing around for my sound and often missing it, but in generally I think it sounds about right. I think the next album will sound a lot stronger and more “decided” in its timber.
The album was recorded over a 9 month period. I would do all the tracks at home and farmed out a few of a bass lines to a friend (James Ridgeway). Once I had everything sounding good I went to House of Jam Studios for vocal tracking.
While I was there the studio house drummer, Andy Hamburger, said he wanted to try a few tracks so I hired him to see what would work. Several tracks REALLY benefitted from his work and I quickly replaced my programmed tracks with his. Others favored the program drums and they stayed.
Mixing & Mastering
I struggled for months to get the mix right and finally gave up and hired Jim Ebert of Cue Studio to give me some guidance. I took my laptop over to Cue and we went thru about half the mixes with Jim giving pointers. It was an invaluable session. I took his suggestions home and was quickly able to get my songs mangled into a pretty solid mixes. In general here was my approach:
My overall mix used pretty standard bracket EQ to carve out bands for sounds, UAD EMT 140 plate for almost all reverbs, and usually a UAD Roland RE-201 for delays. EQ was UAD SSL and compressors were either UAD La2a or 1176.
I used the UAD Studer quite often to provide grit. Anything that sounds vintage or dirty (the delayed Kalimba on Movin’ Things Around) went thru the Studer on a highly degraded setting. It just sounds fantastic and I don’t think the album as a whole would sound anything like it does without it.
The electronic drums proved the most difficult to mix. To get the ethnic drums to blend with the hyper-compressed TR707 I had to create a complicated chain. First I compressed the ethnic drums with a generic Ableton compressor. Then I put a slight EMT 140 plate reverb on both the the ethnic and TR707 drums, then I put a touch of “room mic” using Ableton’s cabinet simulator on them, then more compression on both with a UAD LA2A ,and finally UAD Studer plugin on the whole mess. It took all that to get the sounds to gel!
Vocals were comped together from 1-6 takes per song and invariable processed with UAD 1176 compression, EMT 140 plate, and occasionally UAD Ampex for chorusing. Delays were often just the built in Ableton delay.
I also outsources the mastering to someone Jim Ebert recommended: Bruce Cane. In retrospect I would have had him add more silence between tracks but other than that I liked the sound he got and they way he kept the overall compression light.
- DAW & Mixing Plugins: Ableton Live 9, many UAD Plugins
- Vocals: recorded using a Manley Reference Gold thru a Manley Voxbox. Effects were almost always UAD EMT plate and various delays.
- Synths Plugins: AAS Chromaphone, Korg Legacy Poly Six, UHE Diva, Camel Audio Alchemy
- Synths Hardware: Roland Jupiter 8, Dave Smith Prophet 08, ARP 2600
- Keys: Pianoteq for acoustic piano, AAS Lounge Lizard for electric piano, usually the Jupiter 8 or Prophet 08 for synth comping. UHe Diva for “vangelis” lead lines and small fills.
- Bass: A live bass player on Cargo cult and Mystery Plane (James Ridgeway). The other tracks were either Prophet 08 (Movin’ Things around), Roland Jupiter, or Korg Legacy Polysix.
- Strings: Almost always Camel Audio Alchemy but occasional Jupiter or Prophet patches.
- Drums: Either a weird agglutination of Roland TR 707, ethnic samples, and shakers, or a live drummer (Andy Hamburger).
- Sound Effects: These were almost always created on an ARP 2600
- Guitars: none. nada. zip