A Victim of Stars

I don’t usually post two tunes in the same month,
but I’m so excited about this project that I have to do so.

My friend Joe Bush (a.k.a slipstream) and my son Taylor
have graciously contributed to this song.

Joe has provided a great drum track and I thank him so much.
I know he used a set of vintage drums and his special snare.
We had not worked together since 2009 so this is a treat for me.

My son Taylor has provided tone drums as well as the solo
played on his “frello” (fretted cello) an instrument he designed
and built. It is way special, but then I’m biased, hey!


wow great stuff ,the music is cooking,lovely rhythm ,your stuff reminds me at times like very early steely dan hope you take that as a compliment.love your use of the tremolo type effects have you ever tried this effect it makes your amp pulsate big time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKiVHZdxpVU the tremolo demo starts at 7.00 but it`s all quite interesting to watch
the mix seems a bit different to what you normally do, are you doing something different ,your vocals seem louder and clearer . the frello sounds great.

Nice job!

Well, beautiful. Had some comments, but will listen again.

Still beautiful! You create wonderful spatial atmosphere between the rhodes (goana) on the left and the guitar on the right (and on the left too); very, very nice. I think you are doing L/C/R (plus your m/s widening processing)? Bass is as per usual for you minimal and not something to notice other than what its purpose is, which is to be an unnoticeable bass that fills everything out, but I’m not complaining.

Sounds like the drums are all dead center, which, ok, question of taste. I’m just thinking they could be a little spacier, with at least enough reverb to give them spatial depth; a bit of artificial room. I’d probably compress the snare a little bit more to give it more punch. Or something. How many mics did you use? I’m just learning in this area, so hope you don’t mind the questions. Kudos to Slipstream for his very steady and appropriate playing.

The frello solo has an interesting position in the mix, which is sort of everywhere. The capture of the sound is wonderful, and I’m trying to guess how you got it where you got it, which againI guess is your new m/s technique?

Thanks for enduring my comments!

Hey p

thanks for the listen and video link.

Sounds like a great box, and I did watch the whole vid, but
I just bought a Fulltone SuperTrem2. The warble in this track
is the one in the Vibro Champ.

I think the vocal might stand out more coz this is a relatively
simple and spare arrangement for me.

Thanks for listening Ruslan. :wink:

Hi Leon,

thanks for the listen and detailed comments. :wink:

Yeah, there is L/C/R plus the M/S going on throughout.

As to the frello track, my son is an avowed mono-ist. There are over 20
layers (overdubs if you will) to his part which he would have recorded and
listened to in mono. So when he sent me the files
and I decided to render them in stereo, it was really like a mosaic of bits and pieces
that I had to put into their respective positions. Sometimes it is a phrase or
just a note or two, and it was really up to me to choose where each of such
fragments went. When you add verb and delays, the result is as you hear it.

Joe did the drums in his basement in CT. He gave me the following mic list:

Kick SM 52 inside
Kick Yamaha Subkick outside

Snare top 57
Snare bottom SM 81

Hat SM 81

Rack 421
Floor 421

OH 414 TL 2X

Room 414 BULS set to Omni

I suppose because the drum part is relatively straightforward, and there
are only two toms hits (in the final bar), there is only the hats and OHs
to provide any hint of spread. But with your comments in mind I have
adjusted the drum mix for scope and upped both Joe’s room track as well as the IR
I used.

Regarding the bass (and my original drum part, which Joe chose to replicate)
I was going for a groove along the lines of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.
My own view of grooves is that they work because they are simple and the
simplicity provides the solidity.

So, here the bass is deliberately simple. However, your comment about my
bass parts in general–ouch!! Actually, my bass parts take up most of my recording time. :blush: :cry: :unamused:
My ego is in the ICU. They expect me to recover but with permanent scarring! :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
As I sing in this track, “I’ll do better when I try next time.” :wink:

Thanks again for the comments, all good. :slight_smile:

again lovely recording you could almost make a trance type mix with some of your sounds,realy nice… is it a problem recording the amps tremolo getting the pulses sounding smooth ,although i dont detect any problems,ive only ever used tremolo plugins set to the tempo of the track . i can imagine punching in being a problem if the pulse does not match up.

I’ve mostly used the tremmy effect in my ToneLab these past few years.
I just set it by ear depending on the tempo and the part. The Vibro Champ
also has a great pulse and I’ve used it on the last two tracks, but, you are
right, pulse matching is tricky with hardware settings so if I need a new take
I generally need to re-do an entire phrase or lick. Takes more time but I’m
a convert now. :wink:

Am looking forward to trying the Fulltone on a fresh track soon.

Well, sorry, no ill thoughts about the bass on this one nor any of your previous recordings – but you must admit that the bass is not the focus (the vocals are, of course), and therefore the bass must fill a harmonic position/void that only the bass can! As in this one. But I do feel I owe it to you to go back and review the bass tracks of your earlier recordings… still, I’m not expecting Jaco. Considering how much time I put into the bass, I do appreciate what you’re doing!

Very interesting to me that Joe Bush didn’t give you any stereo source. I’m always using two overheads in my experiments, which I can spread however I like. If I had stereo room mics, I’d think about how to spread them. If you’re using Glynn Johns, there’s a stereo effect as well, in a different way. But you really have nothing. I have never even tried a snare bottom mic, so I guess I have no qualifications to comment on whether that is worth more than two overheads! This is a learning experience for me because the drums sound so good.

Joe supplied stereo OH tracks. There is little information
until such spots where cymbals or toms are used. I can hear the stereo
spread, but the drums are essentially a very sparse part of the track. So most
of the hits are center—snare, kick. The hats are truly left. Only one
or two places where some rides are used and literally only two tom hits.

And of course, there is the strong possibility I am not fully realising his files,
though Joe was happy with the final mix.

I used parallel compression on the kit. Although I also tried compressing the
snare on its own, I couldn’t find a setting or compressor that didn’t alter its tone
and some of them were quite shrill. So I chose to leave it as it is. I like it that
way, too.

We are working on other projects too and we shall see how they go.


Oh, I missed that you indicated 2X on the overheads and the room. Looking forward to your next projects! I may be able to post something soon from my band’s rehearsals, and would be interested in your comments on how the drums sound. I’m definitely compressing the (single) snare mic, but the resulting sound is a mix of that mic and the overheads.

Anyway, just about nobody here has posted a track with live drums that work as well as these, in my opinion.

Apart from being an experienced drummer,
Joe is also an award-winning audio engineer,
so I owe all the drum sound to his skills set.

Like you and your band’s drummer, I am very
lucky to have Joe.

Awaiting your next project too.

Very nice track indeed.

hi Leon ,even though my experience at mixing live drums is very limited you should try a bottom snare mic aswell as a top, you get a crispier sound from the snare wires i guess which makes the drum rolls and slurs sound better imo ,when i mixed a live recording of a band i was in, the drums had every drum piece miced seperately and a top and bottom mic on the snare plus two overheads, the bottom snare was essential realy for the attack sound and the top snare was a more round boomier sound,i just mixed them both together to taste, sometimes the bottom snare was more favourable.
its the descrition of the function given to the micing order of the snare which can confuse, top snare you would imagine higher frequency but it actualy sounds lower in frequencys.ive confused myself now .you get the picture anyway just my two pence worth .

A wonderful piece…just wonderful…great to collab with good muso’s…

The frello (great sound, great name - how does your son play it?) gave me quite a synaesthetic experience, very visual - fluid black and white fragments swirling round. I was reading your description at the same time, so it might have been the words as well as the sounds. Very interesting to read the tips and tricks in this discussion about your mixing/arranging. The sound is so clear and polished. I think you achieved a very nice bass/drums groove.


Hi Steve,

Taylor is a guitarist but wanted access to string sounds without having
to factor in the positioning skills of a cellist, so he crafted the “frello”
to have frets so as to make it easier for him to find notes. He plays with a
traditional bow.

He will be thrilled to know listeners like his contribution.


Thanks for your comments!

Listened two or three more times, and I’m still of the opinion that the snare needs to punch/snap more. I didn’t want to just say that, so I decided to provide an example (which is not so much like your song), that has a sound I’m imagining for how the drums would fit into this particular song. That is, snappier and more prominent. In any case, this song is fabulous.