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Pathetic: rough mix

Getting down to serious final-draft work on the album. Here’s a rough mix of a partly-finished final draft of Pathetic:

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For comparison, here’s the original scratch demo again:

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The new recording is much closer to what I had in mind — bass in there tied to the drums somewhat (wish I was better at conceiving and executing really tight bass/drum syncs but drums are still pretty catch-as-catch-can and I don’t write many basslines either), electric guitars driving the whole thing, vocals are much more strongly executed than they were on the scratch demo.

Problems:

- the lead guitar main solo in the first half of the song absolutely needs to be replaced. Some of the more atmospheric stuff going on with that might stay around, I’m not sure, but today was just not a great improvised-solo day and I haven’t written anything specific for the solo to try and execute by rote.

- some small problems with the vocals still. The overlap from one stanza to the next in the chorus is not quite a solved problem, I need to figure out how to do that.

- not wholly satisfied with electric guitar sound. Close-miking an amp is not something I have a lot of practical experience with, so I continue to fiddle with it. This recording has both a Gibson L6-S (for the heavier distorted parts) and an Epiphone Casino (for the chimier and less distorted bits), both going through a Pod XT into my Fender Deville 2×12.

- wondering if I should incorporate some acoustic into this after all. The plucky-electric is more what I had in mind for the final mix, but the bright feel of the acoustic might give the mix a little extra sparkle and character at some parts.

- drums are…not great, but I’m not going to turn into an amazing drummer in the next week so I’ll have to settle for pretty clean. I did reposition my overheads and crack open the kick to muffle some of the resonance with a couple of old towels today.

- bass part has a total flub about one minute in that I can probably patch with a quick cut-and-paste.

- the complicated climbing changeover from the chorus to the bridge about halfway through feels insufficiently punchy and kick-ass. Not sure how to fix. This is something that in a band we would fix by fucking with it over a series of rehearsals. Not so sure how to pull that off by myself when I can’t play all the instruments at once and get to it by way of feel.

- the mix in general feels pretty soggy and overdone at the moment. I need to work on some EQ and maybe pull some things out in general more.

And structurally this went from a 5 minute demo to a 6 minute final. Longest track on the album easily. It’s got a lot of changes and is intentionally on the big-epic side, but that’s a lot of song. But at this point I’m close to committed to the structure unless I want to do a bunch of careful surgery, and even then I’m not sure it wouldn’t come off a bit Frankenstein. We’ll see.

All that said, I’m feeling pretty good about this. I got off to a lousy start today with a couple disastrous attempts at guitar tracks after laying down the drums (I’m trying to start with drums on the final drafts, against a throwaway reference track, more on that in another post if it turns out to work well for me), but coming back to it later things went reasonably well and this is where I finished up for the day.

Hopefully I can get more done tomorrow; I’d love to get at least the skeleton of two more songs in the can. I’d like to have everything Mostly Done with still a few days to spare for re-recording and careful mixing.

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