There were four stages in the production of my album when Pete wanted an improvement in quality that involved a certain amount of reconfiguring. I had created all the music in my home using my iMac with one synthesiser and Pete wanted to have it rendered with high quality sound samples. This was accomplished by working at Pete’s Oceanic Studios with his brilliant sound engineer Myles Clarke, who demolished many problems starting with the statement “Oh that’s really interesting.”
We used Vienna Symphony Orchestra samples for the orchestral instruments, and for the drums Peter Huntington recorded for us several hits for each drum sound on his kit. All this took quite some time and was complicated by the challenge of adapting music originally created for different sounding instruments. For instance the double bass sound on Galaxy 2 was almost impossible to get sounding the same with the Vienna sample.
Then Pete felt that the percussion, because it was triggered by midi patterns, was too mechanical sounding, and he suggested vamping the situation somehow. My solution was to put all the percussion sounds through a filter bank, so as to colour each “hit” with a note, thereby giving all the percussion a melodic quality as well as the usual percussive drive. This gives the music a unique percussion sound and bonds the percussion to the music very strongly. It also makes the percussion “melodies” fit the harmonic maths developments that occur in all the other instruments’ parts.
Some years before, Pete had invented what he calls the “myriad sound system” where each instrument has a separate loudspeaker to be recorded through. It occurred to him, and me also, that when one has synthesised or sampled voices recorded together, they can fold flat against each other in a way that blurs or destroys their distinct and individual character. Pete was concerned that this needed to be avoided. With this system, which Pete recreated for the album by purchasing 36 such speakers, Myles and I were able to record the album through this system (looking a little like a mini-orchestra of ETs), including phasing by swinging microphones in front of the speakers.
Then the music sounded boxy (as if heard in a box) – the frequencies sounding restricted. To solve this Pete had the stage/platform removed from the main studio at Oceanic, which took a whole morning of heavy lifting by a team of guys helping out. At this stage Pete felt that we were in the frame for sound quality. In some ways this is one of the most ambitious recordings ever made, for which I am deeply grateful to Pete. Ultimately I felt he was applying the same high standard of extraordinary sound quality to these recordings as he does for his other work, solo and with the Who.
Method Music – the double album – is released on January 31st 2012 by Navona Records, available on Amazon and iTunes