Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February Update

February has been a busy month at Morph. Finished a few ongoing projects, started some new ones and kept working on others! Here's some highlights of the month:

I finished the music for the tv show "Ghost" which airs in Malaysia and the Philippines. The director wanted music that sounded like the stuff in the show "House". Lots of ambient layers and cool sounds. It was a great project and something I hope to get more involved with in the future. The show will inevitably pop up on youtube and when it does I'll put a link here for people to view it.

I did a live off the floor gig with my session drummer Craig Lapsley and a Toronto pop/rocker Andrew Bray. Andrew contacted me looking for a bass player and drummer to play live off the floor with for an EP he was doing. We got together and it turned out great.

Toronto pop/rock artist Gemma Wood came into the studio in January looking to record some songs here. We're currently working on a second song together and it's going well. Gemma brings in the song completely written with chords/melody/lyrics and then I help her arrange and put all the instruments in. I played some electric guitar, bass and did some keyboard programming while my session drummer Craig Lapsley laid down the drums.

I did some beats for Burlington pop singer Shi-Anne and for the last month or two we've been recording vocals and producing the songs. She is currently working towards finishing an EP that will be out late this year.

I had a bunch of session musicians come in this month to add some additional textures to some projects I'm working on. I think now a days with people working on music with their computers it's easy to forget how much better a production can be when additional players come in and contribute their unique skills to a song. I definitely try to get other people in when I can.

Michael Olson came in to lay down some cello for the Toronto band "Digital Horse. Ryan Malcolm came in to do some session vocals for adult contemporary writer Andy Winter. John Zytaruk came in to lay down some of his folk stylings via lap steel, dobro and banjo on an album I'm working with with a montreal pop/rock artist.

In new gear news I got a Roland Dep 5 which is a really cool effects processor from the late 80's. The Dep 5 is a processor with a lot of character and while I won't be using it on every session it's definitely going to be really useful for ambient textures. I also got a Novation V station software instrument which has some sweet sounds.

The big news in equipment at Morph Productions right now is that I just ordered two Great River MP-500NV preamps. For those of you who don't know, these preamps were designed to be a "modern" take on the CLASSIC Neve 1073 preamp. It's a sound that is known to be very thick with a very musical colouration and has been widely sought after in music recording for decades. I'm really looking forward to having two of them to track with and to run synthesizer sounds through. The ones I'm getting are the API 500 series which will fit in my lunchbox along side my API 512c pre. The idea of having a neve sound along side API in the same box really appeals to me. I'll post a review and some comparisons when they arrive in the next week or two.

So there's the february recap. The new website will be up in the next few days so keep checking back and let me know what you think. The website as always is www.MorphProductions.com

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Love My Space Echo!

As I was saying earlier I've been working on this music for a TV show that airs in Malaysia. The music required is really textural and ambient so I decided to use my space echo which hasn't seen a lot of use lately.

For those of you who don't know, the Roland Space Echo is a tape based echo unit made in the 70's. It works by having a tape loop continually running over a record head and then played back by several playback heads a little afterwards to recreate an echo. The echo time was determined by the speed of the tape as it ran over the heads.

I've had mine for about 9 years now and I just love it. As those of you who have worked with me know, I'm a real delay freak. It doesn't really work with the commercial stuff I do, but I always end up whipping it out when someone wants something kind of ambient or weird.

The real beauty of the unit (and the sound the digital emulations still can't get right) is when you turn up the intensity (feedback) knob. The way a space echo self oscillates is probably one of my favourite sounds ever. This baby sings! I love running pads through it while turning the speed knob up and down slightly to make the whole sound modulate a bit. I usually do this twice and pan the two while keeping the original signal through the middle. That's also a great sound on guitars to create a big washy sound. You can hear it being used like that all over Radiohead's "The Bend's".

It's also all over dub and old reggae recordings. The reggae and dub guys use to put it on the snare (or everything!) set to multiple echos and for a voice it would be set to a tight slap back. The Space Echo loves a Jamaican accent!

When you end up accumulating as much gear as I have, sometimes it's easy to forget some of your old favourites. I think I'll make a point of bringing out the space echo a bit more this year. After 30+ years since creation she deserves a bit of respect!

Here's a link to my gear page on my site if anyone is interested:

Morph Productions Gear List