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Parting Gift

 

Vein & Rensing

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Engineering, Mixing & Mastering catered to by George ‘G1’ Lever

Prelude

The Vein and Rensing session came to be shortly after the ‘This is as one’ split EP.


The gentlemen in Parting Gift had a very strong idea of what they wanted to achieve. A track with two sides that flow effortlessly between one another.

After the intense sessions that made up ‘This is as one’, it was nice to work on something where the focus was directly on the songs flow.

Tracking was nailed more or less within 4-5 days with the mix ending up being more of an extension of the tracking process. 

Lets get into the guts of the session. More below!

Tracking

Preparation & Tracking

i. Artistic Direction
Like a lot of bands, Parting Gift approached me with an ideal outcome in mind but with some doubts as how to get to the final result.

Problem solving? Yeah I’m down with that.

A list was put together of what the gents wanted in essence from the session.

On this list was;
Live drums – ideally no samples. Left feeling human
Harmonically rich guitars & bass, without loss of clarity.
Ambient layers that are audible but not ‘foggy’.
Pure vocals – to take as much advantage of Zac’s vocal range without burying the guy in the mix.

ii. How the session opened up
For drum tracking, we ended up at a small and cheap studio 10 minutes down the road from my own mixing suite.
The space wasn’t ideal, very little treatment and had a large and unstable bass resonance to the room. Which in turn meant the placement of the kit was going to be tricky to ensure the close mics and overheads didn’t get swamped with useless information from the room.
I asked Cameron (the session drummer, Lotus Eater) set up a kick, snare and high hat on a drum mat so that we could slide the kit around to a few different spots in the room. I was listening for the snare not to sound dull and woolly and for the kick attack to sound equal to the impact of the beater, in short I was listening for low end cohesion. When this ‘cleans up’ and doesn’t sound muffled or foggy its generally a good sign of when you’re finding the right spot in the room for the kit.
Once this was done, we tuned up, setup some of the usual microphone suspects and got into it. The tracking session itself was really straight forward. No drama, nothing died, drums happened. We just got on with it.

iii. Identifying the bands sonic signature & No samples please
Open, honest and powerful. This is the initial character Pete and Zac had requested before the session started. This was the goal.
Ideally they also wanted to avoid using samples on the drums as much as possible and have something that felt like it moved, encouraging the listener to be more involved.

Avoiding samples isn’t impossible, it just relys on a lot of minutia coming together and working in your favour. The drummers control, microphone placement, how disgusting the bleed from that f*cking ride is. Everything has to be in that ideal zone in order to get the most from what you’re tracking.

Usually the snare is the one that gets the most careful treatment because any brightening or upper mid carving you do is also where the cymbal bleed will be living. Boost too much and you get all the joys of cymbals screaming at you down the centre channel telling you that you are bad at life. In order to combat this I used a Multi-band plugin (Fabfilter MB) but set to expand mode. This got used in two stages, both pre and post compression. So that I could tackle the bleed in increments rather than being super heavy handed.

*For those of you unfamiliar with this expander multi band ‘trick’ give it a google, i think Adam Getgood has an example of this on youtube some where from a Nail The Mix episode.

Aside from tackling the snare in stages the drums came together really nicely, the guys didn’t want this super slammed sound so the processing was minimal and depended a lot on Camerons performances.

iv. Guitars and Ambience
I really love when we can bring already recorded ideas directly from the demos. Stuff that the band may have worked a lot on such as ambience layers or any post production.

Pete’s ambient work (thanks to some ridiculous strymon pedals) slotted in with minimal encouragement. A great success! I think all I ended up doing was notching out a few rogue harmonics along with filtering some excessive low end that can build up form time to time and then finished the chain with a plugin called ‘Trackspacer’ which is by Wavesfactory. This is a great little multi band eq side chain thing. Here I set it to look at any of the vocal information and make sure to duck between 500hz up by 4db when theres any singing going on. Just to be safe, cause vocals are important. Boom, nailed.

For the rhythms and heavier tones we used the Kemper. Pete, Jack and I sat down for a little while testing out a few different tones with their SG’s before settling on another tone from the Kris Crummett STL pack. Again, very little post EQ, just volume rides and different pedals being punched in and out for the duration of the tracks. No fancy tricks needed here!

v. Bass
Fender Jazz to the rescue again! To think I almost sold this bass a few years ago is crazy. It’s ended up on more tracks than I had originally expected. I wanted to try a different route this time. Using the Slate VMS pre amp as the DI box. I shot out Slate and Kush audios ‘preamp’ emulations and,(opening up the session again to look) it looks like slate won this time with the 1073 being run pretty hot, just until it started to break up on the more exciting parts. After that it ran out to an Ampeg tone and a proco RAT pedal, summed to an 1176 / Distressor combo for flavour and to catch any nasty spikes and peaks.

vi. Vocals
Slate VMS, again. Am I repeating myself? Maybe. It’s really hard not to use this. We tracked in using the u47 and ended up switching the model to something a little more hifi after. Zac is a pretty dynamic vocalist. His vocal tone shifts a little from quiet and louder passages. Because of this i split out the sections and ran differing EQ and compression on each section in order to have more control over this tonal and dynamic shift.

These different tracks would then sum to a main vocal aux and get hit pretty hard with tape saturation and a final limiting stage to control any of the final peaks that got a little too intrusive.

Gear Used

Guitars

Gibson SG with Stock Pickups

Amps & Pedals;
Kemper – Kris Crummett Profile – SourSound Amp
Strymon Timeline
Strymon Big Sky
Ibanez Tubescreamer
& Some odd weird Muff pedal

Vocals

Slate VMS – U47 Model > Neve 1073 > Distressor

Drums

Kit – Mapex Saturn 4 with Mapex Wraith Snare
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element
Snare – 57s top and bottom
Toms – Beyerdynamic M201s
Overheads – Oktava mk012 modded (ORTF)
HH – Aston Starlight
Ride – Aston Starlight
Room – Fathead Ribbons in Blumlein

Bass

Fender Jazz Custom Shop ’64

Mixing

The majority of the mixing / tonal choices were made during tracking. This really was the beginning of me shifting my mixing approach being more of an extension of the choices made during tracking rather than a track / edit / mix segmented state of mind. Tracking with the final outcome in mind from the word go.

As a result, listening back to the mixes and looking through the session, everything is working together without any large jarring ‘arguments’ happening between the instruments and vocals.

One thing i did try differently was mixing each song to its own strengths, using the same ‘family sound’, however the results initially were a little far apart. One had more low end excitement and the other had a lot more complexity going on with the layers. Each one had its merits but it wasn’t something that was going to work out for the release – so in the end we took little bits that we liked from each mix and balanced it out between the two. The result being what made it to release!y

Additional cool stuff;

– The Interlude that connects the two songs together is lifted directly from Peters demo. The only difference is how I balanced it so everything could flow. Aside from that. Its just Pete. None of my influence there!

– The synth ‘chirp’ before each chorus originally showed up once or twice in the song. During the session it was used as a ‘here comes the hook’

Bonus Feature

Words by Peter from Parting Gift

I asked Peter if he would like to share some insight behind his approach to sample building as well as ambience layering seeing as its quite a big part of the Parting Gift identity. He was kind enough to put some words together below – George

The ambient parts / drones / long notes play a huge role in Parting Gift’s sound. I would say about 25-30% of the final product is recorded pre-session in my room.

My process is always changing but for Vein & Rensing, I used a combination of the Strymon Big Sky, the TC Electronic Flashback and the Valhalla plugins as well as some of Ableton Live’s modulation plugins.

The basis of the sounds was either my Gibson Les Paul, a flute sample (when low enough in pitch, almost sounded like a cello) or a section of a sample of a Prague based choir that I isolated however this was often quite low in the mix because of its musical interval that didn’t always support the vibe.

Usually, it’s only really there for the vowel. Sometimes I layered all these “sources” at once. I recorded the guitars through the Strymon in stereo and processed it further afterwards. I love the Chorale algorithm on this pedal.

Ableton’s sampler / sequencer helped me achieve the tape glitch sound that can be heard during some of the transitions. I’m a big fan of sampling so this is something I do a lot. In the interlude you can also hear a horn sample processed heavily.

I was generally aiming for a sound as analogue as possible, with no digital silence. There’s always at least a tiny little bit of white noise or reverb tail to help place the sound in the context of the real world. – Peter

Testimonial

Parting Gift – Peter Vybrial

Working with G1 on Vein & Rensing was a significant step-up from our previous experiences.

Be it thanks to George’s attitude towards the artist and care for what we intended to achieve or the engineering demonstrated during the sessions (drum tracking especially), we knew we were in good hands.

We quickly developed an atmosphere of mutual respect and we managed to successfully overcome schedulling issues as well as other problems that arose along the way, some of which other engineers would not be willing to compromise on.

Lastly…

Parting Gift have a bunch of other singles out on youtube. They’re each awesome in their own way.

However… We are about to enter the studio again together.

To make more bangers.

Bangers = killer tracks.

Until next time.

G1.