Engineering and Production catered to by George Lever
It is hard to pinpoint when exactly Holding Absence and I started discussing the album. It feels like it was pretty soon after the ‘This Is As One’ record was finished, then again my memory is awful and bad.
“This is Holding Absence” took a while to make, not because it was difficult to create but because there were a lot of moving parts to consider.
The outcome is one that I hope everyone is proud of. As of writing this, only one track has been released so far, so it’s pretty difficult to judge how well it will be received.
For those of you still curious about the approach taken when building the record, time to use that finger (I hope it’s a finger) and scroll down.
Also, I’m hungry.
Snares – Ludwig Black Beauty & Mapex Sledgehammer Black Panther
Vada Mic Selection;
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element Mic
Snare top – Shure Beta57 & Akg C414
Snare Bottom – Shure KSM32
Toms – Akg C414
Spot mics – Neumann KM184s
Overheads – Neumann U87s
Room Close – Royer R121s
Room Far – Neumann U87s
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element Mic
Snare top – Beyerdynamic M201 & Akg C414
Snare Bottom – Shure SM57
Toms – Senn MD421
Spot mics – SM7b & Oktava mk012
Overheads – Rupert Neve Design RN17
Room Mics – Aston Origin
Guitars & Bass
Fender Telecaster with Cobra Pickups
Fender Jazz Custom Shop 1964
Victory VX The Kraken
Dan Gower Modded Marshall JCM800
Diezel VH4 on Bass
Two Notes Captor
Honestly speaking, a band losing one of their founding members mid-cycle is never easy, whichever way you colour it. It is complicated further when you, the producer, are asked to help ensure that whatever comes next is consistent with previous material.
This becomes less about engineering and more about how you observe others’ relationship to music and what their own approaches to writing, melody and harmony may be.
In this instance, the main thing that the gentlemen required from me was an overarching view of the project that is this album, as well as ensuring that the flow of the record encouraged the listener to stay involved with what was being presented to them.
The risk is obviously that the songs Fes and I worked on vs the songs I ended up finalising on my own would sound noticeably different.
Avoiding that was paramount and critical, I allowed myself time to familiarise once again with what we had done since ‘This Is As One’ and listen to the composition of the ambient layers to best understand what made these sections work in the way that they did.
Having established the way things were, it then led into ‘where can they go next’.
We introduced moving drones and textured atmospheres that weren’t guitar driven, I guess it is more ‘pop’ to do this via synthesis but whatever. If it works… then it works. Funnily the results reminded me a little of the lead tones / atmospherics from the Bring Me The Horizon album ‘There is a hell, believe me, I’ve seen it.’ – Which happens to be a sick album so no complaints from me!
Trusting the mixer
The album went to a mix test that I was part of. This ended up with my close friend Abraham Fihema of Luna Crown being picked out of the blind test. Hopefully he’ll write his own words on the record at some point. I asked Abraham to join me during the Northstone sessions for the second half of the record. So as a mixer his involvement was a little more than your typical ’coming in from the cold’.
Working with George was a pleasure and a really pivotal part of our album recording process. Always willing to offer his own ideas, while remaining impartial – If it benefits the music, it’s right – That played a huge part in our final product.
Sonically, George is great at creating awesome soundscapes and understanding the overall shape and body of what the recording needs and how to achieve it, which is vital when recording something as big as an album.
Finally, on a personal level, George quickly became a friend in the studio, always mediating any band disputes and offering wisdom when necessary. And he makes a great seitan curry too!
With the wish to be honest and open, it is difficult for the ego when you lose a blind test shoot out. It will make you ask questions about your own ability. However, it is important as a professional to lose every once in a while.
You’ll learn lessons that otherwise go untaught. I learnt a lot about myself. Abraham was very accommodating and spent time talking through the process, I’ll always be eternally grateful for this as it helped me learn a side of the job that I had not appreciated fully beforehand. Thanks, Abraham x
Aside from personal development, breaking up an album into multiple sessions and losing someone from the process while doing so would derail most bands.
It didn’t derail the project this time around because everyone involved shifted to pull more weight.
Hopefully the result speaks for itself and highlights everything that went into the album from all involved.