Holding Absence x Loathe
This is as one
Engineering, Mixing & Mastering catered to by George ‘G1’ Lever
This record started off life as a conversation early spring 2017 between myself and Feisal from Holding Absence.
At the time, neither of us were to know that it would lead to something as special as this. A record where two bands with distinct sonic signatures, that in all honesty are quite far removed from one another, featuring on the same split. The out come of which is (to date) my most fond record and proudest experience.
Each band push up against the boundaries of their respective genres until they buckle and give way to new and exciting worlds to explore. This was something I had to ensure I caught correctly whilst ensuring I didn’t default to the same directions for each band.
MJT Telecaster – Bare Knuckle Cobra T
Wirebird Telecaster – Bare Knuckle Mules
Gibson SG – Stock Pickups
Squire Baritone Jazzmaster
Slate VMS – U47 Model > Distressor
Kadeem > SM7b smashed to hell
Erik > Slate VMS u47 also smashed to hell
Kit – Guru Drums Walnut Shells
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element
Snare – 57 & C414
Toms – E22
Overheads – KM184s
Room – R88 & C414
Kit – Gresch Catalina
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element
Snare – C414 & M201
Toms – E602
OH – Aston Starlights
Room – Fathead Ribbons
Fender Jazz Custom Shop ’64
The mix process for both bands was fairly intense from the get go.
The time restraints on the project meant that I had to make fairly strong/bold choices during tracking that would be reflected in the final mix. That meant a lot of referencing during setup and before tracking, this was to ensure I wasn’t being misguided by rooms I didn’t know or any other elements for that matter. It had to be right from the off.
Holding’s mix came together pretty quickly. I think from the beginning of tracking to the final mix being submitted, the time scale was around 5-6 days in total. This is a very strong case for trusting the gut instinct and picking the correct mix references to help guide the process so that no time is lost to incorrect decisions.
A few things ended up being a little different to the ‘normal’ approach:
I ended up making a ‘fake room’ for the drums using samples I took while at Middle Farm. These got bussed together and hit with the HIE Pie compressor (waves plugin) and some EQ, then blended to taste till they sounded like they were part of the kit rather than distant and fake sounding.
This provided a lot of the drum character for the mixes here as the room we tracked in didn’t have anything going for it in terms of ‘character’, so that had to be added.
I also ran a different parallel bus for the drums utilising the DevilLoc by soundtoys. Usually this plugin is really aggressive and overhyped, even on minimal settings, in order to combat this I ran a trim before the plugin so I could hit the plugin a little lighter and really focus the saturation / compression that guy brings to the table.
Bass and guitars got treated as a whole, the bass was there to extend the guitars and the guitars there to extend the bass. They got summed and brought in to be a little darker than usual as the focal point for Holding is their vocals, ambient layers and percussion.
Vocals got printed down with compression and EQ on the way while being tuned. I was trying to make sure I had a little editing to do during the mix stage. Just small changes to save time later on and really allow for the mixing process to be focus. Theres a lot of different reverb and delay throws through out the tracks that are there to help encourage the listener to follow what Lucas is singing about. Really proud of that!
Loathe was a more hands on approach with the gents being either in house for the mixing stage or connected via Skype and providing feedback while I streamed out the mix from my DAW (I did this using a genius app called Nicecast)
In all honesty, I made a few mistakes during the process of this mix. We had what became the base for the final mix nailed on when we came back from Middle Farm, however we all became really familiar with the sound and started fiddling with each element to see not only ‘How good can this sound’ but ‘how much can it do’.
As a result of this the songs took on a lot of different shapes and sizes but not always ones that myself or the band felt were ‘correct’ for what was needed for the tracks.
In the end (I’m talking after 2 weeks of mixing) we reverted all the way back to the backup from Middle Farm and went for it.
That final mix process maybe took 4-5 revisions in the end. We knew exactly what was possible with the material, what wasn’t going to reflect well and where each bit needed to sit in order to get the right movement and momentum from all the layers and parts that were playing.
Additional cool stuff;
– In White Hot all the tom overdubs and additional sub impacts are takes from myself, Shayne, Kadeem and Sean stamping / jumping around in the live room to the track over laid and eq’d to hell and back.
– During the song Everything by Holding Absence there’s a full orchestration subsection during the final movement that I worked on with Feisal in secret before the rest of the band came in. Maybe we’ll upload that separately some day. But it’s in there and helps all the ambient layers come together and really push the emotional curve of the end of the song.
– The reason why there’s no additional samples during loathes drum takes is because Sean Radcliffe is a robot sent back from the future to tell you that you are wrong.
Ash Green – Holding Absence
“I love how you’ve approached this entity and really create a universe for our sound.
The space in which each instrument takes place is perfect along with the dynamic captured throughout each track.”
Both bands have previously released material that is available to stream via youtube and all the major music apps.
This is my first time working with the guys in each band, however, all their earlier material is also amazing and worth adding to your own collection!
Until next time.