I’ll be the first to admit that album #4 is taking a lot longer than Excursions did. But the reasons aren’t all negative. Oh, sure there’s the usual bad ones – day job exhuastion, last year’s basement flooding, etc – but there’s been a fundamental shift in a lot of techniques I’ve been using that eat up a lot more time, but in the end I think will provide superior results. Or at least, I hope they will someday.
I’m doing a lot more acoustically than I used to. In the “old days” (read: 2007) I’d grab a dhol loop and call it a day. Oh, sure, I still use loops and samples like crazy, but now I’m actually to the point where I can record real dhols, or dumbeks, or whatever and not have it sound awful. The upshot is I can get a specific sound or riff suitable to the track, instead of having to write the track around the samples. This is a huge improvement. I still have problems with my dhols sounding like someone throwing a trashcan down a flight of stairs, but I’m getting there. This also takes longer because I actually have to practice these things. I’m not a natural dholi so I have to woodshed the parts a lot more than the (admittedly zero) amount I used to. If I’m not the one doing the performance, I need to schedule the guest performer which is never a spontaneous task.
I’m also doing as lot more processing than I was before. A recent track has pretty much everything run through either an amp or an amp simulator. In some cases, the effect is very subtle, just a little extra in the way of harmonics. In others, it’s full-blown, fuzzed-out distortions and saturations. There’s a lot of effects twiddling and adjusting going on to get it just right and not turn the whole thing to mud. That particular track is an extreme example, admittedly, but I’m getting more comfortable with this sort of technique.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m being pickier about vocals now, too. That eats up a lot of time.
Of course, being the tech nerd I am, I find all this stuff entertaining.