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electrologue

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  • A Small Part of the Electrologue Story

    Over the years the studio of the same name (that be electrologue) has traveled quite extensively, and along the way has known many different configurations and capabilities. Back in the meh old days, we had ye old electrologue-ey goodness:

    electrologue in Wheatburg!

    Control room in Wheatland, IN

    O, yes. Wheatland, Indiana has rarely, if ever, seen such an audio palace. That desk is a fancy 24-channel Spirit somethin-or-other and — let’s face it — it looks mighty impressive (it was on extended loan). I was into the Mac G4 tower and an M-Audio Delta 1010 audio interface at the time, I still use both brands but not the same products. We’ll get to that later. We also had the option of analog in the form of an Otari 1/2 inch eight track machine or the trusty Tascam 388 1/4 inch eight track (or even the Yamaha MT4X cassette four track pictured to the left of the desk, on top of the custom Leslie speaker).

    Electrologue - Wheatland days...

    Huge recording room in Wheatland, IN

    This location had the additional benefits of large recording spaces that we were able to keep pretty much wired up and ready to go at all times. The main room, shown here, was a good 24 feet by 12 feet, and there was an additional octagonal shaped room with superbly high twelve foot ceilings. Talk about acoustics, that’s what you want. During this time there were some fantastic recordings made of the Raydons and Jupiterboy, but amazingly not much that’s in any wide circulation.

    Electrologue in the 'Boro

    Electrologue in the 'Boro

    Unfortunately, that era of Electrologue was short-lived (and incidentally at the time the studio was known as Organic Audio, but it’s still mostly the same gear). I shipped off to Atlanta and spent a while working with a friend for a few months, and then somehow ended up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where I went to college. It was another remote location, not as much space but then space is only valuable if you use it… like we did in the ‘Boro. As you can see, this one had a more “lived in” feel, or maybe the term is “smoked out”. I like that the Crumar Performer is so prominently featured, and durn do I wish I still had that sucker. Some incredible tracks were born here, most notably Polvo es Rojo, but there is also the sad fact of certain recordings that were lost due to “I thought I backed that up” syndrome. And so it goes.

    Take a close look at that picture, you’ll also see the world-famous cat Nurf asleep atop the Tascam 388. And the author is behind the kit, in a manner of speaking. Also there amongst the gear pile is the Tascam US-428, some Spirit Absolute Zero monitors (still use those), a Mackie 1204-VLZ mixer (that too), an Alesis QS6.1, Ensoniq ASX sampler, Alesis Quadraverb, Yamaha and dbx compressors, and some Røde NT3 condensors as overheads on the kit.

    Control room at Evansville location

    Moving on, and I did, there was another house located in Evansville, Indiana where I was able to again enjoy a multi-room setup. Not much changed from a gear standpoint, although here I was much more able and motivated to use that tape machine. Really, I was much more apt to be messing around with tube amps and vintage speakers at the time, and although there was plenty of rocking out to be had, I can’t honestly recall much more than Mike Johnson’s (kingsizemidget) quartersizedoublealbum being mixed here. We also laid down some overdubs for the follow-up to that one, Azimuth, the majority of which was recorded at the Wheatland location.

    After that, it would all seem to go downhill – to the untrained observer, that is. But there comes a time when occasionally you have to simplify. And simplify, I did… a great deal, in fact.

    Electrologue Sydney, v1.0!

    Electrologue Sydney, v1.0!

    Moving to another country generally enforces a certain bit of austerity upon one with respect to personal possessions, and such was the case when I moved to Sydney, Australia. Still with the Mackie, I had a borrowed M-Audio Ozone keyboard audio/MIDI interface and not much else. Well, I can’t discount the beer and Beatles’ Yellow Submarine vinyl, but it’s obvious there was a lot of slimming down in the gear department at this point. Amazingly, many of the tracks for the eventual Sleep-ins record Songs About Girls & Outer Space were written using this exact setup.

    Thankfully, it wasn’t the last incarnation for Electrologue. For a while it was called Belmore Studio, located in a row house and adequate for overdubs, although rarely useful for anything too loud.

    Belmore Studio (Electrologue) in Sydney

    Belmore Studio (Electrologue) in Sydney

    That’s Ryan Adamson of Regular John jamming there, and hopefully enjoying the luscious Yamaha NS-10 tone. Also we see here the first encounter with the MiniMoog, just peeking out from the right side there. This was mostly a demo and overdubs facility, but still a nice chapter in the story. It was shortly after this time I started using the M-Audio USB Quattro, which was my main audio/MIDI interface until 2011, when I switched to the Tascam US-1800. I do still use the Quattro from time to time, however.

    Eventually, I teamed up with Stefan Pope, Angus Baker and Charles Smith to open the Routine Studio on Foveaux Street in Surry Hills, just two blocks from Central Station and across the street from the Australian Institute of Music.

    Control room in Sydney @ Routine

    Control room in Sydney @ Routine

    This warehouse location afforded us many luxuries, including lots of space, two recording rooms and a purpose-built control room. We also were sporting a Mac G5 tower and ProTools Digi002 (when it wasn’t in the shop). Again with the MiniMoog, twin Mackie mixers, and an array of mics that would make your head spin. Many, many tracks were done here, including mixing and overdubs for the kingsizemidget Azimuth album, lots of tracking on the Sleep-ins material, and various other bands that also used the space for rehearsing. This was certainly one of the ‘Golden Eras’ of Electrologue history — one of those moments when you only realize what a unique time it is when you actually get the time to stop and think about it. But things were going so fast…

    The Lounge @ Routine in Sydney

    The Lounge @ Routine in Sydney

    Would you believe I moved again? This time to Franklin, Tennessee. Can’t say much happened here, although I did master the second Titans of Ahm! record, Torpor. Also recorded some tracks that may see their way onto a future album. Or might not. One thing I did accomplish at this time was building the Curious Audity One Recording Amplifier. It’s basically a heavily modified Kalamazoo Model Two, 8W tube amp with a ten inch speaker, tremolo and nice break up from two 12AX7s, one 6BQ5 and a 6X4 rectifier. Loads of other stuff but that’s something for another article.

    Franklin, TN apartment studio

    Franklin, TN apartment studio

    The apartment setting is usually about my least favorite to deal with, but as you can see I tried to make the best of things. One of the advantages of this photo is it shows some of the interesting vintage tube gear I’ve picked up over the years. The foremost of which is the green Altec 438C tube preamp/compressor in the gray rack case on the floor next to the custom Leslie. That’s a 1930s model RCA tube amplifier (2x6L6) I use to drive the Leslie, and also occasionally bigger speakers for bass guitar and keys. The Kalamazoo Model Two is on the floor in front of the partially-obscured Fender Vibrosonic Reverb amp. Another oddball is the Washburn PR200 “Prairie State” acoustic guitar, a squashed-body Jumbo with an oval soundhole. Rounding out the gear here is the Alesis Micron (not vintage but still loads of fun). I haven’t mentioned them much, but sometime I’ll write an article about microphones I’ve used. But that, again, is something for another day.

    And here comes the cliché — what a long, strange trip it’s been. But rewarding, frustrating, enriching, educational… etc. It’s hard to believe how many times I have built, torn down, and rebuilt this studio in its many forms; and it’s hard to believe I’m destined to do it again, probably multiple times more.

    It’s a testament to creativity, but it also bespeaks something about what I consider normal. A normal house, to me, has at least one place, one corner, dedicated to making music and recording sound. Often it isn’t all that fancy or hi-tech. Nevertheless, it is an essential part of my living space.

    The rough cut, Asheville v1.0

    The rough cut, Asheville v1.0

    When I first got into our house in Asheville, I quickly set up my studio, as I am wont to do. It doesn’t look like this now, but it won’t look like it does now for long, either. In some ways, having the studio put back together in whatever way possible is the first sign that I’ve moved into a place. Certainly, it will change, maybe move to another room. Some gear will get bought and sold. However, the soul is always there.

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