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My prog rock project: Red Planet


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#1 PariahDog

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 04:47 PM

Buenas noches, mein froinds! :)  I haven't been around in ages, but wanted to drop in to let you know about my new original prog rock recording project called Red Planet.  It sprang from my desire to write and record new material heavily influenced by my favorite genre:  70s/80s prog rock, most notably Rush, Genesis, Yes, Marillion, and King Crimson.  

We only have a couple tunes so far, but "World Beyond" is our latest...  also known as "Watcher of the Clockwork Cygnus." :)  Like all our material, I record the backing tracks in Cakewalk SONAR.  Then my drummer and I perform with these tracks in the studio, so that the videos have a live performance element.  

I originally was going for a flatter Hemispheres-style mix, but I ended up loving this punchier Counterparts-type mix.  The gear list is included on the YouTube link under SHOW MORE. Anyway, please let me know what you think, good, bad, or indifferent!  (And I remember this place can be pretty rough at times. lol)  

Red Planet - World Beyond:
https://www.youtube....h?v=dRDFT_hqx8s

YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube....AXFWl63G3KD0Eqg

Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.../redplanet2016/

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#2 PariahDog

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 04:52 PM

This was our first song, "Knight Flyer."  This sprang from the Oberheim-style lead patch I was playing with, which seemed perfect for an 80s synth-based TV theme.  So I figured, why not write a fictitious synth-based TV theme?  :)  And that OB patch worked great with the Airwolf-style 12/8 sequenced synth bass.  The "story" of the show is given on the YouTube link under SHOW MORE, and my drummer did the voiceover. lol  

Red Planet - Knight Flyer:
https://www.youtube....h?v=i6ZSknGdBSc

Please remember to Like our videos and Facebook page if you enjoy what we're doing! :)

#3 stoopid

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 11:10 AM

Listened to World Beyond.  Indifferent.  If you're studio tracking, focus on the performance and ditch the live camera videos.  This would only be useful if you're using this for auditioning to play live shows.  There's spots where things were a tad off, and you could easily punch in to correct the whoopsies rather than living with them because you want it to be filmed live.

The mix has some really bright elements, more like RtB than Counterparts.  CP had much more meat to its mix.

The lead/distorted guitar tone is very fuzzy, loses a lot of its definition and gets lost in the mix.  The rhythm guitar is jangly in a not-so-good way, thin in a cheapish way.  Was it an acoustic sim pedal/patch?  It might sound better if you added some chorus to it (?), or instead of an acoustic patch try something more intended for an electric rhythm (less brittle sounding).

The drums lacked presence and need to be brought up a touch in the mix.  The drum sound/samples used is fine, just need to apply some compression and appropriate reverb and get the levels on each part adjusted.  Along those lines, the overall mix could use some unification.  You might be able to accomplish that when mastering, but I have my doubts what can be done with it as-is.  I'd try to get the mix right before expecting someone to master-out the deficiencies.

Are you familiar with homerecording.com?  Good forum and they have a mix sharing section, you could get more feedback on your mixes there and maybe more targeted and meaningful stuff than what I've posted.  They obviously also have tons of other discussions on how to polish what you have to get a particular sound, and you can hear what other peopel are doing and learn with and from them.  Just an idea!

Composition - you definitely stayed true to the classic prog format.  It's a decent instrumental tune.

Edited by stoopid, 22 July 2016 - 11:20 AM.


#4 JARG

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:12 PM

I listened to World Beyond. For a song that clocks in at over 7 minutes in length, I think it could have used quite a bit more compositional variety/interest. There are lots of repeated sections that don't vary too much from one iteration to the next (other than drum accents, which were all well executed). Perhaps that's what you were going for. I know whenever I write an instrumental, I try hard to get away from it sounding like it could have been a traditional song if only it had had vocals, and due to that approach a criticism I sometimes get is that the song sounds a bit schizophrenic!

Edited by JARG, 22 July 2016 - 12:14 PM.


#5 stoopid

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 03:18 PM

View PostJARG, on 22 July 2016 - 12:12 PM, said:

I know whenever I write an instrumental, I try hard to get away from it sounding like it could have been a traditional song if only it had had vocals, and due to that approach a criticism I sometimes get is that the song sounds a bit schizophrenic!

After dozens of listens I still don't know what any of your songs "mean".   ;)

#6 PariahDog

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 01:32 AM

Thanks, both, for the feedback.  It's been quite a while since I've recorded or mixed.  I'll check out homerecording.com.

The brightness probably comes from some upper-frequency hearing loss I have. :(  I added some highs on the Master Out, but guess I overcompensated.  The clean guitar was the bridge humbucker with BOSS ME-70 chorus in the intro, plus real Taylor 12-string acoustic throughout (direct in, compression, no chorus).  I wonder if the jangliness came from the extra highs on the overall mix?  Also, what did you mean by "unification?"  A better relative balance of all the parts?  

And, yes, this was written with the idea of maybe adding vocals, which I still may do.  But I thought it still might work as an instrumental, though it's obviously not chops-oriented by any stretch!  And I am definitely re-thinking the live video aspect.  I just didn't want to have static title card or slideshow type videos.  But I suppose we could always fake it and do live-in-the-studio videos, like Rush's Le Studio vids for Moving Pictures. :)

Edited by PariahDog, 23 July 2016 - 01:59 AM.


#7 stoopid

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 06:06 AM

It's possible you overcompensated.  Unfortunately mixing requires hearing all the frequencies, so this may be an insurmountable hurtle requiring third party involvement.  Have you done a frequency test to see where your hearing drops off?

http://onlinetonegen...earingtest.html

I only got to 14.5khz on this test.  I've scored 15.5khz on a different test.  My ears aren't in the best of shape but I still manage to make it work.  If you score under 12khz you are probably in need of having someone else handle mixing duties.  Above 12khz there usually isn't much data/instrumentation (very little vocal, mostly cymbals).  Obviously mkae sure to try this test using playback equipment capable of reproducing the full spectrum.  ;)

Direct-in with an acoustic is rarely adequate.  Generally you use this in conjunction with a mic to fatten/fill-in the sound.  I haven't used an acoustic pickup in ages, I just point my condenser mic (Shure PG81) directly at the 12th fret.  Once I have a nice clean take I add things to the track in the production software (usually some EQ trimming, mild compression, and reverb stacked in that order).

Yes, unification would be a better balance, this is usually achieved at the mixing level but some mastering engineers can eek it out of poor mixes with a lot of effort.  I'm of the school getting it right the first time.

I doubt the difference between 1 and 1 million views will be whether there's a static image with the video.  For now at least, while you're producing in obscurity, it shouldn't matter.  Focus on making the music the best it can be.  I'm currently involved in a big collaboration with a friend, 10/13 tracks are done with intent to put the music to a multimedia slide show of some type.  We've yet to start on any of the visual aspects.  The music is our focus, *then* we worry about presenting it to the world.  I guess I see it as putting the cart before the horse.

Edited by stoopid, 23 July 2016 - 11:57 AM.


#8 PariahDog

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 12:59 PM

I just barely made it to 12khz. :(  Too much loud live music in my younger days.  The sad thing is, I started using earplugs pretty early on but I guess the damage had already been done.  

Haven't heard back yet from anyone on homerecording.com.  Probably not a good sign. lol  Oh well, I do think I did better mixing our second track than our first, so I'll just keep trying to improve.  And I'll post them here for feedback before finalizing.

I also talked to my drummer, and we're going to track our parts without recording video so we can punch in where needed.  Then I'll video us playing along with the track, and also shoot closeup takes on us both so I can edit them together for more interesting videos.

Definitely a work in progress, but we're just having fun with this! :)

#9 stoopid

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 01:42 PM

You probably scared some of them off mentioning 'prog' in the title.  :P

12khz probably won't cut it, but you seem willing to try and the worse that can happen is you hurt a few people's ears.  :D

#10 JARG

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 02:02 PM

View Poststoopid, on 23 July 2016 - 06:06 AM, said:

It's possible you overcompensated.  Unfortunately mixing requires hearing all the frequencies, so this may be an insurmountable hurtle requiring third party involvement.  Have you done a frequency test to see where your hearing drops off?

http://onlinetonegen...earingtest.html

I only got to 14.5khz on this test.

12566 for me.

#11 Fridge

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 05:52 AM

View PostJARG, on 25 July 2016 - 02:02 PM, said:

View Poststoopid, on 23 July 2016 - 06:06 AM, said:

It's possible you overcompensated.  Unfortunately mixing requires hearing all the frequencies, so this may be an insurmountable hurtle requiring third party involvement.  Have you done a frequency test to see where your hearing drops off?

http://onlinetonegen...earingtest.html

I only got to 14.5khz on this test.

12566 for me.

8357 for me.....

Bloody hell, I'm screwed :-(

#12 stoopid

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 11:43 AM

View PostFridge, on 09 September 2016 - 05:52 AM, said:

8357 for me.....

Bloody hell, I'm screwed :-(

That's pretty low.  You been a musician for long/go to a lot of shows?

#13 Fridge

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 08:13 AM

View Poststoopid, on 09 September 2016 - 11:43 AM, said:

View PostFridge, on 09 September 2016 - 05:52 AM, said:

8357 for me.....

Bloody hell, I'm screwed :-(

That's pretty low.  You been a musician for long/go to a lot of shows?

Yeah, loads of loud concerts when young, plus playing in noisy bands...only started wearing earplugs a year or so ago, wish I'd done it much sooner.
I also had a bad car crash a while ago, which definitely affected things.

According to audiology exams, i'm just in the "low average" range for hearing.

What puzzles me though is that when I am mixing, the cymbals/ride/open hi hat always seem a bit loud to me when I would have thought I would have trouble hearing them with my results.

#14 stoopid

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 08:18 AM

View PostFridge, on 10 September 2016 - 08:13 AM, said:

What puzzles me though is that when I am mixing, the cymbals/ride/open hi hat always seem a bit loud to me when I would have thought I would have trouble hearing them with my results.

My guess is it's related to the type of hearing loss you're experiencing.  You may not hear past a certain point but your ears, because of whatever damaged, may be sensitive to the higher frequencies you can still hear.

You want to post a mix that you did?  I'm curious to hear how well you're working around the deficiency.

Edited by stoopid, 10 September 2016 - 08:19 AM.


#15 Fridge

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 10:50 AM

View Poststoopid, on 10 September 2016 - 08:18 AM, said:

View PostFridge, on 10 September 2016 - 08:13 AM, said:

What puzzles me though is that when I am mixing, the cymbals/ride/open hi hat always seem a bit loud to me when I would have thought I would have trouble hearing them with my results.

My guess is it's related to the type of hearing loss you're experiencing.  You may not hear past a certain point but your ears, because of whatever damaged, may be sensitive to the higher frequencies you can still hear.

You want to post a mix that you did?  I'm curious to hear how well you're working around the deficiency.

https://soundcloud.c...poets/you-think


One I did not too long ago...interested in your analysis

#16 stoopid

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 09:49 AM

View PostFridge, on 10 September 2016 - 10:50 AM, said:

View Poststoopid, on 10 September 2016 - 08:18 AM, said:

View PostFridge, on 10 September 2016 - 08:13 AM, said:

What puzzles me though is that when I am mixing, the cymbals/ride/open hi hat always seem a bit loud to me when I would have thought I would have trouble hearing them with my results.

My guess is it's related to the type of hearing loss you're experiencing.  You may not hear past a certain point but your ears, because of whatever damaged, may be sensitive to the higher frequencies you can still hear.

You want to post a mix that you did?  I'm curious to hear how well you're working around the deficiency.

https://soundcloud.c...poets/you-think


One I did not too long ago...interested in your analysis

Sounds good.  Only thing I heard that was 'wrong' were the 'plosives, need a pop filter or better use of the one you have.  Not sure what I expected to hear that might be off, maybe an imbalance in the instrumentation that occupies the higher end that you're not hearing.  Perhaps the hi hat was a tad too up front in the outro, that was all I noticed.

Edited by stoopid, 12 September 2016 - 09:50 AM.


#17 vitalsigns318

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:02 PM

View PostPariahDog, on 20 July 2016 - 04:47 PM, said:

Buenas noches, mein froinds! :)  I haven't been around in ages, but wanted to drop in to let you know about my new original prog rock recording project called Red Planet.  It sprang from my desire to write and record new material heavily influenced by my favorite genre:  70s/80s prog rock, most notably Rush, Genesis, Yes, Marillion, and King Crimson.  

We only have a couple tunes so far, but "World Beyond" is our latest...  also known as "Watcher of the Clockwork Cygnus." :)  Like all our material, I record the backing tracks in Cakewalk SONAR.  Then my drummer and I perform with these tracks in the studio, so that the videos have a live performance element.  

I originally was going for a flatter Hemispheres-style mix, but I ended up loving this punchier Counterparts-type mix.  The gear list is included on the YouTube link under SHOW MORE. Anyway, please let me know what you think, good, bad, or indifferent!  (And I remember this place can be pretty rough at times. lol)  

Red Planet - World Beyond:
https://www.youtube....h?v=dRDFT_hqx8s

YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube....AXFWl63G3KD0Eqg

Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.../redplanet2016/

Thanks for keeping the spirit of prog rock alive. With Rush retiring, it is up to us creative prog rock writers to keep imagining and telling stories through our music. My husband and I are releasing a concept album soon, the one thing that I love about prog rock is that there are no rules about the length of songs, changing time or key signatures, or dedicating an entire album to one theme or story. Great job on the "World Beyond" track, through prog rock, I believe that we can get kids to listen and explore the depths of their own creativity.




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