Ftarri / Improvised Music from Japan

Liner Notes of the CD Sieves

James Fei

In making Sieves, we did not want to simply document a live performance in the studio. However, since our work is based on live manipulation of electronics, neither did we wish to make what would amount to a tape piece with countless edits, automation cues, and computer processing. The path we ended up taking was to treat each step of the recording process as a performance: microphones were moved during recording and fed back through the monitors; faders, equalizers, and muting were altered abruptly during mixing, and reverberation was treated as an active element rather than a consistent background. Not unlike older studio practice, each pass was done in a continuous take.

The source material was recorded at O'Farrill Kato Studio in June 2003. With the exception of a computer-generated harmonic oscillator bank (track 4), all sound sources were analog--Kato playing a fed-back Electro-Harmonix bass synth, and an electric bass with Big Muff and Wah Wah; Fei using Serge/Buchla oscillators and filters, pressure-sensing voltage source, contact mike, and spring reverb tank. Since speakers and the room are integral parts of our performances, they were always recorded. The coloration that a speaker/room combination imparts on sounds, especially loud impulses, would be completely lost if one heard the signal directly.

Mixing took place in August at Organized Sound, where all tracks were mixed and processed in live takes using two small mixers, with the additional use of two Bode Frequency Shifters. For this session, Kato mixed the material that I had played previously, and vice versa. The final layer was done in a tiled staircase at Columbia University's Computer Music Center, used as an echo chamber. The recorded tracks were again mixed live, and sent out to a loudspeaker for acoustic reverberation. In some instances, this process was compounded by re-sending the reverberated recordings through the echo chamber. Final track selection and mastering were done at Organized Sound.

Last updated: September 10, 2004

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