Saturday, June 25, 2011

SKY-I vs. NoDough Dub - "Send Them" feat. Micah Dubreuil
Lyrics by Emilien Deschamps
Produced & Arranged by ScottDough
Engineered & Co-Produced by Kyle Lesley
["Dub Fi Gwan" riddim]
Sky-I, immersion in Jah light
Recorded at the Playground studio A in San Francisco, "Send Them" overlaps multiple styles but if I had to categorize the song I'd describe it as a Nu-Roots/Dub track, voiced by Sky-I. The conscious world music singer kicks a positive, responsible message which, maybe is too 'safe' a topic to interest a generation reared on crotch-grabbing mysoginistic hip-hop and a ubiquititous desensitization to violence.

None of the above is a dig at performers like Lil' Wayne and it's certainly not a conviction that's gonna stop me from getting my grill all platinum'd up next dentist visit, after I get a little more paper. Perhaps I've just softened in my old age (having a baby girl will do that) but why not more of an emphasis on education -- Is the desire to make music with a responsible message so bad? Are Sky-I and I too didactic a messenger? (Probably.) 

The vocal tracking session with Sky-I went about as smoothly as you could have hoped, dude's a consummate professional, came in polished; and in a little under three hours we had tracked the lead vocal, multiple harmonies and crunk and had a comp assebled that ended up being pretty close to what was on the final version. Full marks to Kyle Lesley for his efficiency (which did not come at the cost of cutting any corners) and co-producing enthusiasm during this recording. 

Micah Dubreuil of Con Brio           photo credit
Session got real heavy when Micah Dubreuil of Con Brio made a cameo appearance on the Hammond M-3 and added some sweet decorative touches via the melodica. Con Brio are chock full of awesomness and much like their entire lineup, Micah is an extraordinarily talented cat. I notice in the studio lately that as much as I want to watch some of these heavies, I won't let myself; it's akin to something absurd like not talking to a pitcher during a no-hitter, as if a mere glance from me is going to derail some badass from properly shredding.

Kyle Lesley - Dub Practicioner
In addition to being a supremely talented audio engineer and diverse musician, Kyle Lesley can add 'dub practitioner' to his already impressive resume. VersaKyle's dub guitar stylings were the proverbial icing on the cake. Mmmmm...cake.
Listeners may recognize a sample among the low-fi dub soundscape; attribution must be made to Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock, the forefather of dub. I bit off a piece of "Dub Fi Gwan" (1975). which was the influence for the train beat in "Send Them." Hope we did the dub justice, King.

The single is due for commercial release 7/7/11.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Amha Baraka vocal tracking 2/25/11
NoDough (feat. Amha Baraka & VersaKyle)
"Don't Accept Wooden Nickels" [dub]
Produced by ScottDough
Engineered by Kyle Lesley

Don't Accept Wooden Nickels (dub) feat. Amha Baraka & VersaKyle by NoDough Dub

Amha Baraka - heartbreaker, money-taker
Hatched at the former Thrasher Magazine vert ramp warehouse studio, “Don’t Accept Wooden Nickels” features prolific rasta frontman and World Studios co-founder Amha Baraka. It was a great thrill to learn that we’d be collaborating with a gifted vocalist whose been blessed with a rich tenor. An added bonus to the equation was the opportunity to once again work with engineer/producer Kyle Lesley, who also contributed some understated yet real sweet two-tone guitar stylie to the dub.
Kyle Lesley & Amha Baraka
Baraka has broad range;  so we stretched things out a bit and within a reasonable amount of time  were able to multi-track some rad 4-pt. harmonies for the hook (he gives decent freestyle too, which was tucked in beneath the mix). I scratch some minimal elec. guitar at the outset but from  1:00 or so on it's all Kyle, as is the ancient Roland whomp box synth riffing inside that first minute.

A capella vocal of the hook with the instrumental dropping to a headphone bleed at the outro was all Kyle. Fun stuff. 

"Let's Get Sued" (Dream Merchant mix)
Composed & Arranged by ScottDough
Engineered by Dan Menapace

Marimba is making a big comeback. I'm kidding of course. Other than a recent Kruder & Dorfmeister binge, I don't really listen to a whole lot of dnb music and up until lately the high-handed musician in me didn't hide the disdain I had for DJs and other *alleged* 'non-musicians'. Just to put it in perspective, I’ve been in a vacuum, musically, and by design haven't listened to... anything(!) in quite some time. so if any of what I’m etching at the moment seems derivative then it's accidental. My formerly close-minded DJ aversion notwithstanding, in this secular environment I still pride myself in performing and creating most of what's on the flavor palette (e.g., loops/samples and/or content derived from my own live playing) -- any knucklehead can twist knobs, or better yet, tell somebody ELSE to do it.
"Soundtweaker" Dan Menapace's Sonor/Edirol rig

As for the marimba, I am far from well-versed on the instrument, though I have grown more comfortable playing double mallets and can coax a modest range of flavors from it: Caribbean, and Far-Eastern-tinged staccato.

Without intending to, we tracked a song that has no electric (or acoustic or bass) guitar. The indignant musician/bassist in me felt filthy dirty.

But there we were.

Marimba crafted in St. Thomas
The natural wood marimba’s melodic yet percussive timbre is tonally pleasing on its own acoustic merits. And before collaborating with Dan Menapace, I’d never have thought you could get so much range out of the instrument. DM's 'Soundtweaker' handle is highly appropriate -- the swooshing wah-wah soundscapes and oscillating tones both originated from the marimba. Same for the reverse-feedback trickery fingered in post-; these textures were simply isolated mallet hits which were EQ’d with a high pass filter, then had some stereo-delay added to sweeten it up. Comparatively speaking, there is very little synth on this track.

The final :40 seconds or so of "Let's Get Sued" is a flourish of slick instrumentation weaved over top of relentless jungle-dnb drumming, which results in some almost Donald Fagen-esque riffing (at least I thought so!) with the elec. piano, marimba and tenor sax interplay cruising into the fade.