Recording and Production in the News
Atlas visits The Commander In ChiefCambridge, UK. November 4, 2014: If the Commander In Chief calls, it is advisable to respond quickly, which is precisely what engineer, mixer and producer James Mottershead did when he summoned to Norway to produce a classical crossover recording for this formidable guitarist.
Atlas in Norway
For those who have yet to discover the Commander In Chief, she is a 24-year-old Norwegian singer/songwriter who is also one of the world's top female Metal/Hard Rock guitar players. Wielding a unique 7 string Ibanez Falchion 7 electric guitar, she recently became a YouTube sensation when she performed a guitar duel to Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen with classical guitarist Thomas Valeur. The video has now had more than 300,000 views and has even drawn comment from legendary guitar icons such as Jason Becker.
James Mottershead, resident engineer at The Chairworks Studio in Leeds, produced the Commander's single Zigeunerweisen and was thrilled to be asked back to produce her second classical crossover recording.
"She had teamed up with classical guitarist Craig Ogden for a fresh round of guitar duels and duets," he says. "The pair did lots of arrangements of various classical pieces that weren't originally intended for guitar, so we were delighted to pack our bags and head to Norway to capture this unusual project."
Among the items Mottershead slipped into his suitcase was an Atlas Audio Interface, on loan from manufacturer Prism Sound.
"I use Prism Sound converters regularly when I'm working at Chairworks, so before leaving for Norway I got in touch with the company just to let them know what I'd recently been up to with their converters," Mottershead explains.
James Mottershead at The Chairworks
One of these projects was engineering and mixing What Have We Become, Paul Heaton's collaboration with Jacqui Abbott, his former co-vocalist in the Beautiful South. That went into the top three of the album chart in its first week of release so Mottershead was pretty pleased with it and wanted Prism Sound know that it had benefited from their ADA-8XR multichannel converters.
"I'd also used ADA-8XR's on the Marmozets' first single Why Do You Hate Me?, taken from their forthcoming album that I also engineered at Chairworks. At the time this was doing well, too, and I thought Prism Sound would appreciate the feedback."
On hearing that Mottershead was about to start his new project with the Commander, Prism Sound staff asked if he would like to borrow one of the company's recently launched Atlas Audio Interfaces to record with.
"Needless to say, I was rather happy about [it]," Mottershead says. "Prism Sound equipment has been a corner stone of my recording career. Ever since I starting out as a runner, the Prism Sound name has been ever present in the studios I have worked in and all my favourite tracks that I've worked on have either been recorded or mixed through one of the company's converters. I am fortunate to have Prism Sound equipment at The Chairworks Studio, and I also own a Lyra audio interface that is a key part of my home studio set up. I am always amazed at how good the Prism Sound converters sound and how much I miss them if I have to work on any other converter."
It transpired that the Atlas was the ideal choice for the Command In Chief and Craig Ogden recording. "It had the great sound and the features that you get with ADA-8XR converters, but it also had the really user-friendly interface that I'm used to with my Lyra," Mottershead says.
The Commander's recording session took place in Studio A at Velvet Recording in Spydeberg. As soon as Mottershead arrived he integrated the Atlas into Velvet's Pro Tools HDX system.
"I started by syncing the whole system off the Atlas' Word Clock (including the studio's Neve VR72 VSP automation). Having the ability to use Prism Sound as the master clock was fantastic because the overall difference it makes to other converters is quite astonishing. Although I only intended to use the eight 'ins and outs' on the Atlas, I was happy to use the local converters if I needed more outputs because I knew they were clocking from the Prism Sound. The Neve pre-amps sounded great going through Atlas as well, and having the option of Prism Sound pre-amps was a real blessing. Where the Neve was just a bit too noisy or a little dull, the Atlas was the perfect alternative with the two sets of sounds complimenting each other very well."
Mottershead adds that given the nature of the recording, he wanted to capture the tone of the guitars, one of which was the Commander's electric 7-string Ibanez and the other a classical instrument.
"I wanted the tone to come through and be captured as neutrally as possible," he explains. "The Prism Sound unit was perfect for this. In fact it seemed that the Atlas was useful at fixing every technical issue I ran into."
After recording and mixing the Commander's album at Velvet, Mottershead returned home and reluctantly gave Prism Sound it's Atlas back.
"I was very sad to do it," he says. "Since using it I have found several situations during sessions, or in the planning for sessions, that the Atlas would have been perfect for....... can I have it back, please?"
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