In the years since my last album (“Park And Ride”, City Centre Offices 2007) I have developed the sensor-extended cello called “Fello” at STEIM (www.steim.nl) in Amsterdam. The idea was to be able to perform electronic music live on stage, preferring a limited system using only the cello sound input over a screen-bound Ableton playback live-set. In this system, the bow gestures are measured with the help of wireless sensors and this data can be used to interact with live-processing of the sound. Sometimes I only touch the cello to record one sound in the buffer and then play with bow in the air.
After years of touring with this instrument, solo or as duo with the Sutsche sound system from Hamburg, I have now taken it to the studio. I recorded live sessions and then produced tracks and songs from this material.
Three Stories on Three Tracks
In “Ode To Yakushima“, the calm last track of the record, one can hear how the pizzicato chords are first recorded to the sample-buffer, then I put the cello away and play with bow in the air: the bow gestures shift the chords to other pitches in a way which hopefully sounds as alive and vivid as it feels to play it… stuttering and at times creating glitches which I enjoy. The field recording is a woman’s voice in a village on the incredibly beautiful island of Yakushima (Japan), announcing news via loudspeakers all over the place.
“Bangalore Kids” is an hommage to different kinds of what producers call “strings”: live-recorded, software processed, samples from vinyl, synths…
I sampled a microsound off a record with traditional carnatic music which I bought in South India, rebuilding a tiny violin phrase to a minimal-music like pattern in the NI Kontakt Sampler. Then I recorded live takes with the cello and the “Fello” system on top. In the second half a long sustained high string patch from a Yamaha DX7 gets added, too. I like how the strings “talk” with each other despite they come from different sound worlds. The vocal sample is a schoolboy who was singing traditional songs with his class in Cubbon Park, Bangalore. They had one mic, singing in turns, and when he got it, he just rocked the place.
(photography right (c) Jan Siefke)
“Bullet“, the most reduced and maybe most accessible track on the record, is one of two collaborations with Sasha Perera, the voice of Jahcoozi. It has been recorded while we spent two weeks together in the “Soundcamp South Asia”, a get-together and exchange of international producers curated by Gebrüder Teichmann for the Goethe Institut in Colombo in 2012.
We recorded a Fello pattern using two Waves EQs played live by the bow movements. Sasha then wrote beautiful lyrics and recorded a vocal track: she gave me a multi-voiced, ready-produced vocal track which i only had to layer with the fello pattern. The beauty is how easy-going it was to produce this song, it just happened, and it’s a soundtrack to the lush and lazy heat in Sri Lanka.
Where We Need (almost) No Gear
That’s why this little “making-of” does not feature impressive lists of studio gear. I like good audio equipment very much, but for these recordings a reduced set of tools to travel lightly has been of highest priority.
My main microphone is an Audio-Technica AT2020, amplified through a RME Fireface UC. Sometimes I also use the Piezo Mic “David Gage’s The Realist” built under the bridge of the cello to record the instrument, because it delivers very detailed amplification of the small sound the bow produces on the strings and the wood (these percussive cello sounds have extensively been used in “Kamogawa Cycling”).
“Where We Need No Map” features field recordings recorded with a Zoom H4 – a device which I sometimes also use to capture the speaker sound in the studio, or record live gigs. The additional production has been done with software synths (NI Massive and FM8), all beats were played with the NI Maschine. Two great hardware devices which need to be mentioned are the Massive Passive EQ and the Avalon Compressor which helped to make the recordings crisp and present.
For those who are interested in more details on the “Fello” system, I suggest to take a look at this brilliant Swiss-based blog on electronic music performance called “100 quirky legs” where my instrument is featured this month.
Please also find the latest Pingipung podcast of Andi Otto here:
A studiotalk with Andi Otto aka Springintgut… – MP3 & WAV Downloads:
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