Kizungu 3: new song

Here’s a song from our semi-acoustic side project, Kizungu 3.

Nhemamusasa -Kizungu 3

A Zimbabwean mbira song we learnt from Noble Mashawa, with a local lyrical twist.

Recording

A cut snake gathers no moss

karifi-drum.jpg
Ah, the months have slipped past. What’s been going down at Cut Snake?

At the end of January the senior members of Okapi Guitars recorded a handful of songs in semi-acoustic mode: acoustic guitar, congas, tastefully muted electric guitar. The Babu Three, perhaps? Los Trios Muziki?

A little more tweaking should see these tracks finished soon.

Karifi came in at the end of February for a drum recording session. Wonderful traditional drums. Must have been a dozen of them here.

The Heil PR40 sounded great on these.

Recording

Karifi “Gome” CD

Karifi Gome CD cover I did a little recording for this CD back in November 2008, mostly additional drums and vocals. Most of the work was done by Craig Tudman at Lorikeet Studio,

Glad it’s out, it sounds great.

Recording

Some new gear

I’ve just returned from a trip to California and Mexico. I sought out musical gear shops in various cities, but didn’t completely fulfil my dreams of bringing home heaps of cheap microphones, preamps and other goodies.

What I did bring back was:

1. Tascam US-144 USB audio interface
I bought a netbook (Lenovo IdeaPad) to travel with, and decided that after returning home I would try to use it as the basis for a portable recording setup. The Tascam US-144 was pretty cheap at Guitar Center in San Francisco. I’ve been tweaking the setup, using Wavelab as recording software.

2. Heil PR40 microphone
In LA I went to West LA music on Santa Monica Boulevard with the hope of being able to buy some cheap ribbon mics. They didn’t have any in stock, but they did have some Heil microphones. I’d read good things about these, and the price was good.

3. Audix CabGrabber
I’ve wanted one of these for a while, but the local price is too high. Looked for it in SF and LA, and finally found one (the last one in the shop) at EasyMusic Center in Honolulu.

I’ll let you know how I go with each of these when I get some time to use them.

Recording

ART MPA voltage supply hack

If you hang around some of the home studio discussion boards, such as Gearslutz or TapeOp, you’ll see lots of discussion of low-end (i.e. affordable) home studio gear that’s hard to find outside the US. Cut Snake Studio is in Australia, and the local price of some of this stuff, if it’s available at all, is typically two or three times the cost in the States.

A bunch of our studio equipment has been sourced from overseas. It’s relatively uncomplicated to buy microphones from the US or Europe, so Cut Snake has microphones from Europe (tbone, Oktava) and the US (Karma, Kel) in the collection.

Case in point: the ART MPA Digital preamp is available from some Australian retailers for prices from AU$700 up to AU$1100. I’ve seen it on US eBay for US$279, or, at today’s exchange rate, about AU$310. A half or even third of the local price: a substantial saving.

But there’s some disadvantages to buying gear directly from the US: the voltage is different, and the warranty probably won’t apply. And, of course, you need to pay a shipping fee that can add substantially to the final cost of the item.

I just want to provide some information about the power supply voltage on some MPA units, since I couldn’t find any webpage that discussed this.

The ART MPA Digital preamp (and maybe some similar ART gear) can easily be switched from 110 to 220/240 volt input: the fuse holder underneath the power cord plug can be configured for either voltage. The photo here shows the preamp configured for 220/240 volts. By removing and flipping the fuse holder you can swap the preamp to 110/120 volts.

MPA Digital voltage switch

Recording

Going Down Swinging

A track JB and I recorded last year has been included in the latest issue of Going Down Swinging, a poetry/spoken word book+CD. Our piece, Piano Man – Scelsi, is about “the Charles Ives of Italy”, Count Giacinto Scelsi.

The Sydney launch is on Monday June 15. More details here.

Recording

Music video

Rejected by SoundKILDA Music Video Festival, we join the globalised Salon des Refus├ęs at YouTube: Okapi Guitars: Repent.

Video

Little things

No major happenings at CutSnake lately.

Video work with John Bennett continues. In particular we’re working on a mini-documentary of Erik Satie to be completed before John goes o/s April 1.

The last OG CD has been getting some positive reactions. We hope to leverage that into a few festival gigs.

Recording

Inside the Karma K6

Karma K6 under the hood

On Friday while recording some percussion with Chris I knocked over the mic stand holding my Karma K6 powered ribbon microphone.

It didn’t seem to hit the floor very hard, but the angle was such as to knock the head case off. A-ha! Now we see what’s inside!

The corrugated ribbon is about half a centimetre wide and 4 cms long. There’s a heap of mesh shielding, both on the headcase and covering the ribbon motor.

The two protective mesh panels over the ribbon are held in place by the long black clips you can see in the photo. When I took these off the mesh (presumably some sort of aluminium?) falls away.

Looking at the ribbon, I think it’s sagging. Common problem with generic Chinese-made ribbon mics. I corrected a slack ribbon on one of my t-bone RM700s. Guess I should have a go at this one too. But I’m a bit surprised that Karma’s quality control didn’t catch this. Then again, maybe it’s a result of the drop?

Recording

Glenn Gould

Thanks to John Bennett, I’ve taken an interest in Glenn Gould’s approach to recording.

From 1966, The Prospects of Recording.

Recording