Recording the new album

As a follow-up to the Stuart’s post yesterday I just wanted to give my take on the technical aspects of recording our third album…

The session we had over the weekend represents the achievement of a major goal for me. We just sat down in comfortable surroundings and recorded an album, without technology getting in the way. It has been a challenge achieving this; one which has required a substantial investment both financially and in terms of time refining techniques etc. In an odd way it was the fact that my studio downstairs got flooded late last year that drove us to a better solution for recording tubas. The ever knowledgeable David Morton had advised us on how to approach this but being forced upstairs (into a much taller space) led me to sort stuff out much more quickly. Plus the space has a better vibe, even if the soundproofing isn’t as good 😉

For now, my studio downstairs still remains unusable, which just makes the pleasure of what we achieved over the weekend even greater. We look forward to sharing the results with you!

What do all those things on
the floor do?

In advance of our performance playing support for OM at the Rainbow Warehouse in Digbeth, here’s some proper effects-geekery which may be of marginal interest to folks who enjoy making a racket with amplified tubas. Of which there aren’t all that many. Hey ho.

I’ve recently made some changes to my live setup to remove some kit that wasn’t, in the final analysis, working too well. The Danelectro “Reel Echo” tape delay simulator I’ve used previously may come back into play at some point if we can find a way of stopping it from clicking when brought into the circuit.

Also gone is the Bass Big Muff. Amazingly, despite how good it is with electric bass, it simply doesn’t give a meaty enough distorted sound with tuba when used with settings that prevent constant howling feedback. At higher gain, it’s OK, but then there’s all the screeching, and The Jesus and Mary Chain we are not.

My biggest recent revelation was my discovery of Blackstar equipment. If you don’t already know, Blackstar comprises various folks who used to work at Marshall, and are dedicated to producing high-end valve-based gear. Buying the HT-DIST (HT stands for high tension – because they come with a step-up transformer to give you the necessary voltage) was a bit of a gamble, because you can’t try pedals out with a tuba in a guitar shop. BUT the gamble paid off. This thing is magnificent with tuba. It preserves all the low end and you get a fabulous warm, rich, distorted sound.

In place of delay I’ve added my EHX “Ravish Sitar” pedal. It not only processes the signal to give a sitar-like lead sound (which I turn right down to get the dry signal only) but has a second output which gives sympathetic resonance, just like having loads of sympathetic strings on an Indian classical instrument, without quite so much faff in tuning them. It allows you to select the scale you want – tonight, Matthew, I’ll be using an Eb Raga Bhairav scale, and even program in custom ones. Appropriately enough, it has a nice “om” symbol on it, too.

Day 7 – our final day with Alex.

We made it! Seven days of intense collaboration and exploration, culminating in a gig at The Cube Cinema in Bristol. We decided to give our lips a rest all day until the evening of our gig, so day seven was all about our final gig with Alex.

Following on from a storming set by Anta was interesting. We have been developing our live sound over recent weeks and had decided to play our gig at The Cube quietly, acoustically + some amplified reinforcement. It’s a small venue and we wanted to keep the sound of our instruments as pure as possible. Anta and the other acts on the night were pretty loud so it was interesting to hear the juxtaposition.

We enjoyed playing very much and appreciated the warm response to our set. As usual we were playing around a structure, according to how Stuart conducted proceedings. This always makes for a fresh experience but I didn’t think he’d actually make us play THAT COVER!?

Despite a mess up on the audio recording, the whole thing was filmed.

Thanks to everyone that made it down to see us.


Our week with Alex brought a lot of stuff into sharp focus for us. We have plenty to reflect and build on. We are going back into our bunker for a bit now to write and develop some stuff, and to plan the next stage of ORE.

Day 6

By the sixth day of recording and exploration our lips were practically falling off us.

We wanted to conserve our energy for our gig the next day so went for a fun session up at Gullet Quarry again. David brought along a second furry friend, so we could explore some exciting recording techniques.

At one point we all wondered off around different sides of the quarry and fired notes across the space at each other. Sonic weapons!

And…relax. A whole day off until our gig at the Cube Cinema the following night. One funny from day six was when we contemplated what the reaction might be if we put “large boulders to sit on” put on our gig rider.

The music of ORE

As a follow up to Stuart’s post “The live birth of ORE”, I’d just like to add that a crucial element in the success of our debut performance and sound in general, is Stuart’s ability to write original material for us to perform.

In our performance at Supersonic we played only one cover, our take on Earth’s “Ouroboros is Broken” from “Extra-Capsular Extraction”. All other material in our set was original and all written by Stuart.

Stuart is always writing and developing stuff, which means ORE will always be pushing forward!

Add to this that the structure of the pieces in any given performance are semi-improvised, with Stuart conducting proceedings according to what feels right on the night, and it should always guarantee a fresh experience for anyone witnessing ORE live.

(Select scores will be released through our Downloads section)

The live birth of ORE

Well, we did it.

I’ve taken a fair few musical risks in my time, one of which involved learning to play jazz chords on tenor banjo in a matter of days. Don’t ask. None of these compares with the risks we took with ORE’s live debut at Supersonic 2011.

For a start, when we began working on this project in earnest in early 2011, Sam had only played a tuba once before, and then more as a noise source rather than by using any conventional techniques. The dedication and time required to develop the necessary stamina on an instrument like the tuba was enormous, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone make that sort of progress on a brass instrument before.

Add to that already massive undertaking the technical challenges involved in amplifying the instruments, and there’s an awful lot that could have gone wrong. Mercifully, nothing did.

Best of all, we’ve both enjoyed the experience enormously.

So, where next for ORE? Musically there is a lot of exploring to do – what can the genre of drone/doom encompass when its bedrock is bass brass instead of guitars and feedback? We don’t know, but we intend to find out. We know that there’s lots to explore with regard to our live sound too. Intensity is everything.

Thanks to everyone who came to see us at Supersonic, especially those who couldn’t get in! We hope to see you at the IKON gig in November.

– Stuart