Sunday, 1 December 2013

Isurus - Methods of Composition Pt.3

Current Compositional Process Summary
Evolution and Refinement of Our Compositional Method

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this 3 Part series I covered the end to end process that we currently follow when writing our music. In this 3rd and last post, I will summarize our current process as previously explained in Part 1 and 2 and also explain how this process developed and evolved over time. Firstly, here's a quick overview of the steps we currently take when writing in roughly chronological order:

Current Compositional Process Summary
Note - Many of these steps continue throughout the entire process. I will mark these with * 
  • Communal Improvisation *  -  Guitar + Drum Jam sessions
  • Individual Improvisation *  -  Writing alone
  • Improvising in the box *  -  Writing using MIDI within the computer
  • Organising the Chaos  -  Organising our improvised and recorded parts into work in progress tracks
  • Structuring in the box -  Experimenting with song structure within the computer
  • Structuring outside the box  -  Learning/Playing and Refining the tracks live
  • Adding the Vocals  -  Writing the vocal lines and lyrics + restructuring the tracks if necessary
  • Adding the Bass  -  Writing the bass over the existing and almost complete tracks
One further point to note is the differentiation that we make with regard to Improvising and Structuring whilst playing live. Our improvisation sessions tend to be completely free and without any specific goal in mind whereas our live structuring sessions tend to be very focussed with the goal of structuring our tracks as well as possible. By separating these we can stay in the same mindset throughout whichever type of session we're engaged in.

Evolution and Refinement of Our Compositional Method
There is a definite distinction to be made between our writing running all the way up to Telos and everything written thereafter. I'll call these the pre Telos and post Telos phases. Everything outlined above and in the previous 2 parts of this series of blog posts covers our post Telos phase of writing. This differs to the approach that we took when writing Telos quite dramatically and is largely responsible for the big difference between the albums. 

  • Pre Telos Phase
When writing Telos and at all other times prior to mid 2011, we worked far more by gradually piecing tracks together live. The Improvisation stages of our current process were much the same although we did very little refinement or experimentation within the computer following this. We would record parts but would very rarely work on song structure within the computer and would instead move directly to the Structuring Outside the Box phase of our current process. Our live writing sessions often became a back and forth between Improvising and Structuring and as such, they tended to be far less focussed and productive. 
As a result of this, our tracks often ended up not returning to variations on previous sections or they simply would not return to previous sections at all. This is in part due to the fact that we were storing all the tracks in our minds and did not have the freedom to remove ourselves from the playing of the track in order to focus on the structure alone without needing to remember the next section that was approaching. 

One of the main reasons for this was the difficulty involved in recording a live drum kit and guitar to click and being able to reliably manipulate the recordings made. As such, whilst we were trying to work out the best structure for a given track and due to completing this process in a live setting, we were always in the position of being required to play the parts, remember the upcoming changes and end to end song structure as well as attempt to focus as much as possible on the structural variation that we were trying at the time.

  • Moving to the Post Telos Phase
The main enabling factor which led to us moving away from the limited pre Telos compositional approach was my decision to move solely to an electronic drum kit. This allowed us to quickly and easily record our parts into the computer and to lay down any stand out parts within an improvisation session as well as experiment with different structural arrangements within the computer whilst not having 50% of our brains dedicated to playing the parts themselves. 

In the post Telos phase of writing (mid 2011 onward), following a complete overhaul of our recording equipment, we moved to rehearsing live through our computer at all times. This meant that we could very quickly hit record at any time, could play to a click easily, could reference previously recorded parts quickly and could work individually within the same Work In Progress track projects as when playing together. None of these things were possible with our previous (pre Telos) method of writing.

We quickly learned that the benefits of working in this way were well beyond our expectations. The move from the pre Telos phase to the post Telos phase was a truly dramatic shift that opened up our ability to write effectively and to better fulfil our potential. 

The results of the changes within our overall method of writing music will be heard in our next album which we're currently hard at work on and is due to be released in mid 2014. 

This marks the end of this 3 Part Series of blog posts in which I've provided an overview of our previous and current methods of composition. I may go into more detail on some aspects of our current process in future but for now, I hope these posts have been informative and enjoyable.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Isurus - Methods of Composition Pt.2

Structuring, Bass and Vocals

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series of posts covering how we write music. Part 1 covered Improvisation and in this post I will be explaining the next steps that we take including how we structure the songs and add the bass and vocals. 

By the end of Part 1, I'd explained how we improvise in order to create small sections of recorded parts and then gradually start to categorise and group the parts together into working projects for each track. Following this process we begin to structure the tracks...

Structuring Inside The Box
As explained previously, we improvise until we have enough material that fits together in order to create a track and then group the relevant recorded ideas into a Work In Progress project. We then make sure that we have the correct tempo for the project by playing the ideas live and defining the best tempo for the track. Once we have a Work In Progress project (track) with the correct tempo, we then experiment within the DAW project by moving parts around to see which parts work best together. Often we already have a lot of parts which are already joined by this point and we just build around them considering the dynamics of the song. We complete this first stage within the computer (DAW) as it is easier to group and move sections and try them in different orders by simply dragging and dropping in the order that we want to hear them. 

Structuring Outside The Box
Once we have the parts in an order that we are generally happy with within the DAW, we begin playing the tracks live together between Dave (Guitar) and I (Drums). This is a very important stage in the process and all structuring and organising prior to this point has only really taken place in order to get to this stage. Playing live we then see how the tracks feel to play when structured in the way that we have chosen within the computer. We'll also try many different variations live and gradually decide on what feels best in terms of dynamics and the general feel of the song. This is also the stage at which we will add the joins between the different sections. By playing the tracks through many times, we become comfortable with them and then naturally add small embellishments such as drum fills. Once we're happy with the tracks following this process, we then add the new drum fills / joins between the sections to the projects within the computer. 

Adding Vocals
Throughout all of the stages previously mentioned including the Improvisation stage, Braun (Vocals) will have been listening to the ideas/parts/partially structured tracks and structured tracks that we've been working on. As a result, when we get to the stage of having structured tracks, he knows the tracks very well and will have some rough ideas. Braun then starts working on the vocals intensively and adds the lyrics at the same time so that they fit the song in question. There are inevitably changes that are required to the song at this stage in order to make room for the vocals and often the vocal lines require parts to be moved around altogether. As a result we will sometimes restructure tracks entirely at this point even after all the previous stages. Adding the vocals is introducing a very important element so we make sure that they are best represented in the song. 

Adding the Bass 
Due to our situation with regard to not having a permanent bass player in the band up to this point, the bass is the last element that we add to the tracks. Very little if any restructuring of the track as a whole will go on at this stage and it's a matter of getting bass parts which fit with the different sections of the song and recording them. Having not had a permanent bassist, it's not possible to tell how this element would fit into the overall process although I would love to find out! Our new album is shaping up to have bass written very much toward the end.

Next Steps
Following all the stages already described, we end up with finished songs in projects within our computer. In future blog posts, I will go into more detail on the stages that follow this but in brief, the next steps are to record our parts as well possible and mix the album. When recording our final parts, we create new projects from scratch which we call 'Final Projects'. These Final Projects will have a higher track count due to us recording more layers of instruments. We'll also use these Final Projects within the mixing phase and by this stage the tracks will have had names created by Braun.

That's it for Part 2 of this series of posts. Part 1 and 2 combined give an overview of how we currently write our music and how we're currently writing for our next album. In Part 3 I will cover how we wrote prior to the release of Telos and how the process has changed over time. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Isurus  -  Methods of Composition Pt.1


There are, no doubt, countless ways of writing music although not many artists seem to explain how they write. This will be the 1st of a 3 part series which will be provide an overview of how we write our music. This process has changed dramatically over the years and I'll cover how we used to write and what has changed. Part 1 will cover Improvisation, Part 2 will cover Structuring, Vocals, Bass and Finishing Touches and Part 3 will cover the Evolution and Refinement of this process over time.

The Art of Communal Improvisation
Central to any band's method of writing is improvisation. This is probably the most important aspect of the writing process as it's where you pan for gold by playing around with any ideas you can come up with. We've always had a very strong practice regime between Dave (Guitar) and I (Drums) which forms the foundation of every song that we've ever written. Improvisation can also be done alone which I'll explain later but playing together is the backbone of everything that we do.

We usually have at least three 2-3 hour improvisation sessions per week and more when we're going through an intensive writing phase. These sessions can start and end anywhere. We sometimes start with a basic idea that Dave has come up with and take it from there or just see what comes up when we start from scratch. The benefit of doing this is that you build up a musical affinity over time and almost seem to gain the ability to predict what the other player will do before they do it. After over 10 years of continuous and regular sessions such as this, we've built up a kind of musical attunement which makes things come together faster and builds a certain kind of solidarity to the parts that we end up with. As I said before, this is probably the most important aspect of our writing process.

This process is one of sifting for gold and gradually boiling it down to the essence of any given part in order to capture the purest form of anything we write. We then begin joining parts together but I'll explain that in more detail at a later stage. My advice to any band (that wants to take any advice) is to play regularly and play a lot. It has to become a regular routine which is maintained even if you don't feel particularly inspired on any given day.

Individual Improvisation
As well as these Guitar and Drum jam type sessions, we also improvise and write a lot alone. Dave is constantly writing ideas and piecing them together which we then play together in our jam sessions. On the days that we do not play together Dave will almost always have written a new part on his own. I tend to work on my own once we have already pieced a number of ideas together and recorded them. I will play along to the recorded guitar part on repeat for hours at a time and run through every possible version of my drum part until I have 'purified' my part as much as possible.

Improvising In The Box
With modern computers and DAWs (digital audio workstations) it's now possible to improvise using MIDI within the computer that you record into. I personally usually spend around 1 full evening per week writing drum parts using MIDI alone and altering parts I've written live on my drumkit. I then learn to play the parts I've programmed and further refine them. It becomes a back and forth of playing on the kit and writing using MIDI and this has dramatically improved my technique on the kit as I program some difficult parts which I then learn to play. Essentially, improvising in the box means programming using MIDI. Most film scores are made solely in this way using vast sample libraries (but that's another story).

Organising the Chaos
During our communal and individual improvisation sessions, we record anything from small sections to almost complete songs depending on which stage we're at. When we're both playing in a jam session, we will record small sections which stand out as we go. As a result of doing this, we end up with literally hundreds of recorded parts that then need to be organised into projects containing parts that work together. In order to do this, we dedicate some evenings to only reviewing all recorded ideas that have not yet been placed in a working project. These sessions happen about once every 1-2 weeks and are usually accompanied by at least 1 bottle of Rioja. We then have different stages of projects running from a 'Work in Progress' right up to the 'Final Project' but I'll explain that in more detail in Part 2 of this series.

That's it for Part 1. Part 2 will cover Structuring, Vocals, Bass and Finishing Touches and will follow shortly.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Difficulties and Sacrifices of Aspiring Professional Musicians

This post is really aimed at those aspiring to become professional musicians although it might also give insight into a side of Isurus that has not been spoken about publicly in the past. As I am currently in the position of aspiring to work on our music full time (as are all members of Isurus), we can all certainly attest to the struggles involved in maintaining and building the band's presence and reach whilst working full time and having other commitments. 

Hopefully, at some point someone that is in a similar position will read this and be encouraged in some sense to continue knowing that there are others that are living or have lived the same type of lifestyle. The type of lifestyle that I am referring to is one in which all 'me time' or 'free time', has ceased to exist. 

After searching online I have found surprisingly little written about this but for me, what I am detailing in this post is the daily reality of those with a deep passion and drive to succeed in spreading their music as far and wide as possible. To be specific, I am referring to those that are not supported financially by their music but still treat it as a full time job. 

Within Isurus, this is a weekly topic of conversation and a constant reality for all of us. It's such an important and defining aspect of the band that in a recent mid rehearsal discussion with Dave (Guitar), we agreed that if we had only 1 word to describe what the project as a whole has been for us, it would be the word 'Struggle'. This may have just been a particularly difficult rehearsal and it is certainly true that a lot of time is spent being proud of our effort and achievements as well as generally feeling dizzy with joy when a section of music we've been working on falls into place but enough time is spent being generally stressed about where we're heading, whether the next track will ever come together, whether it's all a big and expensive waste of time, etc, to justify writing this. I would say that it's a 50/50 split between the 2 states of mind. 

As an example, my life consists of working in a full time and quite demanding job and then working on Isurus in the evenings during the week and on weekends. You can see that I view Isurus as a job and that is essentially what it is, most of the time. I often hear statements such as 'But you love making music', etc, and that is true, I do love writing and making music but that can also be a very difficult process which ultimately, at most only amounts to 50% of my activity in the band. Essentially, my view is that in order to succeed and create the best music possible as well as achieve the largest possible reach, you have to be 3 things; 1) Utterly and completely obsessed/stubborn, 2) Willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and 3) Hugely confident in your music. Sometimes I feel like going out for a drink and relaxing or sitting around and watching a film, etc... Those things are long gone!

An interesting part of this is that although I do not read much written about this by aspiring musicians, I have read similar stories in many autobiographies and interviews by individuals that did eventually succeed in their aim. Some examples would be Kurt Cobain, Mikael Akerfeldt, Mastodon, Gojira, etc. Stories such as spending 10 years touring almost non stop and living in a small van are common and I do not believe that this is a recent phenomenon. I believe that it is due to the fact that in order to really gain traction and build a large, international fan base as well as be taken seriously by any major record label, you first need a fairly large fan base and generally high level of exposure. 2 of these points are seemingly opposed to each other in that in order to build a large fan base, you need a large fan base. This is due to a large percentage of people generally feeling that if not many others are already established fans, then they themselves must be wrong if they happen to like your music. These people will only buy into something, even if it is just them spending their time listening to your music, if they see a lot of other people already doing the same thing. As such, for a large amount of time, bands are dependent on individuals who frankly don't care about anything other than whether they like what they hear. Those that are confident enough to define what is good/worthwhile or not for themselves They could be called Early Adopters. Almost all current Isurus fans fall into this category so.. respect!!  :)

Increasingly, as can be seen within shows such as 'The X Factor', it's not the case that all musicians experience the struggle that I am writing about. Some are just plucked out of wherever they happened to be, dressed up, covered in make up, autotuned and thrown into the spotlight. But those that go down that path do not generally stay in the limelight for long and that is because they are not used to the demands that such a lifestyle places on them. Luckily there is not (and hopefully never will be) a rock or metal version of 'The X Factor'. I suppose that in some sense, this is 1 of many attributes that differentiate the Pop and Metal genres.

So, in summary, living the type of lifestyle that we currently do in Isurus is incredibly difficult. It drains our time, our money, our social lives, etc and it can be very difficult to keep going. 1 positive comment to us from a fan can and often does make a huge difference so to any Isurus fans out there reading this, THANK YOU!! 

Now I'll get back to working on this new album.. From the sound of it, this is going to be the one that makes it all worth it!! 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Remastering Telos - 2013

In July 2013, we began remixing and remastering our Debut Album; Telos. We'd been dissatisfied with the overall sound of the album for at least 18 months prior to this point and wanted to see if we could improve it using some equipment and know how that we had built up since the album's original release back in June, 2011. We also wanted to release the album as a free download in order to increase the number of people that have heard the it and as such, we combined these 2 desires and decided to remix and remaster the album and re release it as a free download from our website. 

The remixing and remastering work was all done by me, Thomas Drew, and took 3 full months to complete. In total, I calculated the time I spent on this project to be over 300 hours. 300 hours being locked in a small studio listening/experimenting/mixing down, etc. Needless to say, it was a pretty tough task to complete.

I had a sharepoint online where I would upload the latest mixes on a daily basis for Braun and Dave to provide comments on which I would then take into consideration the next day. I also spent my commute to and from work listening the the latest mixes and making notes so in fact, I spent far more than 300 hours on this project and essentially I was living it nearly full time.

The 2 main areas that I set out to address initially where the bass and the overall loudness and lack of punch of the original album. The bass was unfocused and muddy, the guitar was often too quiet, not cutting and very unfocused, the vocals were too loud in general with too much variation in volume and not enough presence, the drums simply did not cut through the mix and sounded weak and almost faded. Then overall the album was just not loud enough as a whole when compared directly to other professional mixes. 

Here's an overview of the changes I made instrument by instrument:

Bass: I did not do too much to the bass sound in general although I did apply heavier compression in 2 stages with a ratio of 4:1 and a reduction of around 3db on the heavier setting. This volume loss was then (obviously) made up by adding make up gain. I also used an EQ plugin called Equilibrium to pull out some frequencies between 300 and 800 hz. I added a small amount at 2khz for a bit of presence and in order to merge the bass with the guitar sound. 

Guitar: The guitar ended up needing a fair amount of work. One of the main changes that I made was adding a fairly steep a high pass filter at 100hz to give the bass some room and allow me to turn the guitar up in the mix without it becoming too overpowering in the low end. In fact, the low end of the guitar was the cause of a lot of our bass problems in the original version of the album. I used 2 compressors in sequence with the heaviest compression setting at 3:1 reducing the volume by no more than 4db. I added a slight bump in the EQ between 2khz and 4khz and then had a steep low pass filter set at around 6khz to give the drums and vocals room in the high end. Dave also worked with me on the guitar sound throughout the first month so really this was a combined effort.

Vocals: There is no doubt that the vocals took up the majority of my time. Due to our lack of experience when recording Telos, we had vocal comps with greatly varying dynamic levels. Added to this, the microphone that we had used did not suit Braun's voice at all. We used a Neumann TLM 103 which accentuated the mid range frequencies too much. Braun is a very diaphragmatic singer and a microphone with a really nice high end suits him best as it balances his vocals out. With the Neumann, we ended up with a bit too much honk (mid range between 1khz and 2khz). This was not the only problem by a long shot. After weeks of experimentation, the setup that I ended up with was 5 duplicated audio tracks with very different sounds on each one. 1 channel for the extreme high end, 1 completely flat with no compression, 1 heavily compressed (parallel compression), 1 with a character plugin and another with a different character plugin. The completely flat vocal was then sent 100% to a side chain reverb as was the compressed vocal (but only 50%). All of these tracks including the reverb then fed into a single vocal bus.

Drums: The drums had a fairly standard treatment although I used a trick on the snare to get it to cut through the master buss compressor and limiter as much as possible (although it's never really going to cut through the limiter). This involved duplicating the snare track and then using a plugin to get just the transient but none of the sustain. I also had a heavily compressed snare track (parallel compression) which I blended into the the snare sound. I also duplicated the kick drum track and used a high pass filter at around 3khz to get only the high of the kick drum. This allowed me to control the 'click' of the kick separately from the low and mid. We had no room mics for the kit but the overhead mics had a high pass filter set at around 1.5khz. All tracks were then sent to a reverb side chain. 

All tracks apart from the guitar were then sent to a very light master reverb bus with a 5% wet setting which then went out to the master bus.

I had an SSL Duende Master Bus Compressor set at 2:1 ratio, .3 attack and auto release giving a db reduction of around 4db on the master. The .3 attack was to allow the snare transient to pass through to the limiter.

After the master bus compressor, I used Slate Digital's FG-X plugin. I have used many different limiter plugins and FG-X is in a different league when used correctly. The intelligent transient preservation works extremely well in order to get loud mixes that retain perceived dynamics.

Without going into too much detail about RMS levels in mastering in this post, we ended up with an RMS level of around -10db whilst maintaining clear dynamics and transients. In short, that means that the average volume of the tracks is -10db with the highest peak being -0.1db. The highest possible volume is 0db and the higher the RMS level (average level over time) the louder the song will sound when compared to tracks with a lower RMS level. The original release of Telos had an RMS level of -16db. 

The remastered version of Telos was then finally released on September 29th, 2013 and is available to download for free HERE. The link to the remastered version on Youtube is HERE

Hope you like it!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

New Album
General Information and November Progress Report

Almost immediately after the release of Telos back in June 2011, we began working on a new album. In truth, we had already started work on the next album prior to the release of Telos and during the recording and mixing of Telos, we were generally feeling that, due to the fact that Telos is made up of material stretching as far back as 2003, the release of Telos was a process of getting the backlog of material we'd built up released. As such, we were very keen to work on new material and truly express where we were musically.

To summarize the above, we knew that Telos was not a true reflection of our potential even at the time of release. That may sound negative but to put it in a more positive way, we knew that we had a LOT of untapped potential and we were eager to release it. In a sense, Telos was an exercise in catharsis and it freed us up to dig deeper in every respect and see how far we could push without spending another 3 years with no material available to potential fans. I distinctly remember recording the drums for Telos whilst continuously thinking about our latest material that would not make it onto Telos.

Since June 2011, we have been working harder than ever with the aim of releasing an album that we feel truly represents where we are as a band. It's been a strange experience promoting Telos, remastering Telos, gigging Telos and generally using it to build a fan base whilst being fully aware that it is not truly representative of the music that we've been writing. Long story short, our new material is in a different league altogether and despite it being less than 3 years since the release of Telos, due to a lot of hard work, we've been able to really dig deep into every aspect of each new track and not settle for anything that is less than as good as we can possibly do.

Not least of the differences between Telos and the new, as yet unreleased album, is the general sound of the songs. Our recording chain for each instrument (vocals included) is as good as it gets. This in itself has been a difficult goal to achieve and cost us a small fortune over the past 3 years. We've also been learning as much as possible with regard to mixing and mastering and, due to the experimentation we've done, partly during the remastering of Telos this year, we'll have a fully pro sound which is actually groundbreaking in many areas. As an example, each song on Telos had a maximum of 20 channels of audio (audio tracks); the new album songs have around 100. This gives us the ability to blend the tracks and add dynamics to the mixes by layering different sounds at different times etc.

We've also delved a lot deeper than ever in terms of our song writing and have gone through long phases of daily jam sessions lasting 4-5 hours which result in 1 riff or idea (if we were lucky) that would actually make it to the album. In terms of song structuring, we've also taken a completely different approach, trying every possible combination of parts and very gradually boiling them down to finished tracks.

Currently, around 95% of the album is written with about 20% of the existing material still needing to be structured into songs. The album has a name and the artwork is very close to being complete. 

As we're so close to the album being ready for release, we can clearly see what the album will be like in it's entirety. Put simply, it's the album we always knew we could make. It is clearly representative of where we are as a band and we feel that we'll always be happy with it no matter how much time passes. It's heavier, it's lighter, there is more variation and complexity but the songs also feel more natural in their progression and structure. In a word, it's just BETTER.. In 2 words, it's MUCH BETTER..

As we're making sure that every aspect of the album is as well developed as possible, we've set ourselves a goal of achieving a release date of May 1st 2014. The album launch will be accompanied by a series of new videos which will go up on Youtube on the launch date and will feature us playing 3 of the tracks live in our studio.

Long story short, we're throwing everything into this next album. We're pushing the boundaries as far as we can and are hell bent on releasing an album that will stand the test of time for our fans as well as ourselves. We believe that we're close to achieving that goal and cannot wait for anyone and everyone that has been following us as a band in any way over the years to hear it.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Recording and Release Telos

By the beginning of 2011, following an 11 year long search, we finally had our singer in place. Braun had moved over from Rome to join the band and record our debut album. At the time we didn't have a name for the album but we did have a permanent studio, all the equipment that we needed and the 3 of us living in London. 

Dave and I had full time jobs which meant travelling to the studio after work in order to write and record. This in itself was a fairly difficult thing to do as my commute to and from the studio was 90 minutes each way. 

This is as good a place as any to say that the full, recently remixed and remastered version of Telos is available as a free download from our site HERE

The recording equipment that we had at the time was:
  • Desktop PC running Cubase SX3 as our DAW
  • M Audio Delta 10 10 PCI sound card
  • Mackie 24:8 mixing console
  • Genelec 8030 Monitors
  • Neumann TLM 103 LDC Microphone
  • Shure SM57 + AKG Drum Miking Kit including 1 x D112 and 2 x C1000
  • SSL Duende PCIe Card
  • Slate Digital FG-X Mastering Plugin
This was certainly not a high end recording setup but it was enough to get the tracks recorded and released. Putting the tracks out there was our main focus as in the 11 year history of the band, we'd not released an album. 

In early February Braun began working on the tracks that he had not heard or written any lyrics or vocals for. This process did not take a long time and by the beginning of April, all the vocal parts were written including lyrics. In February, we were simultaneously working on the drum sound and recording the drum parts. For more information and photos of my Telos kit, look HERE and HERE. Below are a few pictures of the drum kit set up in our studio for the recording of Telos followed by 2 photos of the live room:

For more information on our live room in general, look HERE

With the close proximity of the walls to the kit and the fairly low quality of our kit mics and mixing desk, we were never going to get a truly amazing drum kit sound but we did the best possible under the circumstances. We were also limited by our lack of experience with producing a full album in general.

Once the the first few drum tracks were recorded, in mid February, we started tracking guitar. We set up the Neumann TLM 103, SM57 and C1000 on the Marshall cabinet and had the mics close to the speaker cones. We also added another mic but ended up not using it. The guitar tracks were double tracked and hard panned left and right. Here's a couple of pictures of the guitar setup but for far more information on the rig including it's subsequent evolution, see THIS THREAD on our forum:

Here's a photo of the guitar parts being worked out:

Once all the guitar had been recorded, we then moved on to the vocals which were ready to go. We started Vocal recording at the beginning of April 2011. Vocal recording progressed fairly quickly and by mid April we had all the vocals recorded. Dave was also working with Braun throughout this time to write and record the bass parts. 

The bass was written and recorded by the end of April. We used a Steinberger bass guitar through a Genz Benz head and Dr Bass Cabinet. We miked the cabinet with a AKG D112 and Shure SM57 and then also recorded the DI out of the bass head. For more information on our bass setup for Telos, look HERE

We all feel that our general bass setup, including the fact that we did not have a bass player in place, was the weakest aspect of Telos. The way that we originally mixed the bass added to our dissatisfaction in this area and is what ultimately led us to remaster the album in 2013.

By May 2011, we had all of parts recorded and were ready to begin mixing. The mixing process involved hours of listening and referencing. We used our Genelec 8030 monitors as well as some in ear monitors and Sennheiser HD600's for referencing. I won't go into detail with regard to what we did in the mixing process as it's probably too technical but here's a photo of this phase of the album's creation:

Below is a photo of our control (mixing) room but for more information, look HERE:

The mixing and mastering was completed by the last week of May 2011. We spent the last week of May listening to the completed album and then launched it as an online download in early June 2011. 

We were very happy to finally have something available for people to download and listen to. In 2013, we remastered the album to take advantage of our increased know how in the mixing and mastering area, to take advantage of a lot of new equipment that we have purchased and in order to gain experience in the run up to mixing and releasing our next album. 

Looking back on the recording and release of Telos, I would say that in general it was hard work for all of us which required significant sacrifices in many areas of our lives. It's certainly been worth the effort though considering the fan base that it's built for us and the feedback that we've received on the album over the past couple of years. 

Once again, HERE's the link for the free download of the remastered version of Telos. Following this remaster, we're all happy with Telos and feel that it's a great start for us although we're all set to release a new album in 2014 which pushes much further in every respect. That is afterall the aim, continuously write and release better material and evolve as a band over time. Telos is a great first step which marks the starting point for our officially released material.