Working with Arian Saleh at The Carriage House

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Arian Saleh is an amazing artist that marries Manu Chao stylings and tango rhythms with Middle Eastern flavors to create a unique style, centered around great songwriting. I tracked the basics for this project last July over 5 days, and was able to take time getting sounds to be unique to each song.

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We utilized all of the acoustic flavors that Carriage House has to offer, putting drummer Chuck Palmer in the very bright and lively stone room for one song and the carpeted side of the main space for another. Each song featured a change of instruments and miking that fit where we were going with it. In terms of drums, I had anywhere from a 3 mic setup to a full 10 mic setup including multiple room mics. Amanda Ruzza’s bass was tracked through a Radial DI and Dave Eggar’s cello was recorded with the Vintage Telefunken 251 on most tracks and various other mics depending on the situation. I recall we used the RCA 44s at one point on overdubs.

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The oud was tracked with a Neumann km184. In the months following the CHS sessions, overdubs including percussion, violin, and bandoneon, were tracked in various places in NYC, in many cases in the homes of the players themselves.

Lead vocals were tracked back at CHS with engineer Mikhail Pivovarov.

Mixing of the album commenced in March and Carriage House’s main studio was chosen for several reasons.

  1. It is the home of Grammy Award winning engineer Brendan Muldowney, who considers it one of the best mix rooms in the NYC area.
  2. The room never lies.It’s always exactly what I think it is going to be when I take the mix out of there. All gear aside, that’s the best feature of any control room.

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But speaking of gear, CHS provides one of the best sounding SSL consoles around. Given a serious hot rodding by Dan Zellman, the CHS E series desk is the best of both worlds. It has the classic SSL vibe with the low end of a Neve. It’s really an amazing sounding board, and the automation is rock solid. The console allows me to integrate any of the hardware available there and make use of it in the best possible way.

These days I’ve been going more and more with plugins on the mix, as mixing in the box is something that I’ve been doing the last fewyears. It’s great to sort of start in the box, shaping sounds with plugins, then breaking out to the console and finishing up there.

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On the Arian Saleh project, some of the plugins that saw lots of use were the Metric Halo Channel Strip (one of my favorites) as well as all the fun stuff that SoundToys has to offer, like the Decapitator, Crystalizer, and Echo Boy. For lead vocals, I’m a big fan of the iZotope Nectar plugin for initial sound shaping before going out to the SSL where it sees the E series EQ and the blackface 1176 on the insert. We also delved into some of the cool hardware effects at CHS, like the AKG BX20 spring reverb, EMT140 plate, and Eventide H3000.

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For this mix, we only had a few days, so I tailored my workflow to make recall an easy situation. Much of my EQ came from the Metric Halo plugin, and effects were generated in ProTools using SoundToys and Waves plugins, then bussed to their own channels on the SSL, and only a few pieces of hardware were involved in each mix. Some choice gear included the Neve 33609 on the drum buss, and my beloved Manley Vari-Mu on the main mix buss, occasionally coupled with the quad compressor on the SSL. I think the reason not much outboard was used on this particular record was that I was afforded the time during tracking to really get the sounds right, which isn’t always the case.

I mixed 8 songs in 4 days, printing back to ProTools through the Apogee Rosetta. It’s an amazing project from an amazing artist and incredible production team and I’m looking forward to the release.

Find Arian Saleh online: Website | Bandcamp | Twitter | Facebook

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If you haven’t already been to the Carriage House – then why not schedule a tour and consider us for your session

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Posted on February 29, 2016 in connecticut recording studio

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