Success Stories

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I have been talking for some time about the virtues of kickstarter funding for music recording projects.  The indie album Move by Matt Phillips and the Philharmonic could not have been made without kickstarter funding.  But the more I learn about the world of music kickstarters, the more I see there is to learn.

The Set Chopin Free project reached its $75,000 goal scarcely two weeks into its seven week funding schedule.  It is already more than $5,000 above its funding goal, and could well surpass $100,000 by the time its funding window closes.  And the Open Well-Tempered Clavier project (launched by Robert Douglass) has already reached 50% of its $30,000 fundraising goal from more than 450 supporters in its first 5 days!  That kind of strong start virtually guarantees funding success, and leaves us only to wonder whether it will achieve 160% (like Open Goldberg Variations), 200% (like Fractal Journeys and the Twelve Tones of Bach), 350% (like the Well-Tempered Clavier Tour), 600% (like Musopen’s Set Music Free) or more than 1100% (like Amanda Palmer did in her amazing 2012 record).  The possibilities are quite wide open.  But real questions remain: how did this happen?  what does it mean?

A press release today invites the press itself to consider some more pointed questions:

If both Open Goldberg and Musopen succeed with their Kickstarter campaigns, collectively raising over $100,000 for new recordings of standard repertoire, it is probably worth asking “Who is holding classical music in shackles?” and “Why do so many people feel it is so important to set Bach and Chopin free?” Continue reading “Success Stories”

Get ready for NOW

AbstractLogix has released NOW, the new album recorded by Alex Machacek and Gary Husband at Manifold Recording.  It is an album you may well want to check out NOW!

Alex Machacek and Gary Husband in the Control Room of Manifold Recording

It is always exciting to think about what might happen when two of your favorite artists decide to team up and produce a new collaboration.  But it can also be a disappointment when the result sounds a bit like a tug-of-war between two visions, or a competition between the two artists.  NOW not only avoids the these pitfalls, but it soars above them with rare and wonderful transcendence.  Indeed, it may do for Piano and Electric Guitar what Crystal Silence did for Piano and Vibraphone.

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Alex Machacek and Gary Husband at Manifold Recording

AlexAndGary1Alex Machacek and Gary Husband spent several days with us recording a new album for their label, AbstractLogix.  Gary has just finished touring the East Coast with John McLaughlin, and Alex flew in from Los Angeles.  Both had been writing, practicing, and sharing notes about the music they would be recording, but this was the first time they had a chance to play it together.  It was exciting to witness the music literally being realized through the process of recording!

Our recording setup anticipated Alex playing both electric and acoustic guitar.  In the photo you see him practicing with Gary, so the amp is not isolated, and neither is Alex.  For the recording, Alex played through a Carr Rambler amplifier isolated in Booth B, but he’s practicing with Gary through a Carr Mercury amplifier.  He really enjoyed playing through both.  During the recording session, Alex moved into the hexagonal room we made from gobos.  When he was getting set up, I asked him “what’s your favorite color?” and when he told me “something warm, maybe orange”, I illuminated it with a really orange light.  He liked the effect, and that’s how we kept it during the remainder of the session.  (See below for some color out-takes.)

For the acoustic guitar, Alex auditioned two of our studio guitars: a Breedlove and an Alvarez Yari.  Alex picked the Yari because its tone and action fit were a perfect fit for the tone he envisioned and for the way he plays.

Gary played our Yamaha CF-9.  We set up three pairs of microphones to capture several perspectives of the piano’s sound.  Over the hammers we had a pair of Schoeps CMC6 mics.  Over the harp we had our DPA 3521 compact cardiod pair.   Slightly higher and slightly farther away we had a pair of Coles 4038 ribbon microphones which you can see on the large boom stand.  Ian then set about to get the piano to play Gary’s favorite colors, which tended to be a bit darker than our piano plays naturally.  However, after some back-and-forth, we found that we could get the desired color with a touch of EQ.  With that, we were ready to record.

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Pioneering the Electric Highway

For the past several months, Thia Konig has been treating us to a wonderful journal of her photography titled Pioneering the Electric Highway.  It documents her adventures with Ben Woodard as they go where no electric vehicles have gone before.  And in so doing, they became pioneers of the electric highway–at least on the West Coast.  This “road trip of a lifetime” (as Thia described it) called for a spirit of adventure, a willingness to venture into the unknown.  And what made it work was their winning ways of finding power in the community, literally.

According to the US Department of Energy, there are just over 6,200 electric vehicle charging stations in the US today.  Using their handy-dandy locator, I found there are 3 within a 15 mile radius of Manifold Recording, including one less than 3 miles away, at Central Carolina Community College.  But if you were in Bandera, Texas (just outside San Antonio) and wanted to drive to Socorro (just outside of El Paso), there are presently zero stations along that 501 mile route.  That’s an adventure!  And the only way to do it is to make friends along the way.  Thia and Ben’s journey was like that…The Love Bug meets the 21st Century.

Inspired by their pioneering drive, we have decided to make Manifold Recording a friendly place for clients with electric vehicles.  First, we installed several 20A circuits of 120V shore power convenient to our parking areas.  Though these only deliver enough current to charge at a rate of 4-5 miles per hour, that adds 30-50 miles of range during a typical 8-10 hour session, more than enough to get home at the end of the day.  But we wanted to do more, so we installed a weatherproof NEMA 14-50 outlet in front of the garage.  Charging 6x faster than using a typical household circuit, it can top off a Tesla with 30 miles of charge during a one hour business meeting.  It can deliver 60 miles of charge during a two hour film screening and review.  That’s friendly!

It’s also climate-friendly: every electron delivered via these outlets is fully offset by electrons generated by our 92kWh Solar Double-Cropping system.

So if you have a high-end music, video or film project to do, and a spirit of adventure, bring them to Manifold Recording and let’s work together!

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Trying new things

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Gary Husband rehearsing at Manifold Recording

This week we have been given a gift.  Two of the most talented members of the Jazz fusion community are making a record at Manifold Recording.  And they are trying something new: the co-production model of The Miraverse.  If you are within 40 miles of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or Pittsboro, you might want to consider becoming a co-producer on Friday, or at least having dinner with these artists and hearing what Alex Machacek and Gary Husband have been creating.

A lot has changed in the recording industry since John McLaughlin started recording with Miles Davis, but a few things have stayed the same: the laws of physics that govern acoustics have not changed, and the challenge of making a great record–from the technical practice to the acoustics to the critical decisions during tracking and mixing–remain challenges no matter how much technology one has available.  The co-production model is a new approach geared toward helping artists produce their art at the highest level, using both the most advanced technologies available and the most organic acoustic spaces in which to give their music life, and to do so in an economically sustainable way.

One major task of making a great recording is the recording process itself.  This process has its own magic, its own mystery, its own moments of enlightenment to offer.  And it is a process that is usually hidden from view, inaccessible to all except those directly connected to the process.  But what about those who love not only the music itself, but the process of producing the music?  In the world of local food, chefs are teaming up with farmers, bringing the restaurant to the field so that diners can experience food in a more complete and holistic way that just what is served on the plate.  Other artists are inviting people into their studios to witness the process of creation.  Why not do the same for the recording arts?

We are thrilled that Gary and Alex are trying new things.  And we hope that you might try something new as well and support the work of these artists in a new way.  It is quite something special to hear our 9′ concert grand piano in the Music Room.  It will be quite something special to hear Alex playing through our locally-made Carr amplifiers.  And if you decide to make a day of it and spend time not only hearing them play live, but participating in the recording process.

Leonardo DaVinci once said “Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.”  Which means that art is defined by the choices made by the artist.  By seeing those choices being made, by understanding how those choices can be discerned in a recording, you might just find that you have a whole new appreciation for your existing library of recordings as you hear nuances (choices!) you’d never heard before.

Tickets for those who wish to attend are being handled by AbstractLogix here.

BREAKING NEWS: There is now an option to join only the post-dinner concert.  Contact AbstractLogix to check on availability of these $99 tickets.  We hope to see you Friday, either for the whole day, for dinner, or for the wrap-up performance.  Thank you for helping these artists produce the next milestones in Jazz recording.

Celebrating the Home Town Hero

We live in a paradoxical age: believe nothing unless you have seen it, yet trust outside experts more than the leaders of one’s own community.  All my life I have heard the quote “nobody is a hero in their home town” only to discover it’s a paraphrase of a verse from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus says “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in their own hometown.”  Doubtless Plato complained about the same problem hundreds of years earlier.  I believe this is due to our tendency to confuse the familiar with the ordinary.  Since moving to Chapel Hill and becoming familiar with many of the great people in the region, I have come to appreciate just how extraordinary so many of them are.  Including those with a musical inclination.

That is not to say that we don’t appreciate talent from other states or countries.  As a board member of Carolina Performing Arts, I’m rightfully proud of the world-class roster of international talents that perform at Memorial Hall each academic year.  But the greatness that comes from afar does not preclude the possibility of greatness living amongst us as well.  The INDY week article is a great case in point.  Yes, it may seem like bragging to use my own studio as an example of a world-class music and post-production facility in our community, but it’s true.  Equally true, and perhaps more important because of the network effect, is that the local community is able to come together and celebrate that fact.  Today, artists both local and global are willing to give us the nod over more established facilities in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, and even London, which is now leading to greater opportunities for all in our growing community.  That is wonderful!

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“Dear Governor Cuomo” wins at Wild and Scenic® Film Festival

We are so happy that the film “Dear Governor Cuomo” won the top prize for its treatment of climate change at the Wild and Scenic® Film Festival, we put out a press release:

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