The recording of Squareless by Light Silver Automatic
This record began as low-tech recordings from material passing through me shortly after the completion of Light Silver Automatic’s Reelsounds. In fact, some of the ideas were formed in the Reelsounds studio during the mixing of that record. With a handful of basic tracks, I called upon my brother Michael Doherty and a couple former Spread bandmates and friends Jeremy Kauffman and Rudy Galindo with the following idea: Let’s write and record an album’s worth of songs in the new Full Bright Live studio in Wheaton, Illinois, and then spend a few days recording them, hoping to capture and keep as much live content as possible, and do so within a year at most! And we pursued that concept in good faith . . . for about a year before family and other commitments kept us from fully realizing the original concept and its intended short-term completion. However, that year and those studio sessions were extremely fruitful. We put together the foundation for the next record. More importantly, we spent quality time together, surrounded by music and smiles.
We then began recording the songs (and writing more). A couple were recorded in the live room with several of us playing at once, keeping the spirit of the warm togetherness of our jams. Many more were recorded in phases, starting with the underlying guitar, keys or vocal track followed by overdubs from other musicians when time and space allowed. While not the thought at the outset, this time and space allowed the songs to grow. It gave us time to explore free from any and all pressure or restraint. We wrote songs. We scrapped others. We worked with sounds. We adventured, trimmed, mended, and expanded. A handful of songs became a full record. Some long-enjoyed audio nuggets became full-piece performances. Lyrics wrapped around feelings. Thoughts became passages. Over many sessions, Squareless was recorded. And over countless more sessions, I mixed that record. And mixed it some more. And then passed it along to my great friend Matt Engstrom to work his immeasurable skillset for final mixing. His fresh ears, experience, and loving approach made those mixes shine. Thank you, Matt!
Matt encouraged me to work with Chris Goosman of Baseline Audio Labs in Michigan. I uploaded then transferred the final renders to Chris. We enjoyed a few chats and email exchanges on our objectives with the record. Here is a sample of his questions and my responses:
What issues are you potentially trying to address with mastering: No known issues. We look forward to your skill and expertise in making these tracks sound as wonderful as possible. Just FYI, I typically listen to the songs with my Sony MDR-7506 headphones, Yamaha HS8 monitors, Shure 385 ear phones, and car stereo. I look forward to what you hear in your environment(s).
Are there records you like the sound of that your record compares to: My first response is that I like so many different records for so many different reasons (usually beginning with how much I like the songs on it!). I’ll give it more consideration with sound (not songwriting and melody and so on) as the focus. Pearl Jam’s records come to mind: big, full, warm and still room for dynamics.
Do you prefer a more dynamic record or are you looking for something that's quite loud: As Matt put it, “I think you like it loud but not in an egregious manner.” I think loud over dynamic in the sense that records are so rarely heard/consumed/considered as albums and instead as individual songs that perhaps dynamic is less important (or perhaps less appreciated by the non-full album listener).
Chris was a great source of information and professionalism. He was extremely helpful, informed and patient. Thank you, Chris!
With the final masters in hand, I created the album artwork, as if there would be a full tangible album release complete with front and back overs, credits, and track lyrics printed on sleeves and paper inserts. Of course, those releases are possible yet not often pursued these days. Yet I still enjoy reading about records and checking out lyrics as I listen. I reviewed hundreds of photos taken over the years for shots that might have an organic connection with a song or lyric or that just a had a fun or interesting look. Those photos formed the artwork for this imagined tangible album. I then uploaded all content to CD Baby, which helps maintain my online relationships with various streaming and download partners. Enter Carrie Conover, friend and businesswoman extraordinaire, who designed the new Light Silver Automatic website. She created the clean, comfortable and efficient online presence of LSA and thereby facilitated its connections to the public. Thank you, Carrie!
And here we are. An album in front of you. Ready to be heard. Related artwork, lyrics and content ready for your review. An adventure waiting to happen. Enjoy!