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Well, it’s been a long haul. I started working on this re-engineered version of Dark Waters back in … no I’m not kidding … 2005!!! Back when I was using Cubase 3.0 or something like that. I had a drum kit built entirely in the Steinberg’s HAlion with samples, overlays, all the cool stuff that you could do with a sampler… multiple samples per key to account for velocity changes… I made it so complex and sophisticated. It took weeks (during my spare time) to completely configure and tweak the drum kit. I also had the Bass Guitar set up on another channel in the HAlion software. That wasn’t quite as complex but it did have a ton of different samples spread out around the keyboard to account for velocity changes and the same notes on different strings.

But it sounded like crap. Really bad. I gave up on it around the time

I moved from Connecticut to Vermont. By the time I got my studio up and running in my new Vermont office space, I had all but given up on the idea that this album would ever see the light of day.

Then my friend, Randy McQuilkin, the author of the lyrics and melodies on this album, and an International Poet’s Society lifetime inductee and award winner, came to visit me. It was a disaster. It’s funny how people grow apart over the years. Without getting into anything personal, lets just say that after the visit I thought that we would never be able to do this album.

Then it occurred to me that I had just as much of a right to it as he did. He wrote the words and melodies, but I wrote all of the music, arrangements, instruments, guitar work, harmonies, production, mixing, mastering… and as a co-writer of this work I decided that I would finish it; overhaul it and modernize the drums, bass, and keyboard parts, and re-record much of the guitar work. The original album was recorded on four track in the late 80’s and, well, it sounds so bad that I won’t even put MP3’s up for posterity. Well, maybe one day I will, but not now.

Using ToonTrack’s Superior Drummer 2.0, a totally customized “killer kit” that I had been working on and used on the “Tip of the Sword” album as well as the singles “Skiing In Vienna”, “Damn the Speed Limit”, “Waterfall”, “My Right Mind”, and “All That Far”, and a really good bass guitar instrument from Spectrasonics Trilian, I set about the work of re-doing all of the drums and bass guitar. The Bass was easy – just a matter of tweaking and randomizing the velocities a bit, and tossing a few articulations into the mix for good measure. The drums, that was another matter entirely. The original drum part done on the HAlion sampler was a completely unorthodox MIDI mapping that I created not realizing at the time that MIDI Maps were going to be important in Superior Drummer 2.0 (SD2.0) because I did not have the software. But once I got started, I first had to identify each and every note of the Drum MIDI part and move them around to their new positions in the new SD2.0 map. I then took the two cymbals and three toms that I had in the original HAlion part and was able to get a little more intricate with the six cymbals and 7 toms that I had set up in SD2.0.

OK, so I know it seems like a long time, but remember that during that time, I re-mastered the album Life and Death, completely recorded the Tip of the Sword album, wrote and released five singles, moved from Connecticut to Vermont, completely remodeled an 1890’s in-town farmhouse, moved from Vermont to Florida… all the while running my consulting company AppDataWorks, LLC. The majority of the real work on Dark Waters was done this year, starting in the spring. In fact, I did the Drums, Bass, Guitars, and other MIDI stuff on this latest iteration from January 2013 to April 2013, then I moved my office from one location to a new, larger location in April, set up the new Studio space, and got working on the Vocals in May. I’ve been mixing the album for about the last four to six weeks. I only work on it a few hours per week. I have a real job with my consulting business and for the last four months I’ve been breaking into the Online Marketing business, so it’s been quite busy.

Once the drums and bass were revamped, I re-recorded the guitars on some of the songs, left the guitar parts on some that I felt were just fine for this album (guitars I recorded back in the old days of Cubase 3 and 4), and laid down the lead solos using my Steinberger ZT3 Custom – a guitar that is one truly incredible work of engineering. Here’s a picture of this baby:

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In the last several years I have amassed a tidy little library of great synth sounds and so I re-vamped all of the synths, strings, pianos, etc. and added a few new tasty treats to a few of the songs.

Then the big challenge for me began when I started working on the vocals. I know what sounds good, but I don’t really understand how to get it with a digital recording rig. I’m using Cubase 6.5 now and I have three different large diaphragm  condenser mics, and nothing sounded good to me. A big part of the mixing I’ve been doing over the last six weeks or so has been wrestling the vocal sound down to the ground and giving it a deep yet crisp sound. Last night at 9:00 PM, I closed Cubase and believe that I am finally sitting on a preliminary mix. The next thing to do is to listen to it on as many systems as I can over the next couple of weeks and make any minor modifications that need to be made so it sounds good on as many systems as possible.

I should have a release date for Dark Waters in a week or two. Stay tuned!

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