In the beginning…
John and Martin set up a small recording studio in Hermanus, Cape Province in 1991.
The heart of the studio was a Tascam 8 track, ¼ inch tape recorder with a built in mixing desk. Backing tracks were recorded onto an Atari 1040ST desktop computer using Steinberg Pro24 software. The Atari triggered all external sound modules via MIDI and the mix was recorded onto 2 of the 8 tracks. Backing vocals were ‘bounced’ onto a single track. The remaining 5 tracks were used for the main vocals and guitars. There was no channel automation so the final mix was done on the fly, after many practice runs, onto a potable DAT recorder.
Writing came easy to the duo producing a new song almost every week. John and Martin would come up with musical idea’s, riffs, beats, chord progressions etc. John would then disappear into the garden with pen and paper and start on the lyrics. Martin put down basic verse and chorus sections starting with drum and bass, adding his or John’s piano idea’s. This would all happen on the weekends so having put down a basic arrangement John would go back to Cape Town on the Sunday. In the week Martin arranged and recorded the backing track ready for John’s voice to be added. The harmonies were then also added to the mix and a new song would be born. This process produced 22 songs in a short time.
Selling The Act in the 90’s
The completed songs were presented to EMI Records in Johannesburg and several other music agencies without much success. The duo made a promo video of ‘Give’ (one of their songs) recorded in Cape Town at Network 7 Film Studios and won an ‘original song’ contest at the Hard Rock Cafe. But sadly it was not to be. John went off to Australia followed by Martin heading off to Europe. But this is not where the story ends. Read on!
Unable to perform live because of extreme public appearance restrictions caused by Covid-19, Martin turned to composing and recording his original music. He completed two Albums that are now available on many streaming and download websites including iTunes, Spotify and YouTube. Martin also came across the unpublished recordings made with John in 1991 and decided to get them online.
The Old Recordings
30 years after going their separate ways, John and Martin reconnected and started the process of remastering the old recordings. Fortunately nearly all the songs were recorded onto DAT. The tapes were sent to Martin who then had to find a DAT player. A friend still had one but needed to be repaired! To their surprise and relief the recordings were still good and usable but not without some issues.
Martin transferred the DAT recordings to Logic ProX and prepared a new project folder for each song. He still had the original MIDI files and combined/layered them with the original recordings. In this way he created a new mix using iZotope plugins to ‘balance’ the old tracks and layer new sounds into the song. This subtle approach enhanced the final mix and brought these excellent songs back to life.
Recording Overview – 1991:
The original recordings were made in 1991 using a Tascam 388 tape recorder. A single reverb was used for voice and instruments via the effects send bus. Drums, bass, synth, string, piano sound modules were recorded as a sub mix onto 2 tracks using an Atari 1040ST computer with Steinberg 24 MIDI software. Harmonies were recorded onto several tracks and then bounced into a single track. Having only 8 tracks you had to work efficiently! The final mix was done on the fly and mastered onto a DAT recorder.
The Remastering Process – 2020:
• EQ on all original tracks to improve the general sound
• Improve voice volume/balance using Ozone 9 Master Rebalance plugin
• Added extra sound layer/s to poor quality instruments
• The completed songs were mastered using Ozone Mastering software
Distribution on most popular streaming and download platforms:
Old & New Mix Examples:
Each short song example has an old recording from 1991 alternating with a new mix in 2020.