Still Alive

Musicam novam præsento. Cued by my post here about the resurrection of the ISEE3 probe, I thought I’d take a shot at Still Alive; if there’s any context in which my reedy voice seems appropriate, it’s GLaDOS’ plaintive narration to this, Portal‘s endsong.

There are some new friends on this one and a couple of new techniques, too. The new friends are Minimal Systems’ take on the 1176, the Punch, Variety of Sound’s take on the LA2A, the Thrillseeker LA, and AXP’s Fender Frontman softamp, the FM25. (Lurking in the background of the guitar track is a bit of Aradaz White, a VST that has lurked in the inventory for a while without hitherto making it into the mix.) I also tried a couple of things in tracking and mixing that I haven’t done before. I tracked the acoustic guitars with two mics, a condenser aimed at the twelfth fret and a dynamic aimed at the bridge, and blended in the latter to pep up the former. The new (to me) mixing technique is how the bass track is handled. Everything else having been done to it, the final bass track was printed to a stem and cloned into two tracks: “Bass notched” and “bass notch” The former track has a notch filter to exclude much of the frequency space occupied by the kick drum, and, unsurprisingly, the latter is bandpassed to include everything that’s missing in the former. When both tracks are on, you have the whole sound of the bass; mute the “notch” track and you carve out room for the kick. We then sidechain the notch track, keyed to the kick drum, so every time the kick hits, the level is reduced just in those frequencies. The result is that we’re carving out of the bassline only the space needed, leaving most of it intact and limiting any pumping effect from the compression.