I’ve noticed that a few people have taken what I consider to be an excessively authoritarian hand against tonal creativity in Bash This Recording. I don’t like it. When the tone is clearly of “high quality” and more than capable of being a vehicle for intense music, it makes absolutely no sense to me to tell the guy that he needs to change the guitar sound to conform to YOUR personal tastes. Why should your tastes be more important than his tastes on HIS recording? Sucking any hint of individuality that may exist with modern recording tools is a terrible thing that I can not be a part of.
Just because you don’t like your snare drum as bright as the Black Album or guitar sounds to be as fizzy as Nine Inch Nails “The Downward Spiral” or bass to sound as thick as the Smashing Pumpkins “Siamese Dream” does not mean that any of these recordings were wrong. (They were all EXTREMELY successful!) A person creating music should be free to try extreme sounds all day long. Taking away the right to crazy, unique sounds to a musician seems as absurd as denying freedom of speech.
When reviewing songs on Bash This Recording, I only check for a few things.
#1 Make sure that nothing hurts.
#2 Make sure the music is intense to begin with.
#3 Make sure there are no obvious distractions from the intensity of the song.
Beyond that, anything goes. I will never tell you to change a tone simply for the sake of appeasing my personal tastes. I eat my hot dogs with just mustard, but if you put pickles on them in your house, load it up with pickles! I’ll eat it! I think it’s fair for reviewers to say “I probably would have done X”. That is useful to the person posting the song, but telling them that their tonal choices is “wrong” is way too aggressive for me.
You Asked For It
I’m making a change in the Bash This Recording section. No longer will I allow “rate this drum sound” and “what do you think of this guitar sound?”. Let me explain.
On my list of criteria when reviewing a recording, #2 is “Make sure the music is intense to begin with”. When a guy just tosses up 15 seconds of him playing drums or guitar or whatever this was never intended to be “music”. It’s a classroom exercise at best. Classroom exercises are not music. They are science experiments. Whether they realize it not, everyone reviewing songs in Bash This Recording is looking for musical excitement and intensity. Whey they don’t find it, the brain switches to a different mode.
When you ask to get a guitar sound reviewed, you will get a few kinds of answers. The “pro-individuality” people (like myself) will say “it’s fine” (with the intent being that it’s POSSIBLE to make something great with it, but you clearly didn’t.) unless there is some major problem with the tone that is obvious even in the solo’d state. Others will this take as an invitation to answer “Would you do this?” and then go on to list all the creative possibilities for a guitar part. Someone will talk about the tone itself and how he would use a different amp. Another guy will start getting wild with chorus, delays, and eventually you’ll end up with a list of every mixing trick known to man.
All of this is done without a shred of context. Even worse, all of this amp changing, chorus, delay, and any other recommendation is made with entirely self serving intent. If there is no “higher calling” by the song to make decisions, we are doing nothing more than chasing our tails. Recording music requires an emotional connection. Otherwise, go work as the audio guy at your local news station. (YUUUCKKK!!!)
A person who posts a drum sound is really asking “Does this sound ‘pro’?” or “Does this sound ‘good’ enough?” He is looking for approval because he doesn’t feel confident enough to make a decision. Guess what! Neither do I! If we aren’t looking to make intense music, I have no idea what advice to give. Without the “higher calling” of the song giving me guidance I don’t have a clue what to do tell you.
Without the “higher calling” of the song factor, all we are really doing is sound design. If this kind of thing interests you, go out and record cars driving by, doors slamming, foot steps, etc. Personally, sound design bores me to death. I don’t see any difference between posting a door slamming in Bash This Recording verses posting some drums in Bash This Recording if neither is used to create a song. If you did post a door slamming, you’d ultimately find people who’d say “I’d like to hear more low end in the door slam” even when it’s just a door slamming sound. (Once again, arguing tonal aesthetics without context).
Lastly, RecordingReview is about going to war to make the best music possible. While I guess you could just toss up a drum recording with no context (which is kind of like training with broomsticks), I think a person only really learns about music recording war when he’s getting shot at. All these little assumptions you make about what musical war will really be like end up being mostly useless when actual combat starts. So jump in, the bullets aren’t real! The argument that you are trying to learn before you go to war doesn’t hold up. Music recording is something you have to learn on the job.
I think some people have major hang ups with actually making music. These are the kinds of people who are afraid to write a song out of fear of making a bad one or are afraid to invest themselves into their music. Get over it! If you can’t really create a piece of music, record people who can and post that. Just don’t post the drums by themselves!