by nothing nothings
nothings dot org
Doppleganger: Frenzy is an album that was conceived, composed, written, performed, recorded, amd mixed in a single continuous 25 hour period, in response to a challenge / invitation by Tom Murphy (not "Tom Servo" Kevin Murphy) to write one in 24 hours. (I spent under 24 hours; there was an unplanned lunch break that was longer than an hour.)
In addition to the constraint that it must be completed in 24 hours, I added a second constraint in imitation of one of Tom 7's: the track listing--the names of all the songs--is exactly the same as an existing album, but one I've never heard. Specifically, the song titles of Doppleganger: Frenzy are identical to (and in the same order as) the U.S. release of the album Frenzy by Split Enz. The songs themselves are, presumably, entirely unrelated.
For those that just want a taste of all the tunes or severely limited download speed, I've created a track consisting entirely of excerpts:
preview excerpts (3:40): 3.4MB stereo 128Kbs mp3 / 1.7MB mono 64Kbs mp3
Stream all songs (mp3)
Written and recorded on the 5th and 6th days of September, 2003 by nothing nothings. No sequencing, programming, or cut-and-paste was used.
I was the only person involved. (nothing nothings is my vanity band name.)
I used an "assembly line" model of song-construction; I first recorded a "through line" of guitar for all the tracks, a single track which would reveal the whole structure--with a few exceptions. Then I wrote all the lyrics. Then I added bass to all the tracks, then recorded vocals, then drums/percussion, and then guitar solos and filler tracks.
Track 13, Mind over Matter, was originally recorded as the backing for Holy Smoke, but once I wrote the lyrics for Holy Smoke, I decided they needed something different. (Unfortunately, the end result was really no better.)
When I transferred the song titles from the back of the envelope I was working from to the notebook I wrote the lyrics in, I accidentally mistranscribed "She Got Body, She Got Soul" as "She's Got Body, She's Got Soul", hence the inconsistency in the lyrics.
The only vocal processing is compression, EQ, delay on a couple of songs, and the last line of She Got Body, She Got Soul, which was recorded with the pitch of the recorder increased so I could hit the low notes.
I bet I stole the vocal melody at the end of Livin' It Up from somewhere, since it basically popped into my head fully formed, which is usually a bad sign.
My experience with my audio sketchbook, writing instrumental songs in an hour two, served as really good experience for this project. Here's an example of a trick I've learned: most of the primary guitar parts on D:F were recorded on two tracks; I would switch tracks at boundaries of how much I had written so far. This is cleaner and easier than punching in & out, and it allows you to record parts that would be difficult even with a lot of practice, e.g. the guitar break in Give It a Whirl.
There was no post-production/mastering except trimming the start and end of the tracks and normalizing. (As a result, the balance is imperfect--some songs are too loud or too soft.) Because I normally do fade-outs and fade-ins during mastering, not mixing, there are no proper fade-ins or fade-outs. (My intent had been to have Frenzy fade out, rather than being so long.) The two apparent fade-outs--a partial one in Marooned and the complete fade out of Livin' It Up were done by playing the instruments softer and softer--which is why the latter track fades out to reveal the sound of a pick scraping against strings.
I normally build a finished mix as I go. This involves setting levels and pan for all tracks how I like; normally my mixes I don't have the volume of anything change over time, or perhaps with only a few exceptions. (My plan was to have the "wacky" voice at the very end of My Master Plan much quieter, but it was on the same track as the lead vocal.)
However, I didn't actually record the mixes during my 24 hours; I distinguish mixing from making a mix-down. The latter process involves me transferring them to my computer, which, to do with the master volume set right (as loud as possible but no clipping) generally requires about two times the length of the song to accomplish, and I wasn't about to charge myself that much time.
As a result, I cheated; I discovered that a few of the vocals were less than comprehensible (especially Frenzy) in the original mixes, and some songs had very limited stereo spread--on a few songs I had left most of the instruments panned to the center. So I went in and fixed that--but I changed as few songs as I could, and basically only turned up the vocals or turned the pan knobs. (I actually moved three words of the vocals in Frenzy forward about a third of a second, so they wouldn't get drowned out by an instrument. This was painfully tedious to do on my recorder, and it would have been much faster to just re-record that part of the vocals, but I was trying to stay within reasonable bounds for cheating. [Part of the problem was that I didn't record the guitar until after the vocals, so I hadn't realized how much their spectrum overlapped; otherwise I'd have spent the 30 seconds fixing it at the time.])
The album was recorded using the following equipment:
sean at nothings dot org