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Roger Waters "Amused to Death": How'd they mix it?
Old 25th April 2010
  #1
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🎧 10 years
Roger Waters "Amused to Death": How'd they mix it?

(Copied thread over from "High End")

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyM ➡️
To think I've had that for almost 17 years and only last week heard it all the way through is ... wrong! Well maybe I wasn't ready.

Other than Pink Floyd common knowledge, probably the only thing I know about Roger is that he loves his U67. If I make any assumption it's that he used it for the main vocals.

But the whole mix, frequency wise, seems like it's an octave or two below anything else I listen to. There's no obvious high frequency sizzle, and you'd think "okay, Roger is taking up important midrange space on the main vocals, so it would seem normal to place everything else higher and lower", but it dosen't seem that way.

Seems more like the focal point, the aural mosh pit where all the action is happening, is all in the mids. I can't imagine a mix in the box ever holding a candle to that complexity.

So I have to ask, if anyone knows what kind of gear allows that kind of rich complexity? The guy's a genius, I don't understate that, but there's something special in the mix that I haven't had the pleasure to recognize anywhere else.

One funny side effect, I go for long walks/jogs late at night, over 4 miles. I'd ripped this down for my MP3 player and there's the Q-sound effects of the same kind of sounds I hear anyway, wind and crickets. More than once I took out the earbuds and my crickets complimented his crickets, or my plane overhead complimented his plane overhead heh
Quote:
Originally Posted by kernelpanic ➡️
Totaly with you on this one, I rate this up there with Dark Side. A really organic mix where everything has its place, and everthing is in the correct place. I'm sure Pat Leonard had a huge influence on the sound (synth pads in particular). And James Guthrie's contribution can not be over stated. I keep comming back to album, and I can not ever imagine myself tireing of it. The only thing I could fault - that bloody explosion between Late Home Tonight P1 and P2.

Right, I'm off to listen to it again.

Laterz

chirp chirp, chirp chirp.



"Amused to Death" is my number 1 holy grail reference album

Would be great if anyone has anything to add or any comments/opinions about whats going on in the mix/arrangement thumbsup


"I don't mind about the war. That's one of the things I like to watch, if it's a war going on. Cos then I know if, um, our side's winning, if our side's losing…"
Old 25th April 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
This is actually one of my favourite albums of all time, sheer genius.

However, I actually don't like the production on the album too much. Everything sounds incredible and it's obvious that it has all been recorded and mixed to the highest possible standard but I feel as if it is lacking something that albums such as The Wall have. I can't really put my finger on it, maybe it's more due to the fact that Waters is using session musicians and so it lacks the sparkle that Floyd had when they all played together. Even Jeff Beck's guitar playing sounds a little formulaic to me at times.

Funny because everyone else seems to love it, must just be me.
Old 25th April 2010 | Show parent
  #3
XJR
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
How did they get that incredible vocal effect on Perfect sense Part 1 ... that sounds like Roger is right beside you in the car. The first time my daughter heard that it spooked her

Great album, great production
Old 25th April 2010 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadsweeper ➡️
Even Jeff Beck's guitar playing sounds a little formulaic to me at times.

Funny because everyone else seems to love it, must just be me.
Yeah. it's just you!! LOL . When I first heard the album and didn't know who was doing the guitar solo's I thought this guy is a MF. Checked the credits and it's JB. Awesome non formulaic solos imo.
Old 25th April 2010 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by henge ➡️
Yeah. it's just you!! LOL . When I first heard the album and didn't know who was doing the guitar solo's I thought this guy is a MF. Checked the credits and it's JB. Awesome non formulaic solos imo.
Exactly what happened to me!

The guitar solo and arrangement on "What god wants, part 3" is one of the most beautiful things i've ever heard.
Old 25th April 2010 | Show parent
  #6
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazmanning ➡️
Exactly what happened to me!

The guitar solo and arrangement on "What god wants, part 3" is one of the most beautiful things i've ever heard.
Besides what I said before, that is one of the most amazing solo's of all time!

Thinking back, I think it's actually Andy Fairweather Low's guitar parts that I found uninspiring, such as the solo in "Bravery of Being out of Range" (is that him?) I've been trying to think of some of Jeff Beck's parts that I don't like and realise that there isn't any. I retract the previous comment!

However, I still feel that a lot of the musicianship is too clinical and lacks the sparkle of a seasoned band. I seem to be alone here but hey, you can't win them all. I'm just glad that there are people out there who rate this album as much as I do, the majority of people get put off by Waters' solo work.
Old 26th April 2010 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadsweeper ➡️
Thinking back, I think it's actually Andy Fairweather Low's guitar parts that I found uninspiring, such as the solo in "Bravery of Being out of Range" (is that him?) I've been trying to think of some of Jeff Beck's parts that I don't like and realise that there isn't any. I retract the previous comment!
Haha yeah that was a big call saying Jeff Becks playing was formulaic heh
I agree with you about some of the other guitar parts though.
According to Wikipedia the guitar solo on "Bravery of Being out of Range" is session guitarist Tim Pierce.

I love re-listening to this album, such a good concept musically and lyrically. Hope Waters makes another album in the near future.
Old 27th April 2010
  #8
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
This thread inspired me to revisit this record and give it a few listens over the past few days. There are indeed some brilliant moments on offer here: Perfect Sense (particularly part 1) is a great song, very well mixed. The title track, especially with the refrain consisting of the chorus lyric "amused ourselves to death" over the verse chord structure is lovely. The Somme narration/testimony is actually great, I think it's still powerful today. In general the dynamics of this record are fantastic - it has quiet and loud, which no modern record has.

However, IMO some parts of it have either dated poorly or are just a bit, well, meh... the acoustic guitar sound on 'Watching TV' is lame. The shoehorning of all the Pink Floyd riffs/hints of riffs into What God Wants Pt III just seems lazy and uninspired. The Marv Albert bit in 'Perfect Sense pt 2' is cool live, but on the record feels old and a bit silly. I agree that the guitars feel a bit clinical in places... well played, but sometimes without emotion. 'The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range,' although having one of the greatest song titles ever, sounds like the sort of B-grade composition a rock band would come up with before just deciding to form a Floyd covers band. Also, it's pretty much just the 'Run Like Hell' chords so nothing seriously new. It even sort of has the crowd fx from 'Run Like Hell' ...

Anyway, it's hit & miss for me, and where it hits it spanks, but thanks for reading.
Old 19th June 2010 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 10 years
Old 19th June 2010 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Thought I might have been at that show when it was filmed. I was at a Waters show in Portland OR that was filmed and have always wanted to see it.

His guitar players arent necc. bad, but....theyre not that good. Not to me at least.
Old 19th June 2010 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 10 years
It was mixed using a technology called "Q Sound". "Q Sound" divides any signal into left/right components....(so it works with any stereo system), it works by introducing minute delays at different frequency levels into left and right components to make your brain think that the sound is coming not from front of you(from your stereo speakers) but from in any a number of other positions around you. But you have to be sitting *EXACTLY" (within an inch) of the central axis.

as for the rest, rather than speculate, I asked directly.

From Mr. Leonard..


Hi Teddy,

Amused to death huh?
I like it too, but the making of that record had little to do with "how it was recorded" .
The truth is, it was nearly every recording technique, signal path, monitors. And many consoles, tons of outboard gear (and none at all). it was mixed for 6 months with multiple rooms going.


That record was about Mr R Waters vision and my job was to help him realize it, however we got there. So, all paths were taken. We did mix using a dead technology called "Q SOUND", and thats a big part of the overall affect of the record, but you have to sit in the center to hear it so it has it draw backs.
Read between the lines grasshopper, the answer you seek is there.


Amused to death was about shear stamina and perseverance, (it took two years) and I'm extremely proud to have done it. I think it's quite an amazing piece of work. But as i said, it had little to nothing to do with the studio. It was all done with highly critical ears, good taste, a good deal of imagination and creativity, and lots of time... lots of time.


Sadly, records like that one won't be made anymore for multiple reasons. Mostly, how we currently define creativity. That's a big problem. Remember that ATD was pre pro tools. Or rather; Pro tools was around in some early form, but certainly not yet considered a recording device worthy of putting ones heart to. (and the old grouch rears his head). We had to play the music, make the sonic choices and get it right in real time; as it couldn't be "fixed" later. So, if you couldn't alter the music once it was "on tape", what would be different?


Be honest and enjoy the process. That translates. Sage guidance complete.


Regards,
Old 19th June 2010 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Teddy Ray's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
bump for the OP..
Old 20th June 2010 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
JCM123's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy Ray ➡️
It was mixed using a technology called "Q Sound". "Q Sound" divides any signal into left/right components....(so it works with any stereo system), it works by introducing minute delays at different frequency levels into left and right components to make your brain think that the sound is coming not from front of you(from your stereo speakers) but from in any a number of other positions around you. But you have to be sitting *EXACTLY" (within an inch) of the central axis.

as for the rest, rather than speculate, I asked directly.

From Mr. Leonard..


Hi Teddy,

Amused to death huh?
I like it too, but the making of that record had little to do with "how it was recorded" .
The truth is, it was nearly every recording technique, signal path, monitors. And many consoles, tons of outboard gear (and none at all). it was mixed for 6 months with multiple rooms going.


That record was about Mr R Waters vision and my job was to help him realize it, however we got there. So, all paths were taken. We did mix using a dead technology called "Q SOUND", and thats a big part of the overall affect of the record, but you have to sit in the center to hear it so it has it draw backs.
Read between the lines grasshopper, the answer you seek is there.


Amused to death was about shear stamina and perseverance, (it took two years) and I'm extremely proud to have done it. I think it's quite an amazing piece of work. But as i said, it had little to nothing to do with the studio. It was all done with highly critical ears, good taste, a good deal of imagination and creativity, and lots of time... lots of time.


Sadly, records like that one won't be made anymore for multiple reasons. Mostly, how we currently define creativity. That's a big problem. Remember that ATD was pre pro tools. Or rather; Pro tools was around in some early form, but certainly not yet considered a recording device worthy of putting ones heart to. (and the old grouch rears his head). We had to play the music, make the sonic choices and get it right in real time; as it couldn't be "fixed" later. So, if you couldn't alter the music once it was "on tape", what would be different?


Be honest and enjoy the process. That translates. Sage guidance complete.


Regards,
Wow I cant thank you enough. Straight from Pat himself!!! Sounds like a lot of effort and imagination were the main ingredients. Interesting stuff about Q-sound. Mixed for 6 months in multiple rooms Alot of good advice in there, Im going to have to read it again
Old 20th June 2010 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by camron123 ➡️
Haha yeah that was a big call saying Jeff Becks playing was formulaic heh
I agree with you about some of the other guitar parts though.
According to Wikipedia the guitar solo on "Bravery of Being out of Range" is session guitarist Tim Pierce.

I love re-listening to this album, such a good concept musically and lyrically. Hope Waters makes another album in the near future.
That makes sense, Patrick Leonard and Tim have worked together for years. Tim Pierce=total guitar mofo! He never sounds formulaic, not on anything I've ever heard him on (I've heard a lot of his playing over the years). Gotta love Beck as well.
Old 20th June 2010 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 10 years
I also suggest that you listen to "Toy Matinee"

That is Mr. Leonard's favorite album(the one he is most proud of)


http://www.amazon.com/Toy-Matinee/dp/B001O2ZVMK
Old 20th June 2010 | Show parent
  #16
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henge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy Ray ➡️
I also suggest that you listen to "Toy Matinee"

That is Mr. Leonard's favorite album(the one he is most proud of)


Amazon.com: Toy Matinee: Toy Matinee: Music
This is a reference album for me. The mixes, production not to mention the brilliant songwriting and performances are great standards to try for.
Old 20th June 2010 | Show parent
  #17
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T'Mershi Duween's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy Ray ➡️
I also suggest that you listen to "Toy Matinee"

That is Mr. Leonard's favorite album(the one he is most proud of)


Amazon.com: Toy Matinee: Toy Matinee: Music

Great suggestion for anyone on this forum. thumbsup

The surround mix of that is very cool.
Old 20th June 2010 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by T'Mershi Duween ➡️
Great suggestion for anyone on this forum. thumbsup

The surround mix of that is very cool.
+10000000!!! One of the best and most grounbreaking records of the of the last 25 years! Tim Pierce rules on that one as well!
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