Vintage Vince

Imagine yourself before the age of computer-aided music composition and digital audio recording. Imagine you are the proverbial struggling musician. How on earth do you manage to sketch out your ideas, assuming your musician friends aren't willing to sit around your crummy appartment and wait for inspiration to strike?

Well first, you actually work a little to make a correspondingly small amount of cash (we're assuming you are too honest or chicken to resort to theft). Then, you buy some music-making and recording gear, like:

  • 2 really beat-up, 70-year-old saxophones on a Brussels flea-market (Belgium being the birthplace of Adolf Sax's famous invention).
  • The best keyboards you can afford, although there is little choice and even the expensive ones sound cheap. Casio to the rescue!
  • A recording device. Now ideally, you would get a 4-track or even (gasp! drool!) an 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. But you can't afford one, so you get one of those brand new budget 4-track cassette recorders (in my case, a Tascam Portastudio 244, pictured above).
  • A microphone, although even the best microphone won't help you get a good sound given the limitations of the above gear.

And you're off. In my case, the result are multi-track casio+saxophone pieces, that sound either terrible or quaint depending on your mood and / or indulgence-level.

The main trick was the (in)famous "ping-ponging" or "bouncing" of tracks. Here's how it works: You painfully record a sax on track 1, then, while listnening, you record a second sax on track 2, and a third sax on track 3. So far, so good. Now, track 4 is free, so you "bounce" the 3 sax tracks to track 4 (meaning you record them to track 4).

Remember this is before digital copying, so the recording on track 4 is a messy, lossy, noisy, degraded analog copy.

Still, tracks 1 to 3 can now be erased and reused, so you record more instruments on tracks 2 & 3, bounce them to track 1, and record yet more stuff on tracks 2 & 3. The rusult (if you've kept count) is 7 tracks of pure audio grunge.

(You'll also soon figure out that there was a pitch-control knob on the Portastudio that I used & abused of.)

To this day, even when I rely on modern digital gear, my music is criticized for sounding Casio-keyboard-like (see some of the reviews on GarageBand.com.

Well to be perfectly honest, despite the abysmal audio quality, the truth is I loved that sound, and I wish I still had those Casio organs. I dumped them when I got a really expensive Keyboard years later. What an idiot...

So anyway, I decided I would exhume some of this pre-digital-era production, yet keep it seperate from Radio Vince to avoid traumatizing the faint of heart.

The result is Vintage Vince. So place your red bandana on your lava-lamp, sit back, smoke your little smoke or drink your little drink, and have a listen (and dig that digital toupee).

But don't say I didn't warn you.

 

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