Alma at the Lexington, London

2016. October. 31

Alma is a British band led by Pete Lambrou with the help of Ciaran Morahan. Their music often gets described as atmospheric, calm, complex... This might be the best review I've read about them: “This is the perfect record to look up at our immense sky at night and wonder what’s out there” Music & Riots

Throughout the end of 2015 and 2016 I've been collaborating with them whenever I had the chance and this gig was going to be special as they weren't going to be alone on the stage. Adam House (piano), Dot Kirk (violin) and Oliver Knowles (violin) were going to join them for this show so after a brief chat we decided to record the show in multitrack format.

To begin with, I built a new project in Ableton Live 9 and created the next 13 channels before getting in the venue:

1. Voice

2. Vocal Loop

3. Pete's Guitar

4. Bass

5. Ciaran's Guitar

6. Laptop Left

7. Laptop Right

8. Piano Left

9. Piano Right

10. Korg

11. Violin Dot

12. Violin Oli

13. Room Ambience

On the day of the show, I packed my MacBook Pro, Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 (8 analog inputs) and Behringer ADA8200 (8 analog inputs) plus my Tascam DR-44WL which I was planning to use to record the room ambience. The idea was to use the direct outputs of the sound mixer at the Lexington (a Venue SC48) to feed my audio interfaces but luckily they had the Firewire expansion installed in the mixer so a simply Firewire cable was enough to get all the audio from the sound mixer to my laptop. We set up the channels in the sound mixer, enabled each direct output and made sure that all my channels in Ableton Live were getting the right signal.

As soon as the guys were ready for the soundcheck, I pressed the record button and just let the guys do their job on the stage. As soon as the show was over, I saved the project and when I got home, I made a backup copy in an external hard drive.

And then it was time to get the hands dirty. Firstly, I splitted all the audio files in each channel and exported each song into a new project.

Then it was cleaning time: I got rid of unwanted noises and applied noise gates in the channels which were recorded by microphones. I compressed some of the signals, equalised the channels giving each instrument its room in the frequency spectrum, gave some reverb to certain channels, applied panorama et voilà!: track ready to master.

I always make sure that the mixing process fixes as many problems as possible and the track is perfectly ready to go. The mastering process shouldn't be the time to fix those things that could have been addressed during the mixing period. Therefore when I master, I'm working with subtleties and details rather than major things. For this project, I splitted the frequency range of each track in different bands and applied a gentle compression to the low and middle end and then I used a limiter in these ranges to cut any possible signal peaks. After this, I applied a very subtle compression and a short reverb to the whole track so the sound would glue together and I equalised it (whenever I thought it was necessary). Then I applied a limiter before exporting the final track, being careful of not destroying the dynamic range of the song.

The final steps involved listening the audio in different systems and making little adjustments so the sound could be pleasant under different settings (ie studio monitors, headphones, car speakers, etc).

The result: 8 tracks and over 45 minutes of fantastic music. Here you can listen 3 audio samples of the final result:

If you're interested in getting a live recording of your gig, don't hesitate to get in contact!