Spring Sampler 88
A compilation of tunes assembled together and distributed to people's
cassette decks when they weren't looking, in the spring of 1988.

Tune 1 - This was the first instrumental number put together using a newly purchased Yamaha MT1X 4-track cassette deck, in the Fall of 1986. There's about three electric guitar tracks at any one time, and a Synsonics drum machine purchased from a friend (Bret) earlier that year (for about $50).

Production Part 1 - This thing, done early in 1987, was initially going to be the first part of a bigger (and probably rather bombastic) epic of ditties. Never know, might still happen. Anyway, there are two electric guitars going, and this is the first number where the Micromoog shows up. It was purchased for about $100 or so I think, from the same guy the Synsonics drum machine came from. (He had a Minimoog too, but not for sale.)

Me or Them - This song got recorded over a number of weeks or months. The electric rhythm guitar, drum machine and vocals were recorded in Waterloo, in and about early spring of 1987. The drum machine was a Yamaha RX15, borrowed from a guy (Bret again), while he took a break from playing with it. The lyrics and vocals were done by Ken Mohamed, singing into his trusty SM58 during the day, while I was out of my room, and usually in class. (This was during the period one might refer to as the Lost Ken Years, where he worked on secret projects, which I can't discuss.) Anyway, with basic tracks in place, I laid down the lead guitar bits in Ottawa, a month or two later, and mixed it down. This was so much like a song, people actually said "Hey, that's a song."

Asleep At The Wheel - Summer of 1987 saw the purchase of a Yamaha DX100 keyboard (FM synth, like the DX7), as well as a replacement of the borrowed RX15 with an RX11 (slightly fancier than the 15). Also, fun was being had with MIDI, firing drums with the keyboard, and even more cool, sequencing keyboard patterns from the drum machine. One neat thing to do was come up with some little drum pattern, then assign keyboard keys to the drums. If you ensure all the keys are of some easily listenable scale, then you sort of randomly discover a new melodic pattern, that is also pretty harmonious. Anyway, something like that happened here. After the standard foray into bombastic (like this word) drums, keyboard and electric guitar, the tune migrates into something more pleasant, with the drum machine running like a sequencer of the keyboard, triggering softer piano-like tones. FM synths always gave cool piano sounds too, so adding plinky piano was still irresistible. Organ-like stuff is in there too for good measure.

Land of a Thousand T's - Recorded this number in the Fall of 1987 I think. Plinky-sounding synth sequence (again MIDI-driven by the drum machine), with whiney strings. There's the standard electric guitar rhythm going on there, and then of course the lead solo. So damn predictable.

There Is An Ear In My Chocolate Milk As Well - This started out as a little noise-making experiment in the early Spring of 1988, only to quickly move into a mid-seventies-style synth strings, fanfare horns, grandiose extravaganza leading-to-something-bigger affair. Anyway, after enough of that, it stops, and finds itself glued on to the front of something else, which most people would probably rather have listened to (if at all) right from the start; so here's that half: The List

For the above, everything was recorded direct to the MT1X cassette deck, with maybe an effects gizmo or two in between. If you notice the tinny sound throughout, you're not alone. I seemed to have a tendency towards that. It was perhaps partly the sounds I was using, a tendency to record and mix that way (maybe to compensate for cassette loss) and finally maybe something incremental in the occasional track bounce or the multi-generation copy during compilation (although you usually just get more muddy-sounding with bouncing and copying). Anyway, who knows. (If you know tell me.) In general, the multi-track for each tune was mixed-down to stereo cassette shortly after recording. Each stereo master was copied to the 'album' master in 1988, and this cassette was then used to make copies for distribution. In 1998, a distribution copy of the album was recorded into an Alesis ADAT (44.1kHz; 16-bit A/D) digital tape deck for safe-keeping. (The distribution copy was used since it was in better sounding shape than the album master.) Shortly after this, a laptop computer with a good A/D was acquired, along with the notion to make WAV's. The ADAT stereo tracks were played into the input of the laptop (that's 44.1;16 D/A and 44.1;16 A/D), converted to WAV's, and burnt to CD-ROM for yet more safe keeping. (Audio CD's were made too.) The WAV's have most recently been converted to 192 kbps MP3's, using the Blade encoder. If you kept score, I think you get: cassette (3.75ips) > cassette (1.875ips) > cassette > cassette > A/D-ADAT-D/A > A/D WAV > MP3. And that's it.