Creating with less: Kalbata and Mixmonster in the studio

Kalbata & Mixmonster in Jamaica Trailer from kalbata on Vimeo.

Producers Kalbata & Mixmonster went into their home studio with the sole purpose of recording a fully analogue reggae album in the spirit of the late King Tubby and the early dancehall era of the late 70′s and early 80′s.

A 16-track tape machine and an old analogue mixing desk were their main instruments, with musicians playing live throughout the whole album. Ariel Tagar (Kalbata) explains the background to the production:

“We chose to to use only analog recording methods for two main reasons. One was to get that old warm sound which we love so much and listen to on countless records we spent our lives collecting. Technically you can reach this sound today using digital plugins, which emulate analogue gear, but it’s very hard to reach a satisfactory and genuine outcome. When you use tape, an analogue mixing desk and analogue effects, that sound comes naturally through the recording process. These days, when you have endless possibilities on your DAW it’s easy to get lost in what you’re looking to achieve.

Limiting yourself to only a few pieces of gear proved itself to be a powerful creative tool in which you have to make the most out of what you’ve got, as well as make decisions faster and consequently reach a final mix in less time than what you would have gazing at your computer screen trying to think what plugin you would use.

This brings us to the second reason which is the fact that when playing a take on a tape machine, the musician really gives it everything he’s got. There’s no copying or pasting, no editing, you just need to get it right. The fact that we only had 16 tracks meant that most times recording another take means you have to record over your previous take. Once it’s gone it’s gone. This really keeps the musician on his toes whilst playing and puts the producer in a position of making harsher decision on the spot as to what stays and what goes.

The magic really starts happening when slight ‘off’ moments occur: over-heated gear or noisy effects create small ‘errors’ that actually sit really well in the mix. This is something you simply cannot reproduce digitally. When you think about how people recorded timeless music on four or eight tracks (or just one!) it really puts things in perspective as to what you can do creatively with ‘less’. ”

Find out more and download the recording here.

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