In 2011 Kevin took the opportunity to progress an idea coined many years before, a return to recording artists in a sonically pure and ambitious way. Having been heavily influenced by Peter Moore’s production of the 1998 Cowboy Junkies album The Trinity Sessions Kevin created the Naked Sessions – an updated version of Moore’s one Soundfield microphone technique.
In 1988 there was a Cowboy Junkies album released that was recorded around a single microphones in the rear of a church called The Trinity Sessions.
The band wanted to record live with one stereo microphone direct to tape—it is stated on the album cover that the recording was made on 2-track using one single Calrec Ambisonic Microphone.
Peter Moore was enlisted and suggested the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto for its natural reverb. The group first recorded the songs with the fewest instruments and then the songs with gradually more complex arrangements. In this way Moore and the band were able to solve acoustic problems one by one. By making subtle changes in volume and placement relative to the microphone, Moore and the band had finally reached the distinctive sound of the album by the time the last of the guest musicians arrived at the church.
25 Year Gap
The Soundfield technology hasn’t really changed – but what has is the emergence of VR and the fact that there is now a demand for and mass distribution model (Youtube, Facebook) ‘immersive audio’ to go with the 360 / immersive video experience. For the past 25 years Soundfield has pretty much only existed in film and Sky Sports!
The world has gone VR / immersive crazy. YouTube now support a limited version of immersive audio (in WXYZ format) i.e. you can upload a 360 video WITH 360 audio IF you can create it. Facebook in the past few weeks bought an immersive audio company and made their products available for free so that creatives would get busy making content.
Content, As Always, Is King (Or Queen As The Case May Be)
Technology gives the opportunity but its nothing without the quality content.
Reviving the artistic credentials and principles that The Cowboy Junkies brought with their excellent Trinity Sessions album and modernizing that with the availability of 360 / immersive audio new technology has opened up a new world of opportunity for super talented artists to explore and create within.
A Naked Session Is What Exactly?
The artists are briefed that it will be a live performance in a stripped back format.
When they turn up are informed that we will be recording with:
- 1 microphone (albeit a special one)
- No headphones
- No overdubs
- No added effects
We will almost always ‘soundscape’ the room for them taking the form of subtle room enhancement (reverb or sometimes a bit of tape echo) played back into the room.
In a way very much like Moore did with the Cowboy Junkies we are were able to create a live physical mix by making subtle changes in volume and placement relative to the microphone.
What the artists hears then so does the listener – exactly.
As of today most of the Naked Sessions are heard a ‘flat’ stereo files but we have the ability to replay them back in many formats including immersive (think 4.0 and 8.0) as well as 5.1.
In the studio control room we have a Bower & Wilkins 4.1 system that enable the artists to listen back to their music in a way they’ve never heard before. They experience an almost perfect replica of their track in full surround. I love the look on their faces when we rotate the room and give them a glimpse of what will be available really soon.
I think artists will respond to the potential. It shouldn’t be a gimmick. And that is down to the quality of the artist and the content they create.