Recording The Gloaming in Westmeath, Ireland: production notes

The Gloaming was produced by Thomas Bartlett & The Gloaming and engineered and mixed by Patrick Dillett

We recorded the Gloaming at the Grouse Lodge Studio in Westmeath, Ireland. The band assembled there for a two-week period in August of 2012 to record definitive versions of the pieces they had been performing live for nearly a year prior. The repertoire was fluid, but certain tracks like Song 44 and the Opening Set were imperative for the collection. The band had spent some time rehearsing at Grouse Lodge before we began recording in earnest, and had made some truly stunning rehearsal recordings, one of which (Samhradh Samhradh) was kept for the record.

After looking around the studio, I was impressed by the unusual layout. The room is large, but intimate, with a lot of little corners and odd spaces made possible by baffles and instruments, as well as by the design of the room itself. I chose to make use of this by placing room mics in unusual places in the room. I place some 47fets near to the floor in some corners. I used some Earthworks up high in some other desolate spaces in the room. In addition to this, everyone was also close mic’d. I was particularly wanting to make sure we did not lose the character of Caoimhin’s violin and its sympathetic strings. The nuance of that tone is incomplete if not fully represented. I used Neumann TLM 170’s on both Caoimhin and Martin, so that I could switch to hyper cardiod if the din of the room became too great. I had room sounds already taken care of, so the close mic’s were for detail. It was important to keep everyone in the same room, save for vocalist Iarla, who was ensconced in a booth with sight lines to almost everyone.

For Dennis Cahill’s guitar, I chose two ribbon mic’s, with the intent of picking one. Instead, I ended up blending them and putting them at different distances. I used a Coles 4038 far from the guitar, so that it picked up the low of the piano as well as more spacious guitar tone. For the precision, up close, I used a beer 160, a hypercardiod ribbon that would allow me to bring out more percussive elements of the guitar when appropriate. The piano was a lovely Steinway B that complimented the room perfectly. That was mic’d with AKG 414s, since it was a rich dark sound, the crispness of the 414’s was not an issue as it may have been in other applications. Finally, on Iarla I used a valve mic, a Brauner, which was something Iarla brought and had used in the past. It was an excellent choice.

The mixing took place in my studio in New York. Most of the process consisted of balancing and trying to maintain the integrity of the performances as they happened. It is always difficult to translate the fire of a live show into the more precise atmosphere of the studio, but every member of the Gloaming is experienced in that area, so the mixing was more about shading things one way or another, not recreating something from nothing. I believe the result is a good marriage of the excitement of the Gloaming in concert with the intimacy of a nuanced recording.

 Patrick Dillett | New York – December 2013


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