Tascam 488 Portastudio, Ableton Live 9 Standard, Push 2 controller, Roland JD-990 synth module, Roland R-8 drum machine, BOSS Dr. Sample SP-202, Beats Headphones.
“Alter Ego Trip” is an alt-jazz instrumental, composed, performed, recorded, produced and mastered by Tony.
Reviewed By Marty Peters
Tracked on a Tascam 488 Portastudio 4-track cassette recorder and mixed in Ableton Live 9, Tony has submitted what amounts to a basic sketch demo here (‘demo’ is not a pejorative, by the way). Tony has fashioned a sparse arrangement featuring drums, bass, sax and keyboards, and there’s room for improvement. Starting with the drums, both the snare and hi-hat have a metallic tone, and the reverb placed on the entire kit (kick included) seems excessive. The bass has a nice groove to it but it’s too distorted and too dominant in the mix. The faux sax serves its function as a melodic guide, though the tone is, again, on the harsh side. The keyboards strike us as awkward, particularly at the 2:00 mark when the track seems to stumble slightly. Finally, the balance, particularly between the bass and keyboard, could use some attention.
A significant role of a demo has long been to develop and present an outline or starting point for a song, and in that regard, Tony’s effort here is reasonably successful. We can certainly hear a ton of potential for the composition, and in the hands of additional skilled players, a fleshed-out version is certainly within the realm of possibility. In the interim, we would urge Tony to do as follows: first up, dial back the reverb on the drums a bit and then begin to tackle the strident tones on the snare, cymbals and sax. If your headphones are the primary listening system when mixing, we suggest diversifying and checking things out on other speakers as well. Next, we would lower the bass volume and rebalance the rhythm section. Finally, we are on the fence as to whether the keys are right for the track; while they serve as a guide track, the timing issues may be doing more harm than good to the overall recording.
A good starting point.
Tony James, email@example.com