Artist Name: Urmas Soomet Title: Out of Nowhere Genre: Instrumental Jazz Rating:
Zoom H4n, iZotope Ozone 9, JBL Model 4206 Studio Monitors, Gibson hollowbody guitar, Yamaha G100 212 amplifier, Selmer tenor sax, Hammond M100, Leslie 122, Markbass LittleMark 250 bass amp, Gretsch Catalina drums.
Out of Nowhere” is an instrumental jazz standard. Stan Czajkowsky played guitar, Frank Cammisuli was on organ, Don Hall played the tenor saxophone, Alex Karcza played drums, and Urmas Soomet played the electric guitar. Urmas is also credited with building the custom ribbon mics, recording and mastering.
Reviewed By Marty Peters
Urmas has submitted a really cool recording here with some great gear twists. The group decided to go for a completely live, old-school tracking approach: two ribbon mics in a Blumlein stereo configuration (one fig. 8 mic positioned on top of another, 90﹉ off-axis). The mics went through Cloudlifters straight into the Zoom recorder. The musicians (working without a net!) were positioned to achieve the desired mix.
Now the story gets really interesting: Urmas actually built his own mics over lockdown (we, on the other hand, streamed movies and gained ten pounds!). As Urmas relates in his production notes, “I used ribbon trusses from Austin Ribbon Mics and Cinemag transformers. The most difficult part was learning how to fabricate, corrugate and install the ribbons into the trusses.”
Well, good on ya sir, you have our respect! As for the results, they are somewhat of a mixed bag. The recording certainly has an old-school sound. We hear plenty of the room ambiance that Urmas was after, at least on the drums and sax, less on the electric guitar and electric bass, with the Hammond organ somewhere in between. We heard a mismatch of textures on both our monitors and headphones that threw us off a bit.
The directness of the amplified instruments sticks out in contrast to the airiness of the acoustic ones. The room placement of the guitar amp and Leslie could benefit from some adjustments. The guitar’s volume exceeds that of the organ, and they appear in the same spot in the soundstage, causing the organ to get blocked/masked in the track.
We absolutely love projects like this! The vast majority of our Readers’ Tracks submissions have overdubs, so this is refreshing. Then there is the whole other matter of building one’s recording tools, in this case, the microphones—fantastic!
As for suggestions, Urmas relayed in his production notes that, “It took us a few sessions to figure out how to arrange the musicians in our rehearsal room so that the Blumlein configuration (of mics) would pick up a reasonably balanced sound…” Whether they intended the guitar and bass to sound so dry and present is anyone’s guess, but we would love to hear a touch of reverb on the guitar and, again, suggest that the bass amp positioning be experimented with. Facing the amp towards a wall or tilted up might present a less direct sound that would blend better with the drums. Think about repositioning the guitar amp away from the Leslie cabinet to eliminate the masking issue. Lastly, marking the position of each player and instrument / amp with some painter’s tape on the floor will allow the band to keep track of any changes and replicate things once the ideal balance is achieved. All in all, Millgroove has really gotten down to the essence here, and we appreciate it!
Got live if you want it!
Urmas Soomet, firstname.lastname@example.org