the Soul Shop is an all-analog recording studio in Medford, Mass.
new custom tube gear in the works
In addition to our proud family of homemade guitar amps, Patrick's been working hard on all-tube outboard gear, mostly variations on classic American designs of the 1940's. First up was a clone of the legendary "Federal" AM-864/U vari-mu limiter.
After using it in the Shop for a little while, there was no better opportunity to field-test it than when Elio went on tour through New England playing piano with Titus Andronicus for a couple of weeks in August, culminating with a show at NYC's stunning Webster Hall, with none other than The Buzzcocks! Here's our Fed making friends with Steve Diggle's Marshall half stack:
Another reason for the tour was to get the band road-tight, to begin recording Titus' new album (their fourth overall) at the beginning of September. Elio brought the Fed to Excello Recording in Brooklyn for the sessions, where longtime Titus producer/engineer, our good buddy Kevin McMahon, gave it a go on piano tracks. Ribbon mics through the preamps in Excello's gorgeous Calrec console, into the Fed. Killer.
Kevin & the boys will be coming up to the Shop this Fall, to record more piano, electric piano, & organ tracks, and there's no doubt we'll have the Fed close at hand!
There are other pieces in the works, like a two-channel, line-level rack version of our famous Baxandall tube preamp/EQ, as well as a clone of the Altec 436c limiter, featuring the EMI "RS-124" mods, made famous on so many 1960's recordings from Abbey Road. As well as a guitar amp or two.... *cough* Standel! *cough*
the devastating new album from guitarist Will Graefe
Will Graefe has been in the Shop before: tearing the roof off (live to 2-track!) with his power trio Dikembe's Mutombo, as well as ornamenting the gorgeous songwriting of Wilder Maker with his stunning lead playing. Now we're very proud to announce his forthcoming solo guitar record, Alos.
Recorded in March live to multitrack, the instrumental album (nearly entirely acoustic, with one electric number) showcases Will's songwriting as much as his staggering chops. Sometimes all you need to do is put the right guy in front of the right microphones, chiefly among which were two AKG classics: the C-451E (veteran of a thousand acoustic guitar records) and the D-19 (a dynamic mic on acoustic guitar lends weight and "wood" to the sound, especially with some gentle limiting from our 1176). The rest of our guitar & room micing will have to remain a mystery…
Performed on an inexpensive, borrowed flattop guitar, the palpable focus and tenacity of these performances echo the circumstances of their composition, as most were written on the road. As Graefe says: "On tours, I found myself playing constantly, and usually alone; in sound-checks, in the van, in hotel bathrooms, in parks. I would find almost mantra-like melodies or sets of chords and play them over and over again until they developed naturally."
Eschewing overdubs, and mixed with minimal processing by Graefe and Dan Arnes in Brooklyn, the album ranges from the reverent, simple beauty of Graefe's reading of "Solitude" by Duke Ellington, to the raucous, joyful melodic Americana of "Special," linked here for your listening pleasure:
Only the most technically proficient musicians realize the power of melody, and the awesome responsibility it takes to harness your prowess to great songwriting. With this recording, Graefe proves himself a master of all sides of his craft, and opens the door to an incredibly promising future. Here's hoping he keeps coming back to the Shop to put those ideas to tape.