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Hassell and Freeman in the Studio

July 1, 2009
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What kind of post-production processing did you use?

PF: My rig is kind of an octopus-like hybrid of old and new, analog and digital. It's basically a massive Pro Tools HD3 with five [Digidesign] 192 I/O interfaces. The interfaces are there because I have a lot of outboard equipment — tube limiters, solid-state limiters, EQs, and things going all the way back to the '40s. I don't like dealing with patchbays because it's a huge, slow nightmare. I prefer to have everything normalled into the interfaces; I never have to patch anything. The only thing I have to do is occasionally write down knob settings on the old equipment. There are some Neve 1081s, my beloved Compex limiter, Altec 438C (which is fantastic), UA-175B (another classic, kind of a Beach Boys limiter), and there's more exotic stuff than that. It also extends into the realm of timelessly good digital outboard equipment. I have a Lexicon PCM 90, PCM 81, [TC Electronic] TC 2290, Eventide H8000; I use all those things pretty much all the time.

Occasionally, of course, there's the whole plug-in world. I tend to stay 95% TDM. The record went pretty smoothly, and I never ran out of DSP the whole time. Part of that, I have to give credit to the Waves SSL plug-ins. I like the way they sound, and they are amazingly DSP-efficient. On this record, there was not a ton of dynamics processing going on, a little bit of EQ, but I wasn't going crazy with compression; it wasn't necessary. I don't do any plug-in reverbs — in my view, nobody's got that right yet — and almost no plug-in delays.

Occasionally I'll dip into the native side, because there are some very useful plug-ins that are most easily accessible in the native world. I'll bring things into Ableton and process them with a number of plug-ins, including [Cycling '74] Pluggo, record the results, and take it back into Pro Tools. There are other plug-ins I like to use, like Native Instruments Spektral Delay, which is sadly discontinued but wonderful and irreplaceable. Sound Toys, I absolutely recommend to anyone. Ken [Bogdanowicz] is brilliant and has the best ears in the whole plug-in business, and a more profound understanding of true classic vintage outboard gear than any other plug-in developer in history. He's really the king, in my opinion.

Occasionally [I'll put] plug-ins on hardware effects returns. As an example, on the track “Blue Period,” the guitar parts went through a patch on the Eventide H8000, and I had one of them coming back through GRM Tools Doppler — many years old, but used properly, still very useful. That kind of thing goes on all the time. Plug-ins are great for radical stuff, as well as subtle things.

I haven't quite gotten over the fact that what I'm able to do at home just makes things so much more relaxed, instead of having to pay tons and tons of money to do the same thing in a much shorter space of time.

[Captions]

Floating Art 1: “Usually we speak about harmony as vertical and melody as horizontal, and in those terms, I think about what I do as diagonal.” [alt tag: photo of Jon Hassell]

Floating Art 2: Speaking about his relationship with Brian Eno and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Hassell said, “I think we're close enough now to allow it to be put in the frame of a family squabble.” [alt tag: photo of Jon Hassell]

Floating Art 3: “What's the first thought that comes into your head? Why not follow that? Why automatically censor the first thing that comes to mind?” [alt tag: photo of Jon Hassell]

Floating Art 4: “I'm willing to take all the credit for the creation of the world as possible.” [alt tag: photo of Jon Hassell]

[Pull QUOTEs]

Hassell is a visionary innovator of the first degree.

We used a lot of samples and harmonic ambience from the previous record.

He has amazing ears and really pays attention.

[Web link]


For more information, interviews, articles, and a discography, please visit Jon Hassell's Web site: http://www.jonhassell.com

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