The Project is the brainchild of Robert Bond and Dustin Michael. Their self-titled debut album (The Project Music, 2004) combines Bond's and Michael's compositions with the input of 13 guest musicians from wide-ranging musical backgrounds. The album presents 17 tracks that are rooted in jazz and that incorporate elements of country, rock, pop, soul, and electronic styles. Bond and Michael played drums, percussion, guitars, synths, turntables, horns, and wind instruments, including bansuri and shehnai. They produced the album in their respective personal studios.
The first sessions, however, took place at Mikron Studios in Tennessee. “Three percussionists [Bond, Michael, and Emeline Lavender] jammed over my demo tracks, which varied in style from house and downbeat to drum 'n' bass,” Bond says. “We used Mikron's three rooms. “Emeline used two [Shure] SM57s for stereo depth, Dustin used several SM57s, and I used an [Audio-Technica] AT4047. We recorded the audio on separate channels into a Mackie MDR 24/96 24-track [hard-disk recorder].”
Michael reassembled audio tracks on his PC using Audacity and Sony's Sound Forge. Bond recorded percussion, drums, saxophone, violin, and vocals in his apartment studio, which is based around an eMac running MOTU Digital Performer 3.11. “I use my Roland JD-800 to trigger my Korg Triton-Rack,” Bond says. “I recorded percussion with a Shure KSM27. For miking live drums I generally use two Oktava MK-012s as overheads and an AKG D 550 on the kick. I use the preamps in my Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro, MOTU 828, and ART DI/O.
“I played lightly, so I used some tricks in DP to beef up the drums,” Bond notes. “I'll do a stem mix of the complete kit and another stem of just the overheads. I make a duplicate of the kit stem, compressing it a lot and equalizing it to taste. Then I'll bring it in slowly with the original stem until it sounds right. I put a limiter on the overheads stem and adjust the threshold of it until it sounds good, and then I'll bring in the track to an effective level. Sometimes I put a flanger on the overheads stem and bring it in a little to give the drums some character.
“I added an SM57 on the snare for two songs,” Bond says. “I sometimes use the Motown vocal trick on the snare track to give it more presence: copy the snare track, compress the copy to the max, and roll off all the low end. Then I'll slowly fade that in with the drums to brighten up the snare.”
Bond and Michael recorded a few guest artists remotely. “Charlie Louvin recorded [his vocal track] in the office suite in the Louvin Brothers Museum at Opryland in Nashville,” Bond says. “I recorded Les McCann in his hotel suite. He played on ‘Le Fin Cine’ using my JD-800 triggering the Triton-Rack. I recorded Moe Denham in his basement studio. I took a direct signal out of a Motion Sound amp to track his Hammond B-3.”
Other guests contributed parts in their own studios. “[Bush guitarist] Nigel Pulsford exported his tracks from [Apple Computer's] Logic as 24-bit AIFF files and uploaded them to my FTP server,” Bond says. “[Saxophonist] Chico Freeman also posted his tracks. I put a rough mix of the drums and percussion for ‘Walking a Thin Line’ on my server for Joy Askew. She sent me a CD with the vocal, electric piano, and bass tracks as a DP file. I imported Holmes Ives's piano track for ‘Two Hearts’ into DP, and then wrote the strings. I didn't edit their tracks; I just applied some mutes.
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