The veteran actor and musician explores lush, ’70s-inspired indie-pop production for The Goldberg Sisters.
BY TONY WARE
AN ACTOR, director, singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Adam Goldberg is a true hyphenate. Well-known for his roles in such films and television series as Dazed and Confused, Saving Private Ryan, 2 Days in Paris, Friends, and Entourage, Goldberg has also overseen all aspects of production–from screenwriting to score–for features including 2003’s I Love Your Work. Now, with the florid, ’70s-inspired indie art pop project The Goldberg Sisters, he turns his means of expression to a different type of film, one of Echoplex tape warble and envelope filter color and Lawson plate reverb, an analog film that coats the 10 tracks on the Sisters’ self-titled debut album.
The Goldberg Sisters follows up the 2009 album Eros and Omissions by Goldberg’s LANDy project, which amassed over six years’ cut-n-paste concepts collated from collaborative sessions with the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd, among others. For The Goldberg Sisters, however, the intention was to do something “cleaner, more precise, that wasn’t homogenized, but that used a handful of elements to establish more of a band-like continuity,” says Adam, who has been four-tracking, exploring selfproduction and finding comfort in the snowy oscillation of analog effects off -and-on for almost two decades.
Working in Eagle Rock, CA, with producer Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart) and his outboard gear trove, the Ship Studio, Adam brought together Moogerfoogers, Roland Space Echo RE-210, all manner of Electro-Harmonix pedals and a dozen additional transient manipulators to lay lush sonic beds whose stylistic compatriots run parallel to the melodic immediacy of the Plastic Ono Band, the densely textured tangents of glam rock, Dionne Warwick’s gliding soul and the deliberately economical yet up-front punctuation of Spoon. Guitar whorls, phased Logan String Melody keyboard, pitch-bent violins, plinky stage piano, Coles 4038 ribbon mic-enriched horns, reverberant harmonies, and much more are treated almost like sound design elements, providing impressive dimensionality to the stereo image. The common denominator is Goldberg’s persuasive croon, delivered steadily through a Pearlman U47 into a Shadow Hills Industries Mono GAMA mic pre.
“We didn’t spend much time in post production . . . but I had these scratch tracks implying as much as I could in terms of vibe, so what we needed to do was fairly intuitive,” reflects Goldberg. “There was still a big editing job that needed to be done, though, an ongoing process of subtraction and addition that was all about balancing dynamics into a more cohesive but still brutally honest aesthetic.”
Using a Pro Tools HD|3 rig with Digidesign 192 I/O to reinforce the compatible underpinnings, Adam and Aaron wrestled the intensity into a cogent wash. The mix’s final glue was a run though Aaron’s API 8200 24-channel mixer/summing box, with its 2520 op amps, into an Alan Smart C2 stereo compressor, a GML8200 EQ with a shelf at the top for shine, then into a LavryBlue A/D in saturation mode, delivering that tonal narrative.