You’ll have heard of the Celtic Tiger then. Some of you/us actually lived through it…

I spent quite a bit of time during that period buying musical instruments and recording equipment, with the intention of setting up a bit of a recording studio for myself. This I eventually achieved, and I named the studio The Gulag, in honour of the album I put out a few years ago, HAPPY DAYS IN THE GULAG.

One of the items I purchased was a Tascam 2488, which is a digital multi-track recording device.

Slow it is, but reliable.

At a later stage, there was a possibility of being asked to record and produce a band in a remote, non-studio location. The Tascam would have been perfect for the job except for the fact that one can only record 8 tracks at a time with it, and since the idea was to mike the BJs out of the drums, 8 tracks wouldn’t have been sufficient to record the drums and the rest of the band.

So I came up with the idea of getting a second Tascam which I could sync with the first Tascam by MIDI, allowing me to record more than 8 tracks simultaneously. I duly bought the second Tascam secondhand off eBay, for considerably less than what I paid for the first one new from Thomann, as it happens. The second machine arrived one day in a box from the UK, but by that time, the idea for the recording project had dissipated in a cloud of apathy, so I never got to use it. Or even take it out of the box…

…time passes. I move house and contents and the second Tascam ends up in the attic in my new gaff. Had it been an animate object, it must have wondered what the hell its fate would be. Actually, if it had been an animate object, it would have died of starvation a long, long time ago.

Fast forward to the present day – I am involved in a recording project with my good friend Peter Fitzpatrick, which you can read about, inter alia, here. Part of the project requires me to record a cover version of a song that Peter wrote a while back, with my assistance. My plan for my cover was to record a lot of acoustic percussion, a melodica and my vocals. Normally, when I record acoustic stuff, I have to do the tracking in the walk-in wardrobe in my bedroom, because my studio isn’t sufficiently soundproof (in fact, it isn’t soundproof at allbut since most of what I do requires the use of synths and guitars recorded “sans amp”, that doesn’t really matter most of the time). When I have recorded acoustically in the past, I’ve used my laptop and an audio interface (a Phonic Firefly, if you really must know), and that works OK, I suppose, but I don’t like recording audio on a computer, and in any event, it takes too long to dismantle/set-up/get extension cables etc.

I could’ve used the original Tascam, of course, but that’s now hard-wired into various studio interfaces. Suffice it to say, it ain’t going anywhere in a hurry…;-).

So I got the mad notion yesterday that maybe the time was right to break out the second Tascam. I lugged it down from the attic, and spent the next twenty minutes trying to break through the super-secure packing material that the eBay vendor had sent it over to me in. When I eventually got it out, my first potential source of panic was whether the machine would work or not. If not, it would be a bit late to get some class of after-sales satisfaction from the vendor, since he had sent it over to me just over five years ago. I needn’t have worried, though – it worked perfectly fine when I plugged it in. Which was nice.

What was even nicer was the fact that, completely unexpectedly, the vendor had not formatted the Tascam’s hard drive at all, and had left a shedload of audio on it. From the very basic – two guys and a guitar singing/playing onto one track – to full band rehearsal recordings. The music wasn’t really to my taste, being in a very American rock style with overly distorted guitars. But the drummer was rather handy.  The first track I heard had a nice stereo drum mix. The next two tracks each had drums recorded over six audio tracks. The drums are reasonably well recorded, all things considered, and nicely separated from the other instrumentation. So I sez to meself, “Hmmm, I can use these in the future…”. I’ve always wanted to get a good gigging drummer into a recording studio and tell him to just play whatever he plays when he gigs- then record it and try to write songs around the randomly-recorded drum tracks. Thanks to the kind vendor, I can do this without actually having to find a drummer and lure him into a studio with lumps of raw meat…

I’d call my surprise a bonus, and I definitely plan to use the tracks in a future project.

Actually, there’s a whole load of stuff that might be recyclable off the second Tascam. Must take some time out to investigate.

By the way, the second Tascam is now officially known as the Gulag Mobile.

Regards,

djp

PS – in case you’re going to ask me, “How about some pictures of the gear?”, don’t bloody bother. WordPress, in cahoots with The Internet, is acting the maggot today and I can’t add pics to this blogpost. As soon as they get their collective act together, I will oblige…

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