Ever since legendary producer and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips pioneered his slap-back echo experiments, and almost certainly long before that, audio engineers and musicians alike have searched endlessly for new techniques and tricks to capture striking and original sounds. In the 1960s, thanks to the Beatles and the Beach Boys, two bands that married technical magic with commercial appeal, a new breed of maverick producers emerged.
Using the concept of “studio as instrument”, Joe Meek, Phil Spector, George Martin and a host of other greats unveiled new sounds, new strategies and even new technologies that have set the tone for some of the greatest artists. and groups of the time. . Throughout the 1970s and into the present day, musicians continue to experiment with all sorts of imaginative methods, both improvisational and high-tech, in search of distinctive elements. The stories behind the creation of the records listed below are almost as compelling as the music itself.
From cardboard hits and empty ballrooms to rotating mics and “blind” singing, each of the ten albums featured here employed a highly unusual recording process.
There aren’t many contemporary singer-songwriters who are more successful or famous than Fiona Apple. Since her debut, Tidal in 1996, the multiple Grammy Award winner has proven herself to be one of the most imaginative and distinctive artists, willing to take risks to remain resolutely singular. With her fifth studio album, 2020’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters, she continued to explore new ground.
Apple chose to record most of the album at their Venice Beach home, positioning the home itself as an essential part of the process. Says Apple: “I really felt like it was an instrument in itself, it’s the microphone: the house is the microphone, the house is the vibe, the house is a band member.”
The singer chose to capture the music using Apple’s (the company’s) GarageBand software, forcing her to take a decidedly different approach. “I didn’t even know how to edit it and make a shorter take,” the singer observed, “so every track is just one long take, and if I make a mistake, well, I better play on it and let this mistake add to it”.
This deliberate and unique approach, along with the metaphorical and literal use of the environment as an instrument (with ambient sounds left in) make Fetch The Bolt Cutters the singer’s most inventive album in a highly inventive catalog. .