Recently received an email from Brian Albers of Humorless Productions, who is very active in documenting/recording live performances by interesting artists, there’s an interesting story about how he recorded two sets by Venetian Snares many years ago, I thought let’s just put down his story, enjoy!
OK, here goes. Here’s my remaster of my original mix of Venetian Snares live at Die Werft at Donaufest in Korneuburg, Austria, 7 May 2005. Although nobody asked, I’m gonna give you the entire story of how this came about.
I’m from California, but was living in Vienna at the time. For those of you who don’t know, Korneuburg is a town that lies on the outskirts of Vienna. Back in those days, I made bootlegs of just about every show I attended, this one included. Back then I’m pretty sure I was working with minidiscs, later moving up to portable SD recorders, and these days I have a much more sophisticated system, but I’ll get to that later.
So I went to this show and grabbed a bootleg. Nothing special about the recording: it sounded decent, but not extraordinary. It was some months later when one of my Viennese friends in the electronic/clubbing scene somehow managed to get a hold of a board tape from the show as an mp3. He knew I was a big VS fan, so he threw it my way.
Now, lemme say that I’m a fan of board tapes, at least when no other recordings exist. But board tapes of electronic shows very often disappoint me. Because there’s so much about them that doesn’t give you the impression that it was recorded live. Yes, of course we can generally trust that it’s the live recording, but nothing about it sounds live, like the way a proper live album (electronic or otherwise) sounds. So if I come across a board tape and an audience recording of the same show, especially if it’s of an artist of which I’m a big fan, I’m gonna match them up and make a live album out of it. As an audio engineer, I’ve got the tools and the know-how to make it happen.
At least, at the time, I thought I did. To put it bluntly, I was an amateur in 2005, and even though I did the best with what I had and to the best of my abilities, the mix that I made back then is so wrought with phasing that every time a track pops up in my iTunes random play, I just wanna put myself out of my misery. For those of you who don’t know what phasing is, in this case when I tried to match up the two recordings, even though they were both digitally recorded, they both had slight speed variations throughout the hour and 20 minute performance. So at some point, one would shift ahead of the other, and at other times vice versa, so they wouldn’t match up exactly. It might not sound like that should be such a big deal, but you needn’t look any further than that original mix to know that phasing will ruin a recording. You really need them to match up exactly. I’m really embarrassed about it and feel I should apologize to everybody who has ever heard that original mix.
But at least I had the foresight to burn to cd the isolated recordings and store them for safe keeping: the board tape on one, the audience bootleg on another, thinking that I’d try my hand at it at a later date. The thing is, since 2005, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for many years, moved back to Austria for another year, and back to San Diego where I’ve now lived for a year and a half. And I’d not seen those cds since 2005 when I stashed them somewhere. Where? I dunno. I remember looking for them once or twice over the years in spots where I might logically have put them, but they were nowhere to be found. I figured they had slipped through the cracks at one point or another and were gone forever.
Until late in 2011 when I found them hiding amongst a bunch of old software cds in some random box in a closet. EUREKA! So now I was determined to make a new and improved mix.
Since 2005, I’ve honed my skills, and have become something of a mobile live recording specialist, especially when it comes to electronic shows. My operation now is to record the stereo board mix to my laptop on one track, and now I use a nice proper stereo condenser microphone to grab the room sound which I record to another stereo track in my laptop. And because both of those stereo feeds are being recorded into the same system, phasing is no longer a problem. I pretty much don’t go to shows any more without knowing that I’ll be able to record them: I recorded and mixed that recent Somatic Responses show in Los Angeles from summer 2011; I’ve recorded Devo multiple times on their California tours of summer 2011 and early 2012; Merzbow in Vienna in 2010; I’ve recorded both Enduser and Xanopticon too many times to recall. I actually recorded VSnares up at El Corazon in Seattle on the day that Detrimentalist came out in the summer of 2008. But that mix I forwarded on to his tour manager or whomever it was who arranged the recording, and it hasn’t popped up anywhere, so sorry, that one will have to remain hidden.
Anyways, my point is that I’ve been doing these recordings for many years since the VS recording in 2005, and am a hell of a lot better at it now. I knew that with this second attempt all that nasty phasing would still be there, but now I’m much better at managing and minimizing it, or even eliminating it altogether. I was in no hurry whatsoever with this new mix. I didn’t want to unleash it to the internet until I was 100% happy with the final mix. I worked on it for about a month (which is a remarkable amount of time, as any of my recordings these days I normally finish in a day or two), and now I can confidently say that this is the best that this recording is ever gonna sound.
About the performance itself: the Rossz album had just been released a month or two prior, so he starts off the show with a couple of the major works from that album. I was impressed that he spent so much time in gabberland this night, as Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole had been released about 6 months prior to this show and he ended up playing more than half of the tracks on that EP. And Infolepsy had been released only a couple months before the Winnipeg EP, and that one is chock full of gabber beats as well, so this show was a fairly relentless hour and twenty minutes of woofer abuse. The first half of the show is a mix of tracks from earlier albums, including probably my all time favorite VS track, Befriend a Childkiller Remix from Find Candace.
There’s a weird break in the action just as he’s starting Szamár Madar. During the first couple tracks, Aaron was visibly displeased with the volume level in the hall. As he started Szamár Madar, he’d grown so fed up with it that he stopped the song to go voice his opinion with one of the crew members on stage. You can hear the audience’s shouts of ‘LOUDER! LOUDER!’ at this point as well. That volume difference between that first part and the rest of the show isn’t evident on the recording because I’ve evened out all the levels, but there was definitely a noticeable difference in the room as it happened. Once he resumes with the Childkiller Remix, the rest of the show continues without incident.
Also, that is an actual, bona fide encore at the end. When’s the last time that’s happened? Aaron was finished and started packing up his headphones and stuff, when some of the hecklers in the front rows shouted loudly enough and long enough for Aaron to break out with the SKM-ETR remix and some more improv noise for a few extra minutes. Outstanding.
I’m giving you a couple different versions-
1. one giant, single, stereo aiff for those of you who want absolutely the highest audio quality possible. Of course the two elements that make up this mix have gone through a couple conversions along the way, but this is as good as it’s gonna get from here on out. I think you will be pleased with the result. It’s about 1:19:45 and 805MB, so it’ll take a while to download. Formatted/labelled in iTunes.
2. for those of you who just wanna pop it into you mp3 player or computer and let ‘er rip, here’s a RAR of the exact same recording above, but separated into 24 tracks which have all been identified and labelled (which wasn’t easy…). For this version, I converted the tracks to 320kbps mp3s, which to almost all people will be indistinguishable from the aiff version in terms of sound quality. I also included some artwork in this version: I couldn’t find any pictures from the show itself, nor of the venue or any flyer or anything like that. So I ended up using a couple Korneuburg postage stamps, which is kinda frivolous, but once it’s in iTunes you can change the art to whatever you want. I suppose I could have used some random picture of Aaron, or the skullflower logo, but I wanted to honor the location where the performance took place.
That RAR is just shy of 180MB, which unpacks to about 195MB.
Venetian Snares live at Die Werft at Donaufest in Korneuburg, Austria, 7 May 2005.
1. Hajnal (7:07)
2. Kétsarkú Mozgalom (2:54)
3. Második Galamb (1:27)
4. Pink and Green (2:06)
5. Szamár Madar (3:04)
6. Befriend a Childkiller Remix / Szycag (6:09)
7. Epidermis (3:51)
8. Hand Throw (1:06)
9. Vokeheads (3:38)
10. All the Children Are Dead (2:34)
11. Skelechairs (2:06)
12. Szycag (3:52)
13. Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole (3:31)
14. Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die (3:45)
15. Absolute Smakatrosmic (1:59)
16. Make Ronnie Rocket (2:28)
17. Where’s Bill? (3:40)
18. Winnipeg is Steven Stapleton’s Armpit (2:41)
19. Winnipeg is Fucking Over (6:06)
20. Winnipeg as Mandatory Scat Feed (3:45)
21. improv noise (5:03)
22. Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die *Spreading the Hepatitis SKM-ETR Style* (1:14)
23. Meta Abuse (1:51)
24. more improv noise (3:52)
Oh, as long as I’m handing out old live VS recordings, here’s another one for you that for some reason hasn’t been widely distributed around the web.
Venetian Snares live at Tenderloft, San Francisco, 24 January 2003.
Same deal with this recording as the Korneuburg: I went to the show and got my bootleg, and some time later (years in this case if I remember correctly) came across a board recording and matched up the two. Same phasing problems that I fixed and generally sounds a bit rough around the edges, but is worth downloading. But a couple really odd things about it: this was one of his shorter shows at about 45 minutes. But for some reason the board tape was less than 40. I had no idea why it was shorter, and I figured it would be a bit of a drag that I’d have to edit out some part of my bootleg to match it all up, but that’s what I would have to do because my bootleg really turned out miserably bad on its own. So as I got around to editing it, not only did I find that I had a few extra minutes on my recording that weren’t on the board recording, but also that the board recording somehow had some VS audio in the middle of the performance that wasn’t on my bootleg! I have no idea how this is possible. All I did at this show (all I ever do at any show I record) is push record before they start, and stop after they finish, so I must have 100% of the show, right? Wrong, I guess. So I have absolutely no way of explaining how that additional audio ended up on the board tape. But the bad news is that obviously I didn’t have the matching room sound for that part, so I ended up editing that part out too. So what I ended up with is just under a half an hour. Of course it’s too bad that it’s not complete, but it’s all that I have. And I don’t have the master versions of this one any more, so all I’ve got is a relatively lo-fi 128 AAC. But it’s really not all that bad of a recording, so I do encourage you to download it. Especially because this one is a couple years earlier than the Korneuburg show, back when he was still doing stuff like Mouth and Abomination Street and the gay superhero track.
By the way, all those Depositfiles links will stay alive 90 days after the last download, so if nobody downloads them for three months, they die. I won’t be downloading them, so I’m leaving it all up to you to keep them alive. I suspect however, that once people start downloading them, they’ll make their way to the torrent sites and who knows where else.
Hope you enjoy them. Please spread the links/info anywhere and everywhere you can.
1 Feb 2012