Angel Alabaster - I'd Rather Go Blind (Etta James cover)

Here’s a track that I recently finished with Seattle vocalist Angel Alabaster. It’s a cover version of a 1968 Etta James song.

Everything was recorded and mixed down in Ardour3. The bass and all other synths were created with Yoshimi and played on a usb midi keyboard. All the percussions (aside from the kicks which are manipulated 909s) were self recorded with a zoom h4, FX/EQ’d in audacity, then sequenced using Hydrogen. Final track mastered with JAMin and it’s all happening on AV Linux.

In terms of this being a cover, my goal wasn’t to strictly copy or imitate Etta James’ original version, but to create something similar and new at the same time.

Free MP3 VBR 320 (target bitrate) download.

All comments and criticisms can be very helpful and always appreciated! Cheers

I think Xperienced’s EQ suggestions are a little bit crazy. +8 dB at 31 Hz? SERIOUSLY?

The point of a spectrum analyzer is not to look at a finished mix and fill in all of the holes. Music is not pink noise.

@Xperienced - Thanks for the mix/EQ advice. I’m going to play around with the JAMin EQ settings to see if it sounds better with the settings you’ve suggested. I must say though, you’re “technical” advice seems to have aesthetic value that can significantly change the feeling/atmosphere/mood of the track. Try listening to a 1998 track by Portishead called “Cowboys.” Would you want to make the same EQ changes to their track as well? In my track, the perc track does touch the entire frequency spectrum with bassy kicks and clicky ticky high freq hats. Like drumkits normally do. I wouldn’t consider changing the freq range of the drumkit, but one of the less-used snares do stick out a bit much…probably occupying too many high frequencies, getting up to the 10k spot…those snares do sound like adding more reverb can be helpful in blending them into the mix.

@DavePhillips - Angel and I make exactly what we enjoy and will be making many more tracks together in the future. This is our 3rd track, so you can hear a few more on soundcloud, all sounding like jazz-inspired glitch music.

@Ricardus - When the vocals slightly pan back and forth, it makes me feel like I’m standing in the middle of a dark room and the vocalist is both moving around the room as she sings, and her voice is reverbing off the walls. I like this dreamy/surrounding/atmospheric feeling. When I listen to music, I like to dream and imagine. You find it to be distracting. That’s alright. We just have different music styles. “Edgy” haha…whatever that means. I’m not much for popular discourse on contemporary musical genres, especially ones originating from the “digital” music era.

@Seb - I’m impressed by your knowledge of the way old worn out analog equipment sounds! As you surely know then, this “good music spoiled by broken equipment” is nothing new. It just depends on what the listener considers “spoiled” to be. Since the late 1960s and even dating back to the beginning of the 20th century with the “noise music” of Italian futurismo and Luigi Russolo in particular, musicians have been experimenting with broken equipment and bringing music outside of the confined realms of traditional instruments. So some people would replace “spoiled by” with simply “created by,” in your statement above. I really like the old work of sound engineers such as King Tubby, Scientist, the music of Black Ark Studios, etc. Interesting sounds coming from those old experimental musicians from generations before. Years ago, people called some of that music “avante-garde.” It’s some of that old stuff that also inspires me both practically and conceptually.

No, Seb. It’s “edgy.”

Well at a first glance the frequency spectrum seems unbalanced. I put up gray noise on my monitors and adjusted it band-by-band with the C* Eq

I came out with this curve:

31Hz: +8dB
63Hz: +2dB
125Hz: +2.5dB
250Hz: no change
500Hz: no change
1kHz: no change
2kHz: +1dB
4kHz: no change
8kHz: +3dB
16kHz: +2.5dB

At least part of that could be attributed to my own admission that I haven’t recalibrated my monitors in a while (I was supposed to recalibrate them at the start of every session) but it did sound noticeably better with that EQ.

Unfortunately the problem wasn’t really fixed - that means it’s in the mix rather than in the mastering. I can’t judge to the fullest extent without having heard the original material, especially the singer’s natural voice, but going by what I do hear I would say the vocals are a little too narrowband and the percussion a little too broadband. That means the vocals are too steeply equalized (if you didn’t use an equalizer it could be a characteristic of that microphone) and the percussion needs some reworking to fit into the mix.
The other parts seem OK, although one of the synths could end up needing additional work as a consequence of the changes I suggest for the vocals. I would also put some reverb on the percussion which actually sounds completely dry to me. It adds to the offense that the vocals and the main synth seem to have an adequate amount of reverb - completely dry sound may work for some styles, but you wouldn’t put the singer behind the drums in a concert!

That’s the technical part of my criticism, on the aesthetics I’m not going to comment because I’m very, very not into this type of music so I’m not sure what I consider ugly isn’t actually considered a form of art on that side of the fence so I better keep my pie hole shut there. :slight_smile:

I’ll check it out later but when I read the title at the side of the forum my first reaction was

“Hmm… are they talking about my pictures?” :-S

Definitely a clash of styles. I’d like to hear an arrangement without the glitchy stuff, because your vocalist is very soulful and she knows what she’s doing with the material. Keep up the good work. I’d love to hear more of your singer.



I like the singer a lot. But once again she’s panning around in the L/R spectrum. Very distracting.

I think Xperienced needs to put his spectrum analyzer away. :slight_smile:

And stop being the pushy kid in town? No way. :wink:

Sounds like some good music spoiled by broken equipment: a tape deck with a wonky capstan for a start, also some badly oxidized switch contacts.
Err, this is the digital age?