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Dutch Treat

Phil Brammer goes Euro with a look at the Recording scene in Amsterdam with some surprising results


With 1992 just around the corner - Phil Brammer goes trans-continental with a look at the studio scene in Amsterdam


One week in June I found myself once more in Amsterdam (also known as Mokum to many Amsterdammers) with a brief to 'check out the MIDI scene'. And what follows is not to be considered a guide to Dutch Recording Studios, because there are literally hundreds of them. Take a look at the listings in Popinventarisatie if you don't believe me. Popinventarisatie is an Industrial 'Yearbook' which seems to make its money through Advertising Revenue and is distributed free of charge to all Dutch Recording Studios and Theatre Groups, but is also available for a price from its enterprising publishers - see below for details.

Luckily Genie had supplied me with a shortlist of studios which seemed to offer a fair cross-section of what's available, so if you fancy nipping over for a holiday why not consider taking a copy of your treasured MIDI song files, and investing a little money in some studio time. One thing common to all the studios visited to date is the English language, and nothing can be more universal than Music...

The Basement Tapes



I had arrived in the vicinity of The Basement Tapes Studio, where I was due to meet Rob Garner (owner) and Genie (my spiritual guide), a little too early and, mindful of the inadvisability of mixing business with pleasure, I had a few biers in the local hostelry and checked that the Sony Pro Walkman and microphone were in order. I was more than a bit phased when I noticed the name of the bar as I left - stencilled across the window, 'CAFE DU MIDI'. Synchronicity or what?

You enter Rob's studio by a low red door in Cornelis Trooststraat and kind of fall down steep stairs into the basement. At least I did! Genie had arrived more gracefully a little earlier.

Rob is English and has lived in Amsterdam for about eight years. He has been running this 16-Track studio full time for the past year, and the Atari 1040ST/Steinberg Pro24 are recent acquisitions, before which he relied on a Yamaha QX-5 for sequencing.

'We got it and had to use it within two or three days,' Rob laughs, remembering early struggles with the new software, 'so it was a question of sitting down with the manual and trying it all out.' So are people using it much? 'They're using it a reasonable amount. Upcoming we should have a lot of people doing it, because there's an organisation being formed of home-tapers and they're all Atari and Steinberg freaks. They're hoping for about two thousand members.'

This organisation is now only in its infancy, but the intention is to swap ideas, swap disks and also what they're gonna do, every six months, is pick out maybe twenty of the best songs people have done and then bring out a CD. The Basement Tapes Studio offers analog mastering only at fl 35 per hour (plus tax, or 'btu' at 18.5%) which is 'all inclusive', so you won't be charged any extra for using what's there. MIDI-wise there's a Yamaha DX-7, Roland MT-32, Roland S-220 sampler and the Yamaha RX-5 'rhythm composer'.


Rob continued, 'All the studios do a basic charge and then you suddenly find that everything you want to use they put on as an extra charge.' So be warned.

Talk drifts now to the subject of other studios and we learn that he knows Paul Downes at The Cavern and indeed helped him soundproof his studio some four years or so ago, and that Studio 150, which is another studio on our hit list, is one of the more expensive studios - Rob's place being more of a basement bargain. And if you can handle small basements for long periods of recording time then I think that Rob would be a good man to work with. He's a laid-back kind of guy.

'We started off basically just doing demos,' Rob explained 'Now we've done a few albums and a few weeks ago we had an English band to record here. In the main, we are recording Dutch and South American bands. There's a lot of them about at the moment. In recent months it's become very, very popular. Then you have the ones who just take a record, or whatever, take the voice out and sing over the top, and then they go on TV and mime. Even at some of the festivals you get the bands standing like fish on stage... backing tracks going on...'

It transpires that there are many English people in Amsterdam, particularly in the East. Rob had recently found a session musician who had just come over and they did a bit of work together. 'Everyone seems drawn to Amsterdam.'

I asked Rob what he enjoys recording most. 'It was fun doing the Dixieland because it was different. You don't get so many of them. I've got another one next month. I think Hip-Hop is the worst, for recording. If you're in a disco there's a bit of variety, but when someone spends seven, eight, nine hours doing one track...'

I suggested that some of that stuff could be knocked out in an hour and Genie said more like ten minutes, but you get the picture. It was time to leave, so how Rob managed to get seven Dixieland players into his small live room will remain a mystery for the time being. As we were leaving he gave us a back issue of 'Music Maker' - a Dutch magazine, but its English title says something about the recording business in Holland.

Himilaya and Bodily Distractions



PART OF THE EVER CHANGING EXHIBITION OF WORKS BY LOCAL ARTISTS AT THE FAMOUS SQUAT IN SCHINKEL ST.

Later the same day I had an appointment with Henry Bekking at The Himalaya recording studio, (just around the corner from the Shabi Coffee shop which sells mint tea but not coffee), at 69 Tilanusstraat, a residential address and part of a long terrace. On the phone I'd asked for 'ten minutes of your time' and it seemed like Henry had taken me literally. Still in my London mode I had allowed far too much time to get there by the No.3 tram from the street market I'd been checking out between appointments (Amsterdam being so much smaller than London), and I'd drunk so much mint tea by six o'clock that... well you get the picture!

I rang the bell and a woman let me in and shouted to Henry who was busy in the kitchen. Henry appeared and immediately led me down into the basement ('Mind your head!') which is a bit like Santa's Grotto - a network of low corridors and small rooms with even lower homicidal entrances.

The main recording crypt is divided into a small live room and a relatively large control room utilising the Akai 12-Track machine, which uses tape that looks like Betamax half-inch - the MG-14D, and Henry is using the Roland SBX-80 sync-box (SMPTE) to tie it all in with (you guessed it) an Atari/Steinberg MIDI system. Henry Bekking, as Rob Garner of The Basement Tapes, has a 'MIDI Specialist' who bales him out when someone asks for a serious MIDI session. Digital mastering is offered by way of the Betamax 950 system, and as Henry has a partner who is setting up a Video editing suite in one of his dungeons, he is hoping to specialize in film and video stuff. Henry tells me that that times are tough in the 'straight' recording business. Well he should know!

And I don't know to this day whether it was down to not having my spirit guide there or the fact that Henry seemed in such a hurry to get back to his cooking, or that I'd inhaled too many poisonous fumes in the Shabi Coffeeshop or just the fact that I desperately needed a pee, but at this point I have to own up and tell you that I hadn't turned on the mike and that the tape of this particular escapade is just white noise. From my notes, though, I can tell you that one Brian MacPherson (or 'Suggsy' - remember Madness?) recently recorded an anti-animal-vivisection ditty at this very studio.

Although Henry wasn't very forthcoming regarding costs, expect to spend around fl 300/day over a 'two or three' day period. As with many of the smaller recording studios in Amsterdam, quoted rates will fluctuate according to how much they're into what you're into, and how desperate they are for your business.

The Cavern and Inner Joy



'ANARCHY, noun. 1. Political condition in which there is no government, no supreme power in the state; hence, absence of order, political and social confusion. 2. (by extension) Absence of order and discipline generally, in any sphere; chaos.' Definition from The Universal Dictionary of the English Language, Fourteenth Impression - 1961.

The Cavern is in a squatted area of Schinkel Street - in the 'multi-media' environment known to the groovers as the 'Binnenpret' (- meaning 'inner joy'), which has its own budget-Restaurant, Sauna, Kindergarten and a Theatre/Performance Cafe known as the Casbah, where you can have a few biers and jam along with the local talent. The Restaurant walls are covered with the work of local artists, and this exhibition is changed every few weeks.

EGYPTIAN FUN AND RELAXATION FOR THE GROOVERS.


We meet Paul Downes on a sunny afternoon, and for most of the interview the studio door is left wide open so that we witness some of the vibrancy of life in the quadrant outside, with the odd interruption from people coming in asking if we'd like to be included in the meal arrangements for the evening, and that French band asking if they could record there again having done damage to equipment on previous occasions...

Paul was just getting into Steinberg Pro Version 3 at this time, although I know that since then he's decided to go with Cubase for sequencing on his Atari 1040ST. As a relative newcomer to sequencing he had gone for Pro-24 because over 80% of studios in Holland were using it, and he knew that if he 'got stuck' he could always get advice from more experienced users...

'Basically I've got to get into a situation where I can handle six sweating musicians sitting behind me,' he explained 'all keen to get their tape done by the end of the day, without having to hesitate, without having to read the manual - and basically to get on and provide a good service with it. I can get into a car now and drive around with it - but it's knowing it through all conditions - on slippery roads and stuff like that, you know?'

Paul has had his Fostex B-16 for about six months and had to hire 16-Track equipment for those 'one-offs' in those earlier days. One thought is bugging me, though... something to do with 'specialists'... It's too much, I think, to expect one guy to know all the ins and outs of everything in a modern studio... 'Well, as a separate project from Genie, Peter and Tosca (ie: Ambush Sound Control, who have their own stake in The Cavern and run it two nights a week) I've been running this studio in its entirety and quite often I work with another guy - Alain Eskinasi - who's a kind of MIDI specialist.' Paul explained.

Now although I still haven't met the mysterious Alain, this is apparently the guy who supplied us with our original Hit List.

'He uses an Ensoniq Mirage and Roland Juno-1 and the Alesis HR-16 as the basic set-up,' Paul told me, 'and with that we've been working on several projects - our first CD - with 8-Track to start with, and also into 16-Track work... But in the near future we'll be ready to work with SMPTE - MIDI location - and keep the stuff off the tape - keep all the drum tracks separate and basically get towards a cleaner and more powerful sound.

And with SMPTE he'll have more space for percussion, vocals, stereo effects. Without SMPTE there's always the chance that the sub-mix on the drums might not be quite right, and at that stage it's too late...'

BANDSTAND IN THE VONDELPARK.


Paul continued '...You can only treat the overall stereo mix, then, which is a bit limited, and it's absolutely frightening when you've got the band there and at that particular time your ears aren't warmed up and you're not too sure about that sub-mix, you know. So it's taken that pressure off - or it will take that pressure off. But I must say that before making that transition into the MIDI situation it's given me a lot of experience with analog sounds and I'm pleased to say I can get a damned good drum sound with microphones. Some people coming into this market now are basically working with computers and all digital recordings but don't know how to work with ambience - with live recording. So if we can marry the two together we should be getting towards a sound that I particularly like myself. I've had people in here doing everything from Mongolian Overtone Singing to Digitalized Speed Metal.'

I learned later that he's also had the Dutch cast of 'Cats' at The Cavern, Senemali (from Senegal), bands from Switzerland and France, and Michelle Shocked came over from the USA to record her first demo here. Since this visit a certain famous New York Acid House Producer has taken a shine to the sound of The Cavern, but I digress...

When asked about the rates he charges Paul had this to say. 'I think the basic price would be about 300 guilders, or about 90 quid a day - that's including tax and 16-Track tape hire. Beyond that if you wanna keep your own Multi-Track master then it's gonna cost you a bit more. And your special hire situations - I mean if anybody wants to hire a Fairlight, for example, it's gonna cost them a little bit more...'

Which is fair enough. Particularly as there are apparently only eight Fairlights in the country and of course they're in constant use.

'I think you should mention that it's a multi-media community,' Paul added, 'and the advantages are that musicians can take saunas, cheap meals and whatever...'

There's an immediacy here with what's happening in the Binnenpret outside. You aren't holed up in the bowels of a building where the only place to escape is into the busy street above. And here lives that 'rock'n'roll' spirit...

I asked if Paul intended to remain in these premises, or if he had something else in the pipeline. 'Well being a clandestine studio... legal (more or less legal) but clandestine, it's an uncertain future, and hopefully we can hold ground here and be recognised as an on-going situation by the local council. I mean there is a children's school - a kindergarten. So this is part and parcel of the whole community, so I think we've got a chance of surviving into the Nineties. It looks like we might have to buy it, to lease it or to buy it for some symbolic amount - maybe a guilder or more, as it's been discussed. But this area of uncertainty is OK. It's a challenge. And because we don't pay rent here, things are more relaxed...'


Does that mean they can afford to charge less for using the facilities? 'Yes. Well a little bit anyway!'

Bolland Studio



The next day being my birthday, Genie and I decided to have a day in the country with Achmed, her tame wolf, taking in a visit to Bolland Studios in Blaricum, where I had an appointment for 3.00pm. Not being early risers, however, especially after a late night session with Ambush Sound Control, we just missed a tram which meant that we just missed our scheduled train, and we ended up taking two buses - from Bussum to Flavoland and from there on to Blaricum - arriving rather late. But the scenery was beautiful!

Blaricum is a tiny village nearer to Hilversum - THE Dutch TV and Radio city - than to Amsterdam, and Bolland Studios isn't hard to find - just look out for the villa with the tasteless pink tube-lit sign in the window and the large white board in the front garden announcing 'Bolland Studios B.V./Le Disque Holland B.V./Le Disque Music Publishing B.V./Bolland Music'. For this is the heart of the empire carved out by those popsters Rob and Ferdi Bolland, who composed and produced Samantha Fox's Love House to name but enough. Okay, what about Baby you're a star for Suzi Quatro and Extraordinary kind of love for Shaun Cassidy? An unspeakable blandness slumbers behind these doors...

We are welcomed by engineers Lex van't Hoenderdaal and Okkie Huysdens and drink tea from plastic cups while they explain some of the background stuff.

'For about one and a half years I have been working in the same way - so you can call it old fashioned, then, because we are not doing new things. We work in one way and it works perfectly so that's the way we keep on going. We use an SBX-80 which is an ancient model but it still works perfectly. We're mostly using it for work with Multitrack - Analog Tape Multitrack! We're using some sampled things and some synthesizers but not so much that you could use a 16-Channel MIDI sequencer so you could use everything at one time, you know. We never use more than a couple of MIDI channels - for Pitch Bend... not even for Program changes.'

I asked what the set-up was and how much it costs? Lex answered the question, 'We are 24-Track. We are able to do 48-Track and Digital, but that's always extra...' Studio 1 will cost you around fl 3,000/day. Studio 2 around fl 2,500/day, plus tax, but they are keen to point out that this includes the cost of an engineer(!) and Studio 1 offers an SSL-4048 console with Total Recall, both studios being acoustically designed by Eddy Veale. If you want equipment lists (and these are fairly comprehensive) then I suggest you write to them at the address below. I should add though, that even if I had this kind of silly money to spend on recording, I wouldn't spend it here.

I wanted to know if 1992 will make much of a difference to the kinds of bands they wil be recording? 'As a matter of fact we don't record with bands here.' Lex explained. 'Most of the time we're busy with our own productions. That was the intention - why Rob and Ferdi Bolland bought this studio - to do their own productions.'

GENIE AT WORK WITH AMBUSH AT THE CAVERN.

On my original list of studios I had this place down as 'Soundpush' (where The Stones used to record way back...) I was informed that 'Soundpush is now one studio at the back which specialises in commercials... advertising...' In the beginning it was Soundpush Studio 1, 2 and 3. Now Studio 1 and 2 are owned by Rob and Ferdi Bolland. They bought it in October '87.'

Achmed lies down to sleep in the large and tastelessly decorated reception area whilst Genie and I are given a tour of the complex. And small it's not.

Jaap Eggermont made a fortune from the dreadful Stars on 45 series of singles, and is the guy responsible for selling off studios 1 and 2 to the Bland brothers. I would have liked to have spoken to him about this, particularly as he has been known to use (with his own MIDI specialists Hans and Peter) an Atari/Steinberg set-up with Roger Linn, Korg M-1 and Yamaha DX-7 gear, but Jaap was busy in his own studio (- Studio 3) at this time, mixing the string section for a jingle, for a TV ad for Souci Mineral Water. So it goes...

Bolland Studios is tied up at least half the time with their own productions, which recently has included stuff with Johnny Logan (produced by Rob and Ferdi, again) and Genie and I had serious trouble trying to stifle yawns as we were shown around Studios 1 and 2. It's something to do with the lighting, I suspect, which is so 'tasteful and quiet', in keeping with the majority of the Bland Brothers' recordings, that you just want to curl up in a corner and die.

'It's important to feel comfortable in a studio, like it's home, you know?' was the explanation I got.

I noticed a distinct lack of 'new toys', except for the Akai S-900 which everybody seems to have. The MC-500, some MIDI gear, like the D-110, because, I was told, 'they do what we expect. They give us the sound we need.' Lex said that there was an Emulator and Roland D-50 lurking around somewhere. Okkie continued, 'but that's very old fashioned. It still works. We don't need too many toys because it works - in the old fashioned way.

You can still experiment with multitrack - we are used to this equipment. When it started some years ago - the new MIDI age - we were there, you know. And we still use it in the same way.

TOSCA AT WORK WITH AMBUSH AT THE CAVERN.


Like a child that has too many toys - he would prefer to play with a shoe-box, you know? You can forget about the music when you have too many toys.'

I couldn't agree more.

Genie wanted to know, if they had a sound library. 'We have CD-ROM for the Emulator.' Okkie explained 'Volumes 1 and 2 we have on CD. Volume 3 is out I think, but we haven't bought it yet. You need at least a week to listen to the sounds on one CD, you know? The sounds are always there if we need them.

A lot of studios now, they have a lot of new toys and they think they can compare it with professional studios. Everybody can do professional things now, they think, because they have the equipment. But I always think that the music is the most important thing.'

Mmh, yes! I think I'm with you on THAT one, again, Okkie...

Studio 150 - Blood on the Carpet



I didn't mention, did I, that Genie had given me a bicycle for my birthday? No. Well it's a lovely old black bike with no gears - and as Holland is so flat you don't need gears anyway, and by law traffic has to give way to cyclists and the Dutch usually do. On this occasion, though, it was a bloody TOURIST with a GB sticker who cut into my space and forced me into a parked car which turned out to be harder than me, the result being that I arrived at Studio 150 bleeding and shaking uncontrollably. Luckily Genie's Pro-Walkman, which I was carrying on my back, was undamaged.

They spent about ten minutes before giving up looking for the First-Aid box, and I spent the next twenty minutes or so with a wad of loo paper wrapped around my hand which bled generously onto their new carpet...

HEADS ON DISPLAY AT THE BINNENPRET

'Tell 'em, if they're thinking of bucks, then... If they're talking that kind of money. Yeah! I'll do it in my break!'

Some nameless asshole was talking on the phone while Genie offered soothing words to your raving reporter. We had arrived on time but the tension increased as my blood continued to flow freely to the floor of Reception and of course they weren't quite prepared for this... I left the tape recorder on and glanced at the VU meters from time to time and cursed and waited and bled. Genie, as always, remained cool, but I was 30 years old and one day and after another late session with Ambush I felt, as David Byrne put it, 'like an accident'.

Peter Riebeek (boss-man) came to talk while Johanna Geerling kindly supplied coffee.

'For the moment we're booked out for the year, so the next booking will be somewhere in January or February next year', (and this was in June '89, remember), '...the thing is that we brought in a new SSL which will obviously have an effect on the prices, but we're not quite sure how much yet. The current rate is 1250 guilders a day... including tax, there will be an increase because of the SSL. It's a bit vague, I'm afraid, but...'

I asked what MIDI equipment they used, I wasn't in a mood for mincing words. 'Standard in the studio there is an Atari - a 4-Megabyte Mega ST,' Peter explained to me 'which seems to be becoming the standard here, at least on the continent... Steinberg as well. We've got C-Lab, all sorts of people use all sorts of different packages and they, most of the time, bring in their own stuff.

'There is a set-up of synthesizers, the basic things like the DX-7, D-50, the S-1000, the S-900, that kind of regular stuff, the 618 or is it 816?, I always seem to mess up these figures, but nothing really out of the ordinary, I think. Most of the time, people tend to bring their own preferred stuff. There's so much on the market - it's very hard to have everything, right?'

At the moment it's just a 24-track studio, if necessary they hire stuff in.

BUDGET RESTAURANT - GROOVY VIBES.

Talk shifts to MIDI and Studio 150 was in there at the start and took on the first Steinberg Pro-24 package as soon as it became available - but Cubase was at that time rearing its head as a possible future alternative (although we were then talking 'Cubit' and I'm sure you've heard the jokes about the French interpretation of that!)...

'It's kind of a drag to dig in again in another software package. It becomes very tiresome, because it's not only that, it's all the other software floating around MIDI. Every time again you have to learn... You want to work mostly and not learn new software programs.'

According to Peter the camp in Holland is divided into C-Lab and Steinberg, the Steinberg freaks being in the majority. Def Leppard, the guys in the studio at the moment, are using C- Lab.

'What for?' I asked 'Drums?' And I realized immediately that this was not a tasteful question owing to the condition of their drummer. But I'd said it. Poor bugger had lost an arm in that car accident...

'For all sorts of things.' Peter rescued me from my embarrassment, 'They have a brilliant set-up, two S-1000's with removable Hard disks - 45 Megabytes. The good part of it is that on the S-1000's when you have 8 Megabytes of on-board memory, right, which is kind of a lot and you have to put that either on one Hard disk and then it's finished, or onto many, many floppy disks, it becomes kind of tiresome, so what they do is have removable Hard disks, under it, from Sidequest, they can contain 45 Megabytes of memory, and they just take it out like a Floppy disk. The only problem is that it's expensive!'

Peter explains that most bands bring in their own MIDI Specialists, and in the case of Def Leppard it's Assistant Engineer Peter Woodroffe. I mentioned the Bland Brothers' situation... 'Well some people were from the Old School, you might say - they never really bothered to dig in...'

I suggested that the attitude seemed to be 'we can still do what we want to do - the old way'! Peter disagreed 'I personally don't believe that that is true, but it seems to be the case with a couple of oldies still. Would you like a quick look around?'

We sure would. And we met Pete Woodroffe and Mike Shipley (Def Leppard Producer) on the way... Members of Def Leppard were relaxing in the gymnasium watching cricket on TV.

I was careful to rephrase my question about C-Lab and drums for Pete Woodroffe. He laughed. No they weren't using it for keyboards, no keyboards on the album, it's just a 'production tool, so you can move timings, you can change arrangements - and the Akai's got stereo full bandwidth. Have you seen the set-up we're using?... Come and look at the MIDI set-up.'

So we left the bar, where the noise from staff and hangers-on made the tape a real pain to transcribe later, back in 'The Smoke', and Def Leppard sounds take over on my interview tape making life not much easier for your humble correspondent.

And here it is. And it's all flight-cased in one big family sized pack - the samplers and the drives...

'It means you can store masses and masses of stuff, so for instance if you have a song that you've recorded and you like it but you sort of think 'it would be great to extend the chorus by four bars', you can actually sample everything and replace it... C-Lab's really good - I mean it was either C-Lab or Steinberg and people say Steinberg crashes a lot...

Well there's new ones coming out now, like I mean I haven't seen the Steinberg Cubit yet, but the ability to not only edit and change things permanently - like you wanna quantize something or you want a do a transform function on something or change the velocities or something, you can do it permanently, or, on this page, each track you can put a filter on that will, for instance, make everything a little bit early or a little bit late. You can quantize and it just tries it out. It's good. The SMPTE interface, Unitor, we use and it's great! It's all in one box and it's dead quick. It's worked out well.'

It certainly all looks fab and groovy.

'...Octapad for triggering samples. But these are brilliant, each one's got 48 seconds in stereo full bandwidth sampling. So that's nearly 100 seconds overall. So if you're spinning things in it's quicker, better... this timestretch software means you can stretch samples and make them longer without changing the pitch. So if there's one word that he sings perfectly but it's just a bit short then you can extend it.

EGYPTIAN HIGH TEA AT THE BINNENPRET.

Def Leppard, the way they record tends to be really in detail. You know, it's kind of precise. That's their sound, it's just trying to make really precise rock records. And the whole thing being flight-cased we can take it anywhere we like. The album itself is going to take quite a while so we can be mobile. And the cost of that set-up compared to the cost of a Fairlight 3, they don't compare - it's substantially cheaper. There's even a little amp in the bottom, so you can actually go into a room with just this and a pair of NS-10's, speakers, and you can do all your programming stuff.'

'In the hotel bedroom!', I ventured.

At this stage I was asked to turn off the tape recorder while it was explained to us that with some previous interviews the moment they've appeared in print the interviewee is made to look arrogant - as if he was 'talking like God' - rather than just chatting and stating things like 'this is my personal way of doing things and I'm not saying that it's right for anyone else.' I can categorically say here that God never spoke to me the way Peter Woodroffe did. So now that we've cleared the air let's release that pause button...

'These removable Hard disks are brilliant, it takes about 30 seconds to take out. 45 Megabytes is an awful lot of memory. In fact we used up three Hard disks on a four minute song!'

'Wow!' But I was thinking 'They used to sound quite spontaneous!' Peter laughs and continues...

'Yeah! Well again you're trying out different parts, like try out a part and you go 'Well yeah that's a possibility but put that on disk, save it away and try another part.' There's so much flexibility ... and we've got the Hard disk in the Atari as well.'

He demonstrates the ease with which those Hard disks can be removed.

'Working with Def Leppard you accept it's going to take a long time. The last album took three years.'

Pete asked me what the article was going to be about, and I had to admit that at this stage I wasn't really sure as I was suffering from a kind of MIDI madness as yet unknown to medical science, but it should be interesting just to see the different possibilities for MIDI applications depending on studio size and available cash and hopefully to get an idea of the different working atmospheres in Holland. Well that's what I said, anyway, if not in so many words...

'Right. Well this is the band's rack that we can take wherever they go. It's just great being able to move around within one millisecond. We also do all the sequencing at double tempo, so if it's a song in 103 beats per minute we do it at 206, so you have more precision in shifting beats around. Anyway, you know, I basically produce it all myself, do all the engineering, and Mike's my assistant!' He laughs, knowingly.

Fact fans may like to know that the regular Studio 150 set-up includes a Yamaha DX-7 and 816 rack-mount, Roland D-50 and MKS-70, Akai S-900 and S-1000 samplers and MIDI patchbay and the Roland SBX-80 for MIDI-sync. If only I could afford it!

VLUCHT BA439



Many musicians need a more laid back environment than is encountered in most London based recording studios. Amsterdam is less than an hour away by plane and it's immediately obvious to visitors that the pace of life is slower - people are more relaxed and therefore more likely to feel the creative urge. And one of these days I won't come back.

This time I put my leather coat through the X-Ray machine at the airport because its metal buttons otherwise set off the alarms, but I'd forgotten my new antique cigarette case from the street market which was is my back trouser pocket and I was body-searched as usual.

Some things never change.

The Basement Tapes Studio, (Contact Details)
Himalaya Studios, (Contact Details)
The Cavern, (Contact Details)
Bolland Studios, (Contact Details)
Studio 150, (Contact Details)

Popinventarisatie lists all the recording studios, and is available from the address below for fl 29.50, but phone first to check availability and price.

Topmail, (Contact Details)


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Micro Music - Copyright: Argus Specialist Publications

 

Micro Music - Jan 1990

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Feature by Phil Brammer

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> Cubase In-depth

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