clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
The other day I was sitting around practice and I did something that I do on an embarrassingly regular basis: bump into my amp. Now, this is problematic because it has a spring reverb tank in it, and when you bump the amp it makes this really loud reverb clanging noise that's presumably the spring whacking up against the casing. And while usually that causes me to cover my ears, this once I thought, hmm, could I use that in a song somehow?

Then this morning I was listening to the Rapture's (natch) "Sister Savior," and...well, they used that noise. Sigh. But give it a listen, because it's pretty interesting how it's done. It comes near the end of the track, pretty much in the outro, and it adds a cool other layer to the whole mess that's going on. (Faith, on this listen I'd begun to tire a bit of their outros; I could barely sit through the conclusion of "Jealous Lovers," and how weird is that?) But it's also an interesting comment, partially (in my mind) because of a weird little production bit at the beginning of "I Need Your Love": every, like, sixth beat the reverb gets turned on for the keyboard part, and then quickly turned off, so it rings through. What the hell? Why do that? What's up with the reverb, kids?

Well, one reason might lie in the different feels of the dance-pop songs on Echoes. To focus on three, "Olio" sounds like I should be dancing in a nightclub to it, "I Need Your Love" sounds like I should be driving to it, and "Sister Savior" sounds like I should be strutting to it. But they all have basically the same beat and pretty similar arrangements. Why these differences? How are they achieved? Partially, I guess, it's tempo; "Savior" has more of a gait to it, being a bit slower, and a groove. But it's also the little production touches. The way the sax is mixed on "Love," for instance, along with the detuned synth patch arpeggios, lend it a kind of head-bobbing as opposed to butt-shaking quality.

But the thing that really stands out to me is the reverb on the hi-hat on "Olio" (which I do still love deeply). Now, one of the things I've learned[1] is that you have to be sort of careful using reverb because the tracks are going to get played in a club where there's a natural reverb, and when you combine that with the existing echo, it can overwhelm the whole track. So maybe when this gets played it's too much, I dunno. But here it's perfect, and it actually nicely mimics the reverb you'd hear in a club on a dance song--and I guess, too, it's reminiscent of big dumb rave songs that I LOVE. But what's particularly nice about this use is the targeted nature of the reverb: it's just on that hat, and the hat's panned pretty precisely. And so it comes back to those weird bursts of reverb (clicking a bus channel in and out, I assume) on "I Need Your Love." And it comes back to the very different but still akin sound of a beaten guitar amp reverb tank on "Sister Savior." It's scattered through there, and it's nicely used.

Incidentally, can anyone think of other songs that use that noise? I'm pretty curious now. It comes in at the end of "Sister" and sounds like, well, a big spring. Anybody?

[1] For the record, no, clap clap blog has not suddenly morphed into hi hat afficianado.