This session was at Soundpark, which is my first port of call if I need a bigger environment than The Aviary. It’s a very large live room, plus some semi-isolated booths.
For this project, we set out to get the rhythm section and backing vocals (and even some lead vocals on some songs) in the live takes, but with isolated drums and sometimes percussion. We set up bass, guitar, keys some percussion, backing vocals and lead vocals in the big room, with drums and congas in their own isolated/less live rooms. Guide horns and vocals were done from the corridor or another booth.
A key part of this was to preserve the energy the band has in the takes, the dynamics of which are a two way process, where the rhythm section feed off the vocals and vice versa. Having the vocals and all the percussion there really helps give an idea of the arrangement so that the band didn’t overplay – afro-beat needs a lot of space to get that hypnotic, trance-like vibe. Plus, the singers treated the whole thing like a performance and put a bit more into it than they probably would if they were in a room with headphones doing overdubs. They would get excited by what the bands doing, which excited the band, and this feedback is what made the session work.
It paid off, and this is why for some tracks, the lead vocals done live were preferable to overdubs. What is lacking in isolation and control is more than made up for in energy and vibe, as well as interaction between then vocals and the band.
The band also put together a video of the session and talk a bit about what their music is all about.