Direct To Disc
Border Crossing 15:28
Direct To Disc Record Label
(Picture by Laurie Overton)
Headroom Alternate Cover
(Picture by Laurie Overton)
Headroom Record Label
(Picture by Laurie Overton)
Direct To Disc - Alternate Cover
(note the title showing as "FM' and not "Headroom"
(picture by Brian Silickas)
INSTRUMENTS: Mini Moog synthesizer with Polyfusion Sequencer 2040, Micro Moog Synthesizer with Polyfusion Sequencer, AS-1 Micro Moog Synthesizer with Percussion Controller, Elka String Synthesizer with bass pedals, Eko Bass Pedals, Rickenbacker bass guitar, Maestro Brassmaster fuzz, Mellotron 111 Filter and vocals.
MICROPHONES: All keyboards miked direct, Vocals miked with U87.
COMMENTS: The process of direct to disc recording is one that involves a lot of concentration, and at the same time allows for a more spontaneous feeling between the musicians, the producers, and the music.
INSTRUMENTS: 5 String Electric Violin, 5 String Solid Body Electric Mandolin.
MICROPHONES: Violin: AKG C 414, Mandolin: Direct
COMMENTS: Having long been a fan of 30's and 40's jazz, I would invariably ask studio engineers about the clarity achieved on these early 78 rpm recordings. It seemed despite the scratchiness, a good mix and vitality prevailed. The engineers spoke of mike positioning as a lost art but the explanations were usually vague. After recording Direct to Disc, it seems to me what everyone forgot about was the urgency of the moment, and that the "get it in the mix" crutch attittude never existed at the time.
INSTRUMENTS: Fibes Drum Kit, Congas, Bells and miscellaneous percussion, Moog percussion controller, Arp 2600 & Arp 2500 synthesizers.
MICROPHONES: Electrovoice RE20, Neumann U87, Neumann KM 84, Rayer M 160, AKG C452.
COMMENTS: With no chance to overdub and all of us going for the entire side at once, the concentration and the intensity of the performance was exhilarating.
Original Release Date: 1977
Producer: Paul A Gross for Mushroom Ltd.
Executive Producers: Gordon R. Pedwell and Douglas R. Hill
Recording Engineers: "Head Room" Alan Thorne, "Border Crossing" Mark Wright
Assistant Recording Engineers: Jeff Jeff Strobbs and Mick Walsh
Mastering Engineers: Kevin Fuller and Robin Brouwers
Direct to Disc Recording and Mastering Done at: Phase One Recording Studios Ltd. / The Lacquer Channel Ltd. Toronto Canada
(I emailed Martin Deller in Jan of 2004 and he had this to say about Direct To Disc. PW)
"As far as the Direct to Disc goes there was a limited pressing of 20,000 copies and it sold out. However a local fan has collected a couple of copies of the album and I understand that they have different versions of each take (side 1, side 2) on them! I have yet to check this out but if so there may be more (than the 20K) available. "
(Larry Wilson worked for Chum FM in Toronto at the time and had this to say in the liner notes about how Direct To Disc was recorded. He also clears up some technical details about the recording process. PW)
"Being a radio broadcaster, rock news-oriented, plus a program producer, disc jockey and all-round curious fellow has its advantages. It tends to lead to ground-floor acquaintances with many emerging rock groups. A lot of them come and go before ever making it into the studio. I encountered FM a few years ago just being formed. Watching these two young guys (at the time) perform on countless instruments simultaneously in real time, was so impressive I went on the radio, talked about them, and promised to adopt them as a Project band, keeping listeners to CHUM-FM informed. Over that time, changes happened inevitably. The current composition of FM amount to Cameron Hawkins playing bass, electric keyboards, and foot-pedals, and singing; and Martin Deller, percussionist. Joining them for this Direct To Disc session was Ben Mink, multi - talented fiddle and mandolin man from Murray McLaughlin's Silver Tractors band. And what MAGIC they created, as you're witnessing.
Not your average space-rock band this. FM considers it musically important to deal in melodies and textures. Nevermind setting the sequencer to deliver a non-stop rhythm track all through the piece. Leave that to some less talented band. What we have, then, is a trio of musicians turned-on by the challenges of the Direct To Disc process..and their own compositions.
A few misconceptions abut Direct To Disc should be cleared-up right away. We hear about there being No Second Chance. You get it right all the way through, there's no stopping or overdubbing. True, but nevertheless there are tons of blank master discs at the recording and mastering studios, and what REALLY happens is the band performs their music in real time...over and over again till everyone is happy. The master are all considered and the very best ones (side 1 and 2) are pressed under careful control for the limited-edition disc itself. That's what you're (hopefully) enjoying as you as you scan this jacket. Days of setting-up, getting the sounds right, and rehearsal, led to the magic moments on this record. The band's own sound modifiers have been used throughout. No studio tricks, no overdubbing. This is FM at is very best, live. And leaving-out the tape in the recording process and putting-it-down right on the master disc....gives us that much more cleanness and clarity. In short, you are listening to a masterpiece of real-time recording.
The brilliance that shows on these tow compositions may not come to you for the first listen, for it's the subtleties that make FM so outstanding. Check out the sounds Marty is getting out of the drum kit. The strokes Ben employs on his parts. Cam's intentional-NOT-up-front vocals. And as you enjoy this recording, try to picture the actual performance; cables strewn over the studio floor...Marty smiling at executing a particularly difficult percussive phrase...Ben, in an alcove looking mostly at Cam, grooving on what's happening. And Cam himself, intensely masterminding his collection of instruments, grinning with pride at the magic vibes in the air.
And indeed this album IS magic. More so than most. The blend of Deller, Hawkins, and recent addition Mink make it so. Their discipline and willingness to experiment are constantly at odds. Their music and their hardware molds into magic. This is an album of quiet excitement, carefully planned and considered, but nevertheless fresh and innovative. And after all, Direct to Disc or otherwise, isn't that what contemporary music SHOULD be all about?
LARRY WILSON CHUM FM