MMA in CPH

As a musician, it rarely gets better than travelling abroad to a new city, spending time with some good friends (who also happen to be fantastic musicians) and recording an album of new original music in a brilliant studio. All fuelled by some of the best pastries on earth, I hasten to add.

Last week was one such occasion where we flew over to Copenhagen for a few days to record Misha Mullov-Abbado’s third album for Edition Records at the Village Recording studios. The new material from Misha was well bedded in; the band having played a spread of gigs and festivals across the UK this year. With this in mind plus expert engineer August Wanngren on board and master double bassist Jasper Høiby producing, we were all set to be onto a winner.

Expectations I think were exceeded however, largely due to Jasper opening up the potential of the band and yielding maximum character from both individuals and the group as a whole. Sometimes I found this challenging since, broadly speaking, as a band we had gotten used to playing certain tunes a certain way and suddenly under the red light we found ourselves getting a few curve balls thrown at us. But it was absolutely for the better - the music sounded so much more exciting as a result and we took the compositions to new places that we hadn’t previously explored. It almost sounded like a different band! The process of recording always has the effect of grounding the compositions and band playing them, but this experience I feel had almost given Misha’s group a new lease of life. As I type this, I’m looking forward to this evening in at the Stratford Playhouse which will be our first gig since recording the album and playing the tunes live with this new vibrancy.

Hats off also to August Wanngren, who captured the band so well and efficiently. Listening to the drums in the control room sounded how they did playing them in the live room, which is testament to August’s skill. Often I find engineers can make the drums sound a little unbalanced, inappropriately enhanced and/or lacking in some respect, but this sound was full, natural and authentic. Tracking in the studio’s main live room certainly helped with this and letting the drums breathe. The rest of the band sounded fantastic too and I’m very much looking forward to hear the final results after mixing.

For the drummers interested (anyone else can switch off for this paragraph!) I was playing on the studio’s 70s Gretsch stop sign badge drums (12” and 14” toms, 18” kick), and an early 6.5” deep Sonor Hilite snare - which I LOVED. I haven’t had the chance to play many Sonor drums and didn’t know much about this snare, but it was immediately apparent this was ‘the one’ for the session when I was trying the studio’s snares out. Beautifully sensitive, crisp but not harsh, and a good body to the sound. I didn’t even get the tuning key out! It’s rare that I feel really comfortable on gear that is not my own, but this drum was perfect for the sound that I want in this setting. I might have look out for one… Cymbals wise, I brought my own and used my 15” K light hihats, 20.5” Istanbul 25th Anniversary ride, 20” K Constantinople med thin low ride, and 20” Bosphorus traditional ride. The K Con is a relatively new one for me which I’m really digging at the moment. It’s fast becoming a go-to main ride cymbal.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the release next year, and in the meantime do head to one of the band’s concerts if we’re playing near you. More info available at mishamullovabbado.com

I’ll leave you with some nice shots from the session, captured by Liv Anastasia.