Totems d'Armorique, recorded in 2007 is Stone Age's fourth album.  The band is French, but I was pleased to hear some of the lyrics in English as well.

Totems d'Armorique comes in a DigiPack with the CD holder affixed to one of the flaps instead of the back (the back holds a booklet with the lyrics in it), and is quite long with 17 tracks totaling 53 minutes of music.  Long enough to keep me entertained on the journey to and from work on the car CD player. 

Musically, the album is a departure from their previous albums. Less electronic than it's 'Enigma'-like predecessors 'Promessa' and 'Time Travellers',  the arrangements make more use of acoustic instruments.  However, the production values give these acoustic instruments the power and expression of electric ones.  I found the production similar to, and the equal of 'The Ladder' by Yes, perhaps because of its Progressive, acoustic / electric blends, and also some of the vocal counterpoint.  Musical highlights for me were the tracks 'Enez Sun' and 'The Crimson Flow', which transitioned brilliantly with a keyboard arpeggio from the previous track 'Organik Reel'.

I was also impressed by the overall production, and upon learning that Scope played a large part in the recording and production of this sonic masterpiece I was interested in just what roles the Scope system played in the recording and production process.


Dante: What equipment and software were used in the recording of the 'Totems d'Armorique' CD?

Eric: Real drums were recorded with an old SSL4000E, Pro Tools TDM, AD/DA 3 x 888 and Apogee Rosetta. 

The drum sessions were recorded live with the drummer playing in real time with bass player, keyboards and computer sequences to give the drummer the feel of the actual music, as opposed to a click.  This way we preserved a 'live' feel. 

Then later we overdubbed the other instrumental tracks using my 6DSP Scope Pulsar 2 and Scope 15DSP board. 

Dante:  What microphones did you use?

Eric: We used good microphones like the Neumann U87 KM84, AKG C414, Seinheiser and some cheap tube microphones from Studio Project and Rode and Audio Technica 4033 through a Yamaha 01V mixer, Digi002R and a TL Audio Microphone preamp.



Dante: And what did you use in the rest of the recording chain?

Eric: We recorded bass, vocals, keyboards and guitars using my Scope Pulsar 2 6DSP on a Yamaha 01V at Kervador's (Michel Valy) home studio. 

We also used some old DBX 160 compressor / limiters, TL Audio hardware, professional DI box for instruments and Genelec monitors.

Keyboards were recorded at two other band members' home studios, Dominique Perrier (using a Motu and a DigiDesign Digi002R) and Jerome Guegeun. 

Janet's lead and backing vocals were recorded at Dominique Perrier's studio, directly into the Digi002R.

Dante: Sounds like a good mix of gear.



Dante: So how did you go about the mixing and mastering process ?

Eric: Mixing and mastering was performed completely 'at home' using my SCOPE 15DSP with Nuendo in XTC mode.  But I decided to go to a big studio to verify that the sound was correct, and it was good so we were ready to start the official CD release. 

When I mixed this CD only the first DAS plug-ins existed : RMX160, SL9000, POLTEQ and DynPara Mid Side processor.  You can recognize the RMX160 on all the drums.  The POLTEQ was used for all the bass, with a true old DBX 160 and/or CW Blue compressors.  The SL9000 was used for drums.  All the other EQ were the basic native Nuendo 2.0 EQ's.  I also used also the Waves convolution reverb (for Vocals) and the Scope MasterVerb PRO. 

For the guitars, I decided to choose Nuendo's reverb as it sounded closer to a hardware rack FX.  The delays are the basic Scope ones.

Everything was mixed and mastered using XTC mode.  The chain was CW31bandes, DynPara and Waves L2 limiter.  I may have forgotten some of the more minor pieces of equipment, but the essentials are all mentioned here.


Dante: Was there any call for the development of customized plug ins?

Eric: Yes, Kervador wanted a WahWah plugin to play in real time.  For example on the rhodes and guitars on 'Inkantator' (and maybe other songs I can't recall now), so I made one for him as his real pedal was a bit too old and had some noise.

Dante: And is this device still available?

Eric: Yes, here it is - a freeware for all ScopeRise readers.

Dante: Thanks - will give it a try!


Dante and Eric March 2011  

Audio Preview of Stone Age 'Totems d'Armorique'