Einmo and producer Brian Deck then paid a visit to Chicago’s Engine Studios, where the duo used Engine’s Trident 80B console in Studio B to mix the album.
But we digress. Long before the studio work, Einmo was out making field recordings in an attempt to do something different from his first album, which was inspired by old Super 8 movies.
“I did consider doing more film-inspired stuff,” he explains, “but I wanted a new feel, so I took an aural field trip to reconstruct ambient sounds and turn them into instruments."
To field record, Einmo relied on his trusty M-Audio MicroTrack II (It’s supersmall and records stereo 24 bit!”), but it’s not as simple as just holding the mic in the air. “[You’ve got to] really protect the mic from the wind,” he suggests. “Stand behind an umbrella or a building. And outdoor sounds fluctuate a lot, so keep an eye on the volume meter.”
On “Letting It Go On The Ohio Turnpike,” you’ll hear semis from that exact locale. “I ran real truck recordings through the Moogerfooger MF-102 ring modulator and used and Electro-Harmonix Memory Man delay. For synths, I combined a Moog Rogue and an original Roland Juno-106, which is all analog; you can make your own sounds. It’s awesome.”
Elsewhere, on “Intro,” recordings of AM radio, talk-show hosts and clips from thrift-store instructional tapes are deftly mixed together, while the title track teams up tracks from two states.
“We stayed near the desert in Vegas, and there was a lawn sprinkler going crazy,” he remembers. “I combined the sprinkler with a Montana rain storm, and then ran them through the Mooger and an Electrix Filter Factory to make a percussive synth.”
A few organic samples were used, but Einmo found that city and industrial sounds fit more with the album’s theme, making New York City a gold mine.
“New York is loaded with sounds – planes from LaGuardia, the subways, tunnel echoes, street musicians,” he says. “I recorded some big sledgehammers that construction guys were using to hit the train tracks, and used them as snare drums. I had a hard time controlling myself from recording everything!”
After creating the huge sound database, Einmo used the sounds as backdrops, running them through filters, cutting them up into loops in Pro Tools and adding the beats (via the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines and touring drummer Trent Moorman’s drums) and instruments on top. Einmo records all the “keeper” guitar, bass and synth parts himself to start with and then records “virtual sessions” on keys for things like strings and drums, getting friends to replace the placeholder parts with real-instrument performances. Assembling all the elements is part of the fun, and it’s something he’s particularly skilled at.
“It’s a lot more interesting to collaborate than to do it all myself, though,” he says. “It’s more inspiring.”
Just don’t let him hold onto the car keys.