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“Fallout Shelter” Roger Powell

Also an inventor, Powell — a protégé of the legendary Bob Moog — created the ‘Powell Probe,’ the first remote handheld polyphonic synthesizer controller back in the day.

“Fallout Shelter” | Roger Powell
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Single: “Fallout Shelter”

Album: Fossil Poets (Inner Knot)

Dates: Recorded and mixed by Gary Tanin in 2006 at GT Labs in Milwaukee, WI

Producer: Gary Tanin and Roger Powell

Engineer: Gary Tanin

Mixer: Gary Tanin

Mastering Engineer: Gary Tanin

Other Projects: Tanin worked with artists such as the Bodeans, Jerry Harrison, Daryl Stuermer, Victor DeLorenzo, XPensive Dogs, and Monovox.

Studio Monitors: Yamaha NS10 and JBL SB-1 subwoofer (via 200Hz crossover) with a Sony STR-AV770 amplifier, Auratone Sound Cubes

Vinyl Listening Room: Pioneer SX-828 amplifier, Micro Seiki DD-40 turntable, Audio-Technica cartridge, Klipsch Heresy and Acoustic Research AR4X monitors, TEAC PD-165 CD Player (for pre-master listening)

Studio Workstation/Controllers: Digidesign Pro Tools|HD running on a Mac G5 with the Digi 002 Rack

Select Pre-amps: Digi 002, PreSonus BlueTube

Select Microphone: Shure SM57

Select Mix Plug-ins: Tel-Ray Variable Delay (Moog), WAVES Enigma (guitar)

Select Mastering Plug-ins: (24-bit Vinyl and 16-bit CD versions) WAVES MaxxBass, WAVES L2 Lin multiband compressor, WAVES L2 Linear EQ, WAVES L2 Ultra Maximizer; PoWr Dither Type 1 (16-bit version only)Producers’s Diary

Roger Powell — primarily recognized as the keyboardist for Utopia, a prog-rock band led by Todd Rundgren from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s — can once again be heard in all his creative glory on Fossil Poets, a synth-based, self-described “retro-future” progressive album produced with engineer/musician Gary Tanin. Also an inventor, Powell — a protégé of the legendary Bob Moog — created the ‘Powell Probe,’ the first remote handheld polyphonic synthesizer controller back in the day. So, as you can imagine, the minds behind Fossil Poets have much to offer in the way of fluid textures, trippy beats, and otherworldly soundscapes.

‘Fallout Shelter’ is the album’s schizophrenic guitar-heavy selection featuring the deft guitar stylings of Greg Koch. “Greg’s hands, guitar, and rig was the tone,” explains Tanin of Koch’s Fender Stratocaster tracks. “I used a SM57 on his Fender Custom Vibrolux amp and recorded his Fender Cyber Twin amp direct through a [PreSonus] BlueTube pre-amplifier.” Meanwhile, Powell laid down his tracks with a MOTM Modular (custom built) synthesizer, Moog Voyager (for lead lines), and the Korg Electribes Production Station.

(click thumbnail)Roger Powell with Gary Tanin at GT LabsFor the most part, the sounds and effects of the performed tracks comprised the final mix, although Tanin notes that the Tel-Ray Variable Delay and WAVES Enigma phaser/flanger were used on Moog and guitar, respectively; the Enigma “mangled the guitar track as chorus end with a bit of medium delay,” offers Tanin.

Tanin also mastered the project, doing a discrete session per format, CD and Vinyl. Most notably, the WAVES L2 Lin multiband compressor was used to add “a few dB at high-mids and at the low end, leaving low-mids untouched.” Further, the L2 Ultra Maximizer was used at a light -3.0 threshold — “basically no limiting, just leveling,” offers Tanin.

In today’s online music marketplace, it could be argued that any song available via iTunes — like ‘Fallout Shelter’ — can be considered, by definition, a single. Thus, the music of Fossil Poets offers the best of both format extremes: the immediacy and convenience of a downloadable single, and the glorious analog listening experience of the LP (on limited edition blue vinyl, no less).