Ultimate Painting hinges on the partnership between Jack Cooper and James Hoare.
A duo with a lot of prior experience - they boast Mazes and Veronica Falls on their CV - the band embrace a romantic yet minimalist view of psych-pop.
Sparse but profoundly atmospheric, Ultimate Painting's new album 'Dusk' is enormously suggestive, turning simple guitar lines and lyrical scraps into something rather more profound.
Out this Friday (September 30th) the album was recorded at home, using only the bare minimum of equipment.
Duly inspired, Clash invited Ultimate Painting to give their guide to home recording.
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James - Don't play by the rules. Don't read books about mic techniques or do a music technology degree and hope to come out with the knowledge of an Abbey Road engineer. Experiment and come up with your own ways of working. If someone tells you it's the incorrect way of doing something try it anyway as you might get an interesting sound that will lead too something. That's one of the advantages of home recording, there's no one telling you what to do. You are (briefly) your own boss.
James - In the day and age of Pro-Tools and computer editing, mistakes are cleaned up and human error erased. Often the best bits of a recording are the mistakes. If you record at home, embrace this. The sound of an ambulance going past your house might be just what that drum and bass tracks needs. There's an early Gorky's Zygotic Mynci recording where Euro Child's father bursts in and demands quiet mid-song and an argument ensues (great!). Don't edit everything down. Use a live vocal take if possible, keep the charm of a home recording alive. When you're in a big studio people will often want too get rid of these elements.
James - London is obviously an expensive place to live. Don't be put off by uptight neighbours and think you can't record at home and have to have a studio. You're within your own right to make some noise between 9-5. Don't let the man grind you down. Think outside the box. Record the drums on top of your bed if you have to, record all the loud stuff in the day and vocals at night. If someone complains be as nice as possible and then later, perhaps (depending on the situation) drop them round a wheel of Camembert or a six pack of white lightning. A small gift can buy a surprising amount of time.
James - Equipment is key to a good sound. Less can be more. It's better to have one really good microphone than a dozen cheap ones for every application. If you're recording at home you probably don't need stacks of gear. Go down the minimalist route and carefully select your equipment. Don't buy drugs or go to the pub five nights a week. Get a vintage synthesiser or an analog reverb. You'll feel better in the short term and will end up with some great things that can be consistently used in the long run.
Jack - Because you don't have the man breathing down your neck and pointing at a daunting studio clock; you have the luxury of time. The Beatles recorded their first record in a day but not everyone is The Beatles. Not even us. The best thing about having time, is having the ability to occasionally say 'this isn't working today' and then going home and watching TV. On the other hand, you can work for as long as you want, bearing in mind the noise restrictions of recording in a residential area. Some would argue that rock n roll can't wait and 'to hell with my neighbours' like Lewis who used to live next door to me.
Jack - When I'm making demos at home, I record on an old Tascam cassette 8-track and because I'm surrounded by neighbours with a shop above me I can't really make much noise. The demos I do have a certain quality to them that I try to emulate, when we record the songs for the album. That's not always easy but they exist on their own and I like that. It's very rare for me to listen to our music but I occasionally go through my demos and enjoy them. I'm not sure what my point is... But embrace your circumstances. Make the limitations part of what you do. We recorded the drums for Green Lanes in my flat and because of the lower ceilings and a different floor, the drums don't sound as good. James' place has beautiful wooden floors and you can almost hear them on the new record.
Jack - James effectively lives in our recording studio. If it wasn't for his bed in the corner, there wouldn't be a trace of someone living there. When we're recording it's very difficult to switch off. After a day recording, I find myself at home staring into space and thinking about arrangements and seeing musical notes drifting around my head. At least I have the ability to step out of the situation. When we record, James is immersed in it 24 hours a day for as long as it takes for us to make a record. So if you're the person like me who doesn't live in the studio... spare a thought for the person who does. Give them some space and then treat their place with some respect. James is quite rightly proud of his room and in particular his cream rug. If you get to record with James, take your shoes off man. I'm sure Joe Meek would've asked the same.
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'Dusk' is out on September 30th via Trouble In Mind. Catch Ultimate Painting live:
29 London 5.30pm instore at FOPP Covent Garden
30 Manchester The Deaf Institute
1 Leeds 2pm instore at Jumbo Leeds
1 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
2 Glasgow Stereo
3 Glasgow 5.30pm instore at FOPP
4 Birmingham Hare V2
5 Bristol Exchange
6 London Islington Assembly Halls