A restored barn from the 1800s. A farmhouse. A refuge. A home. The heart of the world.
This is more than a recording studio. It's an experience.
A 32-foot long, 26-foot wide live room. Beams of light filter through the tall, trapezoidal windows, a gentle warmth of the sun drapes over the room. You sit on the couch, tuning up your guitar. A 70's Marshall plexi sits atop its cabinet in the corner, eclipsed by the morning light. The seductive rips and tears in its tolex stare deeply into your soul. A primal magnetism. The sleeping giant beckons you.
You make your way downstairs from the live room into the lounge and kitchenette. It's early. Your bandmates are still sleeping in our provided guest house. An appreciated convenience, as you've left your Brooklyn apartment behind. You pour yourself a pot of locally-roasted coffee from the pot on the counter. You look out the large window; the cow and horse are grazing in the field. Everyone's asleep, but nature is wide awake. Birds chirping. Bugs buzzing. This place provides a strange sense of peace from the urgency of the city. A transcendentalist space. A shelf of books, magazines, and curiosities. You flip through some. Melrakki catches your eye; Icelandic arctic foxes seems like a good read today. Perhaps tomorrow you'll read about tuk-tuks in Thailand.
You open the door into the control room, where you and the engineer are working on a rough mix of late last night's session. Pull up the faders on the old Neotek console. Opamps, capacitors, resistors, wire. Electricity flows through circuits. The room comes to life. The walls speak. You discuss what you hear. You look around you, surrounded by gear both new and old. A wall of amplifiers stands before you. An original Sunn O)) Model T. Marshall JTM50. Fender Bassman. Mesa Boogie Mark III. Ampeg V4. Sound City 50 Plus. Orange OR120. Simms-Watts. Traynor. Fuchs. Sovtek. Peavey. Laney. Hughes and Kettner. Carvin. Matamp. Earth. You are then immediately struck with an idea.
The Fender Bassman. Timeless. Iconic. Perfect.
The understated luxury of a workhorse amplifier. Legends before you, legends after you. You are now one of those legends.
You plug in the Bassman into a spare socket on the wall. The silver face patina'd with years of love and care. It is a veteran on this wall. Who knows how many stages it has seen. You share a common history and passion. For this moment, it is yours, and you are theirs. Is this fate that brought you two together?
Upstairs, a 4x12 cab with greenback Celestion speakers already has a speaker cable plugged in. One of the speakers mic'ed by an ElectroVoice RE10, a Sennheiser MD441N, a Beyer M160, and a Royer 121. We can't decide. Choices.
The cable runs into the patch on the wall. It makes its way down to the control room, where it reappears, like magic, and plugs into the back of the Bassman. Electricity flows, the joining of parts; an ouroboros consuming itself. What was whole is now whole again.
The tubes begin to glow. Brighter, then brighter still. The amp is pushed to the limits. Power tubes saturate; speakers pulsate. Woodstock. Monterey. Cry of Love.
You cannot describe the unpredictable feeling of this moment, the dance you play with the amp and your instrument. The energy in this moment borders on the ecclesiastical. Harmonics bloom like flowers; the speakers convulse with energy. A spiderweb, glittering with diamonds. The speaker, the enclosure, the room, the microphone, the cable, the amp, your guitar, and yourself. You scoff at the thought of ever using an amp sim again.
You are brought back to the wondrous feeling of your childhood, when you took a trip to the music store for the very first time. What are these strange machines? What juggernauts are they, and what is it that they do? Black tolex, white tolex. Witch hat knobs. Chicken head knobs. Red lights. Blue lights. Tubes. Solid state. Choices. While you are here, they are all yours.
You feel a rush of emotion to your face. The engineer presses record. This is the moment you were always waiting for. Your fingers speak like a charismatic, tongue-speaking preacher. You don't know how you're doing this. It's foreign to you, and natural all at once. This place brings out something from inside of you that you were heretofore unaware of. You conjure ancestral spirits. You break open gaps in space and time. You manifest sounds into this world.
You laugh to your self, manically. "All before breakfast," you think. This will be what the world hears when they think of you.
Your mind now races with thoughts. Perhaps we'll take a ride to New Hope and get lunch on the Delaware River. Maybe we'll stop in Lambertville, and shop for some vintage guitars or vinyl at one of their many shops. Or perhaps we'll visit the vineyard down the street, and discuss track order over Malbec and cheese. We can go to Stockton and Frenchtown, before stopping at the Tinicum Guitar Barn and getting lost in the winding roads, inspired by the endless hills and the rolling fog that hangs above them. This is a place discovered and undiscovered. You are an adventurer now. You realize you are finally at the heart of the world.
Or maybe you will stay in. We have farm fresh eggs from our own flock of chickens on reserve for you. Homemade maple syrup from the maple trees in our yard. Locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. An apple pie we made for you sits under the cake stand on the center of the reclaimed wood dining table. You cut yourself a slice. After the magic you made just minutes earlier, you deserve it.
Creativity flows like electric here. You are alive. Your heart and the Universe's heart are finally vibrating together, like two strings in tune. Hephaestus. Saraswati. Odin. All singing together in homophony. You have awakened the creative being of your many co-existent, coterminous beings. Your Svadhisthana is glowing in synchronicity.
You take a stroll outside. The birds are chirping, the chickens clucking, the cow mooing. The wildlife are congratulating you with a cacophony of their voices. A chorale sung for your efforts. You deserve it.
The sun begins to set. The van is packed. You are headed back to Brooklyn. It's only an hour away and yet you are still sad to leave this world. You take a dozen eggs with you, on the house. You know you will be back.
The cow moos at your departure. You scratch his chin because the engineer told you that he likes that. He gives you a mouth-bubbly kiss as a sign of his affection. His breath smells of fresh-cut grass and molasses-soaked grain. These smells, sights, and sounds burn into your memory.
You drive off into the sunset, looking back at the cow, its black and white spots as American as apple pie.