Half Finished Novel, was an incredibly fun project to be a part of. The album was recorded at 3 different studios, with 3 different producer/engineers involved. I was the last piece of the puzzle, and was responsible for recording the last 3 full tracks, finishing up all the existing songs, and completing the final mixes and production. Todd is an extremely good guitarist. His past two albums are heavily instrumental works, showcasing his guitar chops and jazz/classical rock-influenced songwriting. This album, however, features Todd’s vocals on every song. It also includes 3 covers from Steely Dan, Joe Jackson, and Bill Withers – all of which are fan favorites at his live shows. The album is very well-rounded musically, with songs ranging from classical rock, to acoustic ballads, to more modern pop rock. I encourage you to follow Todd on Facebook and his website to catch his next live show.
We started our work together by recording drums at Droptone Studio for the cover tunes. Todd’s son, Alex Ortberg, was the drummer and did a fantastic job. Once I had all the drum edits and drum loops completed, we moved on to recording bass guitar with Scott Strauss. Scott is a veteran bassist and a really great musician to work with. Hailing from Detroit, he laid down some genuinely funky bass lines. Check out track #2, “Use Me.” After bass, Todd started laying down rhythm guitar tracks on both electric and acoustic guitar, followed by guitar and keyboard solos. Listen to Todd soloing on Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.” He not only delivers the lengthy guitar solos, but jumps right to keyboard soloing flawlessly. David Kottke, a local percussionist, joined us for “Do It Again” as well adding the crucial conga, bongo, and shaker parts. Besides adding auxiliary percussion, having David Kottke in-studio adds auxiliary energy. He’s a great musician and a blast to watch perform live.
Once everything was recorded I dived into mixing the album. Todd had a very specific goal for how the album should sound and he stayed involved with his notes and feedback to ensure every song turned out perfectly. Specifically, Todd wanted a warm, but pristine sounding album that resembled a Steely Dan recording. A combination of great tube outboard gear (e.g., Universal Audio 6176, Drawmer 1960, Summit Audio DCL200) and Pro Tools HD provided the tools necessary for success. We had extra mix notes from veteran producer Brian Bart and to top it off, Greg Reierson of Rare Form Mastering did an excellent job mastering. I’m proud of the result and I hope that you take a listen on SoundCloud, and then head over to iTunes to purchase it.
1. Boundary Layer – Final Mix, Recorded & Produced Vocals, Bass, Keys
2. Use Me – Produced, Mixed, Recorded everything
3. Cloak and Dagger – Final Mix, Vocal Production
4. Do It Again – Produced, Mixed, Recorded everything
5. What We Will Find – Final Mix, Vocal Edits
6. Stepping Out – Produced, Mixed, Recorded everything
7. Coffee & Yoga – Final Mix, Vocal Edits
8. Half Finished Novel – Final Mix, Vocal Edits, additional recordings in bridge
9. No Way To Know – Produced, Mixed, Recorded vocals, bass, additional guitars, and all drum programming.
2003: T.C. Ortberg – The Ninth Tide