“I used an iPod to play all the instruments,” says Marcelo Radulovich (Playground Slap, Me Me the Moth), whose new solo album, La Mano Ponderosa, was recorded using only the Apple music player and various apps. “I’m fascinated with the world of apps, and I see the iPod as a revolutionary sort of musical instrument, providing countless versions of lapsteel guitars, basses, drum machines, pianos, theremins, and weird noise manglers.” Apps used include Thumbjam, iKaossilator, Filtatron, Flautina, i808, DM1, iPlay Kalimba, Shiny Drum, iDrum, Jentreng, Soundbox, and CutupMachine.
“Recording with the iPod is easy. I run a stereo line into my ProTools hardware and, voilà, no mics to set up to capture drums and amps, [and] no cables to unknot. Apps are super cheap, so getting the approximation of a full orchestra can run a couple of bucks. But it can be a major pain to perform some parts on such a small [iPod] surface, so I tidied up my takes afterwards during editing in ProTools, cutting and sliding regions, lining them up with the drum tracks, and so forth. Lots of hours spent muttering under my breath!”
The offbeat recording process makes it difficult to pull off live renditions of the songs. “I’m going through a major transition phase, wanting to get out of the studio and back onstage, so I’m in the process of putting aside most of my electronics and rounding up a few great musicians to make music that really comes alive [in concert]. Less button-pushing, more string-bending.”
With that in mind, Radulovich’s band Nice World (formerly Nicey Nice World) will debut its new four-piece lineup on December 9 at the Kava Lounge Gallery, minus cofounder Joyce Rooks (the Dinettes, the Cockpits). “She had to take a break from music this year, as she was juggling two jobs,” says Radulovich. “Jim Call [of the Penetrators] and I liked what we were exploring musically, so we kept playing together. The humor of just dropping the ‘Nicey’ out of Nicey Nice World kind of stuck.” The quartet is now rounded out by Ike Turner drummer Bill Ray and 21-year-old bassist Henry Wessman, of Wit and Nathan Hubbard’s band.
“I’m really enjoying playing guitar again,” says Radulovich. “But, in order to get the best of both worlds, I taped some velcro to my guitar, so now I have an iPod and iPhone mounted on it. Real wacky possibilities!”