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How It Was Made: Luca Bacchetti - Secret World

Italian DJ and producer Luca Bacchetti takes us behind the scenes for the global recording process of his new album 'Secret World.'
Luca Bacchetti Wine Vines

Luca Bacchetti

Italian DJ and producer Luca Bacchetti has released his new album today Secret World. The album began as an ambient record and quickly morphed into a piece of work that often falls back on ambient sounds and principles, but also incorporates music from around the world.

Recorded primarily in the Tuscan countryside, he gathered a team of musicians to help create this album with drums, harmonica, horns and much more. He added his own slew of music-making gear with synths, drum machines and more. The process to create this album took him around the world, working with a group of musicians in Bali on his tour and recording around Europe.

With the new album out now and fresh for all, we asked Bacchetti to drop in for a How It Was Made to show and explain how this album was crafted. He goes into the process to get the musicians together, the ins and outs of the production and much more. Listen to Secret World now and get your copy here. Read on to get a fuller picture of this album.

"Following my very first participation at Burning Man in 2016, I came away with the idea of making an album which was entirely ambient: I had spent a lot of time hanging out on the Playa and the experience kind of hit me. Even before being able to consciously process all the data, I became aware of having received an added stimulus for some ideas that had been ticking over at the back of my mind for some time. Having grown up listening to LPs, first and foremost making an album means being ready to make something worthy to be called an album, not something to be taken for granted.

Soon I realized that to record an album which was only ambient would have been really limiting, especially given the urge to say more, the desire to reveal a side of me that perhaps had always been hidden from view. Bringing together all the pieces of my personal journey was the most natural and instinctive thing at that time as I would have got ‘round to trying my hand at it sooner or later, but in order to tell my story I first needed to attain the maturity that an eventful life history can bring about.

My first concern was where to record the album: I wanted it to be a special place for me and for the musicians, a place far from the every day distractions and, above all, a place where nature was paramount, alive and present: the opposite of the city. I wanted the beauty of nature to condition the mood of the musicians, bringing them back to a natural condition, and in this way try to convey that feeling. So I thought of gathering my mates in Cadaques in Spain, Salvator Dalì’s village. Then I thought of Mexico, some quiet place on the Mayan Riviera.

But although today it is possible to make music anywhere, in these cases the logistics would certainly not have helped with the transport of the most cumbersome material. By chance, during the winter of 2017, I visited the Ciocco Studios at Castelvecchio Pascoli: the legendary studios where some years ago Videomusic, the first Italian music television, was created and broadcast live, now reborn as a state of the art recording studio. Shortly after, at the behest of Alessandro Stefani, I hit on the idea of recording the LP immersed in the Tuscan countryside, right in the living mountain of the fabulous resort il Ciocco. In the end, what I was actually looking for was only a few miles from where I was born: the best place for me to tell the story I had in mind.

Luca Bacchetti Bungalow

We all immediately fell in love with the idea and after a few weeks I gathered the musicians in one of the bungalows nestled in the living mountain forest, instead of the studios. We all had suites, but we chose the cabin: bungalow number 12. It was a great idea. After all, there is nothing better than to spend quality time with friends in a place like that, making music. The work happened mainly in the afternoon and at night, the morning was dedicated to the senses and at most just some coffee.

Luca Bacchetti Bungalow

So the musicians and myself set up the mobile studio and for a few days we isolated ourselves, immersed in the green, and started to record the first of 3 recordings sessions.

The natural acoustics of the Bungalow helped us enormously and didn’t require too much adjustment, so it was a simple set-up. We recorded everything through a UAD Duo Apollo audio interface with a pair of Adam AX5 monitors. The DAW was Ableton Live 9. We hooked up some additional gear including: Moog Sub 37, Minibrute Arturia, Elektron Analog Four MkII, Eventide H9, Push 2, and a modular system comprising Intellijel, Make Noise, Mutable Instruments, Expert Sleepers, Doepfer.

The rest of the work was done in the box with Push 2, Omnisphere, Native Instruments Komplete, in particular Kontakt and Arturia V Collection.

On “Secret World,” “Awakenings” and “Navajo Blues” one can hear the Elektron Analog Four MkII.

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The title track “Secret World” was recorded on the first day, I already had a clear idea of the sonic feel and it came out in one go. “Awakenings,” on the other hand, although essentially based on a single loop, had a somewhat more complicated gestation: I believe I worked on about 30 versions before settling on the one that then became the first single off the album. “Navajo Blues” is the most psychedelic track, born from a jam session between Stefano Onorati (keys) and Andrea Guzzoletti (trumpet) and myself.

Luca Bacchetti Bungalow

Andrea used a Monette LTJ Prana into a Coles 4038 Ribbon Microphone without any effects on “Navajo Blues” and “La Pieve:” I added all the effects later during the arranging and mixing phases.

The whole recording is permeated by Omnisphere 2 from Spectrasonics, like the strings on '”Secret World,” later further modulated with Waves Scheps 73, and the ambient passages in “Black Swan” and “Sakura.”

Luca Bacchetti Bungalow

Same thing with Stefano’s modular system which is present more or less throughout the recording, but particularly on “Fervor De Buenos Aires” and “Unconsciously United” where one can also hear the only truly classic drum machine used on the album, a Roland TR-8 snare. The basic rhythm tracks during the recording phase came from an Arturia Drumbrute.

During the recording sessions I had to leave for a time to go on tour in Asia. In Bali I happened to meet a couple of Rindik musicians who were playing in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying, so I invited them to my room and we recorded some tracks that then ended up on “After The Silence,” for which I used an AKG C214 microphone and UAD Arrow: very useful when on the road like that.

Luca Bacchetti Rindik Musicians In Bali

Subsequently Leo Di Angilla, one of the top Italian percussionists (Jovanotti, Mengoni) joined us to record all the percussion, this time in the nearby Ciocco Studios assisted by Gianni Nuzzi. We recorded his Tycoon Percussion kit (Congas, Bongo, Djembe and a variety of Toys) with Neumann KM184, Shure KSM32, Sennheiser 904, and the classic Shure SM57. Zildjian cymbals. Leo is particularly present in songs such as “La Ruta Del Sur,” “After The Silence” and “The Bridge.”

Luca Bacchetti Ciocco Studios Drums

Once we recorded the rough demos, I knuckled down on the arrangements and then on mixing the album, at this point in my studio up in the mountains. This is the time a when I need to be alone and fully focused on the arrangements. Some of the songs, for example “Awakenings,” “After The Silence,” “Unconsciously United” and “La Ruta Del Sur” began as rough drafts but then developed a completely different layout. The bungalow recordings were captured completely dry, apart from some parts where an Eventide H9 was used and left unaltered on the record.

Luca Bacchetti Ciocco Studios Recording Drums

The final mix was executed in the box, again in my studio: this time with Ableton 10, mainly using Waves and UAD plugins. My faithful Genelec 8030A were the monitors during this phase. Any further production was done principally with Reaktor for some of the melodic parts, which were then added to other pre-existing tracks; whereas as far as the rhythms the work was done with Maschine and Push 2, in some cases using organic recordings captured in the forest simply with a Tascam DR-40. On 'The Big Journey' one can hear the use I made of Ableton Sampler, sampling and then replaying the rhythms with Push 2.

Luca Bacchetti Studio Maschine

On almost the entire record I used the mythical Teletronix LA2A from UAD for compression. Another heavily used plugin was Waves CLA Bass.

For percussion and rhythms I rely on Neve88RS UAD and Maserati DRM from Waves. Other than the classic delays from Waves I used Delay Galaxy Tape Echo from UAD. Equalizers: apQualizer 2 from apulSoft and FabFilter.

Bo Kondren at Calyx, Berlin took care of the mastering and the vinyl cut."

Luca Bacchetti Studio Vinyl Record Player

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