Friday, 18 October 2013

Lansdowne Studios

One of my all-time heroes, Adrian Kerridge (recording engineer and orchestra manager), looking distinctly middle-aged, takes us on a tour of the Lansdowne Studios premises, and tells us how it was in the early years.

Adrian was one of the best recording engineers I ever encountered, producing clean, clear tracks that simply did the job, and did it right, without fuss or mess/noise, and yet just as good in any respect you'd care to name as anyone else's in even one of those respects. His understanding of an orchestra, and how to mike it up (i.e. how to deploy the microphones), was second to none; and it is no surprise that he wrote a feature on that latter subject for Studio Sound magazine some years ago, which I consider one of the true reference works in the industry.

The Harpenden-based Lansdowne Studio was also known for being less of the 'cocktail cabinet and comfy seating' variety and more a 'mug of cocoa on the ancient sofa' type – but that just didn't matter! Many of those who knew would go to Lansdowne as their studio of choice; and perhaps the short video at this page (that unfortunately I cannot embed here) provides a little of the flavour of the place and of the time.

I fear that most of the flavour of that time has now gone, never to be fully recovered for posterity – although at least their works will endure. My own connection began when they recorded the tracks for the four albums of the delightful vocal group Design, for whom I had considerable affection. I first encountered them in a South Bank special musical programme on ITV, then their guitarist (Jeff) came into the shop where I was working at the time and we struck up a friendship.

Amazingly, Adrian knew of me and recognised who I was when I met him at a professional recording studios' show (APRS), which really took me by surprise. I think this must have been because of a recording I made at Whitgift School (in Croydon, Surrey) a year or so earlier that  generated a stir within parts of the recording industry. It's a long story...

It was altogether a special time, in what was already something of a golden era, back in the early 'seventies and beyond.. With my current Vocaloid involvement, although it isn't the same and I am again the newcomer to the scene, at least it feels like I am back on my home turf – even though that turf isn't the same as that upon which I stood all those years ago.

Lansdowne Studios was one of those outfits one looked up to in those days, if one knew enough about the business. Without the likes of them, many of us wouldn't have come so far along the right road to dealing with what we now handle in today's digital age.

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