BILL EVANS & VIRTUAL AUDIO WORKSTATIONS
You probably haven’t heard of Bill Evans, so here’s some background.
As of last month, Bill Evans has gained a PhD in music technology from Manchester Metropolitan University/Glasgow University for a new model of music production called Belexes.
Belexes is a virtual audio workstation (VAW — not a typo) that uses a technology Evans developed called Volumetric Haptic Display (VHD). Like a computer monitor that displays light, and a speaker that emits sound, the VHD projects 3D objects into space with enough force that you can rest your hand on them in mid-air. Evans uses this technology to create a customised user interface that users can touch and use in space.
While Evans’ head is probably a few decades ahead of the rest of us, his heart and hands are firmly grounded in the present, where he works as a manager/producer/engineer and all-round visionary for many of the artists he most admires. Since obtaining his undergraduate degree in 2001 he’s worked with a heap of artists, even forming the prog supergroup Flying Colors of his own initiative by bringing a number of artists together with producer Peter Collins.
Bill Evans: “I am frustrated by one-size-fits-all music software. There’s a lot of brilliant work out there, but there’s always a gap between what the software does, and what the project I’m working on specifically needs. I feel the technology should be invisible and feel as organic to the process as music instruments themselves. When we were mixing the first Flying Colors album with Michael Brauer at Electric Lady, I was struck by how attuned he was to his gear – his whole mix room was a living, breathing audio processor – custom-built to suit how he mixes. With digital processing, everybody should have that level of specificity—our production tools should emerge from, and configure with, our individual creative process.”
As it turns out, Evans isn’t too cool for school, or branded audio gear. He’s a big fan of Metric Halo’s Precision DeEsser, TransientControl, and Character plug-ins.They’re virtually staples in every session he works on. “Capabilities and workflows will become more adaptable to the individual engineer. Plug-ins like Metric Halo Character, Precision DeEsser, and TransientControl are a window to that world… I appreciate what they do, and more so what they don’t do.”