Audio Engineering

My all-time favorite album to mix was Sol Horizon’s first album: First Light.

Below are some highlights from recording that album – followed by a few of my own songs, +1 video.


– Peter

Written by Michael Litwin & Sol Horizon
Mixed and Master by Peter van Gorder

The first song on their first album is Live And Learn.  I wanted to start something that both set the tone of the song, as well as the entire album, while alluding to something much larger than either – which, I feel, is what “living and learning” is all about.  Thus, I began with a clip of dialog from a movie and an “existential detective” who can be hired to investigate the meaning of your life.  (10 points if you can name the movie)

Favorite moments

  • 4:39 – I took a section of the end of the guitar riff duplicated it a few times (manual echo), added loads of effects, and then slowly panned it off to the right. I then copied it and repeated it again at 4:49 (even though there was no guitar originally there) to emphasize and echo Michael’s phrase: “So I ask you”.  I love it when to instruments or melodies merge.
  • 5:06 – On the final chorus, every time Michael sings “Rise!” I literally punch an entire rack of chimes with my fist. It’s not an “angry” fist, but the kind of fist you’d raise over your head and up to the sky to signify your wholeheartedly conviction in in a cause or idea – perhaps the kind of hand motion Martin Luther King would have used to punctuate his oratories. I wanted to punctuate “That’s why you must RISE!” with high frequencies that both shimmered and were a bit wild and unpredictable – as living, learning, and being on the planet truely is.
  • To add extra emphasis to each chorus I sang-shouted along with Michael and Alexei – fist raised. I tucked it far back in the mix so it’s more subconsciously heard, but it’s there.   I do a lot of what I call “subconscious” mixing.

Regrets: Some of the drum fills could have been louder and had more “punch” to them.

Written by Michael Litwin & Sol Horizon
Mixed and Master by Peter van Gorder

Stowaway? Message in a bottle?
When played live, we always just started with Clayton’s guitar. But for the recording and for a song that talks about being a “stowaway”, I wanted to set more of a mystical “lost at sea” tone to it. So, I started with wind and… Morse code.

On the surface the Morse code adds a bit of mystery and a sense of urgency, but hopefully it gets you asking yourself: Does the Mores code mean anything?  What is this “message in the proverbial bottle”? I won’t give away the secret, other than to say that it leads to a clue which leads to a clue and so on, several layers deep.

Thank you, Jeremy Cooper (keyboards), for translating and performing the actual Morse code on this recording.

If you decide to follow the clues, or, if you get stuck in following them – feel free to reach out to me.

Written by Michael Litwin & Sol Horizon
Mixed and Master by Peter van Gorder

On one of the evenings that I was mixing this song at my home studio I took a break noticed that the mocking birds were just going crazy outside. So, needing fresh air, I went out and recorded their song and added it to ours – a perfect addition to this song about respecting nature.

Some of the studio photos were taken at Studio-E while working on “First Light” by Sol Horizon.
Preliminary Mixing done at Studio E, operated by Jeff Martin.
Final Mixing and Master completed at GrooveFarm Studios, owned & operated by yours truly.