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If it lands heads, walk to the left; if tails, walk to the right. The resulting path would be completely random, meaning that even if you know everything about the path up to a certain point, that information will do nothing to help you predict the next step. For example, imagine a twist on our random walk.
Our rule is the same: Coin flip comes up heads, move to the left; tails, move right. What is the sequence of colors of flowers that you visit? After all, the colors themselves have been assigned at random, and your motion is random. The sequence of colors will not itself be purely random. Yet Pinsker was wrong.
It often happens in math that after a sweeping conjecture is proven false, mathematicians attempt a more modest version of the statement. In mathematician Jean-Paul Thouvenot proposed the weak Pinsker conjecture.
He softened the original formulation, conjecturing that the dynamical systems Pinsker had in mind are the product of a completely random system combined with a system that is almost completely deterministic.
By it, he meant that the simple deterministic system needed to have at least a trace of randomness in it. That trace could be vanishingly small, but it needed to be there. In the following decades, mathematicians made little progress on a proof of the weak Pinsker conjecture. The lack of traction started to make Thouvenot think that even his scaled-down formulation was going to turn out to be wrong.
Then Tim Austin came along. A Stepwise Solution Proving the weak Pinsker conjecture required finding a precise way to run a dynamical system through a kind of sieve — something that would separate its random and almost-deterministic elements.
Previous work on the problem had established that the small random elements were the hardest to isolate. Austin managed to understand the small, random elements in a dynamical system through a shift in perspective.
Dynamical systems operate on continuous space, like a point moving over the surface of a cylinder or a pendulum swinging through space. Within these spaces, points move in continuous arcs according to the rules of the dynamical systems that govern them. These dynamical systems also continue for infinitely many steps — you can let them run forever. But in his proof, Austin left smooth, continuous space behind and forgot about dynamical systems running forever.
Instead he started to analyze what happens when you let them run for a discrete amount of time, like 1 million steps. In this, he was executing a method envisioned by Thouvenot.
But any dynamical system can be used to generate a binary sequence, just by splitting the space in which it operates into two not necessarily equal parts. With the example of a dynamical system on the cylinder, for instance, if your point lands in one part of the cylinder, you call the output of the system 1, and if it lands in the other part of the cylinder, you call the output 0. There were still plenty of decisions to be made about some other synth parts and how prominent to make the guitar, but it was high time I got cracking with the vocals.
This combined really well with the results of the very cool new Viridian plug-in from Acustica Audio it's powered by their 'volterra kernel' engine, which effectively allows them to 'sample' the sound of external hardware rather than model it algorithmically.
Oeksound's Spiff transient processor was used to soften the stereo electronic drums and thus create space for the acoustic drums. Another thing that got the two parts working more nicely together was some sample layering: Saturation plug-ins were used at various points in this mix, though each was used fairly sparingly.
This included using Softube's new Harmonics dynamic saturation plug-in on the master bus.
So what was it actually doing? It felt like the right thing to do. Yet it seemed clear to me on every fresh listen just how important it was to get those live and programmed drums to pull in the same direction, and to get that lead vocal to really lead — to carry the song along. These elements needed to be really strong because the synths and guitars, in particular, never really make any major statements.
While there are plenty of dedicated multiband plug-ins, they lack the flexibility of this method — the routing facilities and delay compensation and EQ plug-ins of modern DAWs make setting things up the work of seconds, and allow you to deploy whatever plug-ins you want on the different 'bands' you create in this way.
It's all very well reading about how Neil approached this mix, but you can also hear the mix for yourself if you download the ZIP file of hi-res WAVs.
Download MB. In memory of Captain's guitarist Mario Athanasiou. Captain returned to the studio with producer Neil 'Bugs' Rogers in to record their third album, which was mixed by Steve Osborne.
The album, For Irini, is available now. You are here Home Techniques Mix Rescue: Mixing Production.