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Black Iron Trio Sketch by David Forlano
Traveling with Electronics : BLACK IRON TRIO : SANCTUARY
Black Iron Trio : Sanctuary : Recording Session 2/16/13
Recorded at Christ Church, Santa Fe New Mexico
Recorded by David Dunn and Ramon Sena 
Dino J.A. Deane - Lapsteel Dulcimer
Carlos Santistevan - Contrabass
Milton Villarrubia - Drums 
Black Iron Trio is a unique (chamber like) improvising ensemble that employs the vocabularies of live-looping, electronics, bowing and proximity feedback on both the lapsteel dulcimer and the drums but at acoustic volume levels, always shaped and respectfully balanced against the dynamic range of the un-amplified contrabass.
Master Location Recordist David Dunn brought his stunning remote recording rig to Christ Church in Santa Fe NM to record the trio on February 16th 2013. What follows are some images, stories, sounds and technical notes from The Sanctuary Session.
Lapsteel Dulcimer - the delay/looper at the end of the floor effects chain goes into the white
vox amp and into the delay/looper on top of the amp - that looper then goes into the red amp
ribbon spot mics (modified Cascade Fathead with Edcor transformer on the white amp
and modified MXL R144 with Lundahl transformer on the red amp)
Acoustic Contrabass -  ribbon spot mic (modified Cascade Vinjet with AMI transformer)
additional pickup: (Schertler STAT-B Electrostatic Transducer) 

Drums - the mic on the snare drum and the mic on the bass drum go into a mixer and a chain
of guitar effects pedals and loopers and finally into the black amp just to the right of the drums 
ribbon spot mic (modified Cascade Fathead with Edcor transformer on the amp)
large diaphragm condenser spot mic for percussion (Sennheiser MK4)


Stereo and surround ambience microphones:

Double MS microphone setup consisting of Sennheiser MKH30 (figure eight), Sennheiser MKH40 (cardioid), MKH 800 Twin (variable pattern stereo)

2 Sennheiser MKH20 (omni) as wing microphones

These were all mounted on a custom mini-Decca Tree with Ambient Audio Floater System.

Additional ORTF stereo setup:

2 Line Audio CM3 microphones (wide cardioids)

Additional surround setup:

Custom double quasi-binaural quadraphonic array (4 omni-directional miniature Knowles capsules mounted as boundary microphones)

Spot microphones:

2 modified Cascade Fathead ribbon mics (Edcor transformers) used on amplifier cabinets

1 modified Cascade Vinjet ribbon mic (AMI transformer) used on contrabass

1 modified MXL R144 ribbon mic (Lundahl transformer) used on amplifier cabinet

1 Sennheiser MKH4 ldc (cardioid) used on percussion

Additional contrabass pickup:

Schertler STAT-B Electrostatic Transducer 

Microphone and line ribbon preamps:

2 RME QuadMic preamps (8 channels total)

1 PSC DV Promix3 mic preamp (3 channels)

Cloudlifter CL-2 2 channel line ribbon preamp

Triton Fethead line ribbon preamp

2 Naiant line ribbon preamps

Digital recorders:

Sound Devices 702 stereo recorder

2 Tascam DR608 eight channel recorders

The SD 702 was used as the preamps for the main MS stereo mics and a backup stereo recording. The two Tascam recorders were subsequently digitally slaved to the 702 by splitting the digital output from the 702 to the digital inputs (channels 7&8) of the Tascam machines. All other microphones were routed through the various preamps or direct to the recorders. The Mackie mixers were used to monitor various submixes post the multi-channel recorders.


2 Mackie 402 VLZ3 six channel mixers (12 channels total)

Various Sony and Sennheiser headphones


Various combinations of perspectives were subsequently mixed in post-production including matrixed combinations from the surround mics to create new reception patterns. Everything was recorded & mixed at 32 bit 96k with no additional EQ.


mini-Decca Tree with floater shockmount system and omni wing mics (Sennheiser MKH 20)

double MS mics on mini-Decca Tree (Sennhesier MKH 30, MKH 40, and MKH 800 Twin)

the custom quadraphonic surround array (double quasi-binaural)

the preamps, recorders, and monitoring mixers - (2 RME QuadMics, 1 PSC DV Promix3,

2 Tascam DR680 8-channel recorders, 1 Sound Devices 702, 2 Mackie 402 VLZ3 mixers)

The space is a warm wooden environment and is also very well insulated from exterior sounds.

 It has a wonderful balance of acoustic clarity and an airy reverberant quality - a joy to play in.


The load in started at 9:00 am and after a few test recordings and placement tweaks, the first set began just past noon. After the first set we decided that lunch was in order. Now, everyone in this group can throwdown in the kitchen but since it's really Milton's band, he decided to make everybody : Carnitas Tacos (with fresh lime, matchstick-cut watermelon radishes + fresh cilantro), Pinto Beans and Sprouted Brown Rice (with onions, garlic + sweet corn), Now thats what I'm talkin' bout! Post Carnitas, we played two more sets and then we each did a solo piece (with the same mic configuration). After that it was strike time and load out took place just after dark.

David did the post production mixing and matrixing of the various surround mic possibilities and I did the editing (always in 96K - 32Bit)

The Sanctuary Session, a wonderful day playing music and sharing good food with good friends in an amazing acoustic space.


                                                        FETTUCINI TECHNICALLI




Check out a video excerpt from The Sanctuary Session below


The Master of Mastering, Cookie Marenco, dropped her magic on this project

and the complete BLACK IRON TRIO : SANCTUARY recordings are available 

right now as High Resolution Downloads just click the link.

Here is a link to a great interview with Cookie Marenco.


Until next travels.....dino