Ghosting

“Ghosting” is a technique of recording audio. It is a form of layering in which audio tracks are combined dependent of the recording session. It is a poor form of multitrack recording and is barely done. It’s better to use multitrack recording devices. TL did not have access to a 4-track deck yet he still desired to create and record music. His solution was to use home stereo components. He did it like this….

Let is start with the instruments. A Yamaha PSS-170 and a legendary Casio SK-1

The Yamaha PortaSound Tone Bank Keyboard had a headphone jack and no other outs. Produced inexpensively for about $89 US, it had decent voices but really bad drums. It’s use was limited.

The Casio SK-1 is a Sampling Keyboard that could be purchased for less than $40 US. It was the 2nd cheapest sampler in the world. Very lo-fi. It had an output jack, a mic jack and an input jack. The input jack was its greatest feature. It could record from any device you could attach to a 3.5 mini jack. It recorded a 1.4 second sample. Unfortunately it could only store 1 sample that was lost the second you turned off the machine. The native tones and drums were generally useless. It was actually really great for ambient sampling. This cheap keyboard still has users today and modifications of this device began in 1987 by enthusiasts. Common home built modifications include MIDI, Sample Storage, and circuit bending. His SK-1 was unmodified.

These two keyboards, or one with a cassette deck in place of the other, were plugged in to a used TEAC A-360 cassette deck from 1974. It had RCA line in-outs and a DIN in-out, independent right-left input and output sliders. The DIN could be used as an input in conjunction with the RCAs via a Stereo RCA to DIN Cable allowing for the simultaneous output from two sources. This unit also had right and left mic input and headphones via the jacks in the front. It was quite a versatile devise. In this application it was used as a mixer/pre-amp when ran with a blank cassette on record+pause.

Output from the TEAC A-360 was then sent to a home stereo receiver with attached cassette deck. The recorded cassette was then sent to the first cassette deck to which could be added new live sounds from an instrument. This allowed sounds to be recorded layer-by-layer on cassette or a series of cassettes in this technique called “Ghosting”. It is a dirty method. Cassettes are notorious for hiss, rumble and stretching issues which compile and compound. This was partly mitigated by a 12-band graphic equalizer lowering high-highs which somewhat helps to reduce hiss.

TL had a guitar delay box which was sometimes used.

The results of this technique, despite its inherent problems, are often surprisingly nice.

TL called this setup “The Electric Octopus” for all the wires going everywhere.

He used this technique from 1988 until 1993 and produced over four albums of previously unpublished material.

Dolby noise reduction may or may not have been used on any layers, masters, etc. The currently available material has been remastered by modern software.