Thomas Dolby is hard at work on A Map of the Floating City, his first new studio album in 20 years. A preview EP, Amerikana, is already available at ThomasDolby.com.
Seeing as our own Jon Regen has been touring in the U.K. and Europe, he was able to pay Thomas a visit at his digs somewhere on the north coast of England, and marvel at Thomas' personal studio, where most of the new album was edited and mixed. It's on a restored lifeboat called the Nutmeg of Consolation, and if you remember Thomas' song "Windpower" from The Golden Age of Wireless, he walks it like he sang it. A wind turbine and two solar panels power the studio.
We originally posted the photos below in June, but now that our full feature on Dolby's new album is out in the February 2011 issue, we've added the video tour Thomas gave to author Jon Regen. If you can't see the player window below, CLICK HERE. For the full interview, pick up a copy of Feburary 2011. We'll post it online in early February after the issue has hit newsstands.
Thomas Dolby (L) with Keyboard editor-at-large Jon Regen.
The Nutmeg, a lifeboat formerly used to rescue fishermen, now holds Thomas' personal recording studio. Note the solar panels and wind turbine on top. It and the recording gear inside are powered entirely by solar and wind.
Boarding the Nutmeg via the gangway.
Thomas' mix position, featuring a Mac Pro with dual 23" Cinema displays, is built into the cabinetry on the bridge. His main studio monitors (the pair on top) are Thiel SCS-4, which feature coaxially-mounted drivers and dual ports. They have more visibility in the home hi-fi world, but are so accurate that they can double as monitors. To check mixes on a different pair, Yamaha NS-10s are on the bottom.
Millenia STT-1 channel strip and PreSonus FireStudio rack-mounted, along with power amp (top), for the studio monitors.
Nord Lead 3 virtual analog synthesizer, hard drives.
Thomas finds that an original Digidesign Mbox and Pro Tools LE,
along with Apple Logic Pro, are all the DAW he needs onboard the
Nutmeg. Note the controller for the KRK ERGO room correction system.
Facing towards the bow, a CME UF7 MIDI controller keyboard.
It's fitting that this Access Virus TI Polar synth is next to the throttle. ("I think I gave Thomas the BLUE Snowball USB mic you can see in the picture," reflects editor Stephen Fortner.)
Closeup of the twin displays. The synth underneath is a Novation X-Station 49.
Powered up in Pro Tools LE, with work in progress from Thomas' new album A Map of the Floating City onscreen.
Closer view of the arrange window, showing the new song "17 Hills."