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It's about location, location, location for Great Lake Swimmers

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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When Great Lake Swimmers played in Kentucky earlier this week, the group made a tourist trek to Mammoth Cave National Park.

Or was it scouting a recording location?

The Toronto-based group, formed and led by Tony Dekker, is big on "location recording," including unusual sites such as caves, mountain ranges and open fields. Dekker knows how to work in a studio, too, but at this point -- after releasing GLS's sixth album, "A Forest of Arms," in April, the locations are completely intertwined with his musical ambitions.

"All of the records have location recordings on them. That's something we've been developing over the course of this project for a decade," Dekker, 38, explains. "It's about getting the extra sonic layer of sound on the recordings, almost to use (the locations) as another instrument in a way."

Besides the sonics, Dekker says working outside of a traditional studio makes an impact on the performances, too. "It makes it more special," he says. "Getting musicians into a space, setting it up properly, balancing the microphones -- there's almost a certain kind of reverence in the process. It draws a certain kind of performance out of the players -- and me, singing, too."

But, Dekker hastens to add, it's not easy. There are technical challenges; "If you're in the middle of nowhere, it's not like you can run to the store if we forget a cable or something." And there are natural elements at play, too; recording on "A Forest of Arms" was held up by bats at Tyendinaga Caves in Ontario -- much to the displeasure of a bat-averse sound engineer.

But, Dekker says, "The payoff is the thrill of recording in a space like that. We get something that you'd never get in a regular studio. It really makes any hassle worthwhile."

Great Lake Swimmers and Woven Tangles

Friday, May 15. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Majestic Cafe, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $15.

Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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