Here’s something to keep you busy over the weekend: The Ghostly Discovery App for iPhone. The free app allows you to create streaming playlists from the Ghostly catalogue by choosing a “mood” via a spectrum color wheel and a “style” via fader-like sliders. It’s sort of like Pandora but instead of picking a specific artist, you use the mood and style of the music you’re looking for as a starting point. And of course, you can find some Tycho stuff in there too. Check it out here
Update: Sorry, but as many of you pointed out in the comments, the app is not yet available internationally. Ghostly is working out the international licensing issues and it should be out soon. You can sign up to be notified when it is available by entering your email at the bottom of this page.
Muxtape is a new platform for bands to create profiles and showcase their music. It was originally designed as a place for users to upload MP3 mixtapes (like Apple iMixes) of their favorite music. This didn’t fly with the RIAA, and Muxtape had to shutdown in August of 2008; the year’s “most heartbreaking death” according to Wired. Rather than spend all of eternity in a futile legal battle, creator Justin Ouellette decided to switch gears and develop a new Muxtape centered around original content.
I haven’t had a chance to use it myself (new bands can only be invited by participating bands), but I see great potential for Muxtape. As a musician, I am constantly frustrated by the chaotic mess that is Myspace. If it wasn’t a necessary evil in the pursuit of a successful music career, I would gladly never visit Myspace again. The possibility of a new (and aesthetically pleasing!) platform is definitely exciting.
The layout of each Muxtape page is very simple and works off a strict three column grid. This creates a pleasing consistency between pages, and still allows a band’s personality to come through with creative implementations of the grid (without crashing my browser *cough* Myspace). It will of course be very difficult to compete with the reach and popularity of Myspace, but I think the simplicity of Muxtape’s design might be refreshing enough to draw a substantial number of users away. Some may miss the social networking component, but I like how Muxtape puts the focus back on the music and doesn’t allow for as many unnecessary distractions. Good luck Muxtape!
Hello, ISO Massive. I’m Sam – Scott and Jakub may have mentioned me before as SV4. I’ve worked with Jakub for a long time at Ghostly, and I have the distinct pleasure of releasing Scott’s work as Tycho on my label. Today, Scott and Jakub have humored me with some column space.
My musical history is all over the place from Hip-Hop to Italo to IDM to Funk, and i’d love to bring some of my favorite lost/forgotten gems to the table…
What i love about the ISO50 headspace is that it evokes a long-forgotten, if not imaginary, past. To my ears, these songs all share that elusive quality: it’s music from a time you think you remember, but were never alive to see.
Paul Hardcastle was a jazz guy with an electro hip-hop influence; dude was nice with a drum machine. You can still hear “Rainforest” and “19” on both late-night urban radio and at your dentist’s office. Daniel Wang put me onto this track and I later found the LP at a used-record store in Berlin. I’ve never found the opportunity to DJ with it, but it’s amazing to pretend there’s an audience that would want to get large to this.
Paul Hardcastle – Stop The Clock
Mike Oldfield is best known as the guy who made “Tubular Bells,” the eerie synth classic which was later adopted for the Exorcist movies. This cut is amazing – it makes you want to drive a speedboat as slow as it will go and watch the coastline.
Mike Oldfield – Foreign Affair
The Alan Parsons Project catalogue has some of the best “dad pop” of the ’70’s and ’80s. Parsons, a studio wizard with a great beard, was a production maverick and could write an amazing hook (“The Eye In The Sky” will make you feel like you’re at the mall waiting for your mom to run errands circa 1985). This track became big in disco DJs’ crates because of its endless groove and largely instrumental composition.
The Alan Parsons Project – Mammagamma [Instrumental]
Marc Moulin is criminally underrated and passed away last year. He is perhaps best known as part of the pioneering Belgian electronic group Telex, who have been immortalized by their Italo-style classic “Moskow Diskow” Moulin’s Placebo Years CD was reissued a few years back by Blue Note in Europe, but it deserves a much wider re-release. Moulin’s own work is more on the jazz-fusion side, but it’s heavy on the electronics, which is probably why he’s been sampled a lot – especially by J Dilla.
I made the drive out to Sacramento this morning to have the next Tycho single mastered by Eric Broyhill at Monster Lab Audio. In case this is sounding familiar to you, it’s because this is my second pass at this song. I mixed and mastered it last month but after repeated listens, something just wasn’t quite right so I did another mix over the past week and it’s finally wrapped. It’s been a long road, this particular track is sonically very dense and it’s been a very difficult one to mix. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea of mastering, it’s the last stage in the production process in which an engineer puts the finishing touches on your music and gets it into the form it will take for the final release — be it CD, MP3, vinyl, or otherwise. That is, of course, a gross oversimplification of what mastering is, if you’re really interested in the details here’s the Wiki article on the subject. It’s a vital step in the process of moving a recording out of your studio and into the real world where every stereo and every room is different, and you hope that your music sounds good on and in all of them. I think most importantly it puts another set of critical ears on your music. By the end of the production process your own ears can become deaf to the subtleties (or not-so-subtleties) and details of the material so it’s vital to have some fresh ears hear it for the first time and recognize it for what it is, not what it has become for you through infinite listens. Ideally, those ears belong to a capable person who knows waaaay more than you’ll ever know about the science and nuance behind how people perceive sound. Mastering can be heavy-handed or light and transparent, and therein lies the problem. Because the process can have such a profound effect on the final product, you have to trust the person doing it. You must have faith that they get what you’re trying to do with a song. It’s a very difficult thing to hand over the reigns to something you’ve put so much of yourself into, to another person who may or may not understand the essence of what you’re trying to do sonically with a song.
I was fortunate enough to meet Eric Broyhill back when I was finishing up my first album and he’s mastered all of my releases since. He’s great at understanding what I am going for and I am always amazed at the night-and-day results when I compare his versions with the raw material. The shots above are from his space which is located inside Hangar Studios (John Baccigaluppi’s studio and the home of TapeOp magazine) in Sacramento. I took these shots during a session a while back so they aren’t really up to date, I think he’s replaced a few pieces in the rack but the interiors are the same and that’s the really impressive thing about the place (unless you’re like me and you can’t stop staring at the Manley Massive Passive). A mastering environment has to be acoustically treated to ensure accurate monitoring of the material. There are many ways to go about this, most involve fiber sound absorbers and diffusers. I’ve always admired Eric’s solution to these problems from both a technical and aesthetic perspective. He was able to build much of the treatments into the structure so that they’re almost unnoticeable but the most prominent element is definitely meant to be noticed. The primary diffuser on the front wall is a giant face he had built by a local artist out of wood blocks set at varying heights (see picture above). This randomly redirects reflected sound waves to avoid phasing issues that can be caused by parallel surfaces. It looks amazing and sounds even more amazing when paired with the incredible Earthworks Sigma monitors he uses. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard a better sounding system than this one.
Now it’s time to finish up the album. I really can’t wait for the day I get to drive back out there, it’s always like a celebration for me at the end of the months spent in the studio slaving away on the music. You get to hand it over and then watch it become complete. If you’re in the market for mastering — which any self-respecting musician should be — definitely check out Eric at Monsterlab, he does incredible work at very reasonable rates. And if you’re not in Northern California I know he can do the work remotely as we did a couple sessions that way. Monsterlab Audio
In the world of audio engineering, the name Neve has become almost mythical. Rupert Neve was responsible for a very popular EQ and preamp circuit design that helped produce many a hit record over the years. I personally love the Neve sound and record everything through a set of four Neve clones. While clones are great and can approach the sound of the original, they’re still not truly a Neve. So to see an actual Neve Sidecar show up on Ebay was a surprise. Just seeing pictures of these is pretty intense, I can’t imagine what it would be like to actually use one. To me, the color and design inspire a sort of reverence, kind of like the Futura of the sound engineering world; classic, refined, and functional. At any rate, a $40k mixer is just a dream…but what a nice looking dream.
Track Listing: School Of Seven Bells – Half Asleep
Gang Gang Dance – Egowar
Mahogany – One Plus One Equals Three Or M
Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream
The Whitest Boy Alive vs Mylo vs Cut Copy – Otto’s Golden Journey (Andy Webb’s Dreamy Blend)
Phoenix – 1901
Air France – No Excuses
College – The Energy Story
Christ. – Cordate
Flying Lotus – Auntie’s lock/Infinitum (featuring Laura Darlington)
Flying Lotus – Roberta Flack (Mike Slott’s Other Mix)
The Avalanches – Since I Left You (Cornelius Remix)
Super Furry Animals – Some Things Come from Nothing
Engineers – Let’s Just See
Sigur Rós – Gobbledigook
French Kicks – Abandon
Blind Man’s Colour – Brother Sport (Animal Collective Cover)
Beirut – The Concubine
The Kooks – Kids (MGMT Cover)
Benoit Pioulard – Ash in the Sky
Bibio – Bewley In Grey
Daedelus – Experience
Unless you’re an RSS subscriber (if you are, click here to view player), you’ve probably noticed the new audio player at the top of the page. I’ve been wanting to add a flash based player for a long time because while the small single track player we have been using (and will continue to use) for music posts is good, it’s not something you can just turn on and let it play while you work. This new player is based on the JW Player framework and supports XML playlists and all the good stuff. It was a total pain to develop though, the documentation was a little thin in the skinning department so it’s been a very protracted process to say the least. I ironed out the last kinks over the past week so here it is…finally: the ISO50 Playlist. We’ll be refreshing the playlist often, usually with 16 or so song mixes probably every couple weeks or so.
The initial mix I put in tonight is just a collection of some of my favorites from the blog over the past year or so, nothing too specific or themed. Every song in the player (now and in the future) will be songs that we’ve previously posted on, so if you’re looking for more information on the song or artist just type it in the search box below (also new…well the design at least) and the relevant post(s) should come up. This is definitely a beta so give me the heads up in the comments if you run into any issues with the player as only a few people have tested it so far. On a related note, I’ve added a “featured posts” column in the hopes that it will make older posts a little more discoverable. I’ll also be adding a “featured categories” section next week as well in which I’ll try to compile some nice groupings of related articles on various subjects. As the blog gets on in years and the posts pile up, most of these additions are aimed squarely at highlighting older content, music and otherwise.
All of these changes and additions may get you thinking about the redesign I had discussed a while back. I haven’t given up on that plan, but it’s definitely taken a back seat as the process of finishing up my next album has sort of consumed me. I decided to make some incremental upgrades (like those mentioned above) using the current theme and then treat the redesign as it’s own phase a little later. Still contemplating that light background…