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
Assorted work by designer Olle Eksell to kick off your Tuesday right. What great typography! (It’s all late 40’s, early 50’s work.) All of the above are scanned from a book I picked up in Tokyo. I thought I had stumbled upon the secret of all secrets when I found it, but you can buy it on Amazon just as well.
Kelpe might have made of my favorite 1+ minute intros to a song with the beginning of Cut It Upwards. It has hints of Four Tet and early Manitoba(aka Caribou) to the point that I think he was almost trying to replicate their sound, either way the track came out great with quality samples.
Tom Croose comes out with his first remix of one of his own songs as Worst Friends, the song will be out today on an EP with additional remixes by Shigeto and Bostro Pasopeo. Tom will be djing in San Francisco this Tuesday, you should definitely swing by and say hello if you’re in the area.
I’m sure Der Zyklus gets plenty of comparisons to Kraftwerk, I swear i’ve heard this with an Erlend Oye acapella over it years ago but I could be dreaming that up. Such a gentle track, if Tron ever made a snow globe as a promo item this song should be the midi song that plays while neon and black glitter swirled around.
Fred Falke doesn’t do many remixes that aren’t nearly perfect for playing out on the weekend, this remix for Hot Chip could be one of the best remixes they will ever get.
Kelpe – Cut It Upwards
Worst Friends – AG (Tom Croose Innerspace Ski Boot Mix)
I had to use the word vanish today since I saw the movie Prestige last night for the first time and loved it. I was thinking what if my hacked iPhone(that Scott hooked me up with, thanks Scott) vanished and I had to buy a new phone. I couldn’t handle another Blackberry Pearl or that Gphone that friends have and lets pretend those weren’t even around anymore, I’d probably just want to go back to something simple that worked like the Ericsson T610 that I had in 2004 or maybe that clunky Bang and Olufsen? Anyone have something that they love i’m not thinking of? just Skype maybe? either way i’d probably shell out for another iPhone, its just too powerful of a tool that fits in my pocket and gets me out of many jams.
Linda Aldredge is a graphic designer and the creative mind behind LuLu Organics. Also, SHE LIVES IN A FACKING TREE FORT. This is so amazing I can’t even put it into words, the pictures will have to fill in the blanks. Judging by the interior shots I’m pretty sure I would have a hard time coping with the rather spartan accommodations. But, of course, living in a treehouse would probably more than make up for any lack of modern accouterments. The best part is that the whole thing cost like $12,000 or something and runs entirely on solar. I really love the modern design of the exterior; it looks like it belongs right where it is. The house — situated in upstate New York — was designed by Kursten Bracchi and built by her and some friends. The images above are from an InHabitat article about the house which delves a bit deeper into the whys and hows of the whole situation. There’s also an in-depth look at the build process at DominoMag.
Seeing stuff like this makes me realize I’m going to wake up one day when I’m 60 and realize I never really did anything all that adventurous in my life. Maybe on that day I will decide to go into the forest and build a tree house, but I seriously doubt it and I also doubt that solar panels could provide the 200 jigawatts required to power my studio, even in 2037. Of course, all of this is likely moot as by that time we will have been enslaved by some sort of robot overlords and/or the Illuminati or whatever. But not Linda Aldredge, she’ll still be kicking it in the woods all off-the-grid style with her solar panels and iPod like that old couple in Children of Men. What? Anyways, point is, it would be cool to live in a treehouse.
Read Between the Leading is a design podcast started by SCAD students Aaron Heth and Matt McInerney. They release just about one show per week and discuss a diverse range of design topics; everything from the Tropicana fiasco to a new name for the @ symbol. They usually have one guest per show, and they’ve already had Mark Simonson, Antonio from AisleOne, and the Grain Edit team on so far. You can listen on their website or subscribe in iTunes.
I never listen to the radio, and have never been able to incorporate podcasts into my routine, but I’ve been trying to keep up with RBTL. I love geeking out over design, and I don’t find many opportunities to do so outside of school. I also continue to be fascinated by differences between design programs across the country, and it’s great to hear the perspectives of students from schools like SCAD. Aaron and Matt do a good job compiling relevant and interesting issues to talk about; their passion for design is definitely contagious. They are still working out some kinks, but I could see the show really blowing up as they hit their stride. Anyone else had a chance to listen? I’d be interested to hear what you all think of the show.
You may see Alex/HeadUp once in a while commenting on the blog, he put together a wonderful ambient mix from various albums from the Moodgadget catalog. His Quiet Storm like narration complements the ambient electronic like a missing NPR show, it’s definitely a nice collection of songs to play in the background while you work or sleep, hope you enjoy it.
1 Entsounds – The Winding Sun (Arc Edit) – Growth EP
2 Praveen – Tour Around This House – Expanse At Low Levels
3 Shigeto – May – New Crossings
4 Calmer – Open Source – Past Is Present
5 A Setting Sun – Views From The Real World – No New Enemies Vol. 1
6 Viul – Wound Cotton Wound (Exerpt) – Summer’s Wet Work is Done
7 Tstewart – What’s This Color? – No New Enemies Vol. 1
8 A Setting Sun & Shigeto – Polaroid Romance – Table For Two
9 Kyle Bobby Dunn – Mobiles (There is No End) (Exerpt) – Fervency
10 Tokyo Bloodworm – Found Memories of Nature – The Rorschach Suite
11 Entsounds – Dormancy – The Growth EP
I miss Polaroid! I’ve been stockpiling some old film, but I’m always afraid to use it and run out for good. It looks like the Instant Back attachment for the Diana+ Lomo camera might serve as an able replacement. The Instant Back attaches to the Diana+ and provides you with instant (90sec) print outs, just like Polaroid. It looks like it will do until the Impossible Project begins manufacturing their new film for the old cameras.
Of course, after Scott’s post below, a purchase of any other type of camera besides the 5D seems pointless. I have to start saving now!