Summer News (I Skipped Winter and Spring)

I know. It’s been a long time since I rapped at you. It’s been nothing but tapes and discs and WAVs and a steady downpour of albums, EPs, singles. A few highlights: I restored and remastered Yusef Lateef’s Hikima: Creativity from a pristine slab of vinyl. Lateef recorded this in Nigeria while on a fellowship to write and teach at Ahmadu Bello University in the early 1980s. Utterly transporting! And a real challenge to declick complex rhythmic music. Gratitude to Jonathan Sklute and Key Systems Recordings for entrusting this to me. I also got to work with the talents at Women’s Audio Mission on Versoul’s rich and vibrant debut Soulrise. Producer / mixer / engineer / all around talented gentleman Ted Young brought me Heavy Diamond Ring’s debut, helmed by Sarah Anderson and Paul DeHaven. Listen to lead single “Wild Things” and then dip into the whole album. I restored and remastered Barbara Howard’s On the Rise for Colemine Records, and ooh, the heat of album opener “Light My Fire”! I was pleased to stumble upon tracks from this record on the Danger Mouse Jukebox playlist on Tidal. Glad he’s digging it too! Buffalo, NY’s The Tins, oh my old pals The Tins! They never cease to amaze me with their creative output, this time “City Lies II,” an update of last year’s “City Lies.” I am patiently waiting for them to tour the West Coast. Last on this list (but only because I’m running out of time), two singles for International Dub Ambassadors, Ñam-Ñam and “Dos Amores,” which will slay your parties this summer. Check ‘em all out!

A few other work-related highlights of the past half a year:

I’m still working with the Arhoolie Foundation on the Harry Oster collection, funded by grants from the GRAMMY Museum and the National Recording Preservation Fund. Harry was a folklorist and ethnomusicologist, but he was also a decent recording engineer, so these 1/4” analog tapes sound far better than they might otherwise! I’ve been traveling back in time to Iowa and Louisiana in the 1950s and 1960s and eavesdropping on jam sessions, church services, dances, intimate performances. Much gratitude to the folks at Arhoolie for partnering with me on this project.

I was elected to serve as Vice President of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy. I’m looking forward to serving with President Camilo Landau, Secretary Kev Choice, our amazing Trustees Leslie Ann Jones, Michael Romanowski and Piper Payne, and the rest of our board of governors.

McKay Garner and I gave a presentation to students at SAE/Expression for GRAMMY U about the Producer & Engineers Wing Best Practices technical guidelines. Didn’t know these documents exist? Download and read! They offer invaluable tips and templates for data management, workflow, organization, and delivery of recorded music projects. Top tips: use folder hierarchies and file naming conventions, document credits, back up your data!

In May, I traveled to Portland to drink magnificent cups of coffee and eat at the many delicious food trucks, oh, and to give a pre-conference workshop on Digital Audio Workstation Basics for preservationists with Konrad Strauss at the Association for Recorded Sound Collection’s annual conference. Once again, I snuck my Coco Chanel quote into the slides. She famously said (or didn’t? who can verify?) “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” This is my modus operandi with audio restoration. Before you print, dial back one click. You rarely regret it, and you can always add more. Keeps me from being too heavy handed. The rest of the conference was an inspiration, and I got to hear Endpoint Audio’s magnificently digitized magnabelt recordings of Rod Serling and Spyros Skouras, learn about the history of KBOO community radio and grassroots work of XFR Collective, engage in a little FLAC vs WAV debate, and regret that I couldn’t be in two places at once to attend more panels. I also snuck out one night to play pinball. We all need a little balance.

This October, I will be back in New York City, my beloved home for so many years, for the Audio Engineering Society’s 147th convention. I am chairing the Archiving and Restoration track again and putting together some prime time programming around archival audio. No hints until the schedule comes out next month! Hope to see many of you there!

News! Fall 2018

What can I say? Sometimes you get too busy to step back and reflect on all you’ve done. It’s been a ride. I have more to say, but I’ll start with this:

Last spring, I had the pleasure of restoring a cassette (thank you Dolby B!) of mesmerizing minimalist synth recordings made by Michele Mercure in the 1980s. Now out on RNVG, Beside Herself is a career retrospective worth diving into.

Matthew McNeal put out a beautiful record called Good Luck last year, which he followed up with a pair of singles “Change” and “All For Nothing.” I always love hearing the evolutions in songwriting, and this pair expresses some deep emotion. Matt has been touring with Israel Nash, whose song Rolling On was just nominated for International Song of the Year for the UK Americana Awards. (I mastered Israels’s album Lifted last year - total knockout!) Shoutout to Ted Young for his incredible work on these recordings!

Double shoutout to newlyweds Ted Young and Lucy Horton! May your lives always be filled with music.

From the always awesome label Awesome Tapes From Africa, please check out a new release of a very rare cassette of Ethiopian singer, krar player and cultural icon Asnekech Worku, recorded in the 1970s with Hailu Mergia accompanying.

Another cassette unearthed after many years - this unhinged and sweaty recording made by Bill Frisell with Julian Summerhill in a downtown Manhattan loft in 1981. The End of the Word Sessions are an unfiltered snapshot of experimental jam sessions.

My pals The Tins have two new singles, and they will make your day and probably make you dance. Mixed by Ted Young, check out Saksaywoman and Open Minded and then go back and listen to their whole album.

Bay Area rapper Rocky Rivera dropped her album Rocky’s Revenge. Check out the official video for Best Shot. It was a real treat to join a talented team of women producers and engineers, including Kelley Coyne, on this record!

On top of all this, I’ve been doing lots of digitizing with my new-to-me ATR 102 tape machine. Gracing its tape heads this summer and fall: recordings of John Steinbeck reading his works, a whole collection of punk recordings by a seminal Bay Area band, and stacks of field recordings made by folklorist and ethnomusicologist Harry Oster. This last project, in partnership with the Arhoolie Foundation, is ongoing, funded by grants from the GRAMMY Museum Grants Program and the National Recording Preservation Fund. I am honored to be the engineer responsible for digitizing these unique records of vernacular music.

Enya's Orinoco Flow

FACT just posted an article about Enya’s Watermark 30 years on. This happened a week after I stumbled upon “Orinoco Flow” tucked away on a Spotify playlist curated by Molina. After which, I added it to my running playlist. Yes, my straight-up cardio playlist. Sandwiched between Grimes, M.I.A. and Miike Snow and some ERAAS and Nine Inch Nails for when I’m feeling dark. And you know what. It totally works. I’ll be trudging along at mile 3, sweaty, bored by the scenery, and Enya will lift me up and carry me another 4 minutes and 27 seconds and (if I’m on) almost half a mile.

We remember this song, don’t we? 1988. Our moms played the CD in the car. We first heard it on the radio when we found out our cat died, our parents were divorcing. We made out to it? Can you kiss to Enya?

I first heard it on an international flight, Los Angeles to Melbourne. (My own version of sailing away!) This was before iPods and in-seat screens. I had a stack of books and cheap headphones and the airline’s “radio stations,” which were roughly an hour of curated music, looped. Enya must have been on the “light hits” station. I toggled between alternative rock, light hits, anything else that would keep me entertained. On that 12+ hour flight, I must have heard “Orinoco Flow” at least 12 times. And then, on the return flight, the same airline, the same playlists. Me & Enya & the vast Pacific.

This song deserves it’s props. It’s ready for a non-ironic comeback, a perfect placement in a non-ironic movie. Hear for yourself:

My New Tape Machine

Honestly, I feel like I bought a classic Ferrari. Maybe the 1966 365 California or the 1960 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione. (Truthfully, I'm more of a 1960s Porsche 912 girl myself, but...)

I bought a cherry ATR-102 in perfect shape, lovingly refurbished by Mike Spitz of ATR Magnetics, with 1/2" and 1/4" headblocks and a Dolby SR unit thrown in for kicks. This beauty was commissioned on Halloween 1977 and still plays back tapes like a boss. I love it! Bring on the tapes!