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!

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Late Spring News 2018

Yikes, I got busy for a moment and sorely neglected my website. Here is some of what I've been up to these past few months.

Mastering marvelous new albums by The Tins, Israel Nash, Occurrence, Matthew McNealProfessor Rhythm (Awesome Tapes From Africa) and many, many more, including a few knockouts that I can't talk about yet.

Celebrating the release of Barbara Dane's career-spanning boxset Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard-Hitting Songs, in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways, with her live performance at the Freight & Salvage.

Writing, researching, writing, revising an essay on The Sonics of Historic Recording Media, included in the new book Music Preservation and Archiving Today (Rowman & Littlefield), edited by Norie Guthrie and Scott Carlson.

Interviewing fellow mastering & restoration engineers Maria Rice, Josh Bonati, and Michael Graves for an article on The Aesthetics of Remastering Reissues for Tape Op Magazine.

 

Teaching the students at SAE/Expression in Emeryville about the making of Pet Sounds, about Ralph Peer and the Bristol Sessions, about phonautographs, magnetic tape, distortion as aesthetic texture, Max Martin's songwriting prowess, and so much more.

Plotting conference panels and talks for the AES Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration, happening at the LOC in Culpeper, Virginia this June. (And chairing the restoration track for the fall AES Convention in NYC - hit me up with ideas!)

Serving as a Governor and, now, newly elected Secretary of the SF Chapter of the Recording Academy.

And riding my bike, drinking coffee, planting a garden and eating radishes harvested from that garden, so even though sometimes it seems like it (and happily so), life is not all about my work.

But I love my work. 

Archival or mastering projects? Let me know! 

Sound and Space

Last weekend, I went to Montalvo Arts Center to experience a collection of sound art installations. I was particularly keen on seeing/hearing an installation by my friend Shane Myrbeck and his wife Emily Shisko called Hyphae, which draws inspiration from the underground mycelium networks trees use to communicate. It's a mesmerizing piece that moves with you as you stroll along the switchback path among the trees. I took the same path home that night, and it was even more haunting, creeping up and surrounding me in the pitch-black darkness.

The evening also included tributes to Pauline Oliveros. I'm not usually much of a participator, but I joined in a circle to perform The Heart Chant (2001) (from her book Deep Listening: A Composer's Practice, which is sitting, unread, though not for long, on my living room shelves). During this performance, I felt something I haven't felt in a long time: the synchronized vibrations of many voices, resonating in chests and along arms and fingers, passing from one person to the next. It was a powerful experience and a fitting tribute to Pauline Oliveros.

Still ruminating on the experience, I stumbled (again) on old grad school writings about sound and space:

Thoughts on Bachelard, December 2003:

Walking outside this morning after reading [Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space], I was more aware of the change in soundscape as I moved from space (and place) to space (and place).  From my apartment--possessed by low level electronic hums, an occasional footfall from above, a car passing by--to the outside--sirens, loud wind blowing leaves off trees, constant traffic, pedestrians on cell phones. I thought of how Wyoming sounds to me in memories of my childhood--wind whistling, sometimes howling, through pine trees and through the edges of my bedroom windows, the muffled burble of hidden brooks, sounds unhindered by baffles of buildings, people, highway traffic. I thought of how loud air can be, as I rode my bike through Brooklyn this windy afternoon--it whooshed loud enough to erase the sounds of traffic and city life. I thought of how space--I mean outerspace!--sounds in 2001: A Space Odyssey--silent, seizing us with that vastness, deepness, that boundlessness Bachelard wrote about. But I did not think about Euclidian geometry or right angles or miles, meters, blocks of space. Except, then again, I did. Two more blocks to Smith Street, take a left at that corner, budget fifteen minutes to get there by three o'clock.

Summer News

I started this post analog-style while camping over the July 4th weekend. Woke up at 6am, and the whole campground was still sound asleep, so I had coffee and blueberries and wrote while the birds chirped and the sun slipped through the leaves.

Two upcoming events:

On Friday, July 7th, I join Jonathan Wyner (M-Works Mastering, iZotope) to talk about audio restoration and repair. Our discussion will be moderated by Coast Mastering's Michael Romanowski and takes place at Fantasy Recording Studios and is sponsored by the San Francisco Chapter of the Audio Engineering Society. There will be excellent examples of noises and demos about how to remove them, moderate them, love them, but mostly remove them.

On Saturday, July 8th, Jonathan, Michael and I will do our best to Demystify Mastering in two intimate sessions at Coast. We promise not to dwell on loudness but, rather, to cover preparing mixes for mastering, the art and craft of sonic sculpting, deliverables and more.

A few choice mastering & restoration projects:

Umoja's 707 is sure to liven your summer dance parties! This classic 1988 South African bubblegum pop record is out now on Awesome Tapes From Africa.

Ron Pope's Work drops next month. Truly a pleasure to work with this talented musician and with prolific engineer Ted Young. (Seriously, check out this guy's discography!) These songs are moving, intimate, fun, warm. Catch Ron on his Dancing Days world tour this fall.

Congratulations to Philly's Man About a Horse, whose self-titled album debuted at #11 on the BIllboard bluegrass charts! (You may remember their excellent and timely cover of Radiohead's Electioneering.) Exciting to work again with Matt Werden on this one. (We also worked together on Michael Daves's Orchids and Violence).

The Container's Self-Contained is a collection of early demos from James A. Smith of the Beach Bullies. These songs are hooky, swaggery and sweet, and I especially fell for "Rita's Legs." So glad these tapes were found, restored and remastered (by me), and released by Manufactured Recordings.

Rabasi Joss recently released her debut Heliotrope, a collection of jazz/soul/folk/genre-spanning songs produced by Baba Israel and featuring Soul Inscribed. I take full credit for convincing her to record a cover of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic"!

In case you missed it, I also published this zine - Save Your Stuff! Beginner's Archiving For Musicians - with illustrator/graphic designer/musician/mother of two Kelley Vaughn-Kauffman. I used it in a workshop I led for Women's Audio Mission in June and (hopefully) inspired a room full of women to adopt file naming conventions and back up their hard drives. The first printing was gone in a matter of days but we printed a second batch. If you would like a hard copy, please donate $4 (to cover printing and shipping) and we'll send you one! Digital version coming soon...