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!
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 McNeal, Professor 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.
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!
It's 6am. It's dark and cold outside. Perfect time to update the website!
Well, autumn of 2017 has nearly passed, and I can look behind me at a beautiful mountain of work. I mastered songs/EPs/albums by French artist Julia Palombe, The Tins, Professor Rhythm, Benjamin Lee / Bass Pair, and a new recording by Ethiopian synth genius Hailu Mergia, plus a stack of others I can't quite talk about yet.
I started teaching History of Music Production at SAE/Expression College, and love the intellectual and creative challenge of speaking with authority on everything from acoustical recording onto wax cylinder to the invention of the DAW, from the mania of Phil Spector productions to how Grimes makes a record, from Nashville in the 1950s to a house party on Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx in 1973.
In October, I traveled to NYC for the AES Convention. It was my first time back in my former hometown since I moved West in 2015. Oh, the heartstrings! I fell right back into the rhythm of the city and experienced intense sonic flashbacks - the sounds of stepping on cellar grates, the melodic whine of the subway rounding particular corners, the thrum of jackhammers, traffic, music seeping out of stores and restaurants. I walked along Crosby Street, now nearly unrecognizable to me, past the graffiti-covered heavy metal door to the Magic Shop, flashbacks of trying to lift that grate in the grips of winter, flashbacks of all the music made in that place.
I was so happy to reunite with my former boss, the Magic Shop's Steve Rosenthal, and get a tour of his new studios, MARS, in Dumbo. I got to hear Wally de Backer / Gotye perform the music of Jean-Jacques Perrey on a meticulously restored Ondioline, hang with my dear friend and mentor Sarah Register at the Tape Op booth, and record a pilot podcast episode with another good friend, Arbo Radiko's Jocelyn Arem.
And when the conference and social hangs ended, I slipped into the Union Square cinema and watched Blade Runner 2049 by myself, then retreated to the time capsule of a Tribeca loft where I was crashing and slept a few hours before my early morning flight back to California.
Ah, I miss you, New York City, but I'm a Californian now.
Up next, I actually spend a little time thinking about the musical moments that moved me most in 2017.
It's September! I've been working on records all summer! Here are some new releases to pass through my mastering suite...
Lou Reed.... I have a history with Lou's music. I'll write about it someday. Out this month from the Bottom Line Archive series, hear Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson tell stories about the art of songwriting and play intimate acoustic versions of their songs. There are some incredible stories in this one! The moment that got me though: Lou singing "Tracks of My Tears." Check out these kind words about the album from Rolling Stone.
Ron Pope released his latest album Work last month. It's intimate and raucous and solid top to bottom, and I am thrilled I got to work with Ron and with engineer Ted Young on this release. He's about to embark on a massive tour, so catch him at a venue near you! Here's the video for one of my faves from his record:
Divining Rod (the project of multi-instrumentalist Miyuki Furtado) released Hemlock Blues in July. I love the combination of songwriting, performing, production and all around great energy in this record.
I adored working with Irish-born / LA-based singer-songwriter Mairéad MacMullen on the mastering of her new release, Burn For Love. This is a lovely, passionate record, fiery collection of songs. I can't wait to catch a live show soon.
Outside the studio, I had the pleasure of jumping in to teach History of Music Production at SAE / Expression this summer, and I'll be teaching a pop culture class this fall. I relish the opportunity to think more academically about the music I listen to for work and for pleasure. Which is to say, it is utterly awesome to lecture on Brian Wilson, George Martin, Joe Meek, Black Flag, Kool Herc, Grimes... Who would you want to learn more about in a history of music production class? Drop me a line and let me know.