Beautiful Tapes

Take a moment to appreciate the beautiful typography and color choices on these analog tape boxes. (Then imagine what's recorded on the tapes!)

Winter News

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 PalombeThe 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.

(Almost) Fall News 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.

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.