Its been over a year now from my last post and I think Re:Covered has been a success. But as the saying goes “Art is never finished, just abandoned” holds a barrel of truths. If I were to re:do this project again I would approach it very differently. That’s perhaps the beauty and reason for doing covers. It can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. With that I thank you all for your support and encouragement.
While sourcing images for my “Teaser”, I came across the fact that William Gottlieb (January 28, 1917 – April 23, 2006), according to his wishes left his entire photographic collection to the public domain on February 16, 2010. With that he gave the world some of the most enduring images from the Golden Age of Jazz (1938-1948).
He documented a time in a way that is so intimate, you can almost hear the performance, let alone feel it. Here is one of my all time favorites of the great Billy Holiday:
Since the early days of rock and roll one of the ways of getting heard on radio or a crowded Juke Joint was a simple trick. To be louder than your rival. It was a poke in the ear that said listen to me. In the good old days there was a certain limit to how loud music could be as the needle would just jump off the record due to over modulated grooves on a vinyl disc. With the advent of digital technology this is no longer the case.Its not to say loud is bad but to do it due to trends is tantamount to cutting your nose off to spite your face.
I shall be keeping the levels at a point where it most musical which is a balancing act between the mixing and the mastering stage.
New York or London? After much consideration I have decided to get the album “Mastered” in the U.K. A lot of British music that I love has a very distinct sonic imprint, including the equipment I use and so I figured so should the mastering stage. Its more to do with culture and attitude than any one piece of equipment but there is a difference. Another big factor is that mastering engineer Tim Young at Metropolis has mastered some of my favorite “sounding” albums by Massive Attack, Bjork, Elbow etc.
“Audio Mastering – Metropolis Engineers Explain All . Youtube.com. Uploaded by MetropolisStudios on Aug 13, 2008 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmOTGHZ_CKY>.
Mastering is the last musical process in the chain. Its the stage where all songs are placed in sequence, tonally balanced, dynamically mapped and gap times tweaked. Its the stage where you chisel the sonic sculpture into the final product adding contour to the journey. Its the icing on the cake with every decision having direct consequences.
Unfortunately “Mastering” has also now become the stage where you try to achieve the highest possible level for your CD. Its a way of supposedly cutting through the polluted airwaves. Its a fallacy. The direct consequence of this is a lowered or flattened dynamic level and unfortunately its becoming quite standard . It has become a competition which has led to the “Loudness Wars”. Its not something I am going to be part of but more on that later.
While compiling the album credits today, it occurred that this album would have been impossible for me to do just a few years ago. Audio technology that is affordable and powerful enough, literally in the palms of your hands. So far on the album we have…..
Neil Conti – Drums – Montpellier – France
Dennis Elliot – Banjo – Virginia – U.S
Kurt Baumer – Fiddle – Texas – U.S.
Manu Delago – Hang Drum – Bern – Switzerland
Mike Stevens – Harp – Ontario – Canada
Shay Goodwin – Drums – L.A – U.S.
Lester Foster- Tap – New Orleans – U.S
Paul Oreilley – Guitars – P.D – Malaysia
and eventually Metropolis Mastering – London – U.K.
…… all via tinternet from the comfort of my home :0)
After emailing several studios in New Orleans over the last few weeks I managed to get hold of Mike from http://www.nashvilleavesound.com . Mike runs his own studio by day and plays fiddle by night in his hot gypsy jazz band “The Courtyard Kings“. Passion, Technician, Musician…perfect!!
Not only is Mike helping me record the tap dance session for “The Jody Grind”, he is also off today to the French Quarter to help locate one of the many kids that busk around the streets in New Orleans. So hopefully we will be laying down some “Hoofing” once Mike finds the right kid with the right chops.