Sunday, December 24, 2006

Mastering at Sterling Sound of course

I made a spelling mistake, mastering will be by Ted at Sterling Sound

Happy Holidays to all my readers

And thanks for reading, and all your comments and support.

9 Mixes ready for Mastering

We had a great last day in the Studio - Daniel was very helpful with a couple of tracks - they really came on in the final stages. We finish next year with the rest of the tracks and some extra B sides that Vince is working on at the moment. Andy will be back in the studio at the beginning of January to voice those tracks and we will finish the LP mixes then. A great end to the year. Thanks Everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Meet the Mute Studio Office Team

James buys a Christmas Treat

James made a nice sign

But when he pinned it to the door he pricked his finger so you can see his blood on it. After the event I helpfully suggested he use Blu Tack.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Daniel makes a comment

Daniel is in the studio with us, overseeing (!) the final tweaks as we prepare to upload the 24 bit masters to Stirling Sound in NY for Mastering on Jan 3.

More (non album) news from Andy

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You don't want to know

For reasons too boring to go into I had to briefly reinstall my original hard drive (Guitar Rig could not find the Bank elements and loaded up incorrectly)

Hot Off the Press

We have prepared the single Pro Tools Session (tho' we might do a few more tweaks!) for a fab Jeremy Wheatley mix scheduled to happen early January.

First Mixes of all tracks finished

So I have 14 tracks mixed now, and we are generally VERY pleased with them all. We have just had lunch and are running offsite AIT backup, and then Jeff and I are going to have a listening session when we listen to everything and make notes of any alterations we feel we would like to make. Luckily Andy has just turned up so he will join us in our listening session.

Then we will start tweaking the mixes (I love this bit!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sie Medway-Smith finishes his session

Sie has been beavering away in the editing suite on the iMac G5 and a rented G5, simplifying the bass and drums on one song - in line with Daniel's vision. They have also added a bit of percussion and a new sound on the solo. They have been working with Arturia's Mini Moog. I had a listen to the results yesterday and it didn't freak me out - so it must be OK :-) Well done team. We will be rough mixing the results today, in preparation for a single mix early next year. Before Sie left I got him to sign the scrapbook:

Friday, December 15, 2006

Finally - I have a computer that runs!

It has been a depressing and non-musical experience sorting out this problem drive/software/whatever it was, and there has been a knock-on effect into the Mix Suite as well- everyone has felt my pain and we have all been slowed up a bit (partly because I have not been able to pay proper attention to Jeff's work) - I was so tied up with reinstalling my machine that I let one of Jeff's mixes go off on the "wrong" track (there are always some mixes that need more steering than others) and we had to reconstruct it, which all takes time. Coming along nicely though now.

However all that is behind us now, and Jeff and I both got stuck into new mixes today - we will be slightly behind schedule at the end of this week but we still have time to achieve our target.

I heard from Vince that he has not been receiving the mixes - that's why he's not made any comments! He thought maybe he had been sacked :-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drive Saga continued

So I lost the bet with myself that the faulty drive had somehow recovered - it worked for a short while his morning and I exported a big song for Jeff quite happily, then problems set in - so back to the other drive, and more reinstalls and faffing about. Extremely irritating, and I still don't know the cause. Anyway I managed to get back to music in the second half of the day, and completed my mix from Monday. I am now quite a bit behind schedule. Everyone very tired today so we had an early finish (before 23:00!). The mixes coming out of Jeff's Mix Suite are sounding very good though - I am particularly pleased with this last one we did. Great Bass! Well done Jeff.

The team at Lunch

Responses to Mixes

Just heard from Paul that Andy has heard all the mixes at home and was "blown away" - that means he likes them!

Haven't heard a word from Vince :-)

Daniel referred to the mixes yesterday as "the rough mixes"!!

So that's a mixed bag of responses from the team. Off to the studio now.

Around the Houses

So I picked up a hard drive at Micro Anvika after my Pilates Class & arrived at Mute to find a worried looking James. Logic would not start up - it was freezing at a certain plugin and the hard drive was clanking badly. I disconnected all peripherals (except the Logic Dongle and my iLok) but the problem persisted. The Mac was starting up erratically and clanking at Startup too. We had a brief meeting with Jeff and all agreed that something had to be done. The problem was definitely getting getting worse and more one had a better idea than reinstalling software, and if we were gonna reinstall we figured it was better to go to a new drive, in case the old drive was at fault. So, not really knowing what was going on, I reluctantly embarked upon a reinstall. Long Job.

In teh meantime Jeff was beavering away in the Mix Suite - implementing my tweaks from yesterday's mix and building up a great vibe on today's mix. I popped in and out to advise, steer and occasionally confuse.

Early in the evening I spoke to Sie Medway-Smith who is coming in to help with a bit of programming on one of the tracks (a potential single) that Daniel has a special vision of. He will be setting up in the edit suite - so we will be a real hive of Erasure activity for a while. One of my aims of the day was to bounce out all the parts for that room so the guys could build on what we have done so far and so they can experiment freely. So, well after midnight, and as as soon as I felt I had enough plugins installed I attempted to load that Logic song. Still Absynth 3 would not reinstall (complaining that it had already been deactivated on that machine ID - NOT!!) and I could not reinstall FM7 for some reason, so I put the "faulty" drive back in the machine to have one final attempt at bouncing out this song for tomorrow.

Of course everything runs as smooth as silk now - on the OLD drive (the one that had all the problems) No clanking, no freezing. I comfortably exported all 67 tracks and we all headed for home. Bemused, but job done.

I am betting the faulty drive will work fine for the rest of the production now. :-) As soon as I have the new drive all perfectly installed I shall be making a Disk Image, or a clone or something so that I can put it back together much quicker next time if I need to.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monday - Mission accomplished

I started the day by writing a yesterday's Blog entry - I woke up very early, my mind racing. Too much paperwork on Sunday maybe? Then it was off to Fulham for my Alexander Lesson. Jeff was in Cardiff at the weekend for his birthday, and he arrived back after lunch, looking a bit the worse for wear, but holding it together (ie pretending he felt fine!) :-) We mixed 2 tracks today - and I was very pleased with both of them. Of course I will check them in the morning and probably make a couple of adjustments, but it was a very good Monday, and agreat start to the week.

I am having a weird problem with my system drive. Every so often the drive starts clanking and Logic freezes up. At first I thought it was a Logic Preference issue, but the problem re-occours even after creating new preferences. Disk Utility reports the SMART status as verified, and I rebuilt the Catalog with Disk Warrior. Now I am running the project Manager again to recreate that database. Perhaps the drive is going faulty? Anyway tomorow I will pick up another internal drive - perhaps I will have to reinstall - that will be a tedious interruption, just as we are getting on a creative mixing roll. I guess these things happen......

Daniel has lent us his rice cooker, and I bought a Saucepan and a small electric hob, so we make brown rice or pasta in the evening - we are also eating lots of garlic to stay healthy, but it does stink the place out sometimes. No real complaints yet.

Tomorrow Pilates and 2 more songs to be mixed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Busy busy busy

I am sorry that the frequency of my posts has decreased so much - it is a very busy time towards end of the album, getting all the loose ends tied up and crafting the mixes. I will try to summarize the last week now.

I started the week by greeting my colleague and friend, engineer Jeff Knowler, who is joining the team to help me with the mixes. Jeff and I have already worked on the Battle album, a Clinic album and a Moi Caprice album this year, so Jeff is pretty tuned in to my vibe. We have set up a mix suite in he room next to mine, with tie lines throught to my room so we can check the mixes on all the monitor systems we have available (and I can eavesdrop!)

We have NS10s in both rooms of course and Genelec 1029s. I have Dynaudio BM15s in my room and Jeff is experimenting with PMC ALM1s in the Mix Suite. We both use Sennheiser HD600 cans - I have installed my Grace Design m902 in Jeff's room, and in my room I am using my Benchmark DAC-1 so we can definitely hear what we are doing :-) Jeff is using a large Pro Tools HD rig. I am not a PT expert, but I can interface very nicely with it when I use the Mackie Controller. I am using my expanded Logic Audio Rig with TC Powercore, Waves APA, UAD-1 and Focusrite Liquid Mix. I also have an SSL Duende but I am finding it impossible to get that working in addition to my other DSP cards (none of which I want to give up).

Of course it is not about the equipment - it is about the ears and the sensibilities of the people involved, about getting the right balances between the musical parts and the vocals, and serving the songs as best we can. I take my responsibilities seriously.

It is great to have 2 rooms working, and to have another set of ears across the mixes. Basically I set Jeff up with the parts for a song (all synths are bounced out in the Logic system using the "Export all tracks as Audio" command which makes files for Pro Tools and Audio Files for Logic, freeing up the DSP of my Logic system for mixing) and a rough mix then he gets things going - I go in occasionally and make adjustments. I leave him to get on with things and work on another mix in my room. At the end of the day I take the mixes from both rooms home and check them on my home system the next morning, then I make more adjustments accordingly. When I am happy we get James to load the mixes up to EMI's secure server so that Vince and Andy and Michael and Paul and Daniel can access them and make comments and criticisms. We have done 4 mixes so far, and look forward to doing another 10 this week.

Daniel is in the building too, and comes in to offer his opinions whenever he has a moment. He has known the band longer than any of us, and is simultaneously their biggest fan and our harshest critic, so that keeps us on our toes :-)

At the start of the week I still had quite a few vocals and backing vocals to finish with Andy, but by the end of the week (Friday) all vocals for the album were finished. A significant milestone reached, I gave Andy a big hug and Jeff, James and I celebrated later in the evening with a small beer.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I had a puncture on my way to the studio today - I called Cycle Surgery and Mario said to bring it straight in, and he would fix it. Great Store. On the way back to the studio I went to Fresh and Wild and picked up lunch for James & I. What a pity they have stopped doing the "lunch special".. That was a great deal! Might have to shop elsewhere for lunch now. Planet Organic perhaps?. I passed a Modernist Masterpiece on the way back to the studio:

Also some geese and a swan

I found a nice feature in Logic - when I "Export all tracks as audio", the track names come over (I don't think this used to be the case). This means I can bounce all tracks very quickly and then free up all my computer DSP for lovely mixing plugins. We have worked very hard all week and James and I both are recovering from (his!) cold, so we had a shorter day and stopped work at 19:00.

View from Studio:

Sunday is a day off.

zucchini bread recipe

Somebody asked for the recipe - I asked Vince's wife and she sent me this:

Flaxseed zucchini bread
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
3 cups flour(I use 1/2 wheat flour)
6 tbsp milled flaxseeds (If using whole flaxseeds, soak in warm water for ten minutes before adding or grind them in a coffee bean grinder)
1-3/4 cups sugar (I use brown sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup applesauce
3 eggs( I substitute with egg whites)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tbsp water

In large bowl stir together flour, milled flaxseed, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nuts and raisins. Make a well in center of mixture.

In another bowl beat eggs, oil and water, stir in zucchini and applesauce. Pour over flour mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Divide the batter evenly between two greased 1 lb. loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until pick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely. Try it with a dab of peanut butter or cream cheese. Yummy!

Makes 2 loaves, 24 servings.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Andy tells us what he's been up to

Andy came to the studio today and did some more excellent backing vocals. We tried the "problem" lead vocal again, and still it's not really doing it for us. It just never seems as good as it should be (unlike the other songs!). O well - there's always one! I was feeling a bit under the weather (I've got a bit of a cold - in fact I am enjoying a hot toddy right now) and I forget to save all the backing vocals for one song. Then the machine crashed. oops. Obviously the vocals were all on the hard drive, and because had been using "punch on the fly" and always starting from a bar it was a relatively simple matter to put them together again. Irritating all the same. We all make mistakes. Luckily I got away with this one.