A couple weeks back, Steve asked if i could send him a WAV file of “I’d Name You Aubrey” from TIME AWAY because someone over at Ride the Tempo wanted to make it a featured track. I did that, kind of forgot about it, and then woke up a few days ago to discover the song made it all the way onto a compilation album called Weirdest Tuesday.
I feel like I’m trying to set a record for how many links I can drop into one paragraph. Look at me drop! Tremble in the presence of my dropping prowess!
I’ve had something I’ve recorded show up on a compilation exactly once in my life. That was about eleven years ago, and it was not a good experience. At all.
(Here comes the flashback sequence…)
This is going back to my days of being a semi-regular poster on a message board for a band I really liked. Another semi-regular poster who was also running a fan site got the idea to put together a compilation album sort of dedicated to and inspired by the band we were all fans of. Almost all of us who wrote there were musicians with access to recording equipment, so it made sense.
I sent along unmastered versions of a few tracks I thought might fit, along with a rough self-mastered version of each, just to give the mastering engineer an idea of what I was aiming for — dynamic, not super loud, not too different from the raw mix.
I was told which song of mine made the cut, and it turned out to be the one i liked best anyway. I was also told the guy who was mastering the collection said my song was the best-sounding thing that had been submitted, and he was using it as a reference for mastering all the other tracks. That felt pretty good, coming at a time when I didn’t have anything like the equipment I have now.
A few months later I got a box of CDs in the mail (that I had to pay a fair bit of money for, but whatever), popped one in to listen, and learned the mastering engineer had mastered the already-mastered version of the song i gave him instead of the unprocessed mix. Only, “mastering” isn’t the right word for what he did. He destroyed the song. There were no dynamics left. There was no life to the thing. It sounded like shit. And wouldn’t you know, it was the only song on the whole compilation that got hammered with anything close to that amount of compression. Lucky me!
If you’re a mastering engineer and you have any hope of the two of us ever being friends, don’t do that.
Had I known this Tire Swing Co. song was also going to end up on a compilation where someone was mastering it to try and lend some continuity to a lot of tracks recorded and mixed in a lot of different ways, I would have sent an unmastered WAV file instead of the self-mastered one I sent along when I thought it was just going up on the website. But I didn’t get the chance to do that. And I kind of feared for the worst.
I’m happy to say the guy sitting in the mastering booth this time was much less heavy-handed. The version of “Aubrey” on the compilation sounds about as good as you could ever hope for a song that’s technically been mastered twice to sound. It’s a tiny bit louder than the album version, and a little less dynamic, but not in any offensive way. Even when the synth sub bass kicks in, it keeps breathing just fine.
So thank you, Eric Hogg, even though you’ll probably never find yourself on this here blog. Thank you for not squashing the song I recorded. You done good.
In other news, the inaugural O-L West show at Taloola went well. We played nine songs off of the album we’ve been working on, Natalie played two of hers, and I threw in a bluesy song no one’s ever heard that will end up on THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE when I finish that thing around 2089.
Here’s the set list (the bluesy song is missing because it was a bit of a last-minute addition, and “Dorsal Venous” got dropped from the set at the last minute):
A bunch of people who said they were coming didn’t show up, because a lot of people say they’re going to do stuff and then don’t do it, especially on Facebook. But the people who were there were good people. It’s always more comfortable for me to perform for a room of friends than it is to perform in front of a lot of unfamiliar faces. Not that I have anything against faces I haven’t seen before.
I’m in no hurry to play another show, so if you weren’t there, you missed out on hearing me bend a note on the harmonica for the first time ever. You may never get to experience that soul-stirring phenomenon again. I know you’ll be losing some sleep over that one.
About the compilation from way back when with one of my songs on it — you’ll be glad to know I chucked all the copies I bought in the basement and let them sit there for years, until i gutted most of them so I could use the clear jewel cases for my own albums. A handful of buttons have survived the years unscathed, though.
I’ve put out a few albums where I pushed the DIY mastering too far in an effort to get things as loud as I could (not a mistake I’ll make again), but even when some clipping was introduced, at least the dynamics were still there and I didn’t squash everything. This was really the only time I’ve ever been embarrassed to let anyone hear something I was a part of. I’m sure a handful of people did end up hearing the CD, but they didn’t get one from me.
And about the new compilation that inspires no such feelings of embarrassment — you can download it for free over yonder. Or you can stream it right here, if you’d like.