I came across this on YouTube the other day, a video record of an installation created by Nate Harrison and called Can I Get An Amen?:
Some comment. Firstly, what a great idea! Whatever one thinks of it as a piece of art—and I love it—it’s a superb piece of historical research and exposition. OK, the narration is a bit stiff, but the presentation is well-researched, highly organized, and well considered. It’s a simple idea explored in depth and is a fabulous learning resource.
Secondly, it shows up Zero-G to be a bunch of crooks.
Thirdly, the video was not put on YouTube by Nate Harrison: at least two people have posted it there, presumably “sourced” from his own site. Ironic or what?
It’s around this time of year that I start my classes on audio mastering. One of the big issues for me is the abuse of limiting plug-ins, and so it was with some delight that I recently came across this useful little movie on YouTube:
There are places when limiting heavily may be appropriate: mastering tracks for club-bound 12″ vinyl, for example. But most of the time people are being seduced by the most superficial of signifiers—pure volume—when really anyone wanting it louder just has to turn it up for themselves.
This isn’t some esoteric geek issue, either: even The Guardian have written a very good little article about the “loudness wars” here. What’s interesting is that it obviously isn’t the mastering engineers who are doing it—in fact they’re complaining like crazy—but the record companies and, tragically, the artists themselves. Even Paul Simon is at it!!!!
This cult of loudness extends through to the finished product: Thomas Lund at TC Electronics has shown how modern CDs are simply recorded too ‘hot’. His research shows a 2002 Eminem CD generating around 25 instances of “obvious distortion” every 10 seconds! Read the full Distortion To The People paper here.
MP3 Player I’ve updated the MP3 player again this month, so if you’re a returning visitor you may wish to refresh your browser now. For me the highlight of this month’s selection is The Beach Boys little-known car classic Cherry Cherry Coupe. Not because there’s anything particularly brilliant about the music—it’s just a typical early-Beach Boys mix of Chuck Berry filtered through Phil Spector and topped off with a stunning vocal arrangement, that’s all—but the lyrics are just great. They were written by Roger Christian, who wrote a whole set of mostly car-oriented songs for the group, the apogee of which is Little Deuce Coupe. Anyway, check this out for a couplet:
Door handles are off but you know I’ll never miss ’em They open when I want with a solenoid system.
Pure genius! Love the album cover too:
Yes, I know The Beach Boys are about as hip as Englebert Humperdink, but frankly my dear I don’t give a damn….
Jammy I recently made some damson jam. This is my label for the jars, just quickly adapted from an earlier honey one:
News Wall Whilst at the D&AD Xchange 07 conference Ulrich Proesel showed a slide of a wall from a village in India, where every week someone paints up a summary of the world’s news. My colleague John Hill was at the show with me and he had the idea of using this as the basis for a little project for the freshers. This was my contribution, based on a news photograph and executed with one 3/4″ inch brush, one propelling pencil (with eraser), one black board marker, and three small pots of emulsion: