The master for the Superheroes of Science album is finished, and will be available this week! It took me five and a half hours to master, at 5th Floor Recording Co. using a T.C. Electronics Finalizer and Protools. It was quite a challenge. The tracks were generally all in the right ball-park (everyone did a great job of mixing at -6db) but inevitably there were a few tracks with freak highs and some with high or low vocal mixes (notably both of my vocals!) I applied some sexy Finalizer compression to the tracks to even them out a bit and create a more unified sound, tweaking each compression band on every track rather than EQing. I think this is the kind of exacting audio processing that I witnessed when sitting in on mastering sessions for Donderevo's Good Science/Friendly Gods - before being kicked out for being too giggly and silly.
Some of the tracks needed a lot of work (including my own) and some were hard to master because the original mixes were so good I was making them sound worse by processing them. I think everyone will be pleased with the results. Unfortunately some details had to be lost for the sake of consistency, but overall, I feel every track sounds better on the master. Just like every other aspect of this IML project, mastering was a huge challenge and an experiment in collaboration; you've all had to trust me to make your songs sound good - and I hope you like the end result. For my money - every track sounds incredible.
Overall, I was surprised at how much I got into every single track - they're all so intense and interesting - not a single one that I'm sick of (after a billion playbacks studying minutia of frequencies etc.) In fact, I've had "Call Them X" - "Sailing Back To Spain" - "La Ballade De Mr Matthews" and "Know It Now" on repeat in my head for the last week, with "Dr Robotnik" never far away. Somehow, we've subconsciously co-ordinated our efforts into an electro-folk-easy-listening style - weirdly consistent from start to finish. Is this a product of our shared musical tastes and histories or just cosmic coincidence, let E.C.C.O decide.
The track order is a pretty important aspect of mastering, and I hope you all dig what I did. I tried not to think too much about the contributors when I selected the tracks - and concentrated on making an album that flowed and took the listener on a journey. Weirdly, there are many instances where one contributors music is followed by a track with their vocal - this is totally unintentional. Also unintentional, was my selection of tracks with Barney singing, starting and ending the album. "Wondermachines" and "Know it Now" are simply perfect tracks to set the standard for the album, then send it off into the cosmos.
I LOVED getting intimate with all these tracks - they are all amazing in their own right - but a billion times more powerful as a permanent record of the IML's first experiment!