Group: Super Admins
Joined: Dec. 1999
||Posted: Jan. 30 2017, 09:49
|Quote (qjamesfloyd @ Jan. 30 2017, 08:51)|
|I think a big problem with a lot of Mike's fans is they waste to much time thinking about the production and recording of instruments, and forget what is really important, the music!!!|
This is why I was wary of joining in with this at all, I think it's possible to get too wrapped up in one aspect or other and miss a more enjoyable bigger picture.
That said...I wouldn't call thinking about production and the recording of instruments a waste of time, considering people pay me to do it. I think if this discussion can serve to help people form their own ideas about sound and how music can be presented, that's actually a great thing. I learned a whole lot from listening to Mike's recordings and if that experience can help others here, that's cool. If it's just going to get everyone wound up, though, it may be time to leave the topic alone and enjoy some music
|Quote (Jesse @ Jan. 30 2017, 11:05)|
|Amarok mixed properly?! did you hear those big stabs at the beginning?|
That's exactly what I've been trying to get at - it's not a matter of right or wrong, but whether a mix (and master) serves the artist's intent. I would say that the mix is doing its job perfectly there - it's designed to shock and be unpleasant, and considering you're saying it makes your ears ring, it seems it's doing exactly what Mike wanted (though his target was Simon Draper rather than you specifically). So...in that instance, I'd say it's not a question of Mike and Tom Newman's abilities as engineers, but of whether you feel like they were following an artistic intent which leads to an enjoyable experience for you. I love it personally, but I think even those of us who are fans of Amarok wouldn't call it an entirely easy listen...
I'd also be wary of talking in terms of 'perfect' when it comes to mastering, if that means we take a blanket approach which we feel ought to be applied to every recording. It's again a case of serving the intent of the recording, and I suppose if we were to take a Justin Bieber album, the intent would be very different from Return to Ommadawn. I personally find that those super-squashed pop mixes/masters can get tiring to listen to long-term (that's also a matter of their tonal balance and often their musical content though), but I think it could probably be argued that they appeal to their audience and serve a certain purpose. As I already hint at there, it can be tempting to blame mastering for it, but we don't always know what was done at the mix stage (and really, if you do want to absolutely squash it, you're likely to get better results doing that at more than one point in the process). I personally prefer to take the work of Bruce Swedien (recording/mix) and Bernie Grundman (mastering) with Michael Jackson as a benchmark for pop recordings, they have more life to them, while still translating well and having a good 'slam' to them.
Compressors are misunderstood creative tools, I think - they should be thought of as something to alter the dynamic shape of a sound, rather than as some kind of automatic volume control. Mike demonstrates that quite well with his compressed electric guitar near the beginning of Part One, with its softened, sustaining sound (but also demonstrates how a compressor can raise the noise floor considerably...). Their effect on transients can affect the impression of brightness with some sounds, particularly as our brains gain a lot of information from the initial portion of a sound - the more someone can really get a handle on concepts like that, the more I think they take their mixes interesting places. I think it's also really important to see how things like the response of elements in the chain like the diaphragm of a moving coil dynamic microphone or valves in an amplifier stage can also have similar functions in modifying these characteristics of sounds.
That's maybe starting to ramble off topic, but I'm just hoping to bring a bit of background into this and encourage more thought about how all the elements in the recording chain and the creative choices in the process combine to form a final outcome...and that creating a mix (and piece of music in general) is a matter of understanding the listener and combining that knowledge with an artistic intent.
I think the point of discussion here is really of what Mike's intent might have been (which can be hard to know without fully quizzing him about it) and whether the listeners here feel like he's conveyed that to them successfully. I guess the 'Peace' section of Tubular Bells Part Two comes to mind, where the rhythms are wobbly, the organ crackly, and Mike's breathing is quite audible. It's all 'wrong' and yet for me, it all adds up to something which paints a picture of intense fragility...to me, it's somehow very right.
Do Mike's choices on Return to Ommadawn add up to a similar effect, or are listeners feeling they're not serving the overall picture that the music seems to be painting?