Silent Front album

London’s post-hardcore veterans Silent Front have released their album, recorded with me at Silver Street over the Xmas of 2012. Listen / purchase below on vinyl / digtal

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Ornaments release new single

London post-rock band Ornaments have released their single recorded by me at Hackney Road Studios on Bandcamp…

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Black Skies Burn album is out now

The crushingly relentless debut album by Oxfordshire grindcore legends Black Skies Burn is out now, recorded/mixed/mastered by me at Silver Street Studios. Grab it here: http://www.blackskiesburn.bigcartel.com/

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Here some more about the band:

“Oxfordshire’s Black Skies Burn are a self-managed band formed in 2005: Delivering an uncompromising mix of Thrash Metal, fusing together elements of Death with ferocious Grind. Blending moments of heavy groove within furious riffing and driving blast beats.

After having a major line up change in 2012 and being signed to Bored Stiff Records in 2013: The new vicious line up brings you a heavier and faster noise assault. Fully intent on punishing ears with their new era of unrelenting chaos, provoking full on carnage and leaving nobody unscathed from the devastation.”

Taken from http://www.facebook.com/BlackSkiesBurn/info

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Mayors of Miyizaki album out now

Gareth Thomas’s (drummer from Silent Front etc) other band Mayors of Miyizaki have released their second album on We Be Records. It was recorded at Southern Studios by Harvey Birrell, and mixed/mastered by me.

Available here: http://mayorsofmiyazaki.bandcamp.com/album/holy-cop

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Some more info on the band, taken from Cargo Records website:

“London math-punk trio Mayors of Miyazaki are about to release their 2nd album, the melodic, unpredictable post-hardcore assault that is “Holy Cop”. A potent mix of DC-tyle rock with punky girl-boy dual vocals, there’s a healthy dose of invention and off-kilter rhythms, choruses and callbacks are here aplenty, and the twisting riffs take their cues from the likes of Fugazi, The Jesus Lizard, Burning Airlines and the more recent examples of Pretty Girls Make Graves and Jetplane Landing. So how did the group get here? In 2008, the band recorded “Buffalo!”, their first full length, which was released on the Tooting Bizarre imprint.

Tim was thankfully able to contribute a number of sequenced sections to the record despite no longer being a full-time member. It was again very warmly received by critics (Subba-Cultcha, Artrocker.com [now “Slash The Seats”], Organ, Unpeeled – see clippings below) and continues to receive extensive radio play on digital, analogue and internet stations across the globe (Resonance FM, BBC 6 Music, Sol FM [in Lyon] and Amazing Radio among others). The band gigged extensively to promote it, and fans were quick to snap it up. The album has since been repressed and re-released on Gareth’s “World Heroes” label. Although still gigging semi-regularly throughout 2009/10, Mayors Of Miyazazki took a back seat to other commitments. Both Claire and Tom took time out for personal reasons, and Gareth joined hardcore trio Silent Front on drums, with whom he still plays.

For around 12 months, Chris Hutchinson (Kill Murray) filled in on drums for Tom, to enable Mayors to continue playing live in his absence. As things began to pick up again 2011/12, Tom returned and Mayors embarked on a 10 date tour across the UK and Ireland. While they had previously played up and down the country, this would be their first tour proper. Bristol-based We-Be Records (These Arms are Snakes, Tropics, Lords, Caretaker) put out a split 7″ single with fellow Londoners “Death Pedals”, which was released in November 2012 and has received favourable attention following plays on Xfm and Amazing Radio. Next up for the Mayors is the CD release of the record you’re reading about here – “Holy Cop” – recorded at the legendary Southern Studios by Harvey Birrell (Fugazi, PJ Harvey, Shellac, Cat on Form, Johnny Foreigner, Chrome Hoof). “Holy Cop” will be available as CD or on limited edition tape versions, with the artwork and sleeve concept designed and conceived by the band. Throughout the summer, Mayors will appear at numerous festivals and tour the UK and Ireland in support of it.”

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Mixing tips: Eq

Equalisation. Many times I’ve found myself at war with the word. A mix can go from sounding natural to contorted very quickly. Two things I’ve learned about Eq if you’re trying to make things sound natural – balance, and less is more.

    Different types of Eq

Parametric: This type of Eq is usually made up of different “bands” or frequency ranges, each band having 3 different controls: frequency, gain and Q. Frequency is self-explantatory (measured in Hz or kHz). Gain can either be a cut or boost, measured in dB. The Q parameter controls the sharpness of the frequency curve. Parametric can be used surgically to remove certain frequencies with a sharp Q setting, or more “naturally” with wider Q settings which is generally more favourable for use on whole mixes.

Graphic Eq: Graphic Eq is made up of different bands also, but in this case each band has a fixed Q setting and the frequencies of the bands are fixed. There are generally many more bands than in Parametric Eq, which can make it quicker to tweak a particular frequency range just by adjusting the gains on the relevant bands.

Linear phase Eq: Due to the nature of sound frequencies, when you boost or cut a certain frequency band there is some delay added to it. This can cause “phase shifts” between the bands which may or may not be audible. What linear phase Eq does is compensate for the micro-delays, causing all frequency bands to arrive at the output “linearly” or at the same time. This can be useful in some applications such as mastering where you might want to avoid artefacts caused by phase shifts, but it can introduce some other artefacts such as “pre-ringing”

The golden rule of Eq in mixing is to ensure each instrument has its own space. This means to try as much as possible to avoid clutter and enhance clarity. Many producers these days take this to the extreme, filtering out big chunks of frequencies.

My approach is to be less severe with Eq. As I like things to sound as natural as possible, I will tend to use a “high shelf” for instance, cutting by a few dBs as opposed to the violent use of a low or high pass filter, or extreme cutting/boosting. Don’t forget there are frequencies in there which support other frequencies harmonically, so it’s important to achieve a balance.

For some reason most people perceive the range of 400Hz to 800Hz to be not so pleasing to the ear, or “roomy” sounding. Therefore it’s very common to scoop out these frequencies in mixing and mastering. I’d say again, less is more. That range can contribute a lot to a sound, so it’s important to get the balance right.

A note on different types of frequency curves, there are two main types; bells and shelves. Bells are ideal for cutting/boosting a certain range, and shelves are good if you want to cut or boost everything from or before a certain point. One thing I’d say about shelves is be careful, they often bring up unwanted sub or ultra high frequencies which aren’t too pleasing to the ear.

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Mixing tips: Gain staging

This is a term that’s thrown around, that sounds more complicated than it actually is. It’s the art of setting gains correctly to achieve the best sound quality. Basically by making sure that there’s a fair bit of headroom on all channels, and ultimately the master fader, will ensure a cleaner and less distorted signal.

I tend to aim between -6 and -3 dBFS. As I tend to mix/sum in analogue, this helps to minimise the noise-floor (natural hiss that you get with analogue equipment). If you’re mixing digitally or “in the box” you can get away with a lot more headroom, as there’s no noise-floor to contend with.

The same goes for plugins/outboard equipment, there should be no clipping and plenty of headroom. The level going in should match the level going out, then you can hear what the effect is doing more accurately by flipping the bypass switch.

Again same goes for the master fader. At least 3 dB of headroom is what I aim for. Definitely it should never clip, if it does then bring all the faders down or the master fader input level.

I hope that clears up some of the mystery behind gain staging. Watch the video below for more info

Gain Staging

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