Two records on which I worked were released for Record Store Day 2019!  Polaris Prize-nominated and Twin Peaks-appearing musician Alex Zhang Hungtai (fka Dirty Beaches) stars in and performed the score for the film August At Akiko’s.  The film, which Variety called “a charming, haunting Hawaiian reverie”, features a number of scenes where Alex performs in an old music hall, the performances of which form the basis of the “textured, head-filling score”.  Each of the compositions were recorded live by Tom Visser, and I mixed/mastered the collection this past winter at Studio Windows.  August at Akiko’s OST is available now on LP and digitally through Factory25.

RSD 2019 also saw the long-overdue release of Brett Smiley’s Sunset Tower.  From the press release: “In 1974 Brett Smiley was given $200,000 to record a Glam Rock Epic with Andrew Loog Oldham, based on a demo reel and a polaroid. Sunset Tower is your first chance to hear the Del Shannon-produced demos recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles CA, coupled with demos and acetate recordings”  I restored and remastered these recordings years ago, but the release of the album was delayed by Brett’s death in 2016.  It’s a treat to have this collection out in the world via What’s Your Rupture – pick your copy up while you can!

 

Hi everyone, long time no post.  I’ve been in the studio and/or traveling over the past few months… here’s an attempt to catch up:

NYC scuzz-rockers The Men have announced their upcoming album Devil Music.  They recorded it live in their practice space with Jordan Lovelace (of Pampers and Tournament), and we mixed/mastered it at Doctor Wu’s this spring.  It’s a rawkus return to form for these guys – fans of the early albums should be psyched!  Noisey premiered the first single “Lion’s Den” and asked some questions of guitarist/singer Nick Chiericozzi – check it out!  Devil Music is out November 11th on We Are The Men.

Australian dark-wave artist Buzz Kull premiered “Tomorrow’s Ghosts” on Noisey.  It’s the new single from the upcoming album Chroma, which I co-produced/mixed/mastered this LP long-distance over the course of a year or so.  Buzz Kull is supporting The Soft Moon on their Australian tour this fall – a perfect fit.  Chroma is out soon via Stellar Kinematics.

On the Eaters front: Our remix of Parquet Courts’ “Human Performance” was released as a single, and the Performing Human EP is out now on Rough Trade.  Parquet Courts has also invited us to create an installation at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY on December 10th – tickets are on-sale now, and more information is available here.  And our new LP will be out in Spring 2017 – we’re finishing art and masters now.

New releases available now:

  • Parquet Courts – Performing Human EP (in addition to the Eaters remix, I mixed the ‘Dreamland Version’ of the song and mastered the EP)
  • Kel Valhaal – New Introductory Lectures… (Hunter Hunt-Hendrix from Liturgy’s solo electronic project, which I mixed and recorded vocals at Doctor Wu’s – check out his interview with Paper Mag)
  • A couple records by Alex Zhang-Hungtai, formerly Dirty Beaches: Ancora, a live improvisational recording with David Maranha and Gabriel Ferrandini on Grain of Sound (which I mixed and mastered) and Knave of Hearts, a collection of drones and solo-piano on Ascetic House (which I mastered)
  • Holly Overton – The Split EP (the MPHO singer/songwriter backed by Jason Kelly from Fergus & Geronimo/Future Punx and Ben Jaffe from Pill.  I recorded/mixed/mastered this earlier this year)
  • Brian Chillemi – I Went to Town EP (Junk Boys/Organs singer/songwriter goes solo, check it out on Impose or on cassette via Time Castle Recordings.  I mastered this.)
  • AntibodiesVessels EP (Brooklyn indie duo via Don Giovanni, mastered at Doctor Wu’s)
  • Alex Rose – Grandmothers/Coattails (Austin folkie, produced by House of Feelings, mastered by me)

Film-wise:

I recently did an interview with the podcast The Stonehall Sessions.  The host Riley had done quite a bit of listening to my back-catalogue, and we had a great talk about recording and the creative process.  The title about sums it up perfectly: “Work on it Until You Don’t Want to Work on it Anymore”

I spent a couple weeks in Germany this summer working on a record with the group Behave.  Their music is catchy, creative, and grooving rock – fans of classic 10cc, kraut rock, and the Captured Tracks roster take note! We recorded to a Studer A800 using a bunch of vintage Neumann and AKG mics, and the results sound amazing.  I’m putting the finishing touches on the mixes now, so hopefully this record will be out early next year.

Shortly after returning, I began working with The Drums on their new LP.  Their previous releases had been performed and recorded almost entirely by band-leader Jonny Pierce, but he wanted to try things a bit differently this time.  We took his original sessions, recorded live drums (at Thump), and spent a month at Doctor Wu’s adding to/replacing/re-arranging/mixing the record.  I am immensely proud of the work we did – it’s a beautiful, imaginative, and immediately memorable collection of songs.  Joe LaPorta will be mastering it at Sterling Sound, and it should be out in Spring 2017.  I can’t wait for people to hear it.

Last week, I worked with the Brooklyn buzz-band The Britanys on their debut EP.  Their early singles were home-recorded and mixed by Gordon Raphael (of Is This It fame), and the group has already gained an eager following from publications like NME (who premiered a video while we were in the studio).  We spent a few days at Seaside Lounge recording to 8-track tape, and mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s.  Expect to hear a lot more soon.

And in between all of this, I mastered a couple of records: a brilliantly damaged new LP by PC Worship for Northern Spy; and a go-for-broke gonzo rock record by The Tills from North Carolina.  Both are excellent, and should hopefully be out sooner rather than later.

Oh!  And Eventide‘s TVerb (for which I was I was a consultant and alpha tester) was just nominated for a TEC Award!  I’m working with Eventide on some other software and gear now… super exciting stuff.

Thank you for reading – if you’d like to talk about sound, please write jonathan [dot] schenke [at] gmail [dot] com

The new album from psychedelic sextet Cloud Becomes Your Hand – Rest in Fleas – is out now on Northern Spy Records.  The Wire streamed the album in full leading up to the release, characterizing their music as “spanning Cantebury psych and the angular agitation of Oingo Boingo and early Devo.”  The group also released a trippy/drippy video for album-opener “Hermit”, which was featured on Stereogum (“as idiosyncratic as they are entertaining”) and Impose (“full of energy… their wayward bent is hard to resist”), and is streaming below.  I’m delighted to have mixed and mastered this incredible record – definitely check it out, and don’t miss out on seeing them live either!

“Busted pop” group Honey Radar recently released their new LP Blank Cartoon.  In addition to the pre-release buzz on Pitchfork and Noisey, the album has received glowing reviews from Tiny Mix Tapes (“a continuous stream of melodic consciousness where songs can expand from a few seconds of an idea into a nearly 4 minute single just as tightly wound and bombastic as those seedlings”) and AllMusic (“[Jason] Henn’s crack hand at melodies keeps listeners on the edges of their chairs waiting for the next one to come along”), with even USA Today naming “Caterpillar” one of the best songs of the week.  It was a pleasure to master this album – Jason’s an old friend and his music continues to amaze and entertain… I can’t wait to hear what they’re working on next!  Blank Cartoon is out now on What’s Your Rupture, and you can stream it below.

Kel Valhaal – the new solo project from Liturgy‘s Hunter Hunt Hendrix – recently announced the debut album New Introductory Lectures On The System of Transcendental Qabala.  Consequence of Sound, Tiny Mix Tapes, and THUMP featured the first single “Tense Stage”, which “burns and punishes like Liturgy, but through twitchy, gritty electronics” (COS).  I worked with Hunter on this record at the beginning of the year, recording vocals and mixing the songs at Doctor Wu’s, and I’m excited to see/hear him stretching out from the palette and preconceptions of Liturgy.  For more insight into the ideas and philosophy behind these projects, check out this new interview in THUMP.  New Introductory Lectures is out July 15 on Hunter’s new label YLYLCYN – preorder it here and stream “Tense Stage” below.

NYC trio VBA recently released their scuzzy art-rock EP Will It Still Be There on Blonde Redhead’s newly formed label Asa Wa KuruNoisey premiered the video for “Time to Be Nowhere”, calling it “as fun and filthily refreshing as a splash fight in warm mud.”  I recorded and mixed this with the group last year (at Seaside Lounge and Doctor Wu’s, respectively; Josh Bonati mastered it), and I’m really happy to see it have a wider release.  Will It Still Be There is available now digitally, and soon on LP – stream it below.

Brooklyn power-pop group MPHO recently released their album Midnight People online.  We recorded it earlier this year at Seaside Lounge (live to tape with additional vocal and synth overdubs), and mixed/mastered it at Doctor Wu’s.  I also recently worked with the group’s singer/songwriter Holly Overton on her second solo EP, which features live drums by Jason Kelly (Future Punx/Fergus & Geronimo) and sax by Ben Jaffe (Pill) – expect that later this year.  Midnight People is available on the group’s Bandcamp page and streaming below.

Stereogum recently premiered “Lazy Coast” by the Spacebomb-affiliated singer-songwriter Andy C Jenkins.  Andy recorded a couple of songs (“Lazy Coast” and the Matthew E. White co-write “Shenandoah”) earlier this year with Justin Frye (PC Worship), which I mixed and mastered.  Buzzy and grooving, the “Lazy Coast” single is out now via Paper Brigade.

The jangly Brooklyn trio Awards Banquet recently released their debut album If Not Now Then Summer.  The record was recorded and co-produced by my good friend Jason Kelly (Fergus & Geronimo/Future Punx), and was mastered by me at Doctor Wu’s.  I love records like this that feel as though you’re flipping through a particularly well-picked record collection… Flying Nun, Velvet Underground, Sparks, and Eno are all great touchstones for this one.  If Not Now Then Summer is out now on Scioto Records.

I recently re-entered the studio with electro-art-pop group Forest Fire.  I co-produced/recorded/mixed their last LP (the still fabulous Screens), and we’ve been working to lay down the foundation for their upcoming fourth album. This batch of songs continues down the path established on Screens –  clever pop songs swathed in grandiose synthesizer arrangements – but trades in some of the anxiety of that record for a lighter/breezier tone.  We’ll be reconvening in the fall to finish overdubs and mix, and I’m already looking forward to it!  I also worked with FF bassist/synth programmer Galen Bremer to record various elements for a score for the new contemporary dance work Archaea for the Evergreens, an immersive performance in The Evergreens Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens.

Ottawa-based garage rockers Telecomo drove down to record their debut LP with me last month.  We spent a weekend at Seaside Lounge, recording live to 8-track tape, and I mixed and mastered the record at Doctor Wu’s.  They’ve already started a buzz in their hometown based on the strength of their demo and live shows, and I think people are going to love these recordings – raw and driving but extremely memorable rock and roll, and superbly friendly gents to boot!

Outsider country-crooner Dougie Poole and I just finished mixing and mastering his debut album Wide Ass Highway.  Woozy synths and blown-out drum machines anchor these twangy tales of woe, like on the single “Don’t You Think I’m Funny Anymore”.  Dougie will hit the road soon with the equally off-kilter Jerry Paper, and Wide Ass Highway will be coming out on JMC Aggregate.

And I mixed and mastered the new EP by hard-rocking Brooklyn band Tournament.  Jordan Lovelace from the band recorded it (as well as the new record by The Men that I recently mixed/mastered), and we spent a couple days at Doctor Wu’s bringing this thing to life.

I’ve mastered a handful of releases over the past month or so: an immersive improv recording by Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beaches, Last Lizard), Simon Frank (Hot & Cold), and Austin Milne; a bonkers electronic odyssey by Frattura Waltz (nom de guerre of electronics designer and Eventide associate Joe Waltz); an EP of sweet & sour indie-pop by Antibodies for Don Giovanni Records; a solo guitar/feedback EP by VBA’s Bentley Anderson; and an EP by soulful trio JK Lago called Over There, with the Over There.

I’ve also worked on some mixing and sound-design for films recently –  the surreal dramatic short film Bluebeard by Rachel Garber-Cole and Kimberlee Venable; and a series of advertisements and online shorts featuring undefeated boxer Dusty Hernandez Harrison for FILA, by Christopher Parker, James Petrozzello, and Brenden Beecy.

In other news, I’ve started working with Lysee Webb for management.  Her other clients include Grammy-winning engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas & the Voidz) and Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens) – I feel in very good company here!  Please write her with any questions concerning rates and scheduling at webb [dot] lysee [at] gmail [dot] com

I’m heading to Hannover, Germany at the end of the week to work with Behave on their debut album at Big House Studios.  If you’re around NYC, come out to Trans Pecos on June 16th for an awesome show – Eaters, Dan Friel, Gold Dime, and New Pope (mem. Oneida, Starring).  Otherwise, see you in a month or two!  Thanks for reading.

Eventide Audio, the legendary effects and gear manufacturer, recently announced their latest plugin TVerb.  The plugin was developed in association with producer Tony Visconti, based on the fabled recording technique used on David Bowie’s “Heroes”, where he used multiple gated microphones placed at varying distances to capture the size of Bowie’s voice in the hall at Hansa Studios.  I worked with designers Joe Waltz and Adrienne Humblet as an “alpha tester” and sounding board to help develop the plugin, and contributed a handful of presets I developed on the new Eaters LP.  It’s not only a fantastic sounding reverb, but also an inventive approach to sound design that can yield some pretty unique results.  Check out Tony Visconti introducing TVerb below.

The psych/prog sextet Cloud Becomes Your Hand have announced their new LP Rest in Fleas.  I mixed and mastered the LP with head-Cloud Stephe Cooper and the band last fall, and I love this record – wild yet precise, hilarious and horrendous, it hits all the spots that you would want from a prog-pop opus. FACT Mag and Tiny Mix Tapes have both written excitedly about the new record, sharing a bonkers new trailer and the dizzying first single “Bridge of Ignorance Returns” (hear below).  FACT says the band have “such a knack for silly, cartoonish melodies that it can almost distract that they’re one of the most technically dazzling experimental rock bands on the rise.”  They’re hitting the road soon with label-mates Horse Lords… don’t miss out!  Rest in Fleas is out May 27th on Northern Spy.

Honey Radar is back with another batch of lo-fi pop-gems called Blank Cartoon.  Band-leader and old pal Jason Henn spoke with Noisey about the record, who also premiered the “busted pop” of the single “Fort Wayne Mermaids”.  Pitchfork reviewed the track as well, writing “Lo-fi, catchy, and classic-sounding, Honey Radar’s albums evoke a dirt-covered Nuggets collection from an alternate universe.”  Raven Sings the Blues shared the “hypnotic swirl and noxious chug” of “Caterpillar”, and Treblephonic posted an insightful interview about the background of the project.  I mastered this LP over the winter, it’s awesome, and available May 20 on What’s Your Rupture.

 

Parquet Courts recently released Human Performance to widespread acclaim and are out on tour now in support of it, but before they left, we worked on an EP of remixes and alternate versions of the title track.  I mixed a slower, more meditative version of the song called “Performing Human”, worked with my bandmate Bob Jones to create an Eaters remix, and mastered the EP (which also includes a dubbed-out remix by Chris P of Future Punx/Dull Tools).  The EP is due later this year on Rough Trade.

After some well-deserved time off and stripping back to a quartet, hard rockers The Men have completed a new LP called Devil Music.  They recorded it completely live (vocals and all) in their practice space with Jordan Lovelace (of Tournament/Pampers), and I recently mixed and mastered it at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s totally gnarly and woolly – fans of The Men’s first few records will be thrilled.  Devil Music should be out later this year.

I also recently worked with Mark Perro from the Men on another project – Midnight People, the debut album from MPHO.  We recorded at Seaside Lounge at the beginning of the year, and mixed and mastered the LP at Doctor Wu’s.  The group – which also features singer/songwriter Holly Overton and bassist Russ Hymowitz – shifted gears a bit on this recording, with the addition of a live drummer to the lineup.  The record still shares much with the melodic synth pop of their first EPs, but pushes in a rock/new-wave vibe with the more “live-band” dynamic.  Midnight People should hopefully be out soon.

I’ve recently put the finishing touches on Chroma, the new album by Australian dark-wave group Buzz Kull.  I first worked with Marcel Whyler on his single “Dreams”, co-producing/mixing/mastering it, and paving the way to this record. It’s great – heavy and danceable rhythms, moody and memorable hooks, with an interesting array of sounds and textures.  Chroma will be out later this year on Stellar Kinematics.

I’ve also been working with bizarro rock/synth noise band Ice Balloons to finish up their new LP.  We recorded a handful of tracks down at Seaside Lounge earlier this year and the group recorded a number of others themselves.  We took the batch into Doctor Wu’s to mix, and I’m mastering it now.

I’ve worked on a handful of masters over the last couple of months as well.  Alex Zhang Hungtai (formerly Dirty Beaches, currently Last Lizard) sent me a record’s worth of solo piano and field recordings, entitled Nina.  This beautiful and haunting collection will be out later this year on Ascetic House.  I mastered a record of blissed-out synth jams by Barry London (of Oneida) for Decontrol Records; a single by Alex Rose, a singer-songwriter associated with GODMODE’s House of Feelings; a bluesy solo EP by lead Junk Boy Brian Chillemi;  and the lead single by Obliques (formerly Zulu Pearls) for Cantora Records.

Many other projects are in the works too, and hopefully it won’t take another two months to update again… if it does, don’t forget to check out the Cloud Becomes Your Hand and Honey Radar records in the next few weeks!  Thanks for reading.

 

Liturgy - The Ark Work [recording, mixing]

Liturgy’s new album The Ark Work is out now! After Rolling Stone premiered the album’s 11-minute centerpiece “Reign Array” and Pitchfork ran an in-depth feature on the group earlier in the month, NPR streamed the entire record on First Listen, hailing it as “challenging, befuddling, [and] exhilarating… the deeper into it you delve, the more its audacity and imagination start to bloom.”  As expected, reviews have been polarizing, from praise in blogs like Spin, (8/10 – “real radical departure worthy of admiration”),  Stereogum (“smart, visceral… it’s an album of intense and experimental music, music that never quite fits into any genre tag”), AV Club (B+ – “a singular musical achievement… utterly captivating, transcending pastiche and coming off like some disorienting super-genre that will never be heard again”); to scorn from metal zines like Exclaim (3/10 – “Liturgy is fully trolling us”), Revolver (2/5 – “Are they fucking with us? It certainly seems like it”), and Metal Underground (0.5/5 – “This might be the worst album I’ve ever heard – metal or otherwise”); and plenty of confused others in between.

I love this record.  We spent many weeks together working on it – it’s easily one of the most in-depth recording projects I’ve ever been involved with, I know this thing inside and out – but I still find myself fascinated and exhilarated by The Ark Work.  No, it’s not for everyone.  But I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything like it before, and doubt that I will again.  I recorded much of it at Strange Weather (along with programming and additional recording by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and Frank Musarra) and mixed it at Doctor Wu’s.  The Ark Work is available now on double LP, CD, and download via Thrill Jockey.  Catch them on tour with Lightning Bolt (West coast) and Sannhet and Horse Lords (East coast) this month.

Godmode is one of my favorite labels around – great music, awesome people – so it was a pleasure to master their new compilation American Music, out now.  It features new music by the entire Godmode roster (including a punishing new song by Yvette, the debut of Malory, and an epic Shamir remix by Negative Supply) as well as like-minded outsiders such as Excepter and Rusty Santos‘ The Present.  Stream it above or order the ultra-limited cassette at Godmode.

Also out now is the self-titled debut by Pocket Hercules.  The record premiered on Vice, along with a hilariously scathing review by former teenie-bopper Aaron Carter.  We recorded this to tape on an Otari MX-5050 last summer at Seaside Lounge, and mixed and mastered it at Doctor Wu’s.  I had a great time working with these guys – it was the first time many of them had been in a “proper” studio or made a “real” record, and experiences like this are priceless.  The album is available to stream and download at their Bandcamp page and on cassette via Seagreen Records.

Railings have released their third EP Until the Making.  I mastered this last fall at Doctor Wu’s (I also mastered their previous EP Reach House), and I’m a big fan of what Alex Ian Smith and his gang are up to.  Stream it above, or go to their Bandcamp to order a cassette that features a side-long composition not available for download.

Honduras recently premeired “Paralyzed”, the first single from the upcoming record Rituals, on Entertainment Weekly. I had a blast working with these guys on the record – recorded upstate at Outlier Inn and mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s – and with a bajillion shows at this year’s SXSW and a steady stream of local shows, expect to be hearing a lot more from the band in the coming months.

My dudes Beech Creeps also braved the SXSW rains to promote their recently-released self-titled debut, out now on Monofonus Press.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, start with this new video for “Arm of the T-Rex”, recently premiered on Vice.  They’re also playing this weekend at Union Pool with label-mates/honchos Spray Paint – not to be missed!

I spent a good chunk of March traveling (if you ever have the chance to go to Oman, I HIGHLY recommend it!), but still had time to work on a variety of projects.  In addition to mastering the Godmode compilation, I also (re-)mastered a compilation for Optimo Music called Now That’s What I Call DIY!  It covers a wide range of UK post-punk singles from 1978-1982, from dub to electro to more straight-forward punk and everything in between.  Michael Train (who guided the Sunday Painters reissues) and I worked on restoration, and the set sounds awesome!  This was one of those pleasant surprises of a project, and I’m excited for people to hear it.

I also had the opportunity to work with my friend Alex Zhang Hungtai (of Dirty Beaches infamy) again this month.  I mixed and mastered a live performance from earlier this year at London’s Cafe Oto, which features Alex on saxophone, David Maranha on keys, and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums.  It’s way closer to free-jazz and heavy drone than the bulk of Dirty Beaches’ catalog, but the fact that Alex is constantly moving and shifting his musical ideas is one of the things I admire most about him.  Expect the unexpected.

And I worked with director Robin Comisar on his narrative short film Mom Died.  It’s a beautifully shot and slightly surreal story about a family’s disfunction after the passing of their matriarch, and the tender son who can barely keep it together.  The film should debut later this year.

I’ve got a number of projects scheduled for April, including work to complete the new Eaters EP.  Come to our next show – April 23rd at Baby’s All Right – to hear some new songs from it, along with previously-unheard music by our friends Yvette and Dan Friel!  We all played a show together last year (our record release show) and it felt right to play together again as we were all testing out new material.  Tickets are on-sale now.

Hope to see y’all there!