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!
I got some exciting news this week: The Apocalypse – a short film by Andrew Zuchero, which I sound-designed and mixed – will be premiering at Sundance in January! It was such a fun project to work on, and I think it turned out truly great… I’m very happy about this. “Four uninspired friends try to come up with a terrific idea for how to spend their Saturday afternoon”, starring Martin Starr from Party Down and Freaks and Geeks and Ella Rae Peck of Gossip Girl fame.
Since their signing, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Kevin, the owner of WYR and all-around cool guy. One project he brought me on board for is a restoration of a recording by Brett Smiley. I was unfamiliar with who this was, but Kevin schooled me pretty quickly – teenage glam heart-throb who worked with Del Shannon and then Andrew Loog Oldham, recorded a LP, then had it shelved for 30 years. The album Breathlessly Brett was finally released in 2004, but these tapes are from before then, when Brett was working with Del Shannon (of Runaway fame). It features 5 recordings done with Shannon (3 of which are previously unreleased) and some unheard demos…. needless to say, it’s been a cool project to work on.
Another recording to recently resurface is the original Hindu Windmills by Elephant Micah. Joe O’Connell (E.M.) and I recorded this eight(!) years ago, late at night in a performance hall on the Northwestern campus, while we were working on the Mittens on Strings album Look Up the Sky!! (another album worth revisiting). Joe wasn’t thrilled with his performances, and as we were discussing what to do with them, a mutual friend accidentally leaked the mixes, which quickly spread across the Internet. In response, Joe re-recorded the songs himself, which were released a couple years later on Time Lag. As the years have passed and water has flowed under the bridges, Joe decided to put our sessions online for posterity. I found the original mixes, did a quick remaster, and they are now available online for a donation as the Hindu Windmills: First Sessions. I have to say that while I can hear the tiredness at times, and that I will always be disappointed that these songs leaked the way they did, I’m really pleased to have them properly out in the world now – they’re great recordings of wonderful songs.
If you’re free tonight and around the NYC area, come to Glasslands to celebrate the release of Fort Lean’s new EP Change Your Name, and see why the New York Times recently gushed: “Three or four decades ago, Fort Lean would have been a mainstream success spawning emulators. Nowadays it’s a one of one, not that anyone should bother trying to compete.” Patrick from Chairlift (who produced the EP) will be DJing, and Ludwig Persik (who recently released an awesome self-titled EP) and Cruiser open.
Thanks so much for reading through this! I sincerely hope you like this stuff as much as I sincerely do. If you’d like to talk about sound or come check out Doctor Wu’s, please drop me a line: jonathan[dot]schenke[at]gmail[dot]com