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!

Mazes - Wooden Aquarium

Two very different but equally exciting records that I worked on drop this week – Wooden Aquarium by the British band Mazes and Social Rust by Brooklyn’s own PC Worship.  I love the way both of these records sound and I love both of these bands, so it’s wonderful to see so many reviews remarking on the sonic quality and calling them both the best of each band’s work.

I produced the Mazes record this past February, recording it upstate at the Fat Cat studio and mixing it at Doctor Wu’s over the course of two weeks.  It was a crazy bonding experience – everyone jet-lagged (I had just got back from Australia), the rental van getting robbed outside my apartment (my bag with my laptop, hard drives, camera – gone), getting snowed in upstate and digging our way up to the studio – and I think that intensity and camaraderie really comes across.  DIY Magazine has been all over Wooden Aquarium, with a glowing review, an interview with Jack Cooper, and a track-by-track stream and guide; NME gave it a 8/10 review; and it was BBC Radio 6’s Album of the Day last week.  Alan Douches did a great job on the master – this record sounds incredible.  Wooden Aquarium is out now on Fat Cat Records.

PC Worship - Social Rust

Social Rust is just nuts.  I mixed and mastered the thing so I’ve probably heard it more times and more in depth than anyone aside from lead-worshipper Justin Frye, and there are things that still catch me by surprise.  This record sounds unlike any other record I’ve ever worked on – a mud-and-blood spattered, moth-eaten tapestry of absurdity – and I love it.  Ad Hoc interviewed Justin about the record, and Impose Magazine raved: “Social Rust is PC Worship at their very best, even if their best is dissonant and unsettling, voyeuristic and creepy, maniacal and rapturous. Maybe it’s a reflection of the times, or maybe it’s just a good record. Either way, listen to it and lose yourself a little.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Social Rust is out now on Northern Spy / Dull Tools.

Also out this week is the re-release of Mannequin Pussy’s Gypsy Pervert, re-mastered and re-sequenced on vinyl for the first time.  I mixed this with them last year, and it’s killer – I’m really psyched to see it getting another life.  Check out this interview they did with Impose recently, and go see them when they come through your town soon.  Gypsy Pervert is out now on Tiny Engines.

And out next week (September 16th) is the newest single in Famous Class Records’ LAMC series (#13) – Parquet Courts b/w Future Punx.  It’s kinda like the return of Fergus & Geronimo…  “This is Happening Now” was recorded during the Sunbathing Animal sessions and mixed this summer, “Spike Train” was recorded and mixed by Jason Kelly, and I mastered both sides.  All proceeds go to VH1 Save the Music – a non-profit dedicated to music education in public schools.

Parquet Courts also recently released a music video for “Bodies Made Of” recorded live at their show at Sugar Hill Supper Club this summer, and directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard (whose amazing Nick Cave pseudo-doc 20,000 Days on Earth comes out later this month).  I recorded, mixed, and mastered this bad boy too.

I recently went on a road trip to Cleveland to see the opening of the new university center at Case Western Reserve University, which houses Welcome to Cleveland, a new interactive installation I worked on with Thu Tran, Ivan Safrin, and Bobo Do.  It was incredible to see and hear our work in the space, and surreal to be back on my old campus and honored at the opening.  Check out that photo below for an idea of what I’m talking about (that game on screen is inspired by the 1986 Balloon Fest, where your head controls a helicopter and you try to pop as many balloons as possible).  The games were as completely silly and weird in real life as we had hoped, so it was extra exciting to get to work with Thu, Ivan and Bobo on a new game this month.  I’m sure more will be announced about it soon, but it’s even sillier and even weirder than the others.

Welcome to Cleveland

I also had the opportunity this past month to do some sound design and mixing for Mary Harron (director of American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol, and The Notorious Bettie Page).  The short film is part of an upcoming series about the US economy produced by director Morgan Spurlock and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and is a black comedy about the healthcare system.  It was fantastic to be a part of this project, and hey – I learned something too!  The New York Times ran a story about the series, which airs this fall.

I’ve been doing more mastering recently as well, working on a split EP with Tonstartssbandht and Hot & Cold, finishing up the Beech Creeps record from this summer, and mastering a single by Von Hack.

And while I’ve been doing a lot of post-production this month, I did get a chance to break out the MX-5050 with the band Pocket Hercules down at Seaside Lounge.  The tracks sound cool, we’ll be mixing in a couple weeks at Doctor Wu’s.

Eaters have been keeping busy too.  We have a show this Saturday (September 13) with Survive from Austin, TX, an incredible band live by all accounts – get your tickets and come on out!  We’ve got some new material coming out this month, including a track on the newly-announced Driftless Ambient 1 compilation.  And more shows soon, including a tour with Lace Curtain (a Total Control/Rat Columns offshoot) and some CMJ shows.