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!

Spin Band of the Year 2014

Well… there goes 2014.  It seems like only a short while ago that I was shaking off NYE and going upstate with Parquet Courts to finish Sunbathing Animal.  That album earned its way onto nearly everyone’s year-end lists, including Spin (#2), Pitchfork (#24), Rolling Stone (#28), NME (#35), and Stereogum (#50).  Based on the strength of that record, their follow-up full-length-EP Content Nausea (which featured some outtakes from our SBA/Tally sessions), and months of killer live shows, Spin declared them “2014 Band of the Year”.  The band played a sold-out show at Webster Hall this month – the day the Spin article posted and with homies PC Worship and Blues Control – that felt like a victory lap for everyone involved.  I couldn’t be more thrilled for my dudes, and can’t wait to see what they do in 2015.

 

Mannequin Pussy’s Gypsy Pervert also got some best-of love this year after being reissued on Tiny Engines.  Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone put it as his #9 album of the year (Sunbathing Animal was his #1, holla!), and as the #1 cassette release of the year.  Way to go guys!!

 

And though they didn’t get the year-end accolades that Sunbathing Animal did, PC Worship’s Social Rust, Mazes’ Wooden Aquarium, and Dream Police’s Hypnotized – as well as the Eaters LP (duh) – are some other records that came out in 2014 that I feel very proud to have been a part of.  These are compositionally and sonically interesting albums that you should check out now, if you haven’t already!

Another one of my favorite projects of 2014 is the recently-released second single by glam rockers Fa Bonx.   I. love. these. songs!  The first single sold out and this one’s even better, so don’t wait! “49 Stick” b/w “Tramps Jamble” is out now on What’s Your Rupture?

 

Fort Lean – a band that includes Jake Aron, my studio partner at Doctor Wu’s – are releasing a new record called Quiet Day, their first full-length.  The album was recorded and mixed through 2013 and 2014, and the time and energy spent making it is evident in both their songwriting and arrangements.  Daniel Schlett mixed the bulk of the record at Strange Weather; I mixed one song entirely and did additional mixing with Jake across the rest of the record at Doctor Wu’s.  Quiet Day comes out spring 2015 on Ooh-La-La Records.

 

Also recently released is “Dreams”, the new single by Australian darkwave duo Buzz Kull.  I met Marcel earlier this year while touring Australia with Parquet Courts, and was psyched when he asked me to work with them on this track. Marcel did an interview with Noisey recently (thanks for the shout-out!), and the physical single is out soon on Fabrika Records.

 

Honduras @ Outlier Inn

I spent a week mid-November at Outlier Inn with Honduras, recording their full-length debut.  It was a real treat to be back at Outlier Inn (where we finished Sunbathing Animal) – the gear and vibe there are truly great.  We recorded to my Otari MX-5050, and the band were eager to capture the live energy while pushing into new sonic territories, which gave me a real license to experiment with sounds.  We mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s earlier this month, and it’s a truly killer-sounding album.  Look for it spring 2015 on Black Bell Records.

Another record I recently worked on was with a new band called Shop Talk.  Basic tracking was done by my friend Kyle Keays-Hagerman (who I worked with on the Dream Police LP), and I recorded vocals as well as mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s tightly-wound melodic punk – the metaphor we kept using was “raw nerve” -and turned out way cool.

I also recently mixed a handful of songs for Rat Columns (led by Lace Curtain tour buddy David West).  Rat Columns is way different than his work with Lace Curtain or Total Control – bittersweet, C-86 vibey pop songs.  I’m not sure what’s in store for these tunes, but hopefully they’ll be out soon.

And I’m wrapping up an album by Hums and Haws, the studio project of Chicagoan Matt Kordonowy.  Matt was an intern at Experimental Sound Studio while I worked there, and it’s been great to reconnect and work together on this record.  I’ve mixed many of the songs on the album (ESS engineer Todd Carter mixed the others) and am mastering it now.  The songs on the record are quite varied – from beat-less washes of melody, to grungy pop songs that recall both the Kinks and Beck, to percussion-heavy rockers, and everything in-between – and it was a fun challenge to pull it all together.

I’ve also mastered a few records over the last couple of months: the debut album from new band Lightning Bug (a heady blend of shoegaze mind-numbers, psych-pop ala Broadcast, and ambient drone), the third EP from Railings (rock/pop equal parts dreamy and mathy), and a new album by the I Ching Quartet (acoustic folk ensemble and old friends from Chicago).

I’ll be spending most of the next couple months working on Eaters with my main man Bob Jones.  We’ll be writing and recording new material and have some shows coming up in the new year, including a show with Wham City’s own Dan Deacon (February 25th at Rough Trade NYC).  We got together a couple weeks ago to start plotting out this next record, and recorded this musical gift for everyone.  It’s a cover of “Radioland” by Kraftwerk, based on an arrangement Bob wrote for guitar.

 

Happy holidays y’all – see you in 2015.

Jonny @ Outlier Inn

Parquet Courts at Outlier Inn

The new Parquet Courts LP is nearly done!!  I spent a week upstate with the guys and my Otari MX-5050 earlier this month, recording at the wonderful Outlier Inn. Massive thanks to our gracious hosts Josh and Ambika – they made our stay there so comfortable and productive, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  We then went to Doctor Wu’s to mix those sessions along with tracks from our previous sessions at Seaside Lounge.  Everything is sounding wild – it’s a real step up sonically from Tally All the Things That You Broke, even though it’s still on the same 8-track tape machine.  We’re still working on a final track order, but it’s a total trip of a record!

For Austin’s birthday, they played Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which still kinda blows my mind.  And on Friday, I’m flying to meet them in New Zealand for a tour with Laneway Festival and Total Control.  HUZZAH!!

In the meantime, I sound designed and mixed a couple shorts for Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate (while they were at Sundance Film Festival for the showing of Catherine).  They’re really great shorts called Childs’ Playhouse, which were written by and starring small children.  Plus, they’re for Disney, so I can scratch “make something for Disney” off my bucket list!

Last fall, I mixed a film with my friend and film maker Duncan Skiles (director of Why Shit So Crazy by Reggie Watts and The Fuzz) called Last of the Great Romantics.  I’m particularly fond of this charming and funny little rom-com!  There’s a new trailer online, with screenings coming later this year.

I also mastered a couple projects over the last week: an album by Fennec called Let Your Heart Break (out February 11th), and an EP called Reach House by the Brooklyn band Railings.

EATERS - front cover ref

Maybe the thing I’m most psyched about though is unveiling Eaters to the world.  My friend Bob Jones and I started working on this project nearly two years ago, and I couldn’t be happier with how things have developed.  We’re playing our first show tonight (at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn), the first single drops in a couple weeks, and the album comes out in April on Driftless Recordings

Thanks for reading!  I’ll be in and out of the Internet for the next few weeks, but as always, feel free to send me a note if you’d like to talk about sound – jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com