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

Happy New Year Y’all!

Liturgy’s The Ark Work graced a number of year-end lists, topping both Rolling Stone‘s and Spin‘s Best Avant Records of 2015 lists.  “The most ambitious art-rock statement of the year is an ecstatic jumble of disciplines, ideas and textures” (Rolling Stone) that “blurs boundaries between worlds that you wouldn’t have previously thought even shared a border” (Spin).  The record also made Washington Post’s Best Music of 2015 (#8 – a “lavish sound-world out of guitar-generated turbulence, computer-generated brass and the muscle-generated rhythms of Greg Fox, one of the greatest drummers doing it”), Consequence of Sound’s Top Metal Albums (#13- “a transcendent achievement in that it is the audible equivalent of finally rising above all and reaching your final form”), Tiny Mix Tapes’ Favorite Music Releases (#48), and Spin’s Best Songs of 2015 (#77 for “Vitriol” – “out of black metal comes black gold”) .  The Ark Work is unlike anything else out there – check out the centerpiece “Reign Array” below.

PC Worship dropped Basement Hysteria, the long-form EP follow-up to last year’s Social Rust, on Northern Spy in November.  Justin once again wrote, recorded and arranged these songs with his band, and we mixed and mastered together at my place.  It’s looser, freer, and rawer than Social Rust, but any long-time fan of the group will find much to enjoy here.   Pitchfork gave it a 7.8, opining that “Here, rock’n’roll is a pirated vessel, steered unhurriedly toward doom.”  Check out the EP in its entiriety below, or head over to Northern Spy to buy it on good, old-fashioned CD.

Parquet Courts also released a full-length EP recently, entitled Monastic Living, their first for Rough Trade.  The recordings were from recent studio sessions and practice-space jams, edited and arranged by Austin Brown, and mixed and mastered by myself and Austin at Doctor Wu’s.  This record’s a weird one – a mostly instrumental collage of the band stretching out into some new and uncharted territories.  Reviews have been mixed across the board, but personally I love to see the band exploring different facets of their sound, and it’s got some of my favorite A. Savage cover art yet.

[Cease and Desist] DIY! (Cult Classics from the Post-Punk Era 1978-1982) – the compilation that was a target of Sony’s copyright lawyers – was released at the end of October on Optimo Music.  Pitchfork wrote a comprehensive and complimentary review, rating it an 8.4.  The whole thing is a must for fans of this era: the selection and sequencing by JD Twitch of Optimo is excellent and unique, and the liner notes and essay paint a vivid picture of the material on-hand.  I’m thrilled to have been able to re-master and add “further audio love” to the compilation.  Stream the sampler below and hang tight while they repress the record, or download the (slightly-edited) digital release if you simply can’t wait until then.

Dan Friel‘s record Life continues to charm critics, with a gushing 8/10 review from Spin (“astounding”, “impressive”, “a career highlight”), a 4.5/5 on Allmusic, and a 7.8 from Pitchfork. If you haven’t heard it already, what are you waiting for?  Also, make sure to check out Dan’s sci-fi book club feature on Impose, and this video of his son and friends freaking out to the song “Rattler”.

Brooklyn rockers Junk Boys (featuring members of Organs, MPHO, and Yin-Yangs) recently released their self-titled album.  We recorded an EP in early 2015, and returned to Seaside Lounge this past summer to record the full-length, which both expands and refines the sound of the band.  Impose says the songs “rip through attitudinal, turbocharged power-chord riffage, with crude, impassioned soloing, and incensed vocal howls”, premiering the song “Arizona Nights” last month.  Check out the album below or on their Bandcamp page, and go see them around NYC and try to score a tape.

Holly Overton – singer and song-writer of MPHO and Juniper Rising – released a solo EP in November.  We worked together to record and arrange the songs – breezy synth pop that fans of MPHO will enjoy – and I mixed and mastered it last fall.  Check out the video Holly made for the song “Midnight Sun”, and stream the EP below.

One of my favorite projects to work on this past year is the new Turn to Crime record Secondary.  I’ve gotten to know Derek and the band over the past couple years and love the music he’s been creating, but this is the best one yet.  Super catchy and utterly bizarre, it’s an album full of singles beamed in from an alternate reality where new wave, kraut-rock and glam still rule the airwaves. Derek wrote and recorded the album at his Molten Sound studio, I mixed it, and Sarah Register mastered it at the Mastering Palace. I can’t wait for people to hear this record!

Another highlight of last year was mixing and mastering the new Cloud Becomes Your Hand record Rest in Fleas.  It’s a wild, proggy ride of a record – alternately goofy and threatening, often in the same breath – stuffed full of unison leads, odd time-signatures, crazy synth noises, bells, whistles, kitchen sinks and more… it’s fantastic!  Northern Spy is putting it out this spring – stay tuned.

I also recently mixed the debut full-length of the band Gold Dime – the new project from Andrya Ambro of Talk Normal, backed by Adam from the Dreebs and Lazar of Sediment Club.  The album – recorded by Andrya and Justin Frye – is a heavy, heady slice of densely-arranged no-wave.  Sarah Register was her bandmate in Talk Normal, and she’s mastering it now – I can’t wait to hear it in its full glory.

Jordan Bernstein (the other constant in the Dreebs and often-bassist in PC Worship) has a new project called Jordonna: trap beats, prepared guitar, rapping and singing by Jordan, with additional vocals by Heidi Beth Jaye and Kassie from Guerilla Toss.  I mixed and mastered it with Jordan over the summer and fall, finishing it at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s a total curve-ball of a project, really cool stuff.  I look forward to seeing them play this live around NYC this spring.

Honey Radar is a great band from Philly, mining the best gems from lo-fi rock’s history… a little GBV here, a little Olivia Tremor Control there… They’re prolific and always interesting – just try not to get absorbed into their Bandcamp page!  Plus, my old friend Jason Henn plays drums and records the group’s material, so it was a great pleasure to master their new record Blank Cartoon.  Take a moment to go listen to 2014’s full-length Chain Smoking on Easter or any of their 3 EPs from 2015 to prepare yourself – Blank Cartoon drops this spring on What’s Your Rupture.

I always enjoy working with old friends on new projects, and it was no exception mixing the documentary film Up This Hill by Paul Sobota.  The film follows a group of inner-city youths from Cleveland as they travel to rural southern Kentucky to repair and restore homes, shifting from one type of poverty to another, and learning a lot about themselves in the process.  It was great to work with Paul and Ben Kinsley (who recorded and edited the sound), and I hope to see this moving little film making the rounds soon.

I also mixed a couple series of ads for the new TiVo Bolt, directed by Robin Comisar for Ghost Robot.  You may have seen one from ‘Interruptus’ or ‘The Date’ somewhere.  Robin’s got a great eye, and these ads are utterly silly… hope you enjoy.

Lots of cool stuff is already happening this month.  If you should find yourself in the Providence/Pawtucket area, come see the art installation by Christopher Duffy and Eaters at Machines with Magnets, opening January 15th through February 7th.  Thank you for reading, and please feel free to write if you’d like to talk about sound.

 

Eaters - Moment of Inertia Cover

Moment of Inertia, the new EP from my group Eaters, is out now via Driftless Recordings.  The EP is an audio-video document of a sound-sculpture conceived by visual artist, group member, and old friend Christopher Duffy (who is also responsible for the on-stage sculptures at our live shows).  I’ve tried describing it many different ways, so perhaps it is best to quote the statement we prepared:

A large cylinder of glass serves as a manually-spun platter for an altered turntable, playing an original composition cut to acetate. Void of a motor of any sort, the turntable slows over the course of the composition, eventually coming to a complete stop. Throughout the experience, tempo and pitch fluctuate, exploring perceptions of speed, elasticity, and entropy.

Brooklyn Vegan premiered the EP last week, coinciding with more shows with the always-incredible Shabazz Palaces.  Check out the video (a single shot of the sculpture in action) and audio (three different versions of the compostion) below.  Special thanks to Steven Probert for shooting the cover image and video and to Josh Bonati for cutting the acetate.

Parquet Courts recently announced their new EP Monastic Living.  The recording was done at Sonelab and in their practice space (by band member Austin Brown), and Austin and I mixed and mastered it last month at Doctor Wu’s.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a weird one!  Monastic Living is out November 13th on Rough Trade.

Stereogum recently announced the new Lushes album Service Industry.  I spent some time with the group this past winter, developing synth parts and treatments across the record, which was recorded and mixed by Aaron Mullan (Sonic Youth, Tall Firs, et al).  The album comes out October 16th on Felte Records, and you can stream the first single “Low Hanging Fruit” below.

Also coming soon: Do You Remember Real Pain, one of two new EPs by Rat Columns (aka David West).  I met David when Eaters and Lace Curtain (one of his many other projects) toured together last fall, and we started mixing when we got off the road.  I mixed and mastered 4/5 songs for the EP (which you can stream below), to be released August 20th on Adagio 830. (His other EP – Fooling Around – is out now on Blackest Ever Black).

Honduras just released a video for “Paralyzed”, the first single from their upcoming album RItuals. I produced this record a while ago – recorded upstate at Outlier Inn, mixed/mastered at Doctor Wu’s in Brooklyn – so it’s excited to see pieces of it shared with the world.  It’s a great record, and though it sounds like we have longer still to wait for the full thing, you can check out the video and audio for “Paralyzed” now.

I wrote about this in my last post, but there has now been an official update to the delayed Optimo Music post-punk compilation that I re-mastered and restored along with Michael Train this spring.  Originally titled Now That’s What I Call DIY! (Cult Classics From the Post-Punk Era 1978-82), the double-LP collection was set to be released this month before Sony – who is behind the series Now That’s What I Call Music!  – issued a cease and desist.  Optimo couldn’t reach an agreement with Sony’s lawyers, so all of the original packaging has been destroyed and the title has been changed to [Cease and Desist] DIY!  The compilation is truly great, so I’m pleased to announce that it has a new release date of October 30th.  Read more of the story and the full track-listing on Pitchfork, and check out a sampler of the collection below.

I also worked with Michael Train to restore and remaster the long out-of-print back-catalog of late 70s/early 80s Aussie post-punk group the Sunday Painters. The first reissue in the series was a collection of early singles called In My Dreams, which was released earlier this year.  Their two subsequent full lengths – Something to Do and 4th Annual Report – are coming out August 28th via What’s Your Rupture.  As with In My Dreams, these reissues have been lovingly restored and feature bonus downloads of never-before-heard live recordings.  Check out “Something to Do” and “Shattered Lens” below.

After mastering the compilation American Music this spring, I recently mastered five different EPs for GODMODE Records, one of my favorite local labels.  Yvette, Soft Lit, Fitness, and Hand of God all have new EPs coming soon; Fasano’s The Beach EP is out now (streaming below).

I recently spent a few days in the studio with Junk Boys, recording/mixing/mastering a full-length record as a follow-up to the EP we did this winter.  It rips!!

I also mixed a commercial for director Robin Comisar (creator of the short Mom Died that I sound designed and mixed).  The commercial is for Crossfit, and features a 79 year old woman using the fitness program for rehabilitation.  The ad is playing on ESPN, and you can stream it on Youtube as well.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read this!  Much more in the works – finishing the next Eaters LP; lots of records; maybe some short films; and hopefully some more beach time before the end of summer!

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!