Jonathan Schenke is a go-to producer for the indie-rock élite, having worked on albums for Dirty Beaches, Parquet Courts, and Frankie Rose, among others. He steps out from behind the mixing boards with this exaggerated electro-funk project, which he shares with the multi-instrumentalist Bob Jones. The duo, which builds synth-based soundscapes that would not be out of place in an early-eighties slasher flick, has released two self-titled records; this year’s is grinding and quirky, full of deep club tunes with the Korg-inflected whimsy of early New Wave bands like Oingo Boingo and the Buggles. They perform with Yvette, a raw industrial duo whose jagged tracks should come with cautionary signage.
Rituals, the debut album from Brooklyn dream-punk quartet Honduras, is out now on Black Bell Records! We worked on this record last fall/winter – recording live to 8-track tape in upstate NY at Outlier Inn, and mixing/mastering in Brooklyn at Doctor Wu’s – and were all thrilled with the results. Brash and immediate, lovely and catchy, the record captures the energy of these songs and finds the group exploring new territory in the process. Interview Magazine and NME streamed the record, both The Fader and BK Mag ran features on the group, and they’re wrapping up a tour with Oberhofer – go see them in your town! Re-listening to Rituals now, I remember why I was so excited making this record, and look forward to getting back into the studio with them this winter. Stream Rituals from one of the links above, and check out album-closer and personal-favorite “Mirror” below:
Dan Friel‘s new album Life is out October 16th on Thrill Jockey Records. I mixed this wild instrumental noise-pop record with Dan earlier this year, and as a fan of both the man and his music, it was a real pleasure to help bring this thing to… well, life. Fact Mag and Stereogum debuted the first single “Life (Pt.1)”, and NPR premiered “Rattler” in their column “Songs We Love”, throwing in a Sonic Youth comparison for good measure. The album was mastered by Sarah Register, and “Rattler” is available to stream below. Also, make sure to check out Dan’s interview and in-studio performance on WNYC’s Soundcheck!
Service Industry, the sophomore LP by NYC outre-rock duo Lushes, is also out October 16th, via Felte Records. I worked with the group to flesh out the recordings with synth arrangements and effect treatments, yielding some interesting results and avenues of exploration. In addition to the first single “Low Hanging Fruit”, Tiny Mix Tapes and Self-Titled Mag premiered “Circus” and “Rub Your Eyes” (streaming below). The album was recorded and mixed by Aaron Mullan, mastered by Sarah Register, and features Sam Hilmer (Zs, Diamond Terrifier) and Justin Frye (PC Worship).
PC Worship shared the first taste of Basement Hysteria with “My Lens” (via The Fader). It’s a 13-minute doozy of a track, an example of the more stripped-down and stretched-out vibes from the new EP (which I mixed and mastered this summer). The group is on tour in Europe now, with NYC dates supporting Panda Bear, Container, and The Men this fall. Basement Hysteria is out November 13th on Northern Spy.
Godmode Records are releasing a series of EPs by their artists entitled You’ve Been Sweating Wrong Your Whole Life, many of which I mastered earlier this year. Yvette is a NYC electro-noise-rock duo I’ve been a fan of for years, having gotten to know them and sharing the stage with them multiple times, and their new Time Management EP is absolutely ferocious. Pitchfork and NME featured the single “Calm and Content”, and Noisey and Stereogum hosted streams of the EP in its entirety.
VBA recently issued their debut EP Will It Still Be There. I worked with the group earlier this year at Seaside Lounge and Doctor Wu’s to record and mix these songs, which push the boundaries of rock into more experimental textures and form. The group finished vocals and arrangements this summer, and mastered with Josh Bonati. Stream the album below, and keep an eye out for them around NYC this fall.
Fort Lean released their long-awaited debut album Quiet Day last week on Ooh La La/Caroline. My studio partner Jake Aron plays bass in the band, and I watched as they spent years crafting this album of immaculate indie rock. The album was recorded and mixed at a variety of studios, including Dreamland (in upstate NY) and Strange Weather (in Brooklyn). I did additional mixing with Jake at Doctor Wu’s, and the record was mastered by Chris Gehringer. Check out their series of utterly bizarre videos by Mike Anderson (think Tool meets Beetlejuice), and stream the album sampler below:
Humeysha came by Doctor Wu’s to master their self-titled debut LP with me last month. The Fader premiered the surreal video for the first single “Burma Between You and Me”, a great sampling of the New York via New Delhi sounds on this unique record. Humeysha is out now on Camp & Street.
I also mastered the new Polly Hi album Deceleration at Doctor Wu’s. The record was produced/recorded/mixed by Andrew Lappin, a regular and friendly presence at the studio. Fans of Here We Go Magic and Wilco take note – this is spacious, grooving, beautiful stuff.
MPHO came into Doctor Wu’s last month to mix and master their new EP T.I.G.H.T.. They’re a new synth-pop group comprised of Mark Perro of The Men/Dream Police, Holly Overton of Juniper Rising/herself, and Russell Hymovitz of Junk Boys/Dream Police. I’ve worked with these three multiple times, it’s always fun, and it’s been great to watch this project develop over the last year. T.I.G.H.T. is a gritty and gleaming sampler of disco power-pop – check it out!
Apart from all that, I’ve spent much of the past couple months focused on Eaters. We did another run of shows with Shabazz Palaces, including a fantastic home-town show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (check out these awesome photos by Impose). Our sound-sculpture Moment of Inertia was featured in both The Creators Project and The Spec, and we’re planning a couple sound/art installations in the new year. We’ve also been hard at work completing the next full-length – I’m not sure what to say other than I can’t wait to share it with everyone! In the meantime, Eaters are playing a couple shows around CMJ this month – October 16th @ Cake Shop (Inland Empire Touring showcase w/ Turn to Crime, The Gotobeds, Spray Paint and more) and October 18th @ Silent Barn (Dull Tools/Wild Wild Life party w/ Future Punx, Pill, Beth Israel, and many more) – come hear the new stuff!
Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk about sound, and thanks, as always, for reading.
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’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.
I’m nearly overwhelmed with excitement about this album coming out. Bob and I spent nearly two years working on this, writing and stripping it down and building it back up, looking at it from every angle, until we arrived at this conclusion. I am both proud and humbled by the work we put into this thing, and I can only hope people will enjoy it as much as we do.
We’re taking off on tour later this week, starting with the show at Glasslands April 17th and hitting the Driftless showcase at Moogfest. Check out these dates, come out if you can, and bring your friends!