The High Wesolution December 2008 Newsletter

It’s been a busy few months since the last news update. The spices have been flying around The Sonic Cuisine, the chef has been cooking in other kitchens and several High Wesolution discs have found their happy destinations.

First things first: I’m delighted to announce that my website has been overhauled, and now features a special “Upload/Download” facility. My clients can have their own private access, can send me their tracks to mix or master and download them again when they’re done, all without worrying about what might happen to CDs in the post, and of course, tracks can be uploaded from anywhere in the world.

There’s been a steady influx of MASTERING work. The lovely Amber, newly signed to Island Australia, popped over with some re-mixes which will shake ‘em up Down Under for sure. We mastered a lovely album for Graham Ryder, who was introduced to GHQ by George Allen from Extreme Music Production. Thanks George.

Adam Norsworthy is becoming a very familiar face in the GHQ/Sound Discs camp. His latest gem is called Lost In The Cinema and is on a par with, if not better than his previous work of art, Memory Vine. He’s also started another project, Ocean Days, and we mastered the EP for them. Fantastic songs.

I didn’t know what I was in for when Stoneroom owner Suj called with a mastering project for me. The artist, a very dear friend of his, AG Dollah, is a big name in the Asian community. Mr. Shah is a stunning album, getting deep into the everyday issues of young kids living in a Metropolis like London. Check it out.

And from Asian influenced rap we fall straight into experimental improvisation with Gail Brand and a full album of trombone and drums. Recorded and mixed by my friend and former student Mark Ford, mastering this Jazz with a capital J was easy and fun. Gail’s album will be released early next year on her own label and distributed by Harmonia Mundi.

Mo Foster ends this little mastering blurb with The Farewell Concert of his school band, The Tradewinds. Mo recorded their last gig and we mastered it together at The Sonic Cuisine. Some of the performances brought tears to my eyes: I’ve always thought that if you cover a song, it needs to be better than the original... this album does just that.

On the RECORDING front, I started October taking Ann Malone and the Hangs into one of Gearbox’s White Rooms. Armed with an AWS900, my Brauners, DPAs and a Neve 33609 and accompanied by a world class cellist and didgeridoo player, we created a children’s lullaby album. Ann saw that there was potential to remix it and turn it into a relaxation album for grown-ups. So, we locked ourselves in the Sonic Cuisine to add vocals, I played guitar and programmed the strings with EastWest’s amazing Symphonic Orchestra sample library.

The guys at Gearbox saw a lot of me in the last few months. I chose Cream to record Chris Flegg, a singer/songwriter whose previous album I’d mastered. In one day we recorded...hold on...drum roll... 23 songs! These tracks were taken back to the Sonic Cuisine to be mixed.

Cream had Mark Eastwood and I behind the desk to record and mix the lovely soprano Sophia Ackerman. She is definitely en route to shake some trees in the classical world.

Speaking of the classical world. Simon at Avie Records introduced me to Andrew Maginley, a lutenist. But hang on, not just a lutenist. This is the Joe Satriani of the Lute. Big curly hair, big lutes, baroque guitar, black leathers and rider boots! Andrew and his fabulous mezzo-soprano wife Emma Curtis have a baroque ensemble, The Frolick. They wanted to make a promotional dvd for the band, so I racked up 16 channels of Aviom mic pre, a small Pro Tools rig, a laptop, some Brauners and my baby DPAs. Surrounded by a stuffed giraffe, a population of statues and, on the second session, a collection of relics in a lovely chapel, we recorded 7 songs, performed live by The Frolick. We mixed the stuff at The Sonic Cuisine and are now waiting to see the completed DVD. Make sure you read Audio Pro International, as the next issue is going to have a review of the Aviom 6416m 16-channel remote controlled mic pre amp I used on these sessions.

And last but not least, Mark Herbert from The Indigo Road asked me to mix two of his songs. Back to Cream to get the SSL and most of the outboard working overtime. I then mastered the songs back at The Sonic Cuisine using my trusted API, SPL, Focusrite Liquid, Sonox and Sonic Studio’s Pre Master CD 3.0. Which brings me to sing the highest praises of Jonathan Reichbach and the whole Sonic Studio crew for creating a piece of software that has stepped the mastering at The Sonic Cuisine up a level. Apart from enabling us now to deliver DDP files to the pressing plants, the software package itself sounds much clearer than any other package available today.

The most exciting project this year has been in the making for quite a while.
Mo Foster asked if I wanted to engineer a project he was working on as musical director - a new musical version of Jean de Florette. Of course I said YES! It meant recording the instruments for 5 songs. We spent 5 amazing days at RAK in studio 2, recording Chris Lawrence on double bass, Mitch Dalton on guitar, Corrina Silvester/Greg Knowles being very percussive, Julian Littman playing his mandolin and accordion, Chris Haigh made his fiddle weep and Karen Bates sang her heart out.

The string arrangement for one of the tracks was written by Ray Russell and we recorded them at British Grove. We slung up the Decca Tree and at every AES show I promise Wes Dooley that I have to try his mics, so we used the AEAs as spot mics on the string sections. Combine an emotional arrangement, stunning players, a Neve and an EMI REDD51, a beautifully designed room...I can go on for ever, it was a dream come true.

In the middle of all this lovely recording I get a call from Noise Pollution Management, the company that looks after one of my favourite metal bands Exit Ten.
“We’ve got a few gigs, do you want to do them?” Hell Yeah! So, off with my Exit Ten lot again. A killer gig at the Metro and a few more up and down the country. If you haven’t yet, check these guys out, they rock!

In the last newsletter I threatened you with Whitby Goth Weekend. Oh yes, it happened. Specimen and I got the most comfortable tour van from TourPro and we buzzed up to Whitby, famous for the Dracula landing. It was amazing. An ancient English town hosting this goth fest. A cool line up, lots of goth stalls, a locals vs. Goth football game - surreal but fun.

I went to San Francisco with the APRS for AES this year. I love that town. We had a lovely stand in our UK village, where we teamed up with Simon Saywood from Analoguetube who has created a new model of the Fairchild we love so much. John Oram had his stand opposite ours, which made for a lot of fun. Every one did good business at the show, we signed up new members, were invited to the TEC awards where my hero Rupert Neve received two awards, T-Bone Burnett got entered in the Hall of Fame and Ray Benson received the Les Paul award.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit a couple of other fabulous studios recently, both of which I’m longing to work in, so I’m keeping my ear to the ground for suitable projects. The first is the utterly gorgeous Sawmills, nestling in its tidal creek on the River Fowey in Cornwall. We’d been trying to arrange this visit with Dennis Smith for months, but it must have been meant, because in the end we picked the loveliest weekend of the year to visit this legendary recording facility. Dennis conducted the tour personally, including taking us all round the river on the studio’s boat, and for tea in Fowey itself.

And just a few days ago I finally made my first visit to Abbey Road, accompanied by Mo Foster, where I saw the mastering suite, penthouse, mic cupboard and the famous Studio 1. Thanks to Lester Smith for the tour, and I hope one day I get a project with a budget that will allow me to record there! Needless to say, I walked the zebra crossing twice.....

Check out the Gallery section (coming soon!) on the website for the latest photo collection, featuring some of the adventures described above.

Happy Christmas, and a prosperous New Year to you all,

Wes