English · This & That

Music Review – Guido’s Lounge Cafe, Vol. 1 -“Kaleidoscope Of Colors” (2014)

Greetings dear reader,

One of the perks of being privileged to have a strong network of talented & creative people in my beloved world of music, is that I’m fortunate to occasionally get insights to pre- releases/draft tracks per invites from artists, labels & DJ’s etc. This could be ahead of a formal label release-date (in this case August 25th via the Ecstasy label) or other times, it could simply be from one music-soul to another for an informal ‘whaddaya think so far?’ on their current work-in-progress.  This particular piece was a double-pleasure to write and to make time for as it’s for a musical friend of mine Guido Van Der Meulen.  Guido is a fellow music-lover whom I met via music on the web (suffice to say here) so, it was wonderful to be asked to scribe some thoughts & views on this, Guido’s first mix via his collaboration with Manue & his label.  I only hope my words accompany the mix well & trigger reactions accordingly.

 Note for all readers, you may find that I jump around in tone as well as first or second person when writing. This is simply because I don’t write/listen in one-sitting.  Instead, I listen a few time’s whilst penning thoughts & notes. Then I draft, re-listen & draft again as well as until completion. This means that my ‘view-point’ can change depending on many factors per real-world, life, mood etc but I promise you this, it’s allllll from the heart! :D my method, my style, enjoy!

Finally, a big thank you to Manue Dawar (CEO of Ecstasy records) & Guido Van Der Meulen for the invitation to both listen & review this mix ahead of the official album release date. Even more on that last as this is the inaugural mix in your on-going collaboration. I remain both honoured & touched by your invite so I wish you lots of luck in your future-endeavours together although based on this first mix, I don’t think you need it. Track-selection & a journey in sound in any mix is all to this music-lover & clearly, you’ve got this covered, very well done.

 

Peace & Musica, Darren Pearson Oct’14

PS: You can find a sample of the mix here: 

https://soundcloud.com/guidosloungecafe/guidos-lounge-cafe-vol-1-kaleidoscope-of-colors-2014

http://www.mixcloud.com/Jazzmo/album-guidos-lounge-cafe-vol-1-kaleidoscope-of-colors-2014-snippets/

 

00:00 – 02:11   001    Jennifer Hannah-Murphy. ‘Tuesday afternoon’ (Original Mix)

Immediately made me want to listen to the full-track so I just HAD to search, find and share with my peeps straightaway so, I did so.  :D Great use of bass & flute (my beloved flute…) for these receptors. It’s a fine opening-track and, I like the way Guido dived straight-in. This is simply as I’m very accustomed & always interested in GLC mix-intro’s that ‘set the scene’ etc.  J But here, the sound is the opener so no words are necessary, bass then flute just grabbed my ears straight-away. I liked & was pleasantly surprised so very much enjoyed the change in this aspect, your flexing now clearly. :)

 

02:11 – 06:30   002    Marie Therese ‘Right Now’ (Original Mix)

Great transition into 1-to-2 and a great track coming-in, seamless Maestro. (Y)  I didn’t notice we were into this track until the voices began. Pleased as I really dig that aspect in a mix as I just prefer a seamless wall of Lounge and down-tempo when blended well, always enjoyed & sought-out such journeys in music so this is for my Prime selections. J

The beat-drop @ 2.35 was great, perfect combo of laidback lounge, effects and voice, throbbing-bass too then the electronic-bells @3.35…sublime moment and a great momentary-contrast from the rest of the track. The addition of street-life sounds next is a great, great touch too plus, I’ve always enjoyed a well-used echo “yeah”…. who doesn’t! :D

  1. bass n beats again, love that, head-nodding hard here.

 

06:30 – 10:38   003    Marga Sol ‘Goodbye’ (Original Mix)

Spanish style guitar work is very nice & works very well with the harmonies & main vocal.

I would like to see Marga Sol live in London one-day, a multi-faceted Lady.

 

10:38 – 16:33   004    Lemongrass, Jane Maximova ‘Deep River’ (Original Mix)

Biiiiiiiiiig track from the off, an immediate atmosphere is set here, majestic…deep and wide for sure, like that, vocal bleeding in really works well. Beats are dropped just right and digging the repeating big synth. theme. Like the Lemongrass label, frequently, so no surprise that this track comes from their stable, a quality-collective with business competent management.

 

16:33 – 20:06   005    Vono Box ‘La Planete’ (Original Mix)

Fantastic ATF track from the off, always loved the lazy beats & distant-sax on this track

I’d heard once before somewhere so was excited to hear it utilised* here. *You know, like the feeling you get when listening to a mix & you recognise the first moments of the next track coming thru? Time kind of stops in your head as you see how he/she has delivered & utilised it so essentially, a yes or no  moment that Musik-Hedz know well so, a BIG YES here on that aspect. (Y) (Y) J

Laaaaaaazy-sax to the max for me, reminded me of a Sven Han Hees track **‘Flowmotion’ in that regard, it’s the lazy, almost nonchalant (to me) style of the tinkling on the keys, same vein so this track triggered that very recollection & moment when listening here, big like. Bass just compliments so very well and with the beats, perfect laid-back vibes,

Lounge music to this guy does not mean horizontal ambient as I sometimes feel some (many?) in the ‘wider-world’ may perceive it to be. This track is a fine-example of lounge & beats which I love to the bone as it also speaks to my Klub-Hed too.  Excellent choice Guido and you merged it so very well,  that I got really excited when I recognised it coming in as mentioned, just love that about a good mix, it’s like meeting ‘old music-friends’ etc J love the neatly sealed-off ending in the full-version too after searching for after first hearing here, had to say, thx for the tip. J

 

** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=208cMD02dDI  ‘Flowmotion’ by Sven Van Hees

 

 

2 0:06 – 24:26   006    Arthur Rong ‘Snow Queen’ (Original Mix)

Niiiiice blend Guido, I missed the transition it was that flawless and unnoticeable amigo.

When the beat drops @20.47..niiice, good beats & vibe here, all elements really work-well together, head-nodding, like that bass-line underneath it all @23.00 grabbed my diaphragm as I’m writing this whilst listening alone, on speakers and very loud. J

Cool wind-down too, just bongos then all instruments bleed back-in @23.14, a most enjoyable & cool lounge track for sure. This is what I like to hear in a bar, not ‘in your face’ but enough to grab you and create the right ambience for the crowd ahead of their night out or event etc.

  1. @23.16 is sweet, like the use of effects. (Y)

 

24:26 – 28:35   007    Sannan ‘Bluetone’ (Original Mix)

This sounds good already, yep, digging this, creative opening, hooked my ear. Basssss.. sits well here, always enjoy the use of strings unexpectedly in EDM, good example with the harp. I could be at a beach-bar with a great view with this track spinning, hypnotic, melodic & (again) REALLY dig the wind-down at the end too.

 

28:35 – 33:45   008    Mia Lemar & Pier O ‘Red Sunset’ (Original Mix)

Pier O Chill…a maestro in the Lounge space, the key’s are a-tinkling and I like that combined with a dreamy trumpet sample (from a loop-sample package from Loopmasters apparently) The sound is laidback, smooth & the vocal adds to the atmosphere already created. Never heard this track before so most pleased to cross paths via this initial-mix for the Ecstasy label. Sax is sublime, music which always sounds a ‘cut-above’ from the rest and if you don’t know what I mean by that, I mean loungey, stylish (like an appropriate & deserving club, bar or beach-venue) exclusive & intimate, all the above plus. Watching Pier as I’m aware that he is currently working in collaborations with Marga Sol as well as producing remix’s for Marie Therese, Claudio Fiore and, Euphonic Traveller…wow, the future will be VERY interesting to hear, I’m sure!

 

33:45 – 36:14   009    Doc Luv Jones ‘Tomatoes That Kill’ (Original Mix)

Great title! chuckles! An immediate head-nodder for sure, nice choice Guido, beats are doing it for me & the ping @ 28.34 was crazy on my speakers, loud! :D

 

36:14 – 43:21   010 Florzinho, Euphonic Traveller ‘A la Luna’ (Euphonic Traveller Remix)

@36.37 love the switch into this, a great remix from Euphonic Traveller, wow, thanks for the intro!

Great atmosphere here, like that drum-work, subtle but meaningful, really digging this on lots of levels.  Sooooo many elements in-play here on the ear, the piano is haunting in its briefness & appearance over the main-wall of sound @ 43.36

This is a classy track & remix, how did I miss this! Coz it’s a daily-flood of music and I just don’t have

the time to listen as much as I would love to, sigh. A common problem for Musik-Hed’s, cie la vie but I’m still very pleased glad I crossed paths with this track regardless.

  1. would love to hear this on a night-out when the floor & audience are vibin at 3am, perfect time to drop this methinks. J

 

43:21 – 48:39   011    Gary Openhill ‘Cafe Balearic’ (Original Mix) – Can hear this track coming through & it makes me very curious, very world music I feel. I hear Chinese violin merged with female vocal, well and then, the Spanish guitar. An interesting track crossing regions in music clearly.

 

48:39 – 52:58   012    Michiko ‘Rock & Roll’ (Original Mix) – Like the main-verse vocal and the effect applied. It differs very much from the chorus. Distinctive as she sounds like she’s in the room next door but, it works for the overall effect, quirky & interesting.

 

52:58 – 55:05   013    Sean Byrd ’Dusk Lounge’ (Original Mix) – A common-theme in these tracks has been the bass underlining a lot of the main sound. I like that theme whether it was intentional or not by Guido so, another example of here, short & sweet.

 

55:05 – 59:59   014    Pat Lajoie ‘Native Dancer’ (Mix 2) – Yet another track that Guido introduces me to (and there are many :D) with a very ‘Jazz in the Park’ feel to it. Saying this as this track got better to me the more I heard of it. The first time I heard this, I wasn’t sure as it sounded too ‘tame’ overall for my liking but now I see why, I just needed a Pimms & lemonade to seal the deal.

 

59:59 – 64:48   015    Five Seasons ‘Sweet Secrets’ (Original Mix)

…..immediate ATF, I LIKED this straightaway Guido!, beautiful, the way the track bleeds into full ‘clarity’ on the ears, you lined these 2 up very well as the mix-mood moved-up a gear again. (Y)

Beats are heavenly after the previous track & the echo around the violin….sighs, a lovely combo of EDM and a classical instrument, love those moments as the two work so well together when done well. Another example of such a fusions to me would be Moby’s track **‘Inside’.

The bass here grabbed me from the start & just never let go, hypnotic & hitting my gut (playing loud) and works well vs. the synths and the atmosphere created, my kind of soundscape, you chose well amigo. (Y) Last word on this is re the pause….then the beat dropping again @1.03.11.. Simply sublime and a fine track to end with.

 

**https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf-Iaf8Awg4 ‘Inside’ by Moby

 

© Darren Pearson @ Arima (website pending)

Twitter @DarrenDP
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If you want to purchase the mix, you can do it here:

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Guidos-Lounge-Caf…ope/dp/B00M3EDYFE

Itunes: itunes.apple.com/nl/album/guidos-…4&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Beatport: www.beatport.com/release/guidos-l…f-colors/1350488

Spotify: play.spotify.com/album/0jo45ZUhDlqrbBMjIoKcoS

Google play: play.google.com/store/music/album…upkzwjeerb5qnz4me

English · Tips

How To Check Mixes Before Sending Them To a Mastering Engineer

Article by David Jones / Mix Asylum

Today’s topic doesn’t so much relate to production techniques, but is about the final stage in the production chain, Mastering. It is perhaps something that people take for granted (“if I’ve got a good enough mix, the mastering engineer can fix it”) but it is in fact a much more delicate and important part of the production process than you might realise.

I’d like to share with you today what a mix should be sounding like sonically before you send it to the mastering engineer, and showing you if done right, how mastering can truly take your mixes to the next level. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The pre-master

The pre-master is your final stereo mix before any mastering takes place, but let’s think about some of the things your mix should have before you send it to someone:

  • Does my mix have a good stereo balance? – Are the overall levels ok, or are things ‘jumping’ from loud to quiet? Does your mix sound like it has ‘space’ and sounds clear, or is everything squashed and fighting for that vital stereo image?
  • Sonically, have I got the ‘sounds’ I want in my mix? – There is no ‘magic button’ for the mastering engineer to suddenly get your main guitar channel sounding like Angus Young for example. If your tone isn’t sounding as you want it, fix it in the mix. There is absolutely nothing the mastering engineer can do to sonically alter instrument/vocal sounds.
  • Is my master channel level set right before bouncing off? – It might sound simple enough, but you would not believe the amount of mixes I have been sent through where the mix has been bounced off to such a high volume level, that there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix the track. Remember, mastering will make the output of the track louder, so if there is no headroom in the track before an engineer adds any effects, imagine how loud the track would be if someone attempted to add mastering to it….I shudder to think of the loudness to be honest. Always make sure your master channel is low enough so that the engineer has the headroom they need (somewhere around the -20dB mark would be best).

What is Mastering? 

Now that we’ve looked at some of the requirements for a ‘good’ mix to send for mastering, let us now explore what exactly a mastering does to your song. A useful definition of the process comes below, courtesy of Tape Op Magazine:

“At its basic core, mastering is the process of making a cohesive, playable audio collection out of a group of recordings that may be less than consistent. After mastering you should be able to play the record without getting out of your chair to adjust the bass, treble, balance and volume controls as each song comes up. It should also be free of extraneous sounds – clicks and pops – that interfere with the experience of hearing the music. Beyond this mandate, there is an art to the process and every mastering engineer (ME) will do things a bit differently. But in order for these “masters” to arrive at the point where they can exercise their art, the bottom-line “cringe factors” of less-than-perfect recordings must be dealt with”.

[Acosta, A., Carroll, J., Stamey, C. (2008)]

Please take note of the passages in bold text. Although the first line may refer more specifically to albums, it reinforces my point earlier that your song should not have wild volume changes throughout it, as this constant changing of levels could make a listener ‘switch off’, which is something no one wants. Always keep this in mind when using automation processes.

Unwanted noise is also an issue to take note of. If your singer coughed half way through the guitar solo, make sure you remove this from your mix, as mastering will always highlight mistakes. It might give more of a ‘live’ vibe, but someone enjoying the music might be put off!!! In all seriousness though, take care of unwanted noise; it makes the mastering engineer’s job so much easier.

What does the mastering engineer do?

Obviously this all depends on the song in question, some songs may need more processing, others less. As a general rule though, the mastering engineer is likely to use/do the following on a track:

  • EQ
  • Compression
  • Delay/Reverb (to add character to the mix)
  • Appropriate fade in/out for song

This list could go on forever really; it does all depend on the source material that the engineer has to work with.

The basic role of the mastering engineer is to get the overall volume of the mix to a professional and acceptable standard, while making sure it has body and depth across the entire stereo spectrum, while making sure the levels do not exceed maximum limits. To say this role is a ‘juggling act’ is perhaps an understatement!!

What should my waveform look like before I get it mastered? 

I hope so far this blog has given you some insight into just how much source material plays a crucial role into what the mastering engineer has to consider when mastering a song.

Let’s say that your mix ticks all of the boxes which we’ve discussed so far and you’re saying “David, I’ve got a great sounding mix, I think my levels are to a reasonable level, but how do I make sure?”

Well, this is where overall waveform levels are exceptionally important. I’d like to share with you now a few screenshots from some recent mixes I was sent to master, and what they sounded like.

This first song is called “Ghost Train” by Bruce Niemchick. Here is the original unmastered song which Bruce sent to me:

grafik1

 

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-grace-train

“Sands of Paradise” by HURSH

grafik2

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-sands-of

“Tornado on The Way” by Rick Ivanoff

grafik3

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-tornado-on

Please notice that the waveforms are to a very low level (you can tell this by the space between the lengths of the audio file region). Waveform’s like this are exactly what a mastering engineer needs in order to work their magic well, they have optimum headroom for effects and give the feeling of space and clarity which is just waiting to be exploited by the mastering engineer.

Now, here are the same waveforms again after they have been mastered (along with the new mastered audio):

“Ghost Train” by Bruce Niemchick

grafik4

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-grace-train-1

“Sands of Paradise” by HURSH

grafik5

 

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-sands-of-1

“Tornado on The Way” by Rick Ivanoff

grafik6

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-tornado-on-1

Please do take a look and listen to the un-mastered and mastered versions of these tracks. I hope they have conveyed that with some care and consideration how a good mix can turn into a fantastic master ready for distribution.

*All mastered and un-mastered tracks have been collated at the end of this blog so you can easily go between the two comparisons.

The Final Word

I hope this blog has gone some way to enlighten you to some of the techniques that can lead to an excellent sounding mastered song. Please try and remember that headroom is an incredibly important part of your mix, and try to ask yourself “has my mix got enough headroom for the mastering engineer?” before sending it to a paying engineer. Ask a friend/neighbour/housemate etc just to take a listen to your mix before you decide to send it, fresh ears always make a world of difference!!!

If you want to discuss anything about this blog, please feel free to get in touch with me via email at:

techniques-mixasylum@hotmail.co.uk or send a message through my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mixasylum

Any feedback is appreciated, good or bad, or even if you’ve got personal tips on how you prepare your mix before mastering, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks, see you next time!

David Jones

Blog References 

Acosta, A., Carroll, J., Stamey, C. (2008) Interviews > Mastering Focus. [Internet]. Available from:        http://tapeop.com/interviews/68/mastering-focus/                     [Accessed: 11th December 2013]

Audio Examples

Here are today’s audio examples collated into one section so it is easier to compare the differences between the mixes. Thank you to the artistes for allowing me to showcase their material.

“Ghost Train” song by Bruce Niemchick https://www.facebook.com/bruceniemchick

Original Unmastered version:

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-grace-train

Mastered version by Mix Asylum:

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-grace-train-1

“Sands of Paradise” song by HURSH

https://soundcloud.com/dj-rash-sinfobia

Original Unmastered version:

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-sands-of

Mastered version by Mix Asylum:

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-sands-of-1

“Tornado on The Way” song by Rick Ivanoff

http://www.rickivanoff.com

Original Unmastered version:

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-tornado-on

Mastered version by Mix Asylum:

https://soundcloud.com/techniques-mixasylum/blog-6-mastering-tornado-on-1