I don't want to explore this concept with as many words as I might for a Tape Op "End Rant", but I had to dump this shit out of my mind immediately. Someone dropped me a line recently; "I'd like you to hear this record I worked on. We didn't use EQ, compression, plug-ins, etc." They went on to describe all sorts of "rules" they created for the project. Fine by me; I do a similar thing when I record to sorta reign the project in and understand how we will proceed, though I always seem to bend every rule by the end. But in this case the artist/engineer/producer was certain that he or she had not done so. 

So I put on a random song off the album and within a few seconds I'm like, "Hey, was that drum intro hit a little off?" I keep listening and the drums get more and more off. Not "good" off like a Shaggs album or some odd Syd Barrett, but just way off and distracting from the song. l skipped to another song and heard the same thing when drums entered near the end of the song and basically derailed it instead of lifting it up. 

Look, if you're gonna burden your recording with little rules that dictate how it is recorded that's great. Fine. Whatever. But when you do so please think about what that will mean. Is it helping the songs? Is it making the songs sound worse than if a few retakes, overdubs or fixes were going on? Or maybe the player/overdubber in question should have been replaced with someone with better technique or feel? When you listen to a classic song recorded under "primitive" or "simple" conditions yet the song sounds fantastic, a big part of it is because the performances were so damn good. But it's never because the technology was limited or the track count was low. Never. Ever. Was. 


Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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