Sep/Oct 2009

Welcome to issue #73 of Tape Op.

 

We've lost a few innovators, musicians, recordists and peers in the last couple of months. Our hearts go out to their families and friends. -LC

Mark Kopenits

Mark, owner of the Gray Room Recording Studio in Glendale, Arizona, passed away unexpectedly in July. I first met Mark at the inaugural TapeOpCon in 2002, where we discovered we had much in common when it came to bands and friends in Arizona. Mark helped with the next six conferences and was instrumental in driving students to our humble event. Two years ago he offered me a job as an adjunct faculty member at Scottsdale Community College, where he was heading the recording department. Mark's skill as a teacher and his ability to relate to the students was unmatched and he was instrumental in creating a great program with limited budget and resources. Mark was also a talented guitar player and a fixture in the Phoenix music scene. His sudden death is a great shock to all of us here in Arizona and we are currently rallying the music community to help raise funds for his wife Robin and his two teenage children, Alex and Chelsea. (If you'd like more info on how to help out, please send an email to: contact@dustysouthent.com)

-Craig Schumacher

James Luther Dickinson

I knew Jim Dickinson long before we ever met. Like a lot of musicians of my generation, I bought Big Star's infamous Third/Sister Lovers record which fell on me like love from the first groove. The sound on the record gave me many answers I had been looking for, but posed an equal number of questions that only one man could answer. We got in touch.

Over the nearly 20 years I knew Jim, he spoke with me generously about the endless refinements of music, folklore, chicanery and of the things to which poetry cannot do justice. Jim had insight into them all. He hated lazy ears. He wooed nature and conjured sound but he would never pimp you out in the service of his own ego. He loved musicians and thought of himself as an ally in the fight against a music business that often tried to confuse and exploit the wellspring of its success. I think he was fascinated with anyone who could make the air move. It was hard work, and often for Jim it did not pay well. But when you got lucky, that air could become a distant second-line beat or calamitous blues. Do it right and you were defenseless against it. Jim knew better than anyone, it was bigger than all of us.

The enormity of Jim's contribution to music in general could be haggled over and studied for the rest of time. He wouldn't want a laundry list. I can tell you from personal experience that he changed a room when he walked into it. That might be the most important skill anyone in a recording session can have.

Earlier this year I called Jim and we found ourselves talking about the horrendous state of the business of art and what it takes to stick with it. "You know," he said in his graveled clip, "you get to point where you know you can only press that red button so many more times. So, it's got to count."

-Philip Stevenson

Lester William "Les Paul" Polsfuss

Les Paul had an amazing life, or rather, lives. We have so much to thank him for — our patron saint of recording. The still mind-boggling recordings that he made in his garage, on equipment that he built himself, sold millions. The technologies that he invented, innovated and furthered (the solid-body electric guitar, multitracking, looping, tape delay and so much more) are that much more useful because he was a practitioner. He made people happy by performing music his whole life. He had such a wealth of acquaintances, from Django Reinhardt to Jeff Beck, and his supply of anecdotes was seemingly endless.

All of his accomplishments, the sum of such massive energy, intelligence, curiosity and enthusiasm, have made Les Paul an icon, a hero and a legend. But now in one last amazement, we find that they were the works of a mortal after all. This man who was so vividly alive, who delighted so in bringing delight to others, has left us. Farewell, Red. The world, that of musicians and recordists in particular, is better and brighter thanks to your untiring efforts. -Mark Rubel

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

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Columns See more →

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking #73

by Andy Hong

Every now and then, I have to merge a stereo recording that's split into separate L and R files (like a Pro Tools stereo track) into a single, interleaved stereo file. There are plenty of ways to do...

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Gear Reviews See more →

5088 Analogue Mixer

by Rupert Neve Designs  |  reviewed by Larry Crane, Doug McBride

To begin this review, I first must admit that this is the most expensive piece of recording equipment we have yet reviewed in Tape Op. It is also, outside of my home, the most expensive purchase I...

RPQ mic preamp

by AEA  |  reviewed by Thom Monahan

Using a ribbon microphone can be a tricky bit of business. Unlike dynamics that can take anything thrown at them or condensers that can provide whisper quiet operation, ribbons take a bit more care...

2Control stereo monitor controller

by SPL  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

I've got problems. Since building my project studio last fall, I haven't been able to nail down a monitoring setup that "feels" right, and my mixes are not referencing as well as I'd like. I was sure...

FreeLoader guitar pickup load controller

by Sarno Music Solutions  |  reviewed by Pete Weiss

This is a great, handy device that tames the resonant peak of your guitar pickup. Electronically and ergonomically designed specifically for pedal steel players -there's a handy clip for attaching it...

Master 4 x 10 Tool-Kit

by 3 Zigma Audio  |  reviewed by Mike Jasper

A few months ago, Blue Rock studios in Wimberley, Texas hosted a shootout of several microphones geared toward lead vocals. The high-dollar microphones were judged by such local luminaries as David...

1023 mic preamp & EQ

by BAE  |  reviewed by Allen Farmelo

Brent Averill Enterprises, simply known as BAE these days, is perhaps the best-known builder of Neve-style preamps, and for good reason as their designs indeed capture the behavior, tone, and...

Speakerphone

by Audio Ease  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

Although I am a huge fan of Audio Ease's Altiverb convolution reverb plug-in, I have to confess that I initially dismissed this plug-in as something a bit gimmicky and easily replicated with a good...

Music Reviews See more →

Music Reviews

Now!

by The Pepper Pots | reviewed by Larry Crane

Okay, so maybe a group of three cute, young ladies fronting a band of dudes in sharp suits and playing music inspired by Motown and Stax with a tinge of sixties ska might not be what you'd expect...

Music Reviews

Bittersweet

by Mark Isham & Kate Ceberano | reviewed by Larry Crane

Jazz trumpet player, well-known film composer and electronic music artist Mark met Australian vocalist Kate Ceberano and they created this jazz album, Bittersweet, covers of jazz standards about...

Music Reviews

Mister Pop

by The Clean | reviewed by Larry Crane

New Zealand's The Clean have been a casually wonderful band since the late '70s, with their wonderful pop songs, ragged approach and a minimal number of tracks needed or used in the studio. Guitarist...

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