One of my favorite records of 2024 to date is Phosphorescent’s Revelator. It’s a beautifully recorded album, featuring Matthew Houck's timeless songwriting and lyrics plus gorgeous arrangements. I was hooked the first time I heard the title track. I recently picked up a copy of the vinyl LP, and as I was reading the credits I noticed that the album was mixed by Tape Op contributor Dave Cerminara, so I thought I’d drop him a line and find out more about the mixing sessions.

Assistant engineer Clint Welander, Matthew Houck, & Dave at Sunset Sound
Assistant engineer Clint Welander, Matthew Houck, & Dave at Sunset Sound. Photograph by Matthew Houck

“We mixed Revelator throughout last July and August [2023] from my studio in North Hollywood. I live in L.A. and Matthew is in Nashville, so we worked remotely, which is not at all uncommon anymore, but it was extremely collaborative in a way not all mix gigs are. We'd have a few daily calls to talk through different things from the previous day. It's a dense record, instrumentally, it's one of the aspects I love so much about it. A lot of the process became getting that amount of harmonic information to coexist. I'd make a lot of mutes and edits, maybe duck one thing and highlight another event, and Matthew would call and say, 'I think you muted my favorite string line of that section.’ We would go back and forth like that a few times, just whittling away. I'm grateful for the amount of trust and freedom Matthew gave me to dig in like that.

At the end, Matthew came to L.A. and we went to Sunset Sound to finish the mixes. I mix predominantly in the box, with an analog mix bus chain and sometimes an insert across the vocal. We took that chain to Sunset's Studio 1, split everything out on their custom console so it matched my latest mix verbatim, then made small little tweaks together and printed to tape. I'd replace certain plug-ins in the box with an analog piece; sometimes it was better and sometimes it wasn't. On almost all of the songs we replaced my 'verb with the Sunset chamber; that sounded phenomenal and unique. It's a trip mixing a record almost to completion in one room then taking it somewhere else. My ears hear everything so differently, and I need to resist the urge to change too much, but it's fun going that microscopic.

It was a great way to finish the album because after four or six weeks of talking to this guy every single day, we finally hung in person, and by that point it was like seeing an old friend. I love how the album came together; it was a challenging one for sure, but when I listen now, it sounds so effortless and natural. I don't hear the work. That's always the best result.”

Sunset Sound
Photograph by Matthew Houck

Listen to Revelator on Spotify

-Dave Cerminara <>

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

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