When I interviewed Sylvia Massy almost a decade ago [Tape Op #63], I had no inkling I'd eventually end up in a book of hers, especially alongside much more famous folks like Hans Zimmer, Al Schmitt, Jack Joseph Puig, Bruce Swedien [#91], Geoff Emerick [#57], George Massenburg [#54, #63], Bob Clearmountain [#84], Tchad Blake [#16], Bob Ezrin [#31], Linda Perry, Dave Pensado [#111], Eric Valentine [#45], and others. Sylvia has produced and/or recorded artists like Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sevendust, and Tom Petty. In other words, she's got real chops and experience. In this full-color, 233-page, hardbound book, she covers the art of recording "unhinged" in her own style, with a lot of guest appearances by some of the aforementioned crew. It's a very visual read, as she also illustrates, literally, many of the setups and sessions discussed, and she includes some of her drawings of hilarious, dense, full-panel, busy studio scenes throughout the book. Her art is unhinged and fun for sure. Her morphed Polaroid session photos and other wild pics throughout provide even more stimuli.
Much of this book is bent on kicking recordists in the ass, and keeping any "rules" at bay while reinforcing experimentation, fun, and happy accidents. But it's not all crazy times, as tips on getting better vocal takes might go from absurd (upside down?) to sublime (posture, lights down, headphone mixes, no audience, and hot tea). Various chapters cover guitars, piano, vocals, drums, bass, strings, mixing, rooms/spaces, organ, horns, and synths. The section on production approach is amazing, where she examines producer mavericks like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Konny Plank, Joe Meek, and Sylvia Vanderpool-Robinson (founder and producer of Sugar Hill Records). She then continues on with tips for song arrangement, click tracks, hooks, bridges, and more. There is so much real, great advice in this book.
I'm serious. Anyone who is recording — especially someone just really getting his or her feet off the ground in this world — needs to own and read a copy of Recording Unhinged. Where else would you find information on sphincter control while singing, and how to mic a chicken? Nowhere else.