I've chatted with Eric "Mixerman" Sarafin in the past [Tape Op #34] about his hilarious The Daily Adventures of Mixerman book and reviewed some of his helpful Zen and the Art of... guides to producing, mixing, and recording. With Musician's Survival Guide to a Killer Record, Mixerman turns the tables around and provides a guide for musicians who are recording. The main gist of this book, and what separates it from most every tome meant for the self-recording musician, is that Survival Guide is an overview on how to keep one's eye on the real prize of making a recording to be proud of forever. It's not a simple how-to of what gear to buy and set up in your spare bedroom; y'know, those books that are out of date before they return from the printer? Eric keeps the musician's focus on important elements the music, performance, and arrangement. What everything really sounds like and what really matters. His advice on how to navigate the worlds of editing, tuning, and comping is invaluable. The pitfalls of over-tuning and such are real, and Eric points out, "If you find something distracting, fix it. Otherwise leave it alone." That might be the best advice for any session. Much of the book leads back to the truth, that the source for everything is the artist and is within their control, but they need to understand themselves to begin with. I'm so pleased that there's finally a guide for musicians that tells them, "You can do it with the gear that you already currently have available to you." Or how about, "The biggest reason that recording is so difficult is that people believe their tools will solve their recording problems." The answer is all about coming to terms with what is desired creatively and understanding how to use what is available with judicious decisions and real listening skills. I think I'll be buying cases of this book and handing it out as people enter my studio. Near the book's end Eric says, "Record-making requires listening, and not just to what you are doing but to what everyone else has done before you." Yup. Like I said, this is real advice.

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

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