I've really enjoyed Oberst's last few albums under his Bright Eyes moniker, and this CD is nothing new or unexpected (that's a good thing). Well crafted, literate songs that would loosely fall under the folk/Americana category. But this is not a Bright Eyes album due to the absence of guitarist/engineer/producer Mike Mogis (Tape Op #51). While Mike took some time off to raise his family, Oberst and crew rented a villa in Mexico with Andy LeMaster (of Now it's Overhead, and briefly mentioned in Tape Op #14 as part of the Chase Park Transduction crew) handling the engineering duties. One of these days we'll catch up with Andy and do a full interview with him and then we'll find out more about the recording of this and the many other records he's worked on. There's an eight minute video on Conor's website on the making of the CD. The villa is typical of the casitas you see a lot of in Mexico, high conical ceilings built with logs and straw in the palapa style. The walls look to be plaster and the villa appears to be somewhat isolated. Doubtless, the building and location added a lot to the sound and vibe of the recording. Those interested can glean some details of mics and mic technique with close watching of the video, although it's pretty lo-res. Of note, it looks like tracking was to an Otari MX-80 one inch, 16-track machine rather than a DAW, which would have been a lot easier to transport to Mexico! (www.mergerecords.com, www.conoroberst.com) -JB

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

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