Recent work: Little Scream - Cult Following

I mastered this over several days last winter with Laurel and co-producer Richard Parry (Arcade Fire). Though most mastering sessions don't typically span over multiple days, there was quite a bit of stem mixing to do. This is a process in which the mixes get output to various audio stems (ie: drums, guitars, keys, vocals, bass) to allow for internal balances to be altered at the mastering stage. Basically it means added flexibility to make last minute changes (usually vocal levels) while keeping the original sonic imprint of the mixer's work. There are some great contributions here by Sufjan Stevens, Mary Margaret O'Hara, and members of the National. Check out the video of this serious pop gem:


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Recent work: Andy Shauf's The Party

Can't say enough how thrilled I am to have mastered this record, just released on ANTI records / Arts&Crafts. Andy is one of my favourite new artists. Drawing from a mix of 70s singer/songwriters (Paul Simon, Randy Newman, McCartney and Emmit Rhodes) he's created a powerful new musical hybrid. Check out excerpts of the full album  via NPR's First Listen and get mesmerized by the video below, for "The Magician".

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Congrats To Bahamas - 2015 Juno wins

Very proud to have mastered "Bahamas is Afie" by Canadian artist Bahamas which won AAA Album of the Year at the 2015 Juno awards. They also took home the award Songwriter of the Year. Congratulations Afie!
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CBC's As it Happens Theme Remix revealed!

Wow it was exciting and nerve-wracking to hear, live on-air, the newly remixed theme for CBC's As it Happens. My good friend Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, brought his incomparable talents to the newly commissioned version of the original Moe Koffman theme, "Curried Soul". It debuted tonight! What a privilege to be part of this (recording / mixing and playing drums on it), knowing that so many people in Canada will hear it on a daily basis. It was a blast getting to know the ins and outs of this piece, and to build something modern on such a classic and well-crafted composition. 
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That King Tubby sound: the Fisher SpaceXpander spring reverb


A few months ago I got a lead from a friend on some old recording gear stashed away in a musty  basement. Specifically vintage Ampex and Scully tape machines. I went to check it all out but found that most of the tape machines were in pretty rough shape, and besides the last thing I really need at this point is more tape playing/recording devices. The guy also had about fifteen old televisions and over twenty groovy rotary dial and early touch tone phones. As I was about to leave, with nothing in hand, I spotted a Fisher SpaceXpander spring reverb high up on a shelf. I'd heard about these rare units as being THE spring reverb that Jamaican dub innovator King Tubby used. I'm a huge fan of his work. If you've ever heard Tubby's dub mixes then you'll know exactly the reverb sound I'm talking about. It's crude, boingy, crazy, yet incredibly beautiful sounding at the same time. I have been wanting a SpaceXpander for years and was so happy to have finally found one. The price was right too!

 The Fisher SpaceXpander reverb was originally made in the 1960s and marketed for use with car stereos. It consists of a stand-alone tube preamp and a reverb tank.  It's hard to imagine that there was a time when people would add their own reverb to the radio or whatever record they were playing at the time. There were actually a few of these types of spring reverbs marketed for home stereo use in the 60s/70s made by Pioneer and Sansui. The Fisher, however, is a bit of an oddball because it was meant to be installed in a car. As anyone who's had experience with spring reverbs knows, if you move them around a little too much, the springs make a loud thunderous crash sound. Could imagine what would've happened if you'd hit a bump in your 1969 Buick Skylark ... BOOM CRASH!!

See this video of me running a quick and dirty drum track through the Fisher SpaceXpander. Yep it's dirty alright but so cool.





 
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Sounds from Hilotrons' At Least There's Commotion

Much of my time last summer was spent recording and mixing the recently released Hilotrons album "At Least There's Commotion." Mike Dubue and I were going after a different sound for this album. We gave ourselves more space to work within the songs and incorporated a pile of interesting gear throughout the process. The sounds you'll hear on the record originated from some of my favourite studio gear:



Compex F760 Compressor / Limiter

This is the model of FET compressor/limiter that originally came with the renowned British-made Helios consoles of the 60s-70s. Think Stones, The Who, Zeppelin, etc. The Compex can range from being a smooth buss compressor to an extremely aggressive peak limiter. Because we recorded drums for the Hilotrons album in a fairly small room, we wanted to compressor the ba-jesus out of the room mic to create the sense that the drums were recorded in a more live sounding space. The Compex has a peak limiter switch that can be engaged to create an insanely bombastic, slightly distorted sound. Most of the drum tracks on the record feature a AKG D190e room mic being pummeled through the Compex. It made the drum sound as far as I'm concerned. Here's a clip of dry drums first, and then the Compex'ed room mic gets added in and it comes to life!




Lexicon Prime Time M93

The Prime Time played a very important role all over many of the tracks of the Hilotrons album. Originally released in the late 70s, it was the first stereo digital delay with a great hands-on user friendly interface. At its quickest delay the Prime Time is fairly clean with a bit of grit. At its longest delay settings, the unit gets really lo-fi and telephonic sounding. One its coolest features is the "repeat hold" function which lets you sample small snippets of sound that can be manipulated with the VCO section. The feedback of the delays is neat too because for each recirculation the sound is going back into the analog world and then being re-digitized.  Half the time I'd turn the unit on and it would just make weird noises and the delay would be all f-cked up and bit reduced sounding. We sampled some of these crazy sounds and used them all over the song Venus at Your Back Door, which ultimately features layers of a working and malfunctioning Prime Time on the lead vocal and stylophone tracks. Perfect.
Click below for some Prime Time insanity!



Spectra Sonics 502 channel strips

Most of Mike's vocals tracks were recorded through a 70's Spectra Sonics channel strip. Spectra Sonics manufactured some of the first American made solid state consoles. The mic preamps run discreet Class A with large transformers on the inputs and outputs. The three band EQ uses inductors (like a Pultec EQ) and is extremely musical sounding. I really love the sound of these strips. I wish I had a whole console's worth of them. They have some of the snap of vintage API and Electrodyne preamps but with more girth in the low end. Spectra Sonics consoles were used at many classic studios including the Record Plant (NYC and L.A), Stax, Ardent, Larrabee, CBS, Paramount, and Mama Jo's.

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Bova Lab Studio Now open!

After almost two months of construction, Bova Lab is now open. Excited to have Golden Seals, Theaternia, and Pseudo Vista in this month.
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1950's Northern Electric Broadcast Tube Console











The most recent addition to Bova Lab's gear arsenal. I got this 60+ year old Canadian made tube console from a friend who's album I mastered early this year. I was truly astounded at how good his pre-mastered tracks sounded. He recorded it using the direct outputs of the mic preamps. This console has that sound of old tube era recordings. Although it's only a mono console (stereo hadn't been invented yet) summing tracks through it has more depth than pretty much anything else I've ever used. Can't wait to do an all tube four track mono recording with this thing. Looking under the hood reveals a plethora of tubes and the biggest audio transformers I've ever seen, each one almost the size of a Rubik's Cube. Beautifully built!

Here's a link to the same model of console preserved at the SPARC museum:

http://www3.telus.net/burnabeans/studio_news/consoles/#5420



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The Neve 54 console


Damn excited about the recent acquisition of a Neve 5432 console at Bova Lab! Recording and stem mixing heaven!

   This late 70's analog board, and others in the Neve family, of course, are known for delivering the highest quality sound. This model was originally designed for broadcast use at the BBC, so the build quality is truly outstanding. In fact Neve expert/guru Geoff Tanner once said that one of these consoles took a 10ft fall off the back of a truck, hit the concrete, and still worked flawlessly. Good to know but I won't be subjecting this one to that kind of risk ever.

   Running tracks in a mix through this board adds a healthy dose of depth, punchy low end, and shimmery highs. The mic preamps are great too. It goes without saying that Neve channels are famous for their quintessential vintage tones. I got this particular Neve from Jimmy Shaw (of Canadian band Metric) who used it in the recording of their last couple of albums. The console was recently fully serviced and recapped. Here' s a clip of Jimmy talking about the Neve:



Thanks to awesome engineer Robbie Lackritz (Feist, Bahamas, Zeus, Jamie Lidell) who introduced me to the 5432 in the first place.


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