My new EP is currently being mastered by Simon Heyworth, in Devon. For those ‘in the know’ he’s not expecting to re-EQ it much, just looking at the peakiness. When there are occasional spikes in volume level–eg a high piano note that jumps out on ‘Oceanea’–it means the overall level has to come down, so it all ends up quieter. Not a problem quality-wise, but if folks put it in their playlist alongside other modern recordings, or when it’s played on the radio, it will sound very quiet and perhaps less impressive. So you deal with that using ‘limiting’ to reduce the peaks — either with a machine or by hand-tweaking the waveforms — so the overall levels can come up again. When machines or software plugins take this to the extreme you get the ‘sugar cube’ look of waveforms that have all the peaks taken out, so their density is increased to the point that everything ‘feels’ much louder and in-your-face; but when you do that, you sacrifice dynamics, and the music often ends up lifeless. (Don’t worry, we won’t go there!)
Whereas the last EP was mixed in a pro studio LA with Bill Bottrell engineering, this one I did all myself right here on the Nutmeg of Consolation. I don’t have a lot of gear, but the songs stand up by themselves without lots of effects, and the atmosphere felt more intimate. I’ve been blessed with lots of sun and wind this month so there was plenty of power on offer from the turbine and solar panels to do an entirely renewable energy-powered mix. My priority for the Nutmeg’s antique timber wheelhouse was not ‘reference quality’ sound, or isolation from the outside world, so don’t be surprised to hear a little North Sea ambience creeping into the mix.
I shot a beautiful cover with photographer Catherine Lindsay-Davies, and the graphic design being completed by Paul Sizer — yes the same chap that won the t-shirt design competition earlier this year, who went on to design the ‘Amerikana’ artwork. Once again the whole package will be downloadable in a format where if you choose to you can burn your own physical copy and print out the cover booklet.
I’m happy to say it looks like the EP will be out THIS MONTH! Look out for a release date announcement in the next couple of weeks. For registered Flat Earth Society members only, of course.
And how is the music? Well, personally I think this EP is the best work I’ve ever done. And I’d say that even if I was objective!