A visit with the master — Don Grossinger. Let me tell you. There is nothing like hearing your music once it has been professionally prepared for release. By that I mean, once it has been mastered.
Kassy and I ventured out to Dobb’s Ferry, Westchester recently for an afternoon in Don Grossinger’s personal studio. We had with us the final mixes of the new, still untitled, Native album. Those mixes, by Craig Randall, are superb but all mixes must go through a further process before they are sent to be manufactured. That process is mastering and it’s a bit of a mystery to most folks.
To be over-simplistic, the mastering engineer takes your mixes that you have labored lovingly over and adds that extra bit of sparkle to it that you didn’t know was missing. He also makes sure that there is a uniformity to all your tracks so that there is not a disconcerting change in sound as a disc plays from track to track.
Some mastering guys like to, in the words of mastering guru Steve Hoffman, “Play God.” This can take the form of EQ-ing and compressing your songs to the point where they sound nothing like the original mix. Don is old-school in the sense that he simply wants it to sound like the track you mixed, but even better than you could have dreamed. I must say, after listening to his work on many playback systems, from boombox to car-stereo, to my own rancid home stereo — it sounds wonderful with a full soundstage and a lot of air underneath it. Lovely, just lovely. A real ‘headphone album.’
We are especially pleased to have been able to work with someone of Don’s calibre and reputation. I mentioned his work on SMiLE (my personal favorite album in, like, decades!) in my last blog. But his credits are literally staggering — The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, and many other giants as well as newer artists like Franz Ferdinand, Christina Aguilera, and many others. Watching him work so hard on our project was a real thrill. I’m happy with the results and can’t wait for the world to hear this album, truly a labor of love, years, tears, sweat, and (if I may be so bold) group-genius.
Being able to say these things, after such a long process, is the best Christmas present I could get.