Friday, April 28, 2006


Until we quit smoking (coming soon) and everyone's allergies go away, we need air purification for the studio.

I've owned the Sharper Image Quadra Thing.


Impossible to clean (dust would get trapped down in the inside and it would pop and spark). The little things that connect the other thing... anyhow, they broke off while we were cleaning it.

I'm not big on replacing filters all the time, but this may be the way to go. HEPA, anyone?

Here's an interesting idea.

Then you've got particles on your floor, your gear, and yourself, I presume. And the ions - who wants that much negativity in the room? We've plenty, thank you.

Suggestions? Anyone out there cleaned your air lately?

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Whilst surfing the net looking for pictures of Cornelius from Planet of the Apes (check the Misanthrope Blog to find out why), I came across this.

Truly uplifting.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


There is a new Podcast (called "Mayhappening") over at the Smoke and Mirrors podblaze page.

For the first time, I join Jackson in the studio to talk about and play some tunes. It was a lot of fun to do. For your reference, the voices were both recorded using our Studio Projects C1's.

As it is Spring, we played some "emerging" music, just breaking out of the coccoon, if you will.

Music by Strikes Again! (I hope that mix of "The Human Cannonball" is OK...), Jackson's Solo Project, the Defense Department Chamber Orchestra (a sneak peek at the Robot record), and Brain Shivers.

It's a 160kbps mp3, optimized for the web by yours truly. Let us know how the quality stacks up.

Please enjoy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Cesar Lopez is a protestor, and a musician.

"When he says we, he means the other 100 or so members of a group calling themselves the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Reaction — musicians and political activists, tired of Colombia's four-decade old war of attrition, committed not only to making music, but also making a point."

Maybe he should send one of his guitars to Neil Young.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Rob Machold, drummer/biologist, is very good at keeping an eye on Craigslist and forwarding me ads he thinks are interesting.

He sent this one this morning:

We are making a documentary about the world of Star Wars fans and are looking for a band that has written a song about something from the Star Wars universe, to film a performance for the movie. Get in touch if this is you.

Is this us? You better believe it.

Regular readers know that one of the songs The Noodle performed at Tedstock was "Princess of Alderaan", a ditty about Han Solo, Princess Leia, and R2-D2. Originally improvised live in studio a few years back (with Happy Boy), it underwent a facelift for the 'Stock performance and got a second verse.

I've sent the filmmakers emails, links to Mikedot's photos of us performing the tune at the 'Stock, and offered to use my X-Wing and Millenium Falcon toys to liven things up for their film. If you're making a film about Star Wars fans you're probably looking for some nerdiness - I'm confident we can deliver.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Yellow Brooklyn Doodle Dog, Mr. Buck, is under the weather.

He woke us up early this morning to let us know there was a problem. He's a very good boy; when he's not feeling well he jumps on us rather than heading to a corner to relieve whatever it is that's bothering him. There have been a few occasions where he's woken me up by sitting on me - when I subsequently brought him outside all hell broke loose, from his butt, if you know what I mean.

Same thing today, but he woke us up twice. Annie cancelled her appointments for the day and has been at home standing by - apparently he's been out 6 times. That's a lot. But it seems he's getting better.

Buck has a little obsession with eating every morsel he can find when he's outside, and it's led to some problems in the past. He once expelled a sausage wrap (this came out of the front door, not the back door, if you know what I mean, again). Any little chicken bone, piece of pork fried rice, birthday cake (seriously, there was an entire birthday cake in the park near my old apartment) - anything that's available... this dog will take care of it. Something tells me that's what's happened.

Anyhow, I'll keep you all posted re: Buck's poopies.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I know, they're not representative of the norm.

Why doesn't someone bomb THESE people?

Message to Fred Phelps - "Fuck you!"

Monday, April 17, 2006


The blog A Blaze in the NJ Sky has a review of the new Darvocets 12".

Read it here.

There's some useful information on where you can get the record - Painkiller, the label that released it, is sold out, but they also have links to other places where it can be bought.

(Hey - what's that Orange Record in the middle of the Painkiller homepage??!!??)

A Blaze in the NJ Sky is a good blog to read if you're into new music - really new, from bands who are certainly not to be found at Virgin or on the iTunes music store. Written by a designer, there's also nice commentary on packaging and design (for those of us who still prefer a physical object to hold in our hands while listening).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I am in the studio with Ted's keys to the studio. We're working on a record, but the keys only know how to play one thing that they keep calling their "jingle".

My cellphone battery is dead.

How will Ted get in?

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I can see the landing lights.

I believe that within the next week or so we'll have the Strikes Again! demo done. We've got final mixes of 2 out of the 5 songs ("The Human Cannonball" and "Can't Stop Now") and will be tweaking the remaining 3 songs this week.

Thursday night looks like a "Hell Disaster". This one's about how we're in the middle of a Hell Disaster, and it's soft and sweet (if your definition of soft and sweet is loud and nasty).

The remaining two songs - "Ripped Open" and "Cure All" - will have some minor adjustments made by me, sans the band. When a song is really close to being finished, it's often quicker (and more effective) for me just to bring her in alone. I don't know why, but I think it has to do with being able to concentrate solely on the sound, which is hard to do when you're also trying to figure out what the people around you are thinking. Maybe it's also 'cause I can dilly dally around without feeling like I'm wasting someone's money.

I've never been very good at wrapping up projects. When the end is in sight I feel like I'm in one of those dreams where I'm running but not moving... it always seems like there's one more thing I need to do to finish up. Committing to a final mix is never easy, especially when you really like the music you're working on and want to present it the best way possible.

I've tried to explain my views on mixing to various friends and colleagues...

- A mix is not the most important part of a production. The song and the performance are.

- A bad mix can ruin a good song and a good performance.


- One mix is as good as any other; it's all subjective.

- A bad mix can ruin a good song and a good performance.


- There is no such thing as a perfect mix, only a perfect mix session.

- A bad mix can ruin a good song and a good performance.


When I'm alone with a mix, when I can actually crawl inside of it and let the sound and the experience wash over me, it's heavenly. When it first starts to work it's transcendent.

Then you listen to it the next day and think "eh... I'm not sure." It'll make you want to hang up your headphones and unplug your monitors forever. Back to the top. Pull the thread, let the sweater unravel, and try again.

There comes a time, for every song, when I admit to myself that I really don't know what I'm doing. I'm bluffing my way through this thing and someone's gonna catch on. "Wait a second, weren't you a bio major?"

But not this time.

Monday, April 10, 2006


You all know I'm a big Dean Wareham fan. I'm also a big fan of the music he and Britta Phillips have been making with Tony Visconti.

Well, they've started work on a second record. Here's a picture of Tony, Dean, Britta, and drummer Matt Johnson in Tony's studio (this and the next photo taken from

Here's another picture, this one of Dean doing vocals:

Wait a minute! The shape of that mic is familiar...

Could Tony be using a Studio Projects C1? Or the same mic, manufactured by 797 Audio in China, and sold under any one of a number of other names? I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me. It's a good mic, and Tony's been known to use a variety of both expensive and inexpensive gear over the years.

Tony and I have similar taste in gear (there are 2 C1's at Smoke and Mirrors). He's also a fan of the ART stuff (panned by everyone except knowledgable recording engineers and producers). And his records sound amazing.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I'll say it again.

One of the most rewarding parts of recording music is when they give me my money.

Kidding. Actually, the most rewarding part is when we get a copy of a record we helped make.

Here's the latest one:

Grand Ultimate - The Sound is God

(I wrote about the sessions for this a while back.)

Grand Ultimate is a Brooklyn based live hip hop act, originally made up of just Curtis and Eddie, who play live instruments (guitars, basses, drums, keyboards), loop bits live, and rap or sing. They've recently started adding additional musicians, but even as just a two piece they're really good.

We recorded two tracks on this - "Jealous Man" (engineered by me and George at Smoke and Mirrors - I don't think the one on their website is the version we did) and "Space For the Time (Live)" (recorded live at M Shanghai Den in Williamsburg with the Smoke and Mirrors Mobile Unit 1).

The record sounds and looks great. I know they're excited, and we're happy to have another sample for the collection.


At times like this, when we're deep in debate and discussion, it's helpful to remember some of the simple, beautiful things in life.

Like kittens...

...and rainbows.

Mom's apple pie...

...and a squirrel with a machine gun.

I hope this helps.


Learn more about Scooter Libby and this week's filing.

We'll see what's true and what isn't. It'll certainly be interesting. Libby's accusations seem to make sense. Why would he have leaked info without authorization from his boss? Does anyone really think this happened?

What's not surprising is the lack of outrage by Republicans.



Are you kidding me? What were these people "protesting"? He's been indicted. He and his cronies are criminals. Ask the House Ethics Committee.

Like Newt, soon he'll be but a bad memory (although the legacy of his helping GW get into the White House will likely resonate for years as severely botched up foreign relations).

Republicans better watch it. Once again, their boundless arrogance and hypocrisy are starting to alienate the people.

Thursday, April 06, 2006



He is a hire (not an appointee), and he's apparently a giant idiot as well.

Hired or appointed, this is a black eye for Homeland Security. This guy was in his office, giving out his (government supplied) cellphone number - and office number - on the internet. He even revealed his employer.

How secure is Homeland Security when they can't even monitor what's going on in their own offices?



It's April, National Autism Awareness Month.

Hue has been posting a lot of information, much of which will be very helpful to people who know, live with, or care for someone who's autistic.

The rate that autism appears to be increasing is shocking. No one knows why it's happening, but it appears to be very real. It seems that, before long, we'll all know someone who's autistic, and the effect on our communities will be impossible to ignore. The earlier we become educated the easier it will be.

There are other issues as well.

This is one of the big ones - Hue has written about it and he's much more level headed about it than I am. I think this is outrageous and evil.

Anyhow, regardless of your politics, take some time this month to learn more about autism. It's all around us, and it's not going away.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Homeland Security - keep up the good work!


Brain Shivers, the record, is done. Fully mixed and mastered. Ready to be delivered to the replication people, who I assume will be Discmakers.

We've compiled the liner notes (simple... classic... elegant...) and our graphic designer/drummer is working on mockups of the artwork.

We'll let you know when it's officially released. There's an excellent chance we'll have some sort of party. Equally likely - we'll end up sitting around the studio and getting drunk.


Where's Jackson?

I'll tell you where he is. He's in Brooklyn.

Yes, Ted is now an official resident of the greatest Borough in the World. I know he'll want to write all about it on his blog, so I won't give away the ending.

Oh, shit. I already did.

(Related note - the Blogger spell checker does not recognize the word "blog")

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Waves has created some of the best signal processors in the business. They aren't cheap (why should they be?) and you get what you pay for.

One of the algorithms they've developed is Maxxbass, a psychoacoustic processor that increases the perceived amount of bass in an audio signal without actually adding any low end. It's based on the concept of the missing fundamental, a quirk of the human ear/brain that causes the listener to perceive notes that are non-existent when harmonics related to the note are present in a signal. Maxxbass adds a carefully calculated series of upper harmonics, the ear hears them, the brain fills in the missing low notes - and the listener experiences low end when none is there.

Since the majority of power in an audio system is used by the low end, being able to increase the loudness of the bass without changing its power (loudness and power are different - loudness is subjective - see "dB" below) means more room for the rest of the signal. Music can be mastered louder, speakers don't get damaged by trying to reproduce notes below their range, and computer speakers, headphones, and car stereos sound bigger than they could possibly be.

It's more amazing ingenuity from the people at Waves. It's also a great example of the incredible power and gullibility of the ear/brain interface.


Tomorrow is the Ching Ming festival in Hong Kong and China. It's a public holiday so offices and factories will be closed (any email you send to Hong Kong today will probably not be answered until Thursday morning).

From one of my colleagues in Hong Kong comes this explanation of the festival:

Ching Ming (or Qingming), meaning "clear and bright", is the day for mourning the dead, a day for Chinese families to visit our ancestors' graves. It falls in early April every year and corresponds with the onset of warmer weather, the start of Spring, and of family outings. This is a one-day holiday in Hong Kong for the descendants to "sweep the graves" of their ancestors. It is not a solemn occasion, but rather, a time for happy communion with family members to show respect for our ancestors.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Can anyone explain the dB (decibel) to me?

I've read page after page of definitions and descriptions. I understand it's a ratio of two values of power, and therefore has no unit (alright with the jokes). I also understand it's logarithmic, that dBSPL is used to measure the "loudness" of a sound, and that dBU is most commonly used by audio engineers.

What I can't seem to find is any consensus on change in the amount of dB's vs. loudness. Some texts claim that while 3dB is a doubling of power, 10dB is a doubling of loundess. Others say 6dB is twice as loud.

The problem is that while a dB is an absolute measurement of power, loundess is entirely subjective and depends on things like the frequency you're looking at and the sensitivity of various listeners. We essentially have to ask people to tell us when the sound seems twice as loud and then look at the dB's. But even if it's subjective, we should still have an average number of dB's that represent "twice as loud".

So what is it? Is it 6 or 10? Or something else?


I like the whole sun staying out until 9pm deal, but I want my hour back.

Mikedot and I are convinced that we've lost more than just 60 minutes. We were mixing Strikes Again! yesterday when we realized we were something like 2 hours and 22 minutes in the hole.

As of this morning I was short about 4 hours, and Mike lost a few more at some point last night. This isn't good.

If you've seen our hours, please leave a comment or forward them to us care of Smoke and Mirrors Brooklyn. They'll definitely come in handy.