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THE RECORDING ENGINEER IS THE CTO

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In the past couple weeks my company, Lauten Audio, released some exciting news regarding our microphones being used on significant recording artists.

First, we announced that Darrell Thorp, an astounding 7-time Grammy award winning mixer/recording engineer (in just a handful of years…) used a bunch of Lauten Audio microphones on the new Foo Fighters record ‘Concrete and Gold’. The album went number 1 on the Billboard Hot 200. This is a big deal.

Second, we announced that Michael Ashby, who compared to Thorp, is just getting his start in the business, but what a start it is. Michael used Lauten Audio’s flagship Eden LT-386 microphone to record and engineer the vocals for Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’ a.k.a. Money Moves. Cardi cemented her name in history when this track bumped Taylor Swift from the number 1 spot on Billboard Hot 100. She became the first female rapper to achieve that milestone as a solo artist since Lauryn Hill in 1998. Cardi B is a true rag to riches story, you should look into it. This is a bigger deal!

But here’s my reason for this post

Being a “Recording Engineer” isn’t as financially rewarding as many people think. It’s my perception the general public thinks the above engineers are getting rich. However, the reality is, and has been for a long time, Recording Engineers don’t get rich. They get paid a flat rate and that’s it. There’s no obligation for the Producer or record company to give them points (a percentage on sales of the record or song), and most don’t.

I do not know the details of Michael Ashby’s deal with Cardi or her Producer and record company but, it’s quite possible he got paid a few hundred dollars to record her that night and that’s it… Darrell on the other hand, engineered and mixed the Foo Fighter record. Mixers typically get some type of residual. But again, Darrell is likely seeing nothing from the “Engineering” part.

The Recording Engineer is the CTO

I’ve never understood this, because in my opinion, the “Engineering” part is one of the most time consuming, intense, and impactful tasks in the recording of music. The lead Recording Engineer is the equivalent of a CTO at a tech company. Do you think they should be receiving profits from a products success which they helped developed?

There is a bill

In March of 2015 Rep. Joe Crowley introduced the AMP Act, a bill to allow Music Producers, Mixers and Engineers to receive fair compensation. In my opinion, it’s the Engineers that need to most help, not the Producers and Mixers…

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Robot Vacuums Battle For Your Homes Layout, Acoustics and Airflow

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Cesare Ferrari – KC7U5443 – A long exposure of a roomba at work

As reported in a Reuters article, ‘Roomba vacuum maker iRobot is betting big on the ‘smart’ home’. There is a move to use artificial intelligence inside a robot vacuum to help it collect and then monetize on information about your home.

Here’s a few examples of what they might collect.

  1. The robot vacuum can analyze the acoustics of your home and then sell this information to companies who can help improve your homes acoustics. Actually if you’ve never considered the acoustics of your home, improving on it can truly create a much more pleasant, and in the case of a home office, professional, sounding environment.
  2. Analyze the air cleanliness and temperature in each room. This data could then be fed to your climate control unit to better regulate your homes temperature and filtration on a room by room basis.
  3. Analyze your homes layout and provide this information to furniture and decor related companies so they might recommend items that will fit in your space.
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Hidden Citizens – Shadowed Authority – Epic Cover Songs

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Hidden Citizens logo

Lately, I’ve been spending time writing a business requirement document, during which I often listen to music to keep the flow going.

My soundtrack lately has been the catalog by Hidden Citizens, a ” shadowed authority specializing in impactful music”. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few of the “shadow” figures behind the music through my company Lauten Audio; they use our Eden LT-386, multi-voicing, microphone for many of the vocals.

They have some of the most epic covers you’ll ever come across. Songs like Hungry Like the Wolf, by Duran Duran, It’s a Sin, by Pet Shop Boys, and one of my absolute favorites, Another One Bites the Dust, by Queen; that cover, holy smokes that Jaxson Gamble can sing!!!

Check out the Hidden Citizens catalog on Tidal or Spotify.

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Deepmind’s WaveNet Composes Original Piano Piece

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“WaveNets” Borrowed from WaveNet

   

WaveNet by Deepmind and/or Alphabet, Inc. and/or Google has created a very impressive audio signal modeling system.  Although Adobe’s Voco is cool, my feeling is WaveNet is much further along in development, it’s just missing the flashy live video demonstration that went viral from Adobe.

A quick summary of what WaveNet is capable of.

They trained WaveNet on a dataset of classical piano music. This dataset was generated by modeling the raw waveforms of the classical music pieces, one sample at a time with approximately 16,000 samples per second. They did not provide a musical score, structured sequence, or order, they simply allowed WaveNet to generate it’s own musical compositions based on what it learned from the music dataset. Then WaveNet takes all those many thousands of tiny audio soundwave samples and reconstructs it own compositions. Really quite amazing.

Without further ado, here’s WaveNet’s original piano compositions.

Track 1:

Track 2:

Track 3:

Track 4:

Track 5:

Track 6:

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Aham – The Abstract Expression of Modern Guitar

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corrado-aham-new-albumSome of my thoughts on Corrado Rustici’s new record,  Aham. I’ve had the record for a month now and it has taken me more time than most to absorb due to the originality and complexity. If you don’t read long posts, just skip to the last paragraph and maybe you’ll come back up for the rest.

Musically, people don’t come any more talented than Corrado. I’m no musician, I like every genre of music and I never critique publicly, but for the first time this one made me want to. I will say though, I don’t think I will fully appreciate what has been done here until I can sit down with Corrado and he explains how he accomplished what he did.

Thank you letter from Corrado Rustici

Letter from Corrado.

Aham is an extraordinary forward thinking, artistic musical venture into the experimental realm of modern guitar. It creates a vision of true art, imagine your favorite abstract piece.. For those that don’t know, the entire record was created with guitars, nothing else except a couple tracks with vocals, which of course are human voices. Corrado did not use synthesizers, samplers or electronic instruments anywhere on the album! As someone who is often listening to the timbre of specific instruments this album challenges the aural senses beyond my comprehension. Why beyond? Because I have no idea the specifics of how they were created, yes I hear snare, a hi-hat, cymbals, kick, keys, strings, keyboards etc. etc. etc., but the reality and challenge to your senses is that they are not there, those are guitars, ALL GUITARS!

The opening track, As Dark Bleeds Light, is conservative and safe, a bit of an outlier in my opinion relative to the rest of the record, great timbre and a smooth track and it gives us just a hint of what’s to come as it progresses.

Upon entering track 2, Ananda’s First Steps, you begin to get drawn into Corrado’s story, the strings sway beautifully, wait, shoot, I forgot, those aren’t strings… and you hear some classic “Corrado Rustici” guitar riffs, the track fades beautifully.

The Duke and The Hare, track 3, Corrado begins to almost literally speak to you with the lead guitar, rounding out the track are what you would think are keys, and a mellow 80’s drum kit, but of course we know there’s none of that. I love how the guitar talks and the timbre of the guitar is just at the point of distorting.

Now track 4, The Guilty Thread, we enter Corrado’s foreign land, we get to hear Corrado’s softly aged voice and the fine details from his throat and chest, it’s nice. The guitar leads come and go with lightning like strikes at times, and we again get to hear classic Rustici whisking solo’s. The track is rounded out with more percussion which of course are guitar magic. The track ends like an intense dramatic movie with a long sustained guitar fade, wonderful.

Corrado Rustici

Corrado Rustici

Track 5, Roots of Progression, appropriately named, enters with a brief reminiscence of Corrado’s Nova years. We are whisked away on a jazzy journey of percussion and guitar madness with interludes of sleek solo’s and breaks into a 70’s classic rock riff mixed with 70’s progressiveness, there’s even a couple snare riffs that remind me of 90’s speed metal and we end with an ultimate crescendo of sheer awesomeness.

Track 6, Alcove of Stars, also an outlier, with guest lead vocalist Andrew Strong, we enter what I would call a very commercial tune that will no doubt end up on the sync market and carrying a movie or TV drama. It’s a beautiful and catchy tune that reminds me of a better than 80’s ballad with an insane amount of talent. Andrew’s voice is excellent especially when he pushes it.

Moving into Track 7, The Last Light Spoken, we begin entering the last and final dimension of Aham, good speakers required, I like my Focal Solo 6’s, my old Dyna Audio BM5A’s at home didn’t do it justice as there are subtle details and tricks in the track that they didn’t express well if at all. If you don’t have good monitors get some decent headphones like the Focal Spirit Pro’s. I have no idea how Corrado created the kick drum with a guitar in this track, but its freaking cool, it’s like a classic kick mic being pushed just passed the overload point, but there was no kickdrum, remember?…

And finally we enter the Aham Suite, too soon in my opinion, because when tracks 8 and 9 are complete I was left wanting more, much more! Track 8 and Part 1, The Enquiry, sounds exactly like its title, I feel like I’m in some type of purgatory awaiting judgement, it’s scary with a timbre of insanity in its subtle intensity, it ends just before you feel like you’ll break. It’s musical art at its finest. Then the weight of our enquiry is lifted and we immediately enter Part 2 Aham. Corrado, you’re not singing? Perhaps not, but wow oh wow that guitar vocal is amazing, totally engrossing and absolute wizardry. Whether you believe in some type of after life or not, this track will take you there for 5 minutes and 47 seconds. Corrado’s soloing is perfect, he’s not bragging, but rather carrying you through a wonderland dimension of finality. Sadly you begin to feel the end is near as you hit the crescendo and the guitar passionately weeps as it gently sets you back down to reality. Damn that track is amazing. I’ve held back from over listening to it as I want to savoir its beauty.
That’s Aham for me.

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Running out of air – One scary exhibit

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Patrick Bernatchez “Lost in Time” at Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal. You couldn’t help but stop and listen. This reminded me of something Jack Goldstein may have done back in the day.

 

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