Cambodian Rock

There's a movie headed your way soon that you should see.  "Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock & Roll" is a documentary about the music scene in Cambodia during the 1960's.  It's a story that sadly few of us know little about, but the film's director John Pirozzi does an excellent job of educating, entertaining and generally taking the viewer back to the heyday of rock music in Phnom Penh.  I was fortunate enough to be given the task to restore and master the music for the film's soundtrack that is being released by Dust-to-Digital, May 12th.  The music rocks.  You should add the album to your collection as soon as possible.  Here's the trailer:

 

The movie made its New York City premiere at the Film Forum immediately followed by a concert at the City Winery featuring some of the surviving Cambodian musicians.  

Pretty great, huh?  That's Kagnol Mol seated playing guitar, founding member of Cambodia’s first surf guitar band, Baksey Cham Krong.  

This is him playing guitar back in the 60's on one of my favorite tracks from the new DTIF soundtrack.


Best Historical Album round-up

The L.A. Times gives an excellent run-down of this year's GRAMMY nominees for Best Historical Album with some especially nice things to say about my work on the Hank Williams record:

"Equally exciting, it's a beautifully engineered recording seemingly rescued from oblivion. Using the only known copies, 16-inch records with lots of crackle and pop, Grammy-winning mastering engineer Michael Graves (also nominated for "Longing for the Past" -- see below) seems to have resurrected the spirit of Williams himself."


Double GRAMMY nomination for Michael Graves

Wow!  I'm extremely honored to announce that I've been nominated for two GRAMMYs this year!  Congratulations to fellow nominees Lance Ledbetter & Dave Murray at Dust-to-Digital for Longing For The Past: The 78 RPM Era In Southeast Asia AND Cheryl Pawelski & Colin Escott at Omnivore Recordings for Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950.  Both releases have been nominated for Best Historical Album.  I'm thrilled to be a part of these two projects.  Congratulations to the other nominees in Best Historical; I'm so proud to be in a category with such amazing work!  The 57th GRAMMY Awards will be held at 1:00 PM, February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA.  Thank you Recording Academy for recognizing these projects!

Longing For The Past

PopMatters takes a look at Dust-to-Digital's Longing For The Past.  Along with the review is a great interview with the compilation producer David Murray.

"My interest in these old recordings, at least partially, is that they hint at the way music sounded before the recording process was invented. Centuries of music have come and gone, unrecorded. Our whole recorded history is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s as if the only photo you had of your life was from yesterday."

OSIRIS STUDIO - MASTERED FOR ITUNES

I’m happy to announce that Osiris Studio has been approved by Apple to provide Mastered for iTunes (MFiT) mastering services.  What does this mean exactly?  Currently an album or track baring the MFiT logo is the highest quality download that you can get from the iTunes store.  Until the MFiT program was initiated anything downloaded from the iTunes store was originally mastered for CD then converted to AAC by Apple.  The fact that this music would be encoded and listened to as compressed audio was sort of an afterthought.

Most of the audio I work with starts out as high resolution.  Like any other mastering engineer my process has been to take the finished high res masters, reduce them to CD quality and supply those to my clients who pass them on to their digital download aggregator to be encoded for download.  MFiT takes that unnecessary step of converting the high res audio to CD quality out of the equation and creates their MFiT tracks directly from the high res source files.  And the results sound pretty great.  Here’s a more technical description of what I just said direct from Apple:

"Apple’s latest encoding methodology is a two-step process. The first step in the encoding path is to use state-of-the-art, mastering-quality Sample Rate Conversion (SRC) to resample the master file to a sample rate of 44.1kHz.

Because this SRC outputs a 32-bit floating-point file, it can preserve values that might otherwise fall outside of the permitted amplitude range. This critical intermediary step prevents any aliasing or clipping that could otherwise occur in SRC. It is this 32-bit floating file that’s used as the input to the encoder and is one key reason for such stunning results.

Our encoders then use every bit of resolution available, preserving all the dynamic range of a 24-bit source file and eliminating the need for dithering. The advantage of this is twofold. Not only does it obviate the need of adding dither noise, it also lets the encoders work more efficiently as they don’t need to waste resources encoding this unwanted and unnecessary noise."

The full article can be found here.

Every format has limitations that need to be considered by a mastering engineer, whether it's vinyl, CD or compressed audio.  Since digital downloads have become the dominant format it makes sense to take the limitations of the format into consideration during the mastering process to avoid problems that can arise from the encoding.  Compressed audio isn't perfect but it can sound better than it has in the past.