Saturday 6 September 2008

Fingernails on strings ... Steve Albini engineering Edith Frost

Today: production.

Listen to Edith Frost's 'True' (download via YouSendIt) through headphones. Good ones. It is a fantastic listening experience: an immersive mix.

Listen to the warmth and weight of the double bass, the closeness, detail and texture of the acoustic guitar in your right ear (you can hear her fingernails on the strings), distant, gentle cymbal splashes.

Now, who might have been responsible for such nuanced, intelligent, acoustically faithful reproduction?

Mr Steve Albini, of course.

There's the same creaky, slightly countrified, as-if-recorded-in-a-barn quality that characterises Albini's outstanding work with Nina Nastasia ( Some people who've listened to Pixies and Nirvana's In Utero accuse Albini of having a signature sound.

These people are deeply misguided. If they'd only listen to Edith Frost and Nina Nastasia, eh?

Albini is a legend.

Edith Frost (website, ain't so bad, either. But she didn't reply to the email I once sent her. Tsk. Especially now that she's commented rather fascinatingly on this very blog post. Check out the comments for her words on the recording sessions for the album ...

A note
If anyone in a position to do so objects to my linking to this Edith Frost mp3, I cordially invite them to let me know and ask me to remove it. The mp3 is provided as a means by which people unfamiliar with Edith Frost's music may acquaint themselves therewith. If you like it, please go buy your own copy of the song.


Edith Frost said...

Oh dear, my apologies for not writing you back. I did put your mp3s on my iPhone, and I do remember catching a few of those tracks some days later, and liking them! I'm not very qualified or able to critique other people's music, but I like what I like. :-) Anyway I guess your email got lost in the pile somewhere between the downloading and the listening, sorry about that!

Steve was awesome to work with and I got really spoiled working at Electrical. It's not just Steve and his skills, it's also this amazing space he's created, and the gear he's collected. He's thought about every little detail that would make it easier for a musician to get on with it and finish a project quickly and comfortably. I really appreciated that whole mentality, and of course I was thrilled with the way the record came out.

We recorded all the basic tracks with everybody playing at once (the isolation is so good!) and then overdubbed the lead vocals afterwards, plus a few solo parts and other bits and bobs. So it sounds really LIVE to me. Pristinely recorded, but very live-ish. So cool, and terrifying! Because screwing up in the studio by yourself is one thing, but doing it with 8 other people playing along, who are all playing beautifully -- I can't deal with the guilt! So I was trying very hard not to do that. ;-)

Tom Parnell said...

Crikey, I was a little surprised to see a comment from Edith Frost appear ... Such are the wonders of the global village, I suppose.

Anyhow, thank you for that extremely interesting message.

(And I'd like to add, for the record, that I wasn't actually *expecting* a reply to that email ... tsk indeed ...)

I agree: it *does* sound incredibly live. So very present. That's the thing I like so much about Albini's production: the way you really feel as though you're in the same room ...

Edith Frost said...

Oh I have a Google Alert set to notify me of any new pages that include the words "Edith", "Frost" and "tsk". ;-)

halem said...

Ah, the wonders of Google Alerts.

I really do love this song. I feel such a weird surge of emotion when i listen to it - especially when it gets to the bit "i can't believe you never knew..."

Really interesting to hear about the recording.

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