LCD Soundsystem Is Playing To A Mouse, A Mouse

Mar 16th, 2007 // 8 Comments

murphysbathtime.jpgIt’s a registration-required article, alas, but today’s Wall Street Journal looks at the boom in rustic or makeshift music studios:

In the last two weeks, about half of the new albums with featured reviews on Pitchfork, an independent-music Web site, were recorded either in makeshift studios or professional ones in pastoral settings. Arcade Fire bought an old church outside Montreal to record last week’s “Neon Bible,” which has since sold 92,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Brit-rock band the Kaiser Chiefs recorded their second album, “Yours Truly, Angry Mob,” which comes out March 27, at a country manor in Berkshire, England. (Rustic is relative: The manor includes a professional studio and advertises its gym and heated pool.)

[LCD Soundsystem]‘s well-reviewed new album, “Sound of Silver,” will come out Tuesday, at the same time as “Living with the Living” from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, which was recorded at the same countryside studio in North Brookfield, Mass. There, the 100-acre Long View Farm Studios operates like a bed and breakfast — with recording studios in a barn and a 19th-century farmhouse. (Nightly room rate, with recording sessions: $1,000 to $2,000)…

One reason for the recent wave: Smaller and less expensive digital production tools have allowed producers and bands to set up studios in unusual places. (Rock outfit My Morning Jacket has recorded in a Kentucky grain silo.) Moreover, music’s sales slump has put many studios out of business, and their equipment has flooded the market, according to Mark McKenna, general manager of Allaire Studios, a facility in New York’s Catskill Mountains. “The whole business is becoming decentralized,” he says.

There are several creative advantages to working in an off-the-beaten-path locale, including less noise, fewer distractions, and a “we came here and we gotta do this” sense of purpose. Plus, you can grow your own drugs, thus eliminating the middle-man, and allowing you to spend your weed per diem on boondocks prostitutes.

‘Great CD — Loved the Crickets’ [WSJ, registration required]

  1. Chris Molanphy

    Does anybody know if the LCD album changed materially from when it leaked last fall? I’ve been listening to (and loving) Sound of Silver for months.

    If even one track changed, I’ll support Murphy’s first-week sales and go buy it.

  2. xtianrut

    @noamjamski: A Pro Tools rig and some mics do not make a recording engineer. Expecting a band to self-record and get a market-ready record & mix is nuts, unless they’re already studio-types (LCD, Deerhoof, etc.). Until you’ve tried to get decent drum sounds recorded, even in a great studio, it’s impossible to appreciate the art of recording.

    As for mastering: If the mix blows, mastering can’t, as they say, polish that turd. It didn’t save that new Arcade Fire record…

  3. xtianrut

    Man, did I say “record” or some version of the word enough in that last post? Keeerist!

  4. noamjamski

    @xtianrut: At this point, Pro Tools a few mics, and a suite of plug-ins do not make a recording engineer, agreed, but it makes a person who can create an album in 2007.

    Even drum replacement technology has been automated to the point you don’t need a great drum sound, just a great drum performance.

    Modeling technology has come into its own to the point you can use Guitar Rig and make something passable to 80% of music listeners. You should see some of the conditions I have worked in recently that have yielded commercially used recordings.

    Nothing is going to sounds like a great studio record of the 70s, but something that sounds “right” on the iPod at 320kbs VBR? Absolutely.

    If you go to the right mastering lab, and spend the time, care and money to get a veteran, there is a LOT that can be done in the end stage to correct the errors of an amateur mix. I have seen some astounding things that I personally do not have the skill to do myself.

  5. beta.rogan

    I agree… I think the key part of this argument is WHERE people listen to music these days. Your average Joe and Jane are (at best) listening to a 192k MP3 (or similar) with crap headphones, on a computer, or on a car stereo, etc. If you had a set of monitors, or even a decent set of home stereo speakers, I’m sure you could detect a difference in cheap recording A and proper recording B, but most people don’t care. And cheaper to make is more profit in the end.

    Getting a good drum sound is a beotch though….

  6. myrrh

    hey, weren’t deep purple singing about “that rolling truck stones thing” (c.f. “smoke on the water”) back in 1971? good recording has always been providing an environment (physically and, yknow, like, chemically, man) in which a great performance can take place, and capturing it well. it’s wonderful that digital recording allows people to find more and more interesting places in which to capture those performances with the same kind of precision and quality as in a “recording studio” proper. excellent.

    ditto to @xtianrut – there’s no such thing as “fixing” a bad mix in mastering. garbage in = garbage out.

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