The Way Things Work (CD 2000)

Consider this blog a journey through my musical past. I'll be digging through the ins and outs of the songs to provide background and insight. This exercise is as much for me as it is for you.

Each day (hopefully), I will post a track from my history - in chronological order, starting with my disc from the year 2000, The Way Things Work. The record name comes from the great set of books, The Way Things Work vol.1 and 2 (the originals, not to be confused with the superb David Macaulay series The New Way Things Work). These are wonderfully illustrated volumes and fired me up with the way they detail how common mechanical items function. I want to know how things work - how I work and how I work with them. The packaging started my obsession with rubber stamps and Kraft paper sleeves - which may have been contagious.

The record was recorded mostly by me at home with a few things done with TW Walsh (I will point those out when I get to the tracks) and it was mixed by Tim and I. I think it was done at an apartment of his in a spare bedroom. No mastering on this one folks - I like it that way.


tww said...

wait a second, didn't i master this record? someone made the cd...i thought it was me. maybe not!

BMR said...

I guess you technically did master the record but there was no additional work during mastering. we did that all in the mix. should I repress the CD with the proper credit?

tww said...

yeah i think that a deluxe reissue is in order! :) perhaps you can include the unreleased _disappointed_ ethan berry monserrat live 4 track sessions.

at any rate, mastering doesn't necessarily entail eq and dynamics processing for the individual tracks. a conservative approach still involves a lot of work in getting the relative volumes right, sequencing and putting the right amount of space in between tracks, in addition to creating a quality-controlled red book audio cd with a low error rate suitable for replication. in fact, a really well mixed record will require almost no "mastering" besides the absolutely necessary technical tasks required in creating a CDR that won't be rejected by the manufacturing plant.

nowadays, if you have an iMac and garageband, you can do the bare minimum in iTunes! it will probably sound bad, but a CD plant won't reject it unless something has gone terribly wrong because they have much more advanced hardware and software.

in 2000, it was a different story. you needed specialized equipment and knowledge in order to make a CD for replication and to provide the plant with the required PQ code information on paper. i remember buying a very expensive SCSI based CD writer around 1996. i think it cost me $500 and i needed a SCSI card in my computer as well. CDRs were about $2 a piece. i could only write CDs at slower than real time. a 40 minute CD would take 60+ minutes to burn, and only 1 out of every 3 cds would finish burning. only half of those would play in a regular CD player. it was pretty frustrating.

long story short, i mastered "the way things work".


tww said...

ps, check out this wikipedia article on cd mastering. you'll see that "signal processing" is only one of 11 "steps".

this is just for information! mastering has a strange reputation in this day and age...it's not ALL about getting it LOUD! :)


tww said...

one last ps! i think cdrs were actually around $5 in '96. they were probably down to $2 in 2000. my posts are getting ridiculous.

BMR said...

so Tim, you are saying I owe you $506.00 now?

tww said...

plus interest! :)

nah, i'm just trying to help clarify the definition of mastering and establish the fact that even the most basic mastering is non-trivial. it was much moreso the case 7 years ago.

jason said...

This album is like "The Dream of the Blue Turtles" by Sting in that you can imagine the songs being played by the artist's former band.

BMR said...

I'd like it to be reversed though. The Police doing "The Way Things Work" and Disappointed doing "Dream of the Blue Turtles"