Reality Jockey: Mastering Notes

(notes provided to Maraget Luthar of Chicago Mastering Service)

General Mastering Notes

Greetings Maggie! I’m thrilled to have you contribute your skills to my project. A little background for you: I recorded these songs at home in my project studio. I mixed them using a decent pair of Mackies and my Sennheiser HD600s in an oddly-shaped room with no acoustic treatment. I think the songs turned out great, but some tend to be a little muddy and I think this was due to not being able to hear what is actually going on in the mix (especially in the lower range). Please feel free to finesse accordingly.

I am really happy with how the tracks sound on all the platforms I’ve listened to them. Since I can’t accurately gauge much in my environment, I’m wondering if more continuity to the low-end globally might be something to think about.  There are guest bass players with wildly different setups on tracks 1 and 5, I’m playing my favorite cheap little Hohner bass on tracks 2 and 8, and the rest of the bass parts are various samples (upright, electric, growling synths). I can’t tell if it’s fine the way it is, or if the bass varies too much from track to track. I trust your judgement.

I like the sound that a mild multi-band compressor provides on the mix bus (which I disabled before creating the mixes you’ve got). I would also love some subtle stereo widening if that’s do-able. As per the instructions on the Chicago Mastering website, I left a ton of headroom for you to work with on all the tracks.

In the metatags I’m classifying the album as ‘Rock’ but at heart, this is really a pop album through and through. I encourage you to get creative if you feel the song calls for it! Thanks again for being a part of the project.

Following are some notes for each of the eleven tracks on the album.

Individual Track Notes

SIDE A:

01. Shangri-La
In the intro there are a couple digital artifacts (pops) on the electric bass track. These are intentional.
Please be sensitive to the guitar crescendo at the end of the breakdown (around 2:36)… I’d like to make sure those dynamics don’t get smooshed.

02. Reality Jockey
The Killers play an impromptu pool party at Janelle Monáe’s crib
no special mastering notes… do what you feel is best for the track!
start (fast-curve?) fade around 4:06 and end around 4:17?

03. Famous Bones
think Yacht Rack 2019 with a ‘Fall Out Boy-meets-Bowie’ chorus melody
no special notes. do what sounds best to you.
keep long cymbal on fade (end at 3:55?)

04. Lamppost on Sawyer
this is the first of two instrumental interludes on the album (microtonal scale & time structure based on the Golden Ratio).
master this as you hear fit.
start fade at 1:32 and end at 1:46

05. Rookie of the Year
think Daft Punk meets Steely Dan
I recorded this song a couple of years ago and the bass and mids are a little muddy. Is there anything we can do at the mastering stage to brighten the track up / add clarity?

06. Decidedly Blue
think Bacharach meets Thomas Dolby (probably equals Prefab Sprout?!)
favor wider dynamic range over maximizing volume

SIDE B:

07. The Remedy
William Orbit gave Sting some ayahuasca (or maybe the other way around)
I’d love a little extra stereo widening on this if possible
do what you think fits best given the hybrid style
let cymbal ring out fully at the end

08. Goodbye Cassiopeia
love letter to a junior astronomer
master as you see fit
start fade at 3:34 end at 3:38?

09. Clothes of the Devil
please favor dynamic range over volume
keep all the ambient room noises at the end (cut at 3:01)

10. Rise
second of two Golden Section instrumental passages
let final chime ring out fully at end (cut around 1:24?)

11. Stay Up Later
think Elvis Costello and Steely Dan holing up in an AirBNB with an 808 box and an arpeggiator
Anything you can do to accentuate the groove would be awesome.
Put on the cans and rock the faders!