The Nooner

I was in such a rushed to get back to the office from my afternoon tryst, that I left my cell phone at her place.

I snuck out of the office at noon. I jumped the Q to Canal Street, emerging amidst the bustle of t-shirt hucksters and purse peddlers. I stepped into the elevator — one of those old fashioned ones with a gate and a lever — and took it to the fourth floor.

Her studio was empty. She met me at the door in a sheer vintage dress and thigh-high boots.

“You got the mixes?”

She is Amy Hills, my singer/songwriter friend who also happens to work at The Engine Room where producer Mark Christensen is mastering my forthcoming CD, “Heartland,” as we speak.

Mixing is kind of an obvious process: one adjusts each individual track (vocals, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards) in relation to the others. But mastering is a dark science. I’ve attended mastering sessions — which usually take just a few hours for an entire album — and its a little like watching the leaves change. That is, something’s happening, but there’s not a ton of evidence to confirm it. Still, an unmastered record is pretty obvious to the ears. Some songs are louder than others, some songs have too much treble or bass, and in general, there’s no consistency.

I had just two directions for Mark in our hurried meeting: make it warm and spacious.

Warm and spacious, like The Heartland. Well, emotionally anyway. Winter’s are a bitch.

Here’s the final track listing for the record:

1- Harder To Believe
2- Milk & Honey
3- Better Than That
4- Cry
5- Dark Blue
6- Untitled
7- Heartland
8- Long Way Down
9- Sweet Charity
10- Dry Your Eyes
11- Do It Again
12- Girlfriend

I pick up the reference CD this afternoon. If all is well, Mark will print two masters, Amy will make a few advance copies (for press and such), and I will send of the masters and the art work to Copy Cats Media in Minneapolis, MN. The route of “Heartland” from my hands to yours, then, will be New York City (recording), Des Moines (recording), Minneapolis (mixing), New York City (mastering), Minneapolis (duplication).

That’s a lot of heart, and a lot of land.

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