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James Bacon - Biography / Discography

 

BIOGRAPHY

James' career has taken him across a diversity of musical genres, spanning 2 decades.

In service of other musicians, he has worked as a producer and engineer, providing recording, mixing and mastering for numerous commercial releases. He has also worked as a session musician and musical arranger.

He is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer, and has undertaken various aspects of music consultancy.

He has written for International Piano Magazine, and has recently collaborated with jazz pianist and music educator Mark Polishook to produce an online article focussing on pianos, pianists, and the specialist recording process that piano-based music demands.

James has written and performed classical, electronic, experimental and rock music, as a solo artist, and in collaboration with other musicians. He plays piano, bass, electric guitar and synthesisers, and has knowledge in all aspects of programming and music technology.

He has written around 60 commissioned pieces for use in film, TV and documentary.

James' current focus is on multimedia music presentation. Since the beginning of 2014, he has produced over 70 music videos and a full-length commercial DVD. He is currently completing a documentary charting the story of Phoenix Pianos, makers of the world's first all carbon fibre piano, Carbiano.

2016 saw the development of a new project with violinist and scholar David Milsom, to record and video the complete works for solo violin by JS Bach. Further details here

A parallel project with the Meiningen Ensemble Duo - David Milsom and Jonathan Gooing - will feature the sonatas for violin and piano by Elgar and Brahms, alongside works by Arvo Pärt and James MacMillan.

 

 

DISCOGRAPHY: 1996 - present

 

 

ARTIST: Mike De Costa & Andrea Campbell-Mapplebeck

ALBUM: Love & Music (2017)

ROLE: Audio engineering, mastering, photography, sleeve design

 

Love & Music sees celebrated baritone Mike De Costa and his mezzo-soprano duet partner Andrea Campbell-Mapplebeck consolidating their favourite works from concert performances. Carefully chosen pieces from the great musicals bring together both duets and solos.

Ably accompanied by Matthew Collins on piano, the disc was cut with minimal editing, capturing something of the feel of a live performance.

From my perspective, this disc was highly enjoyable to produce, with the recording sessions striking a perfect balance between good humour, consummate professionalism, and productivity.

For the front cover photograph, we chose to break the mould a little, opting for a more informal kind of artist portrait.

Mike De Costa Singing Academy

 

 

 

ARTIST: Dr Rob & the Radi8ors

ALBUM: Dr Rob & the Radi8ors (2017)

ROLE: Mastering engineer, graphic design

 

Having recently completed mastering for The Mission's 2016 album Another Fall From Grace - produced by Tim Palmer and Wayne Hussey - Tim kindly put my name forward when asked by (Dr) Rob Doyle about mastering services.

The Radi8ors album is all about a "back-to-basics" band sound; something powerfully unfussy, with the emphasis on organic instrumental capture and, strong, distinctive songwriting.

Mastering this record required a careful balance between making the material sit comfortably within today's commercial sound, whilst keeping in mind the classic character of albums produced in the 1970s and 80s; the era before brickwall compression became the norm.

What results is a dynamic record, with a full, warm sound.

We mastered separately for vinyl and CD releases, and again for online promotional use. One size does not always fit all !

www.theradi8ors.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

ARTIST: Ensemble 360

PROJECT: Video Promos (2016)

ROLE: Audio and Video production

Ensemble 360 is an internationally-recognised chamber group, formed by Music in the Round in 2005. Their marketing department contacted me after seeing my video work with violinist David Milsom.

The remit here was to produce an elegant set of video miniatures, in which the musicality and dynamic interaction of the players would shine through.

Violinist Claudia Ajmone-Marsan and violist Ruth Gibson selected three contrasting Bartók duets. The resulting video captures both the passion of the music, and the sheer enjoyment these players bring to their ensemble work.

www.ensemble360.co.uk

 

 

 

ARTIST: Paul Burnell / James Bacon

ALBUM: It May Have Been (2016)

ROLE: Pianist, audio engineer, producer, sleeve design

 

London-based composer Paul Burnell happened upon one of my YouTube performances back in 2015, whilst looking for a suitable pianist and studio to capture the highlights of his piano compositions, spanning some 30 years.

After a telephone call, he shared the scores to his works, which I then studied for a while. I found his sometimes "minimalist" style intriguing and attractive. Perhaps "minimalist" is the wrong word; these pieces are in fact very precisely crafted and highly evocative.

Paradoxically, I found it to be a case that the fewer the notes, the greater the challenge as an interpreter. Every note is precious, and the spaces between them become just as weighty as the notes that figure them. There is nowhere to hide.

The more motoric pieces were a good foil, but had their own technical challenges: they needed - at least in my mind - to be metronomic, but not robotic.

It May Have Been received a 4 star review from International Piano Magazine., and a very favourable write up from Frances Wilson of The Cross-Eyed Pianist

www.cdbaby.com

 

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ARTIST: The Mission

ALBUM: Another Fall From Grace (2016)

ROLE: Mastering engineer

 

Another Fall From Grace celebrates The Mission's 30th Anniversary, and is undoubtedly one of their finest albums to date. Whilst entering the UK Top 40, it received widespread critical acclaim from music journalists, alongside genuine enthusiasm from the band's loyal international fanbase.

Produced by Texas-based Tim Palmer - something of a legend within the industry - with Mission frontman Wayne Hussey co-producing, the album is powerful, dynamic, and beautifully layered. With Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) and Gary Numan amongst the guest vocalists, it was a thrill to master this LP.

We produced separate masters for the vinyl and CD versions. It's probably fair to say this is a "big" sounding record. I love it.

See (and hear) their second single, Tyranny of Secrets

www.themissionuk.com

 

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ARTIST: Gregory S Davies

ALBUM: Dee-Dat-N-Doo (2016)

ROLE: Audio engineer, producer

 

Recorded over approximately 18 months, Dee-Dat-N-Doo sees Gregory S Davies further evolve and expand as a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. With several years of touring behind him - both solo and with full band - the songs are presented with an easy confidence.

From my own perspective, the LP also represents an evolution, in terms of the studio equipment used, and the production philosophy that brought these new songs to fruition. They have a warm, clear hi-fi quality about them, with the overall aesthetic leaning towards a natural sound, harking back to the days of vinyl. That's what suits the stlye.

www.bandcamp.com

 

 

 

ARTIST: Neil Miles

ALBUM: Through My Eyes (2015)

ROLE: Pianist, engineer, producer

 

Neil Miles is a UK composer and piano teacher who writes in a contempory classical style. He liked the idea of another pianist interpreting and recording a selection of his works, and so I was keen to study his scores.

We worked closely on each piece, sharing recordings and thoughts via email. Often it made sense to record several versions - with slight variations in tempo, for instance - to see which would best suit Neil's artistic vision.

The resulting album comprises 10 pieces, mostly for solo piano, but several are duets with either violin or cello.

Neil Miles' website

 

Meiningen Enseble Trio

 

ARTIST: Meiningen Ensemble Trio

ALBUM: History Happening (2015)

ROLE: Audio engineer, producer

 

Meiningen Ensemble Trio is a collaboration between violinist David Milsom, cellist George Kennaway, and pianist Jonathan Gooing. All three players hold senior lecturing roles in university music departments.

Their aim is to explore research-based readings of historical music in modern settings. They are an ensemble-in-residence at Huddersfield University's centre for performance research, "HuCPeR".

This live recording, made at St Paul's, Huddersfield, was originally intended simply to capture the performance for the members of the ensemble. But, with just 2 widely-spaced microphones, the recording turned out so well that the ensemble chose to print CDs.

There are now plans to return to the venue to produce video under studio conditions.

www.meiningenesmble.com

 

 

Mindfeel Constructive Interference

 

ARTIST: Mindfeel

ALBUM: Constructive Interference (1995, released 2015)

ROLE: Co-writer and co-producer with Robin Downe and Simon Hinkler

 

This electronica album, written and recorded back in 1995, represents the epitome of Mindfeel's early output. For reasons too complex to detail here, the album was shelved for 20 years.

Myself, Robin Downe and Simon Hinkler joined forces to produce a record that would work both at home and in clubs. We took out our studio to play a number of ecstatic (and loud) shows, receiving critical acclaim, and resulting in a deal with V2 Music Publishing.

Despite the limitations of our equipment at the time - and possibly because of them - we innovated our own library of samples, creating synth sounds from such sources as acoustic guitar harmonics, voices and ad-hoc household percussion.

20 years down the line, the album still sounds fresh, and the excitement and sense of possibility that went into the production can still be sensed.

Mindfeel official Facebook page

Mindfeel hosted on Simon Hinkler's website

 

 

Wayne Hussey - Live DVD

 

ARTIST: Wayne Hussey

TITLE: Songs Of Candlelight And Razorblades LIVE DVD x 2 + CD (2015)

ROLE: Mastering engineer

 

2014 saw Wayne Hussey touring his solo album of the same name, with over 50 dates around the UK and Europe.

His shows not only featured tracks from the superb studio CD, but also inventive and compelling renditions of classics by The Mission, All About Eve, George Michael, Depeche Mode, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix and Radiohead.

During his shows, Wayne delivered some extraordinary vocal performances with a range of instruments: acoustic guitar, stage piano, baritone guitar, electric guitar and ukelele, often combining them with loops and effects to create a dynamic series of soundscapes - an ambitious vision that worked brilliantly.

Having been lucky enough to attend his Sheffield show, and further honoured to have performed keyboards for Swansong the same night, it was the icing on the cake to master the audio for this live release, recorded at Leeds Trinity and Workington Carnegie.

DVD x 2+ CD set available for pre-order below, and sample excerpts over on Soundcloud.

The Mission Official Merchandise

Wayne's Soundcloud Page

 

Play at 9

 

ARTIST: Ràj Veer

TITLE: Play at 9 (2015)

ROLE: Audio engineer, cameraman, co-production + videography with Ràj

Play at 9 is a composition that blends classical Indian and contemporary styles. It was performed entirely by multi-instrumentalist Ràj Veer, with each performance captured from 3 camera angles.

The video sequence unfolds to showcase Ràj's wide-ranging talents, and highlights the creative and visual possibilities for artists recording here. This was the basis for the collaboration, along with the sheer fun of documenting the making of a recording via video.

Play at 9 on YouTube

Ràj Veer Music

 

 

 

ARTIST: Tom Linden - composer

TITLE: Urban Hymn - A Film by Michael Caton-Jones (2015)

ROLE: Pianist /piano audio engineer for soundtrack

 

Urban Hymn is a film by Michael Caton-Jones, director of Basic Instinct II, Scandal, Rob Roy, Memphis Belle (etc).

London-based composer Tom Linden has composed extensively for TV and film, and scored Urban Hymn.

Tom approached me after hearing a Satie Gnossienne I had recorded and uploaded to YouTube, as the playing and sound seemed just right for the piano pieces in his score.

I received twelve pieces in demo form, and started by scoring out the piano parts which were originally recorded in midi using a digital piano for demo purposes.

These piano parts had to be recorded and produced to a tight deadline.

One of the challenges was to make piano parts - recorded to a clicktrack - sound natural. Film music is often very precisely timed, and so there was no option but to record with the tempi already defined.

 

IMDB Cast and Crew

 

 

Manjeet Singh - Maa

 

ARTIST: Manjeet Singh

ALBUM: Maa - A Song To Mothers (2015)

ROLE: Engineer, co-producer, pianist, videography

 

Manjeet Singh came to the studio needing both a sensitive environment for recording for his new single, and a piano / pianist. The piece originates from a collaboration to arrange his song with mutli-instrumentalist and producer Ràj Veer.

The project quickly developed into video, shot mainly in the studio, but also on the streets of Sheffield late into a rainy, windswept evening.

www.manjeetsingh.com

 

 

Maite Guirre - Granados

 

ARTIST: Maite Aguirre

ALBUM: Granados - Danzas Españolas (2014)

ROLE: Engineer, producer, photography, sleeve design, videography

 

Spanish concert pianist Maite Aguirre chose to record one of Spain's greatest composers for her new album. Two days were dedicated to recording these twelve dances. On the third day, there was a chance to make a video of the most famous piece from the set: Andaluza.

Remarkably, Maite was able to deliver a superb video performance on the first take.

Now London-based, Maite is not only a solo recitalist, she is also an in-demand conductor and educator, and plays as one half of a four-hands piano duo.

www.maiteaguirre.com

 

 

 

ARTIST: Sheffield Chamber Choir

ALBUM: Stabat Mater (2014)

ROLE: Live audio engineer, mastering, photography and sleeve design

 

A live concert performance by the Sheffield Chamber Choir with soloists, recorded in high-resolution audio, with video from 2 camera angles.

The acoustics at St. Maries, Sheffield, are magnificent. With two Neve-designed ribbon mics in situ, the choir and instrumentalists varied their location throughout the programme: a trumpet from a distant balcony; the choir moving to the back; a vocal soloist from out of view.

Such varied staging was the vision of conductor, Robert Webb. By keeping the mics static, the listener experiences the width and depth of the performance during stereo playback.

Sheffield Chamber Choir

 

 

Gregory S Davies - Northern Climes EP

 

ARTIST: Gregory S Davies

ALBUM: Northern Climes EP ( 2014)

ROLE: Producer, engineer, mastering

 

Having recorded his debut album Santiago at our studio across 2012 -13, 2014 saw Greg return to begin work on his second LP.

So many songs amassed that Greg decided to release a set of stylistically harmonious pieces as a five-track EP.

Northern Climes showcases Greg's multi-instrumental talents: he plays drums, bass, electric and acoustic guitars, piano and synths.

The EP also highlights his unique, rich voice, and his ability to write lyrics across a range of subjects with integrity and insight. Some lyrics are - unusually - of a historical nature. Some play with shifts in narrative perspective. Others look to the future, and ask timeless questions in new ways. Whatever Greg writes is always worthy of repeated listening.

Northern Climes will be available on Bandcamp for both CD and digital purchase. Link to follow.

Meanwhile previews are to be found on Soundcloud, and on our Media page.

 

 

Wayne Hussey - Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades

 

ARTIST: Wayne Hussey

ALBUM: Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades (2014)

ROLE: Mastering engineer

 

Wayne Hussey is perhaps best-known for co-founding and fronting The Mission. Previous to that he was a member of The Sisters of Mercy and Dead or Alive.

Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades is his second solo album. A stylistically diverse record, it coheres around his distinctive songwriting, vocal and multi-instrumental talent.

Initial discussions about what style mastering would best suit the programme led to a shared aim to avoid the current trend for "loud" records, allowing the music to breathe and shine dynamically, as classic albums used to.

As Wayne's studio is based in Brazil, the entire mastering process was undertaken via internet file transfer.

On his current UK tour, I had the pleasure of duetting a piano arrangement of Swan Song with Wayne at his Sheffield concert.

The Mission - Official Site

 

 

Roy Todd

 

ARTIST: Roy Todd

ALBUM: Seasons (DVD) - (2014)

ROLE: Recording, mixing, mastering, videography

 

Having won a global online audience in recent years, composer-pianist Roy Todd is to release his first DVD - Seasons.

Accompanying the footage is an interview in which Roy explains his approach to composition, pianism, and the role of technology in modern music presentation.

Roy Todd Music

 

 

Zoe Helena - Paint Me Colours

 

ARTIST: Zoë Helena

ALBUM: Paint Me Colours (2014)

ROLE: Producer, recording and mastering engineer

 

A talented singer-songwriter at the start of her music career, Zoë came here to record her debut EP. She tracked simultaneous guitar / vocal performances, adding guest acoustic bass and her own backing vocals afterwards.

Zoë is also a talented artist. She produced a set of paintings for her EP, which we then formatted for the CD packaging.

She will be launching her EP with live performances starting January 2015.

Zoe Helena

 

Dragonfly Tattoo - Mad Cat Woman

 

ARTIST: Dragonfly Tattoo

TITLE: Mad Cat Woman / Deep C / Spider's Song (2014)

ROLE: Videography, recording engineer for Deep C and Spider's Song

Led by singer-songwriter Vicky Whelan, Dragonfly Tattoo commissioned a studio-based video for the opening track on their Closer to the Sun EP. A live studio version of their track Deep C was videoed, along with a duet - Spider's Song - featuring Vicky and cellist Jonny Lindsay.

Dragonfly Tattoo

Mad Cat Woman video

Deep C video

Spider's Song video

 

 

Callum Hilton - Debut

 

ARTIST: Callum Hilton

ALBUM: Debut (2014)

ROLE: Producer, recording and mastering,, photography, graphic design

Pianist, cellist and composer Callum Hilton's talent first got the attention of the national press in 2011. Shortly after this, he was awarded fullabroad.

In early 2014 pianist, cellist and composer Callum Hilton came to the studio to record his first piano album, aged just 11. Since then he has supported his album with a series of live performances.

I worked with Callum's family to organise a succesful Kickstarter campaign, enabling the young musician to purchase a new cello, as he had outgrown his previous instrument. Central to the campaign was a video presentation, featuring performances on both instruments.

Callum attends Chetham's School of Music, with full scholarship.

Callum Hilton

 

 

Rhett Nelson

 

ARTIST: Rhett Nelson

ALBUM: A Way Back (2014)

ROLE: Pianist and piano recording engineer

Pianist, cellist and composer Callum Hilton's talent first got the attention of the national press in 2011. Shortly after this, he was awarded fullabroad.

Rhett Nelson is an LA-based composer who is regularly commissioned by Warner Chappell and other publishers for his powerful and cinematic writing.

Our collaboration resulted from Rhett searching YouTube for a piano sound that suited his work.

Rhett is just the right combination of exacting and helpful. He initially supplied a guide piano part, and we worked from there. The recording features studio performances from a Utah-based orchestra, amongst other instrumental soloists.

Rhett Nelson's page on IMDB

 

Gabriele Baldocci

 

ARTIST: Gabriele Baldocci

ALBUM: Video for Sheer Piano Attack (not yet released)

ROLE: Recording engineer, videography

International concert pianist, and Professor of Piano at Trinity Labarn, Gabriele Baldocci has recently recorded and performed duets with the legendary Martha Argerich, to critical acclaim.

His most recent project was something of a very different nature: a piano album dedicated to the music of Queen.

A lifelong fan of Queen's music, and of the sensational voice of Freddie Mercury, Gabriele commissioned a series of piano arrangements from various composers, along with his own classical arrangements.

He chose to record on our studio Bösendorfer - a piano of gravitas, drama and lyricism.

After audio duties were taken care of for Sheer Piano Attack, I suggested we record a couple of impromptu videos. Improvising beautifully, Gabriele seamlessly wove together a number of favourite Queen melodies in two separate improvisations: Love of my Life and We are the Champions.

Presented simpl from three angles, Gabriele's fabulous piano talent, and the legendary songwriting of Queen come together to make for a very special pair of video performances.

Gabriele Baldocci

 

Mark Polishook - Sheffield Improvisations

 

ARTIST: Mark Polishook

ALBUM: Sheffield Improvisations (2014)

ROLE: Recording engineer, videography

Jazz pianist, lecturer, and music philosopher Mark Polishook originally got in touch via Hurstwood Farm Pianos, Kent. He, like myself, had purchased a Phoenix System piano from Richard Dain, inventor of the system.

With much to discuss, our first project was an extensive online interview, in which we discussed the special recording considerations pianists and engineers face, pianos, piano maintainance, and the evolution of recording in parallel with technological advances.

A month after publishing the article, Mark and I collaborated to video a series of improvisations to put online.

Following this, we are now to record a full-length DVD. Work starts November 2014.

Mark Polishook

 

 

The Mission - Different Colours EP

 

ARTIST: The Mission

ALBUM: Different Colours EP - 7" Vinyl + Digital release (2014)

ROLE: Mastering engineer

 

The Mission's Different Colours EP featured a song from each of the band's 4 members, following their 2013 album, The Brightest Light.

Audio masters were prepared separately for digital and vinyl release, as the medium of vinyl requires a different kind of optimisation.

The Mission - Official Site

 

 

Songs of Brazil and Argentina

 

ARTIST: Luicano Botelho (Tenor) and Liz Marcus (piano)

ALBUM: Songs of Brazil and Argentina (2014)

ROLE: Recording, mixing, mastering

 

International tenor Luciano Botelho teamed up with Liz Marcus (Guidhall School of Music and Drama, London) to record a diversity of modern South American songs for voice and piano.

Subsequently this album has received some excellent press, and in The Classical Reviewer, Bruce Reader notes:

"These artists are nicely recorded with excellent detail".

Luciano Botelho

 

 

The Mission - Swan Song (single)

 

ARTIST: The Mission

ALBUM: Swan Song (2013)

ROLE: Mastering engineer / remix with Simon Hinkler

 

Swan Song was The Mission's follow-up EP to their 2013 album, The Brightest Light. It features a radio edit, a track called More Than The Truth and four remixes of the title track.

Simon Hinkler and I collaborated to present the "Deconstruction" remix, our first time in a studio together in 17 years.

In Simon's words:

“I worked with my old friend James Bacon on this. In the 90’s we were two thirds of electro band Mindfeel, and as such have spent countless studio hours together, so I thought it would be interesting to apply some of that aesthetic to a Mission remix. I set off at 6am and drove up from Devon to Sheffield. The first half of the day was a bit mad, with Dave (Allen) in London, uploading missing vocal and guitar files and us downloading them into the mix. But we decided on the vibe pretty much straight away – taking out the chord changes and rooting it down to just the verse bass line, which all the other recorded elements work really well with. James put in a keyboard pad, and all in all I think we achieved quite a Mindfeel-sounding mix of a Mission song.“

The Mission - Official Site

Simon Hinkler - Official Site

 

 

Sarah Jay Hawley and the Nutrinos - Dissolved Girl Unplugged

 

ARTIST: Sarah Jay Hawley and the Nutrinos

ALBUM: Dissolved Girl Unplugged (2013)

ROLE: Recording engineer

 

to capture the full chorus, 2 pianos, and an orchestral and percussion ensemble.

Sarah Jay Hawley co-wrote Dissolved Girl with Massive Attack for their hit album Meezzanine (1998), which topped the album charts in the UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Fifteen years later she decided to revisit the classic song with her band, the Nutrinos, in an unplugged, live-in-the-studio recording. A special piano sound was required; the rich and dark tonality of the Bösendorfer Imperial was perfect.

Recorded as a vocal / piano / acoustic guitar trio, Sarah and her band recreated the mood and magic of the original, whilst adding a fresh perspective to this widely-loved song.

Sarah Jay Hawley on iTunes

 

 

SingSoc album

 

ARTIST: University of Sheffield Singers' Society (SingSoc)

ALBUM: 15th Anniversary Concert - Live Recording (2013)

ROLE: Live recording engineer, mastering, sleeve layout

 

With SingSoc's anniversary performance, featuring a world premiere of a composition by their conductor, Robert Webb, the remit was to capture the full chorus, 2 pianos, and an orchestral and percussion ensemble.

This was a special occasion; the atmosphere of the memorable performances at Sheffield University's Firth Hall can now be enjoyed again on disc.

SingSoc website

 

 

One Cure for Man Album

 

ARTIST: One Cure For Man

ALBUM: Serenade The Damned (2013)

ROLE: Engineering and mixing for The Sheltering Sleep

 

James Parkinson - aka One Cure For Man - needed an acoustic piano recording for the final track on his solo album - The Sheltering Sleep. The sound of the Bösendorfer was exactly what he was after for this piece.

One Cure For Man

 

 

Martin Archer - Blue Meat, Black Diesel and Engine Room Favourites

 

ARTIST: Martin Archer

ALBUM: Blue Meat, Black Diesel and Engine Room Favourites (2013)

ROLE: Recording engineer - piano and vibraphone

 

Vibraphone virtuoso Corey Mwamba and pianist Laura Cole performed avantgarde pieces directed by composer and saxophonist Martin Archer. With a strong sense of improvisational freedom, a number of takes were recorded, such that they could be edited and reassembled in Martin's own studio.

The dynamic range of the vibraphone was surprising, and very careful miking was required to provide suitable separation between it and the piano.

Martin Archer on Discus Records

 

 

Last December single

 

ARTIST: Gregory S Davies

ALBUM: Last December (single - 2013)

ROLE: Producer, recording, mixing, mastering

 

The follow-up EP from Gregory S Davies and his band.

Available on Bandcamp

 

 

Santiago album

 

ARTIST: Gregory S Davies

ALBUM: Santiago LP (2013)

ROLE: Producer, engineer, mastering, guest synthesisers on Power Cut

 

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gregory S Davies first came to record in 2011. With a raft of excellent songs to capture, there was an immediate sense of possibility, and an atmosphere of positive teamwork and cameraderie.

With recordings for a new EP and the second LP already underway, the studio ethic has always been to work towards results of the highest possible quality - both in terms of the performances and the audio capture.

Great care is taken during the mastering process to preserve the dynamic range of the material.

The song Power Cut, along with several others from this LP, has received airplay on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio Wales, and BBC Radio Shropshire. The song Rat Trap was BBC Radio Shropshire's song of the month in March 2013.

Available on Bandcamp

 

 

Steven M Halliday - A RElation of a Journey EP

 

ARTIST: Steven M. Halliday

ALBUM: A Relation of a Journey EP (2013)

ROLE: Piano composition and performance for The Infinite Expansion

 

Steven M Halliday - composer, sound designer, musicologist and producer - originally came to the studio to record some piano parts for a new composition. During the conversation, I asked if he would like to listen to some of my piano pieces. This led him to commission a piano improvisation for his upcoming EP.

The remit was to fill the central section of an ambient piece of music with something that evoked the formation of the universe, in about 1 minute 30 seconds. OK - why not ?

I recorded 10 takes, with Steven giving feedback on what was working each time. In the end just one full take was used.

The EP is very interesting, unusual, and beautifully and uniquely presented.

Read a review

 

 

Richard A Bielicki - The Sacred and the Profane

 

ARTIST: Richard A. Bielicki

ALBUM: The Sacred and the Profane (2013)

ROLE: Producer, engineering, mastering, graphic design

 

Award-winning composer-pianist Richard A Bielicki made world premiere recordings for a collection of his piano works in 2012. The energy, excitement, depth and virtuosic challenge of these pieces required a hugely concentrated atmosphere in the studio, with much discussion between the two of us.

Completed in around 3 days, the results are testimony to a truly great composer-pianist.

Samples of this record were subsequently featured exclusively in International Piano Magazine.

Available here

 

 

Artery - Civilisation

 

ARTIST: Artery

ALBUM: Civilisation (2011)

ROLE: Producer, audio engineering, mastering, synthesisers

 

Legendary Sheffield post-punk band Artery reformed in 2007, after a 20 + year absence. They had been asked to play the prestigious Meltdown Festival in London, curated that year by Jarvis Cocker. The success of their Festival Hall appearance - filmed as part of a documentary for DVD - fuelled their desire to continue as a band. A new 4 track EP - Standing Still - followed.

Having seen the band play a life-changing show in Sheffield in 2009, I was delighted to be asked to join the group as keyboard player in 2010, when they had a change of line-up. I immediately offered to record and produce a full-length album.

The first five drum tracks were recorded in the rehearsal room, with the remainder being recorded here. All instrumental and vocal parts were then tracked in my studio, and I then worked very closely with guitarist Murray Fenton to crystallise the mixes.

In fairness, Civilisation was pretty much a co-production between myself and Murray, but when it came to album credits, he and the band were very generous to suggest I take the producer credit; I do so above only as a matter of consistency.

Civilisation is a hard-hitting and completely sincere critique of the world we live in. It is possibly too challenging to appeal to a wide audience, but to those who can handle the material, it offers a dark beauty, with edgy and memorable performances, lyrics and instrumental motifs.

The front and rear covers are by French digital artist Christophe Dessaigne, and were licensed exclusively to Artery for the album.

The album received some excellent reviews in over 20 magazines, both online and physical.

Artery Civilisation line-up: Mark Gouldthorpe (Vocals) - Garry Wilson (Drums) - Murray Fenton (Guitar) - Simon Barfield (bass) - myself (keyboards).

Artery - Official Site

 

 

The Silent Age - Machinations

 

ARTIST: The Silent Age

ALBUM: Machinations (2011)

ROLE: Mastering Engineer

 

The Silent Age's debut album blends goth and synth-pop styles. When discussing mastering approaches with the band, we decided not to produce an overly "hot" master, preferring to leave sufficient dynamic range as to preserve the integrity and inricacy of their musical textures.

www.thesilentage.co.uk

 

 

Cell:Adore - Burn Indigo

 

ARTIST: Cell: Adore

ALBUM: Burn Indigo (2010)

ROLE: Mastering Engineer

 

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Chris Johnson, Burn Indigo was a labour of love. Recorded primarily at Null Moon Studios, Chris came here originally to record some acoustic piano parts.

Later he requested to master the album here. We did this from stems - a stereo track for drums, another for guitars, another for vocals, and so forth. With his powerful and dynamic tracks, we wanted to ensure a degree of mixing flexibility duing the mastering process.

Available on Bandcamp

 

 

Go Galleon - Manchester Road

 

ARTIST: Go Galleon

ALBUM: Manchester Road (2009)

ROLE: Co-writer with Shaun Doane, engineer, producer, sleeve design

 

Manchester Road was the second album resulting from a songwriting partnership with long-time friend Shaun Doane.

We both enjoyed playing a range of instruments. I covered guitar, bass, keyboard and programming duties. Shaun delivered some huge-sounding vocal performances, wrote the lyrics, and added a number of percussion touches.

The album was launched at The Boardwalk, Sheffield, with Ryan Taylor playing keyboards.

BBC Radio Sheffield's Iain Hodgson offered radio support, including a live session and interview.

Available on iTunes

 

 

John Bailey - Sikent Compositions

 

ARTIST: John Bailey

ALBUM: Silent Compositions (2009)

ROLE: Producer, recording and mastering engineer

 

Composer and pianist John Bailey was commissioned to write a musical contemplation to complement a photographic exhibition by Colin Wilson - Silent Compositions. The work had first been performed on September 28th 2007 at the Derby Museum & Art Gallery.

These beautiful and reflective compositions feature live studio performances by John Bailey (piano), Heidi Parsons (cello) and Romola Smith (clarinet).

Available on Bandcamp

 

 

Roy Todd - Serenity

 

ARTIST: Roy Todd

ALBUM: Serenity (2009)

ROLE: Recording, mastering, photography and graphic design

 

Belfast-born composer and pianist Roy Todd has enjoyed extraordinary online success with Serenity, alongside his many other albums. Individual tracks from this album have received over a million plays on YouTube alone.

The artwork features a series of photographs I had taken in the previous year. Whilst walking up to Stanage Pole one Sunday afternoon, the lighting became spectacular. The weather had started out sunny, but rapidly changed. A mixture of bright, setting sunlight combined with the gathering clouds overhead, produced a unique variety of ccontrasting colours and a breathtaking sense of atmosphere.

When Roy enquired about the artwork, I remembered this series of photographs, and offered them for use with his new album. The sense of tranquilty and space seemed to complement the music perfectly. Samples of the package are over on the design services page.

Roy Todd Music

 

 

DO$CH - Route Of All Evil

 

ARTIST: DO$CH

ALBUM: Route Of All Evil (2009)

ROLE: Recording engineer, producer, guest keyboards

 

For this album, the remit was again to capture the band's live energy and driving rhythm. Drums, bass and main guitar parts were tracked simultaneously in the band's rehearsal room. With the basic tracks captured, vocal parts were recorded back at the studio, and additional guitars and keyboards were layered.

Artwork by Martin Bedford

DO$CH

 

 

James Goodwin - Blue-eyed Devil CD

 

ARTIST: James Goodwin

ALBUM: Blue-eyed Devil (2008)

ROLE: Engineeing, mastering

 

Blues and boogie pianist James Goodwin not only has a phenomenal piano technique for his style of music, but he also has an authoritative knowledge of the history genre, and subgenres.

For this recording, we allowed the piano to go slightly out of tune, and used a close-miking technique to capture the mechanism of the piano.

We also dedicated a mic to James' patent leather "performance" shoe, which pumped the grooves out on the wooden studio floor as he played.

James Goodwin

 

 

Nicola Farnon - Here I Go Again

 

ARTIST: Nicola Farnon

ALBUM: Here I Go Again (2007)

ROLE: Sleeve design

 

With photography by Clare Lount, Nicola and I worked to produce a sleeve with a different kind of feel to her 2006 album. We took a picture of some ivy growning up the garden wall, cut it out in Photoshop, and adorned pages 1 and 4 of the booklet. For fun.

Nicola Farnon

 

 

Isabel Chaplais - Selected Piano Works

 

ARTIST: Isabel Chaplais

ALBUM: Selected Piano Works (2007)

ROLE: Engineer, producer, graphic design for CD

 

Isabel's recording was the first to be made on the studio's Bösendorfer 214, back in 2007. Her virtuoso programme was exciting to record, and still attracts praise from visitors to the media page.

Isabel Chaplais

 

 

Nicola Farnon - That's The Bottom Line

 

ARTIST: Niolca Farnon

ALBUM: That's The Bottom Line (2006)

ROLE: Mastering engineer, graphic design, front cover portrait

 

Nicola's album had been nicely recorded. To add a little sparkle, we ran it through an Avalon VT-747 SP followed by light compression through a TC Electronic Finalizer.

The late, great Humphrey Lyttleton gave this record some timely exposure on his Radio 2 show.

Nicola Farnon

 

 

Flameheads - The Russian EP

 

ARTIST: Flameheads

ALBUM: The Russian EP (2007)

ROLE: Co-writer and producer with John Evans

 

Long-time friend and musician John Evans and I made just one EP, under the name Flameheads, back in 2007, before John moved away from Sheffield. We both played some guitar parts, John played bass, and I played keyboards and looked after drum programming.

Three tracks appear on this EP: The Russian, Swallows Fly and Bought.

 

 

Alpine Essentials DVD

 

COMPANY: Slackjaw Productions / BMC

TITLE: Alpine Essentials DVD (2006)

ROLE: Original music composition and performance

 

Slackjaw Productons are Sheffield-based documentary film-makers, specialising in climbing films. They also produced Made In Sheffield, a documentary ex[ploring the most influential Sheffield bands in the post-punk era, including rare footage and exclusive interviews with the Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Heaven 17 & ABC and Artery.

For Alpine Essentials, I was asked to contribute 2 pieces - Alpine Dawn and Alpine Ascent - to complement scenes in this technical and informative documentary, commissioned by the British Mountaineering Council.

Slackjaw Film

 

 

The Koenig - Smiling Inside

 

ARTIST: The Koenig

ALBUM: Smiling Inside (2006)

ROLE: Co-writer with Shaun Doane, engineer, producer, sleeve design

 

At the suggestion of mutual friend, Nicola Farnon, Shaun approached me early 2006 to collaborate on some new material. We approached this album with a spirit of adventure, and the tracks came together extremely quickly.

What emerged was an electro-rock-classical hybrid, all hanging around Shaun's enormous vocals.

A number of live shows followed this first collaboration.

 

 

Steve Genn - Wheelbarrow

 

ARTIST: Steve Genn

ALBUM: Wheelbarrow (2006)

ROLE: Mastering engineer

 

Steve Genn's solo album - Wheelbarrow - has sixteen diverse songs, featuring a number of guest contributions from Sheffield musicians. Mastered with an Avalon VT-747 SP and our TC Electronic Finalizer.

Available on iTunes

 

 

Simon Hinkler - Lose The Faith

 

ARTIST: Simon Hinkler

ALBUM: Lose The Faith (2005)

ROLE: Mastering engineer

 

Simon Hinkler (The Mission, Pulp, Artery, Mindfeel, The Flight Commander et al) penned his superb solo album whilst living in the US. What he saw on his daily train commute from New Jersey into New York City provided much inspiration for the songwriting - not least the poignant and classic North Jersey Train.

Having worked with Simon in Mindfeel in the mid-1990s, it was a pleasure to collaborate on the mastering of Lose The Faith. With broadband then quite newly available, we were able to do numerous audio file exchanges via FTP, until the album was finalised.

Mastered with an Avalon VT-747 SP, and our trusty TC Electronic Finalizer.

Simon Hinkler - Official Site

 

 

Winter Essentials - DVD

 

COMPANY: Slackjaw Productions / BMC

TITLE: Winter Essentials DVD (2005)

ROLE: Original music composition and performance

 

Slackjaw Productions approached me to write a theme tune to play out their documentary film, Winter Essentials, and also requested two other pieces - Setting Out and Descent - to work alongside some specific scenes.

They provided the relevant footage for inspiration.

Winter Essentials was commissioned by the British Mountaineering Coucil.

Slackjaw Film

 

 

Kilimanjaro - Going For Broke DVD

 

COMPANY: Slackjaw Productions

TITLE: Kilimanjaro - Going For Broke DVD (2004)

ROLE: Original music composition and performance

 

Originally released in 2004, Kilimanjaro - Going For Broke is an emotionally powerful climbing documentary. The four climbers it follows all suffered major injuries, leaving them seriously disabled.

On their road to recovery, their fighting spirits and collective support took them to Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

Slackjaw commissioned me to write the soundtrack.

According to Slackjaw's website, the film is to be re-released soon, as of October 2014.

Slackjaw Film

 

 

Cold Haul DVD

 

COMPANY: Fresh As A Lettuce Production

TITLE: Cold Haul DVD (2004)

ROLE: Original music composition and performance

 

Cold Haul is an internationally award-winning documentary, tracing British climbers Andy Kirkpatrick and Ian Parnell in their attempt to scale the treacherous "Lafaille Route" on the west face of The Dru.

I was approached by Fresh As A Lettuce to provde the entire soundtrack, involving a series of pieces reflecting the moods, challenges, and cinematic drama of the footage.

From around 30 compositions, just under 20 pieces of music were used in the DVD.

 

 

Do$ch - Money To Burn

 

ARTIST: DO$CH

ALBUM: Money To Burn (2004)

ROLE: Recording engineer, co-producer, mastering

 

Co-produced with guitarist Ian Bartram, Money To Burn was, as far as possible, recorded live in the band's rehearsal room, with Andrew Hinkler providing vocal performances in the studio.

Artwork by Martin Bedford

DO$CH

 

 

BBH

 

ARTIST: BBH

ALBUM: Restless EP (2003)

ROLE: Co-writer, keyboards, co-production

 

BBH is a surnames acronym - myself, along with guitarist Ian Bartram, and vocalist Andrew Hinkler, who front DO$CH.

Having worked with Ian and Andrew on all their recorded output as DO$CH, it was perhaps inevitable that we should also produce some original material of our own.

Our first track emerged after I made a location recording of some acoustic guitar in a Landmark Trust building - the Bath House in Wawrickhire. There was a wonderfully atmospheric reverberation in that round, high-dome-ceilinged room.

With an open-tuned actoustic piece captured, I chopped it up into long guitar loops, and added programmed drums and percussion. Ian overlayed his distinctive Telecaster tones, and Andrew penned his lyric and recorded a powerful vocal. The track became Bath House.

Excited by the results, we recorded 2 more tracks: Restless and Broken Home.

A digital-only release will be made available when we have time to organise it.

 

 

Do$ch - Sleazy Money

 

ARTIST: DO$CH

ALBUM: Sleazy Money (2003)

ROLE: Recording engineer, producer, mastering

 

This 5-track mini-album was recorded almost completely live, with all the focus on the raw energy and groove of the band.

All the band's artwork is by Sheffield artist Martin Bedford

DO$CH

 

 

CANHEX - Sentient Seas

 

ARTIST: CANHEX

ALBUM: Sentient Seas (2002)

ROLE: Additional keyboards, bass, engineering and production

ough album to explain. Let's start with the band name - the easy bit:

CANHEX = CAN (Michael Canning) + HEX (the late Michael Hex).

Both Michaels were born in New Zealand. Michael Canning had moved to the UK by the time the album was made. They had never met in the flesh at this point, but were collaborating via postal exchanges of audio cassettes.

What complicated matters somewhat was that their respective musical responses were coming back on separate cassettes, and they were not working to a click.

My initial role was to synch their ideas in the digital domain. This would have been easy enough, but theirs was freeform, experimental, no-rules art. So we had to make loops, and generally make sense of things, the hard way.

With Michael Canning's guidance, I started to assemble the material. Offering production suggestions of my own, I was encouraged to record some additional performances - a hypnotic bass, some avant-garde synthesisers, and some creative edits.

On the track Vex, I chopped up a small section into the thinnest repeated audio slices, creating a ruler-over-the-edge-of-the-desk effect. Sonically, Vex is the most disturbing piece I have ever been involved in. I think the words Michael and I chose for it were vituperative and misanthropic.

Sentient Seas is a truly idealistic, haunting, daring, uncompromising piece of work.

 

 

Soundtracks for Unmade Movies

 

ARTIST: James Bacon, Michael J Hex, Ghostjogger

ALBUM: Soundtracks for Unmade Movies - Compilation (2002)

ROLE: Composer / Co-writer

ough album to explain. Let's start with the band name - the easy bit:

A compilation of filmic compositions, for Michael Canning's Ghostjogger label. A number of the tracks had already been synched, others from this collection went on to find further life as documentary soundtracks.

 

 

Mindfeel - Moral Saviours

 

ARTIST: Mindfeel

ALBUM: Moral Saviours (2001)

ROLE: Co-writer / co-producer /Sleeve design

ough album to explain. Let's start with the band name - the easy bit:

Moral Saviours represents the best of the "second phase" of Mindfeel, when the band had started to collaborate with a number of vocalists, all with careers in their own right. The album contains Twin Speed, featuring Ben Christophers, Hesitate and Product, featuring Jane Weaver, along with K2 and Resist, featuring Kate Havnevik.

Completed in 2001 - when the band were beginning to run out of the necessary funds to manufacture and promote the album (it was far more expensive back then) - Moral Saviours will remain on the shelf for the forseeable future.

 

 

Mindfeel - Twin Speed

 

ARTIST: Mindfeel

ALBUM: Twin Speed EP (1999)

ROLE: Co-writer / co-producer /Sleeve design

ough album to explain. Let's start with the band name - the easy bit:

The follow-up to Hesitate, this EP featured a collaboration with fellow V2 artist Ben Christophers.

Despite the power of the title track, and the other 2 pieces, Dr Faustus and Human Error, being favourite works from Mindfeel's later writing period, Twin Speed was only ever promo'd.

Copies still circulate online. With the imminent release of Mindfeel's first album, Constructive Interference, 17 years after its intended release, the boxed copies of Twin Speed we still have may well see an official relaunch.

 

 

Mindfeel - Hesitate

 

ARTIST: Mindfeel

ALBUM: Hesitate EP (1998)

ROLE: Co-writer / co-producer

ough album to explain. Let's start with the band name - the easy bit:

This was Mindfeel's first release after signing to V2 Music Publishing. The title track was a collaboration with Manchester songstress Jane Weaver.

Hesitate gained the attention of a number of national radio stations, and was given much airplay by Radio 1 DJs Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley (Mark and Lard).

Hesitate was released on Fearless Records.

 

 

Mindfeel - Cranium Heads Out

 

ARTIST: Mindfeel

ALBUM: Cranium Heads Out 12' vinyl (1997)

ROLE: Co-writer / co-producer

ough album to explain. Let's start with the band name - the easy bit:

Dance label Club Masters, part of the Sound and Media group, signed Mindfeel for a 4-track vinyl release, before the band were taken on by V2 Music publishing.

Cranium Heads Out enjoyed critical acclaim, both by major and lesser-known DJs of the day. The title track was later used in the soundtrack for the 1999 Hollywood adaptation of Beowulf, starring Christopher Lambert.

 

 

Release - 22 Class A Tracks

 

ARTIST: RELEASE - Charity Compilation

ALBUM: 22 Class A Tracks (1997)

ROLE: Mindfeel - contributor with Play The Game

 

Mindfeel - Simon Hinkler, Robin Downe and myself, wrote quite a catchy, edgy electronic piece, Play The Game. A lot of people seemed to particularly like that tune, and it was selected for use on the RELEASE compilation.

Our offering is sandwiched between tracks by Underworld and System 7. With contributors from Meat Beat Manifesto, Coldcut, Autechre, The Prodigy, Renegade Soundwave, Alabama 3, and other fine artists from the halcyon days of electronica, 22 Class A Tracks brings back some great memories.

For contractual reasons, we had to receive a nominal payment of £1.00 for our contribution, allowing the charity non-exclusive rights to use the recording. I don't recall ever getting our £1.00, but have lost little sleep over my 33.33p loss on the deal.

 

 

Gat Decor - Passion

 

ARTIST: Gat Decor

ALBUM: Passion - WAY OF LIFE Remixes (1996)

ROLE: No Zero - remixing, additional production

 

Gat Decor had already scored a huge hit with their seminal dancefloor classic, Passion.

Mindfeel - formerly known as No Zero - offered the second remix on this particular reworking of the track. We were budgeted for this by Way of Life records - part of the Big Life group, London.

Both vinyl and CD versions were released.

The No Zero mix is still showreeled on the official Gat Decor website.

Gat Decor

 

 

PRE-1996 - Some additional informaton.

 

Prior to the discography above, I had been very busy cutting my teeth as a musician, engineer and producer. As far back as 1991 I was making demos on a Fostex 4-track recorder, both as a solo musician, and in number of collaborations, experiments and bands.

Although that was 23 years ago, it feels more like a century, due to the sheer exponential nature of technological advance.

Even basic and free sequencing programmes - such as Garage Band - make my early, primitive set-ups seem prohibitively unsophisticated. But whatever equipment I have been able to afford and assemble, I have loved, worked, and adapted, and it has always inspired me. Sometimes a lack of choice encourages ingenuity and creativity.

As such, I am glad I learned the basics of writing, recording and producing the hard way - with one medicore mic, a couple of second-hand synths, a couple of valve amps, an Alesis Quadraverb, a couple of guitars and a four-track. No midi until the mid-1990s.

My first real experience of how to do things properly came when Robin Downe and myself hooked up with Simon Hinkler to form Mindfeel. Simon had a fine studio set-up: an 8-track reel-to-reel, a great desk by Soundcraft, some lovely analogue synths, digital tape recorders, outboard effects and..... an Apple Mac LCII with about 4 Mb of RAM, and a 200 Mb hard disk.

Both Simon and Robin had a whole set of studio skills I did not have, and they shared their knowledge openly.

That seemed like recording heaven. And it was.

 

James Bacon, October 2014.

 

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