It’s only a few days into 2011 but it’s already shaping up to be an eventful year at Masterdisk HQ in New York City. Scott Hull, mastering engineer and the owner of Masterdisk, announced this week that mastering engineer Howie Weinberg has left his longtime post at the studio to strike out on his own in California, “where the climate suits his clothes” (as the old blues tune says). Scott, and the rest of the Masterdisk staff, wishes Howie the best of luck in the future.
In his place, Scott has promoted engineer Matt Agoglia to the position of Senior Engineer. Matt served as Howie’s right-hand man for three years at Masterdisk while building his own mastering clientele. Matt is taking over Howie’s mastering suite, and will continue mastering records using the same gear that he and Howie have been using for years. This classic mastering suite has been used for mastering iconic albums by The White Stripes, The Clash, Wilco, Nirvana, U2, Public Enemy, Pixies, Sonic Youth and many more.
About the departure, and the promotion, Scott said, “Of course we’re sorry to see Howie go, but this is part of how the mastering business has always worked. No one stays at any one place forever. Young engineers work with senior guys, and learn the finer points of the craft. When spots open up, the younger engineers step up to move the torch forward. I started my career as Bob Ludwig’s assistant. And when Bob left Masterdisk for Maine I was promoted to Chief Engineer in his old room. Matt’s a very good engineer, and his clients have been very happy with his projects over the past few years. I have total faith that as more people get to know his mastering style, he’ll be very successful here.”
Recent records Matt has worked on include Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach, Spoon’s Transference, Wavves’ King of the Beach, and Rogue Wave’s Permalight.
The nominees for the 53rd Grammy Awards were announced last night in Los Angeles, and we’re thrilled to see our clients up for honors!
Jay-Z’s album The Blueprint 3, which was mastered by Tony Dawsey, is up for Best Rap Album, and two of its songs have been singled out for honors too. “Empire State of Mind” is up for Record of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Best Rap Song. Another album track, “On to the Next One,” is up for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group and Best Rap Song. We did a brief podcast about Tony’s work on The Blueprint 3 back in June, you can listen to that here.
Laurie Anderson’s track “Flow,” from her album Homeland (mastered by Scott Hull) was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Competing with Ms. Anderson for that award is “Orchestral Intro” from Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach album, mastered by Howie Weinberg. Can they both win, please?
Finally, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society is up for the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album award for Infernal Machines, (mastered by Randy Merrill) which was released on the non-profit-model record label New Amsterdam. We’re thrilled about all of the nominations, but this one is especially satisfying because New Amsterdam is a relatively small operation and it’s great to see independent work recognized. And because it’s a darn good record! We took an in-depth look at the making of “Infernal Machines” back in April. Check it out here.
If you’ve followed us on Twitter or on our Facebook page, you’ll be familiar with what is alternately called “Today in Masterdisk History” or “Masterdisk Flashback!” (usually depending on how many Twitter characters I have to spare).
These little updates feature records from the past — some near, some far — that were mastered here at Masterdisk. Consider it a very random reminder of some records you might have forgotten about. Or, if you’re in a more heavy mindset, be amazed at how time flies!
I’m surprised at how many of these records have articles at Wikipedia — I link to them when they do. There’s often some interesting minutia on offer.
So here’s six records mastered at Masterdisk from Septembers past!
1 YEAR AGO
Jay-Z “The Blueprint 3”
(Roc Nation/Atlantic, 9/8/09)
Mastered by Tony Dawsey at Masterdisk. Wikipedia: The Blueprint 3
3 YEARS AGO
Chris Potter Underground “Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard”
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk. Wikipedia: Chris Potter
9 YEARS AGO
John Mayer “Room for Squares”
(Aware Records (original release)/Columbia (re-release), 9/18/01)
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk. Wikipedia: Room for Squares
While I’m working on a couple other stories for The Masterdisk Record I thought I’d put up a quick post about Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood Masterdisk calls “home”. No, it’s not a very nice name for a neighborhood, but don’t let that fool you — we’re in a pretty cool part of NYC. We’re just a block and a half away from the restaurants and hustle & bustle of the Theater District, and in the other direction we’ve got the Hudson, riverfront parks, and a few… boats.
First, here’s a look at where the two Masterdisk locations are. “A” shows our main location over at 545 W 45th Street, and “B” is the location of Howie Weinberg’s room at 321 West 44th Street. Note, for purposes of some photos below, the spot on the left where it shows the Intrepid, and the dashed line that runs vertically between 10th and 11th Avenues — that’s the West Side Rail Line, which runs under street level.
Did you see SPIN magazine’s feature this week (in the mag and on the web) about the “125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years“? There was a lot of tweeting going on about it, as will happen whenever anything as contentious as a “best of the past 25 years” list appears in a major publication. I enjoy a good list myself, so I was all over it. And I thought it would be neat to figure out how many of them were mastered at Masterdisk. Just ’cause. So here’s a list of 18 albums from the 125 that were mastered at Masterdisk. There’s probably more, but some credits proved difficult to track down. If you spot one that I missed, please let me know!
125. Moby – Play (1999)
99. PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)
92. Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)
88. Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994)
79. The Breeders – Last Splash (1993)
70. Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)
67. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)
61. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)
44. Beastie Boys – Licensed To Ill (1986)
39. Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
38. Run-DMC – Raising Hell (1986)
25. Nas – Illmatic (1994)
19. Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001)
17. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
14. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (1989)
13. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)
6. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
4. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)