The recording phase of Tributary was finished a month ago, although I didn't really know it was done until last week. After a few overdub sessions, I stopped listening to the music to give my brain a little break from it, and when I finally gave it another listen I realized all the elements were there. Next step: Mixing. I'm writing this post from Rochester, NY, where I'm spending a few days mixing with the album's recording engineer, Eric Heveron-Smith. He has a nice mixing environment set up in his basement. The sound is always the most important thing when you mix, but time is a close second. Working up here vs. a studio in the city allows us plenty of time to get things right and not watch the clock. We've already had a few discussions about the mix we're going for, and I feel like we're really prepared to make this sound great.
For those of you that don't have any recording experience and have no idea what I'm talking about when I say mixing (Mom), mixing is the second to last step of recording an album (the last step is something called mastering). It's the part where you get the volume levels between each instrument balanced, and also distribute the sound throughout the stereo spectrum. For example, this is where we decide how loud we want the guitar to be compared to the keyboards and the drums. When it comes to setting up the stereo spectrum, we might place the kick drum right in the middle (to be heard equally in both ears), but the toms will be moved off to one side or the other (so you hear it more in one ear or the other). Mixing basically helps make the listening experience more real, by giving you the illusion that something is close, far away, right in front of you, or over to the side.
The average listener never notices a great mix, but I guarantee you'd notice a bad mix. A great mix simply sounds natural, and therefore you might say something that sounds unnatural is going to be more noticeable.
Anyway, the album is really sounding nice and I'm excited to hear where it'll be after it gets Eric's touch. When we're done and I'm back in Brooklyn I'll post a final mix on my site for you to preview. Stay tuned!