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Great electronic mixes, master references?
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Author Great electronic mixes, master references?
noisejockey
What do all y'all use for reference recordings for what, in your estimation, are the best mixes and masters for predominantly electronic music?

Would love to hear a mix (pun intended) of both recent and current releases, and again, looking for mix and master reference as opposed to more about digging a particular album's music itself. Non-synth recordings that have a lot to offer electronic musicians, in terms of learning and ideas, are also welcome.

My list to kick things off:

For atmosphere and mood, doing things “wrong” that totally work:
Forest Swords - Engravings
Pye Audio Corner - Sleep Games
Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers
The Gentleman Losers - Dustland

Tight, modern mixes with a variety of tones:
Amon Tobin - Foley Room
Ben Frost - By The Throat
Kiasmos - Kiasmos
James Holden - The Inheritors

Moody and beat-light which I find evocative:
Richard Knox and Frederic Oberland - The Rustle of the Stars
Deaf Center - Pale Ravine
Loscil - Sea Island, Sketches From New Brighton
Smith/Ciani - Sunergy
stk
Rhythm & Sound - The Artists / See Mi Ya
The low end on these tracks is phenomenal - I've not heard anything so warm and enveloping, yet so tight and even, with massive extension.

Track down lossless copies (I bought them from Boomkat) rather than YouTube thumbs up
minimalist
Good idea for thread.

I have my favourite tracks routed through a channel on my mixer and I just A-B them by ear. Sometimes from vinyl and sometimes a lossless file on my phone. Not very scientific but good enough for my purposes.

There is a plug-in, but the name escapes me, which allows you to load your reference tracks so you can quickly compare them with your mix without needing another media player routed in.

I too would like a short list of tracks which are well mixed within various electronic genres, regardless of subjective opinions of the music itself.
bobbylandry
The latest Caribou album gets referenced a lot for modern electronic stuff here.
memes_33
here's tarekith's (mastering engineer for a lot of different types of electronic music) mastering reference track list from a few years ago:

mt3
Bernhard Gunter - Un Peu de Neige Salie
Slowdive - Pygmalion
Skinny Puppy - The Process
Torn n Frayed
mt3 wrote:
Bernhard Gunter - Un Peu de Neige Salie
Slowdive - Pygmalion
Skinny Puppy - The Process


applause
calaveras
Coil Horse Rotorvator and Love's Secret Domain.
There is a pretty much perfect balance of chaos and melody as well as this excellence the of midrange and high end. I don't know how to explain it. I want to eat the high end on those records. If I cant get within 80% of that I am fucking golden.

Skinny Puppy Tormentor, Worlock and a couple others are my touchstone for sample laden industrial-electro-dance stuff.
If you'd heard Worlock in a club like House of Usher back in the 90's it's pretty evident why that is a goal to shoot for. It sounds okay through headphones or on nearfields. But through a decent soundsytem it absolutely grinds.

I also reference a lot of stuff that Conny Plank touched as examples of how to approach sparse, electronic and nonstandard arrangements. DAF, Devo, Neubauten (he did do some Neubauten stuff right?), Killing Joke and of course Kraftwerk.
Connie was genius for producing stuff without making it sound produced, and putting space around things without sounding like he dumped a reverb on it.
James
stk wrote:
Rhythm & Sound - The Artists / See Mi Ya
The low end on these tracks is phenomenal - I've not heard anything so warm and enveloping, yet so tight and even, with massive extension.


I opened this thread literally to say w/the Artists, so consider this a +1 on Rhythm & Sound. Even the ground buzz on that album is nice and clear, haha.
Sinamsis
I personally don't use reference tracks, I also suck at mixing. However, I think albums that would most likely be used for me would include:

Ambient/Avant Garde Electronic
Darkstar - News from Nowhere
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Both of these albums have pretty dense arrangements yet somehow all the different textures pop and sit well together. Very organic sound for electronic music. I won't comment on arrangement/structure of the individual pieces, though that intrigues me as well. Interesting incorporation of vocals, often heavily processed, that sit very well in the mix.

Synth Pop/Dance
Anything by Cut Copy. They've managed to capture many different sounds from 80s to the 90s to more modern. Again, somewhat denser and more complex arrangements but somehow everything sits well and pops.


Techno/Minimal House
Gesaffelstein - Aleph. It's just a very powerful album. Arrangements are not dense, but the parts just smack you in the face. I imagine these are fairly heavily compressed but don't lose the energy/power. To me at least.

Post Rock/ambient
Mogwai, all albums. To me, Mogwai are post-rock. For more rock based sounds, this is the sound I would want. Strong dynamics. the layers of guitars and synths sit well together, fucking awesome.


A few asides....
I love Forrest Swords. However, that would probably be a little too "specific" a sound for me to use for this application. What a great sound though.

I also am a HUGE Caribou fan. I might be able to see using some of Our Love as reference tracks. Swim, to me, could have been mixed a little differently (again, a very personal thing). For example, comparing the Junior Boys remix of Odessa compared to the album version, I much prefer the mixing on the Remix. The parts are just more clear and articulate.

One band I really like, but I feel like the mixing/mastering on the albums fall incredibly short (perhaps intentionally???): Neon Indian. What great songs. But the mix is just off. It makes the music sound dull and lifeless. I prefer the KEXP live sessions haha.

One last comment. To me, the arrangement and "voice" selection are integral parts of the mixing process. I've learned the hard way that having too many things competing for the same sonic territory will always sound muddled and shitty, even with all the compression and EQ in the world. So my mixing kind of goes on as I'm laying down individual tracks. I also tend to add EQ and compression relatively early in the process to try to keep things from getting to sonically crowded and to focus the over all sound a little more.
Futuresound
Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald - Borderland. Nothing fancy, but mixed perfectly. Programmed, tracked, produced perfectly as well, as you would expect.

Claro Intelecto - Neurofibro. Much grittier than the above, but a great-sounding record.

And yeah, The Artists / See Mi Ya is amazing.
tIB
The Ben Frost shout is a good one- sounds great that. I'll add Autechre's chiastic slide and also the second portishead album.
dogoftears
electronic--
Orbital- In sides (very dynamic, unique low end/use of 808)
Autechre- Untilted (most dynamic "modern" IDM i have heard, incredible midrange and delicate use of low end, very "brave" mixing)
Autechre- Exai (loud record but sound fantastic, rich and detailed, makes speakers come alive in unique ways, loads of depth)
Front 242- Front by Front (i'm still pretty blown away by the sound of this record. insanely fun and bouncey midrange. almost no "real" low end to speak of. ridiculously powerful snares)
Atom TM- HD (basically a perfectly produced record in every regard)
Flanger- Inner Space/Outer Space, Lollopy Dripper (the former brings you so close to an upright bass you feel like you're inside of it, the latter is a watermark of unique electronic/acoustic hybridization)
Kraftwerk- Radioactivity, Trans Europe Express (the original masters. very warm, sparse arrangement, loads of dynamics)
Coil- Musick to Play in the Dark Volume II (every so slightly more perfect mixing and mastering then Volume I, talk about minimalist electronic music that is deeply psychedelic, this is an entirely original style as yet not attempted by any one else that I know of)
Muslimgauze- any later era album (Azad, Baghdad, Lahore, et al et al et al on and on for so long. loud shit. i mean LOUD. using crazy techniques, playing the mixing tools as instruments, the Ultimate Dub, still with many techniques that I simply cannot figure out...)

not so electronic--
Can- Ege Bamyase, Tago Mago, etc, but on vinyl (the original CD masters are terrible. the remasters are good to great but not quite perfect imo. the vinyl pressings of the original masters are just awesome)
The Clash- London Calling (Legacy Edition remaster. this is just incredible. one of the most ecstatic records of all time, made to sound even more ecstatic, and without overprocessing or limiting. one of my goto references in almost any room)
Fugazi- End Hits (these guys mixed their own records. they have a really unique sound and did cool things in the studio. they fired steve albini once cus they didnt like the work. if you like indie or grunge but haven't listened to this record, you gotta check it!)
The Kills- Ash & Ice (guilty pleasure. amazing sound for a modern record. not overmastered. beautiful low mid. love mossharts vocals and the ringing-but-not-harsh guitar tone on this record)
Steely Dan- Aja and Gaucho (Citizen box set, original masters, whatever, theyre all great. bit of an audiophile entry but i can't deny it. i love listening to these records in my room)
Tool- Aenima and Lateralus (but you probably already know this)
NIN- The Downward Spiral (could go in electronic, also obvious, and btw the remaster is INCREDIBLE)
Traffic- The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (bit warmer than SD, bit more psyched out, another great 70s recording)
Tom Waits- Swordfish Trombone (really really great recording, very dynamic, fun as hell to listen to, many other TW records could go on this list)
Sinamsis
Great call on Fugazi. Pioneers.
nuromantix
Incredibly subjective isn't it?
When mastering techno for club use, I use Tranquilizer EP by Hood & Mills on Axis as a reference.
venus_3036
Mark Ernestus meets BBC
Craig Leon - Nommos
StudentsOfTheFuture
Mixing and testing speakers and headphones, etc, I always use Alex Reece - Pulp Fiction.

Straight forward, not too busy tune with elements that sound in the ballpark, but still distinct and recognizable. Plus, familiar by now (though practice makes perfect there).
---

Here's a related question - what do you all listen to to relax your ears? I want the audio version of like a slice of pickled ginger.

Right now I use live Dead shows (which I can listen to at any level of attention for hours, and sound different, but still musical), and white noise/nature sound machines but I'm wondering if silence (or something else?) would be better?
dogoftears
StudentsOfTheFuture wrote:

---

Here's a related question - what do you all listen to to relax your ears? I want the audio version of like a slice of pickled ginger.

Right now I use live Dead shows (which I can listen to at any level of attention for hours, and sound different, but still musical), and white noise/nature sound machines but I'm wondering if silence (or something else?) would be better?


i'm a big fan of silence, and environmental sounds. i do sound meditation with environmental sound almost every day. and in general i take breaks from mixing/mastering every 60-90 minutes and just chill in the living room with nothing playing. it helps a lot.
tross
It all depends on what track you are working, so reference material is always different. But for checking new sound environment i like "Trentemoller -Take me into your skin". You have everything there: lots of layers, very broad palette of sounds, tight bass, kick, everything.
NU
dogoftears wrote:
Muslimgauze- any later era album


Didn't Rashad Becker say MG was his go-to for reference?
GeneralBigBag
On the perfection tip
Anything by Ricardo Villalobos
Pole - Steingarten
Actress - R.I.P.

and if you want to go crazy loud
Rustie - Even If U Don't Believe
813 - Toy Soldiers
dogoftears
NU wrote:
dogoftears wrote:
Muslimgauze- any later era album


Didn't Rashad Becker say MG was his go-to for reference?


that's interesting, i would like to see that if it's so. i love Becker's mastering, monolake albums are a definite ref for me, as well as plastikman- closer, and a few others-- but his sound is *nothing* like MG which is piercing loud and distorted with crazy phase fuckery and really non traditional low end. Becker's masters to me are very hi fi and far away from the loudness wars thing, with very delicate spectrum adjustments (he only does cuts, and only works in mid/side), and not even half as loud as the average MG release (not that MG was part of the loudness wars-- it goes with his sound). he doesn't even use a limiter (just some analog transformer clipping).
NU
dogoftears wrote:
that's interesting, i would like to see that if it's so.


Now this is bothering me; I can't find it anywhere. It might have been from talking to the Demdike Stare guys but I swear it was online.. or maybe it's all imagined. seriously, i just don't get it
Hainbach
stk wrote:
Rhythm & Sound - The Artists / See Mi Ya
The low end on these tracks is phenomenal - I've not heard anything so warm and enveloping, yet so tight and even, with massive extension.

Track down lossless copies (I bought them from Boomkat) rather than YouTube thumbs up


One of all time faves. Have the vinyl of that, too.
stk
Nice to see some R&S love.

Going to add Portishead's Third to my list, too - it was a big production reference point for my past couple of albums. So anti- modern pop/edm, so beautifully broken.
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