Joe Jackson's Rain

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz

NEW SOUNDS FROM THE OLD SCHOOL

Polls


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Recording engineer Julie Gardner says the rooms at Planet Roc are “acoustically very beautiful.”

Recording engineer Julie Gardner says the rooms at Planet Roc are “acoustically very beautiful.”

Slade says they mixed about a song a day on average, but one of the unique qualities of this project was that the tracks were never regarded as totally separate pieces. “He came in with a sequence already established,” Slade explains. “He constructed it as sort of a song suite. A term like that might come off as being pretentious, but it did have a real order to it and a flow.”

Slade and Kolderie actually mixed the tracks in album order. “It would be like a filmmaker shooting in the order the scenes occur, so you get a cumulative effect where you're able to see the bigger picture and you're able to concentrate on the details in a more natural, intuitive kind of way,” Slade says.

During the mix, Kolderie naturally takes on more of the technical work while Slade is more focused on arrangements, but they're definitely both hands-on. “When we work with bands, they always think it's really unusual because when we mix, Paul takes half the board and I take the other half of the board,” Slade says. “He'll mix more of the drums and bass — he's a bass player — I'll do the piano, background vocals, other percussion.

“When we started, I thought it was the most natural thing in the world, but Paul and I came from a do-it-yourself background,” he continues. “Neither of us went to recording school or anything. We had never worked in studios, but we started our own, and neither of us knew the ‘correct’ way to go about things. So when people see us, they'll say, ‘Boy, that's really weird, you don't even talk to each other when you're mixing.’ I'll lean over and jiggle one of his EQs, and he'll lean over and jiggle one of my EQs, and that's fine. It's just the way it works.”

Apparently, Slade and Kolderie's methods work beautifully, as Jackson's new album is outstanding; his artful songs are realized with sparkling piano playing, passionate vocals and masterful accompaniment.

“The main thing is he sings beautifully,” Slade says. “It was just getting the music into a space where you didn't need to work at all to hear how well-written the lyrics were — getting the emotion right there so you don't have to do anything but enjoy it and understand the story the music is telling.”

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