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The Obligatory End of year review and List

A good time to reflect upon my highlights of the year gone by and also do a little end of year list of my favourite tools of the trade.....

Generic New Year firework display

2023 was a landmark year in that I finally got my recording passion project off the ground and moving forward. I've already hit a few nice milestones with getting the "Mark Pinchen Community recording Studio" up and running in The Studio - Hartlepool (The Studio Hartlepool) with the assistance of the wonderful Mike Kitching (@peace_beat). The Studio is going from strength to strength and in a couple of months should be fully up to speed and running on full steam.

I completed the woven Project (@thewovenprojectuk) "Let Beautiful in" Ep which was the first release I've helmed since Fables and Ideals' album in 2016. The EP has been incredibly well received and I've forged a great relationship with the band and the lovely Ed Leighton from Shy Bairn Records (@shybairnrecords) which should yield some more recordings in 2024 and beyond.

One of my personal recording projects, noisy, mathy, post hardcore type band "All the Nines" (@allthe9nines) have finished recording and mixing our second release, an EP entitled "The Yodeller" which will hopefully drop spring 2024 at the latest. I've also made steady progress on my "Foll" solo project and writing some punky noise with Kevin Ridden (@kev_rids ) & Graham Hutchinson (@gbhutchinson_) which should result in hopefully some kind of released noise.

I've even managed to get myself to Stockton Calling and Deep North fest, catch Mogwai, Blonde Redhead and Philip Selway live amongst others and not to mention play an actual gig with All the Nines....

I've been lucky enough to have a hand in recording and / or mixing music by:

  • The Woven Project

  • Wingz of the Monkey

  • Haeze

  • Dawks

  • Para Alta

  • Lost State of Dan

  • Llurcher

  • Charlotte Grayson

  • Jasmine Weatherill

  • Swindled

  • matt James

  • Marketplace

And I've bloody loved all of it! January is already booked up and I've got people circling for available February dates. Bring on 2024!

The End Of Year list!

I've learned a heap this year and figured which tools are pretty invaluable to me for various reasons. Here are some things that make my life easier (and your recordings better!):

  • Logic Pro DAW - The absolute mainstay of my setup. I've used Logic since emagic Notator at school and I've happened to stick with it ever since, despite the occasional dabbling with Ableton for remixes, all of my recordings are done using Logic pro. It's dead easy to use, does everything I need it to and plays well with others.

  • Zoom Livetrack L20 - I've used this a lot less since bunkering up in the studio more frequently, but this beast allows me to do full band recordings remotely with zero hassle. It's also the centerpiece of my home studio. Loads of outputs and inputs, easy monitoring and it just works. I dare ya to get me to show you....

  • Fabfilter Pro Q3 EQ, Pro C2 Compressor, Pro MB and Pro L2 Limiter - I use all Fabfilter's stuff but these are the three plugins I'll use on every mix / master. Transparent, surgical and top quality.

  • UAD Sound City - A fairly new one for me but this really does give a recording some extra mojo. Use it on a DI guitar as a virtual reamp with 3 x microphones or just use it as a room style reverb for drums (or any source) it really brings something out of the tracks.

  • DSM & Humbolt Simplifier DLX - I use this for my own guitar playing but also on most sessions for at least the scratch guitars or guitars played live alongside the drum tracking. It's an amazing hardware amp sim pedal which really gives a great feel and loads of tonal options with no menu diving. I've not had one complaint from amp loving guitarists when this has been used and heard. All of my guitars on the forthcoming All The nines EP are tracked using this with no "real" amp in sight.

  • Stacktune - So far the only platform I've found where I can upload a project's audio files and keep track of them with a really easy interface for the client to be able to review / comment and compare versions. This really makes easy work of communicating the various stages of a project to a client.

  • Kazrog K-clip - A great and affordable clipper which helps get the overall volume of a source up without sacrificing transient detail, as can happen with a limiter. A bit of a secret weapon.

  • Aston Microphones Spirit - An amazing multi - pattern condenser mic which I've used on everything. I'm yet to find it falling short in any way. Easily holds it's own against the way more expensive Neumann U87 in the Studio.

  • Sonnox Oxford Drum Gate - Hands down the best gate I've used for maintaining the drums natural decay whilst getting rid of the unwanted noise. It can also act as a leveller and export MIDI of the drum hits really easily.

  • Soundtoys Decapitator Saturation - A great sounding and easy to use saturation module which brings life to pretty much anything you use it on. Great for adding character to drums, grit to vocals and body to bass. And lots more.

  • Sonnox Inflator - Another one of those secret weapon plugins, this does a really great job of pushing elements to the forefront of a mix and increasing the loudness.

By the way I've got no affiliation with any of the above. They're just great.

Things I'd like 2024 to bring:

  • Loads of great recordings! - I'm aiming to record as many people as time allows. I want to keep it affordable and accessible so that anyone with a spark has the chance to make it a flame.

  • Getting out and about - More gigs played, more gigs seen and more awesome people met.

  • Mark Pinchen Community Studio Expansion - I'd like to keep the Studio moving forward, Ideally starting workshops, live sessions and any other means to keep the place a key pillar in the local creative scene.

  • Release and create music - Get the All the Nines EP released and progress more music with other projects.

  • More amazing family time - without the support and encouragement of my brilliant family I'd probably still be daydreaming about doing this stuff. Can't thank them all enough!

So, yeah, another year another set of lists but one that I hope gives a bit on insight as to where I'm at with things. Looks like I'll be busy in 2024!



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