Zizek is fond of using a metaphor about Starbucks. In fact, he sometimes apologises for using it so much. It goes like this…

You spend a little bit more on a coffee from Starbucks because it makes you feel good. Maybe 5 or 10 cents on each cup goes to help Guatemalan farmers, or a little to a children’s education program.

It’s capitalism, but it’s green. You’ve treated yourself, but also salved your guilt at being a frivolous consumer by doing a little good along the way.

However, it’s still obviously capitalism. It may have a kernel of positive intention…

Mastering is my dream job, I guess. But for everyone, there’s also the opposite: a ‘nightmare job’. Maybe it involves tragedy, death, or suffering, perhaps the harsh outdoors or the banality of a cramped space, the hell of other people or enforced isolation. The one job you “just couldn’t do”.

I’m sure there are elements of all of those that I’d find insufferable. But of the gigs I’ve actually had, here’s my personal hell: performing web chats for a large public organisation. It worked like this:

  1. The customer enters the chat and your cheery salutation is automatically populated back. The system knows the time of day, and it inserts your names too: “Good morning Emma, my name is X how can I help you today?” You just need to hit ‘send’, because of course having that small level of autonomy is enriching. …
The pleasantly azure tape version of Blue No Eyes

Even in the digital age, the music industry is a difficult arena for the impatient.

In times gone by, finishing a track was just the start of a drawn-out process involving label managers, mastering engineers, pressing plants, graphic designers, test pressings, lost parcels and distributors. It wasn’t uncommon to wait a year for your release to emerge, and in truth that can still happen (looking at you, Record Store Day and the Tesco-fication of vinyl).

Nowadays, though, many of those middle men (or womxn) are often either replaced by in-house/cottage industry/self-reliant types, or else the lead times are radically diminished…

We’ve all been there. A team meeting, financial update, annual report…

“Well, things are going to be tough this year. We’ve got to make budget cuts and I’m not going to lie, there are some tough decisions that’ll need to be made. We need to save X thousand on this or Y million on that. But I just know we’ll get through if we all pull together.”

The first time, maybe it’s a shock. The second, it starts to sound a little familiar. And on it goes. …

It should go without saying that some mastering jobs are easier than others.

For me, there are a few key things that can make a job more exacting: multi-artist releases, tracks with a wide dynamic range within them, and releases that have a wide dynamic range across all the tracks.

Step forward the always-excellent Broken20 label, who packed all three of these potential banana skins into a pretty tiny package! Luckily, the release in question, by TVO, is a joy and it was a pleasure to master too. (Plus bonus points for liberally featuring David Lynch’s superb ‘Lost Highway’ throughout.)

Ford Madox Brown — Work

It’s very easy to get sucked into the status quo, to not only forget that many of the things we take for granted are contingent but also to lose our ability to imagine something better.

Work is a good example. Throughout the bulk of humanity’s existence, work didn’t exist in anything like its present form. If you toiled, it was either to gather food and sustain shelter, or you were effectively self-employed, maintaining yourself through a skill or undertaking without oversight, in many societies for barter or goodwill rather than monetary or material reward.

In other words, work hasn’t always…

There’s been a lot of hype recently over a petition to revoke article 50 and remain in the EU.

A lot of people who I like, and whose views I’m genuinely interested in, think it’s well worth signing.

It isn’t.

But, curiously, there also seems to be a genuine thread of hopelessness around those promoting the petition. This tweet is a fair example:

This is truly hypernormalisation at work. “We know it’s a farce, but what else can we do?” It reflects a poverty of imagination that would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

A young Nelson Mandela…

Here’s a tl;dr of this post:

  1. I went to my first protest
  2. It was a worthwhile exercise
  3. Actually, sack that. It was a massive waste of time
  4. It was also really boring
  5. It reminded me that humans are terrible
  6. But I’m really glad I went
  7. And then this happened…

I went to my first protest

I’m new to the whole ‘protest’ thing.

It’s always seemed too pointless, too earnest or too fucking tired to me.

The one protest I nearly went on, and apparently everyone else did, was against the Iraq war on February 15th, 2003. I was hungover, having first met the woman who’s now…

Black & Red Mastering

We’re a mastering studio and we like to rant. www.blackredmastering.com

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