Usually, writing a review of something on the web is an exercise in futility. After all, unlike a book, record, or movie, it’s just as easy to click and see for yourself, since you don’t have to shell out time and money to get the details. So for all of those that agree with that last statement, here’s the executive summary: Mixerman’s online journal is an ongoing documentary of a nightmare recording session for the Major Label Debut by the “winners” of a fierce biding war. It’s funny as all hell, and simultaneously unbelievable and all-too-real. It’s also a fairly long read, and promises to get longer as Mixerman adds to the chronicle (the last posting I read came from this morning). Go there now, the link’s at the bottom.
If you’re still looking for a reason to read 30 or so pages of Recording Studio Melodrama, let me say this. What Spinal Tap did to Heavy Metal, Mixerman does to The Recording Process. Except Mixerman is far more than Rob Reiner’s incredulous chronicler, inadvertently poking fun at the stereotypes he has to deal with as he tries to document the experience. No, Mixerman dispenses sage observations ranging on everything from how to properly process a signal to his methodology for avoiding washing socks. It’s never boring, and it’s constantly hilarious.
But it doesn’t end there. The cast of characters — the Producer, the Studio Assistant, the Band and their Girlfriends, the Digital Editing Whiz, the Label President, the Band Manager, and more — are at the same time fascinating caricatures and all too human. This isn’t just the tale of How The Album Was Made. It’s not even an examination of how the music biz really works. It’s a story of people working, working together and against each other, to make something that will hopefully outlast them. Because the truth is that when you pop in your favorite CD, you will never hear the left-handed politics, the crappy playing that had to be painstakingly corrected, the two-hour arguments over the best tambourine sound for the song, the DUIs, the butt-picking, the 22-hour marathon sessions, and all the other petty little human things that made the recording what it is.
At times, it’s just too much to be believed. But even if the story told is not exactly factual, it’s certainly quite true. Mixerman manages to spin the knobs on all these stories and characters with a deft touch. If he’s one-tenth as skilled at the mixing board as he is with balancing the details of this tragicomedy, he’ll be pulling in the six-digit gigs in no time.