Paul Lamere is a badass who is much smarter than me and who runs a nifty website about music technology called Music Machinery. One of his most entertaining posts recently was on the topic of “the loudness war,” or “how compression is killing the sonic glory of rock music” (an actual quote…from me). Anyway, he studied a few tracks from various artists and compiled the results to see how the dynamic range is pathetic, particularly with the new Metallica album.
It’s true; repeated listening of that album will give you audio fatigue and cause you to physically harm other people.
But I already knew about this from other stories about Death Magnetic and how the dude who mastered it would like his name removed from the brittle piece of shit. But the real discover that Mr. Lamere made was in providing computer evidence that The Stooges Raw Power placed them as the loudest band of all time (in terms of dynamic range, anyway) while Brian Eno may be the quietist.
Full story here.
Another great find that Lamere did was from a few months ago, when he created a computer program that is able to decipher when drummers utilize a click track.
For those not familiar with what a click track is, it is essentially an electronic metronome that many drummers use during recording. The idea is that they are able to create a near-perfect tempo by using this tool. The weird thing is-and maybe this is a male, penis thing-that some drummers consider using a click track “cheating,” stating that if you’re not able to keep a perfect tempo at all times then you’re some kind of pussy.
Personally, you’re making a record; make it as pristine and perfect as you want. I’ve got no problem with drummers that use a click track and totally admire the ones that don’t, particularly when you don’t notice a difference. On many of the recordings that I did, I totally used the metronome feature when drumming. Mostly because I was always speeding up and fucking the entire thing up. And when you have wasted an entire afternoon because you can keep time for four minutes, you tend to use whatever tools are available.
But knowing how hard it was made hearing a comment that Phil Rudd made several years ago stand out even more. When you listen to his work-particularly his drumming on Highway To Hell and Back In Black- you can’t help but notice how near-perfect it is. The dude is completely in the pocket and does not deviate. Rudd claimed that these recordings were done without the aid of a click track. Both of these albums were produced by Robert “Mutt” Lange, a notorious perfectionist and a vocal supporter of click tracks. Lange is an introverted wealthy weirdo, so we don’t have his remembrance on if Rudd performed to a click track.
That’s where Lamere comes in (the actual track was plotted by Arren Lex).
I asked him to consider hooking up a Rudd fueled AC/DC track and see if the drummer was a liar or not. From the test, it appears that Phil Rudd is being honest when he states that he does not play with a click track.
Of surprising note: Neil Peart does.