I am honored to have written the sleeve notes to the newly released Porcupine Tree vinyl box set, The Delerium Years: 1994-1997. It was fantastic to work with the folks over at K-Scope and Carl Glover did a great job designing the box set and its beautiful book. I interviewed the members of the band for the 7,000 words history of the band during those years. Steven Wilson remixed and remastered the music for this release. As he put it to me:
"There have been two releases of this music before. The first one was basically at a time when people didn’t pay any attention to mastering at all. My mixes were all over the place and I was mixing on anything I could beg, borrow, or steal. So the mixes are thin and tinny and some of them are more fuzzy and muffled. At that point, you sent your tracks off to a CD plant and they just pressed them flat. So the original mixes are quite dynamic, because they are not squashed or anything. But they’re also quite eccentric EQ-wise. They’re painful to listen to.
The second edition, which was the first set of remasters that came out in the first part of the millennium between 2000 and 2005, I tried to remaster myself. I corrected a lot of the EQ levels, but this was the height of the “loudness wars” and I got sucked into it too. I mastered them very loud, very compressed. Again, when I listen to them now, they’re painful.
So, this time, I think I’ve got them right. Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned a lot—not just for my own music, but from mixing other people’s music—about the quality of sound and not crushing things. So I fixed all the EQ. The dynamics are all there. I’m not saying it sounds great, because the recordings still betray their origins: ADAT tapes with low-resolution recording and some very primitive and mixing on my part. They do sound like independent DIY recordings, which they are. But they have charm. At least they sound as good and warm and vibrant as they ever have. The sound is good as it can be. And, actually, I think they sound good."Read more about it and purchase it here.
In related news, I am now creating content for Steven Wilson's newsletter. We've just released our fourth issue which features a live audio exclusive. Each issue includes new interviews with Steven about his latest activities, past albums from his vast catalog, and his own music recommendations. It's more like a mini magazine than a newsletter. To subscribe, go here and you'll receive a download of a live version of "Drive Home."