Icehouse - and what it means to me...

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Eroc, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    Not too many mastering-engineers may have 72 complete productions on their desk to work on, I suppose. But here it's the case these days and on half of the albums I can eat my heart out. Especially on those of an Australian band called Icehouse, which had one of the nicest hits back then (maybe even in music history) with „Hey Little Girl“ from their 1982 album Primitive Man.
    I'm lucky enough to have a DAT-copy from the o-tapes to work from. But I'm not lucky to have a CD of Primitive Man released as „remastered“ in 2012 by DIVA Records for comparison. Translated into German Icehouse reads „Eishaus“, which means exactly the same. But we have a very similar word over here which is „Scheisshaus“, describing a completely different location, especially if you get there to ease you up. And this location is always on my mind when I listen to the DIVA release: it's totally brickwalled and deadly boosted in the hights, making you wanna plug your ears and run away, especially if you listen to it on higher levels. Must have been a completely deaf guy who „remastered“ this one, pushing that wonderful music into the container for tin and steel garbage. My wife yelled „switch off that horror at once“ and my daughter grabbed her i-phone to listen to some K-Pop when I played that CD in our car last weekend. How can a serious company release such great music in such a horrible soundscape today?

    Now I did my very best, brought all tracks up to life from the original sources. Even lowered the 1 and 8k very slightly for „Hey Little Girl“ to point out the unique atmo of this song. I lowered the 6.3k at that great song called „Great Southern Land“ and took off carefully a bit of 100Hz from the snare-drum of „Trojan Blue“, to make it more flowing. And I did many more things like that for this album. I'm a musician and I have ears and feelings. And now I can listen with pleasure to all these wonderful songs and drift away like the band probably did when doing these really great sounding mixes back then. It's all in the mix. And clever remastering just points it out...


    - Eroc
  2. ganma

    ganma Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    Sorry to hear the remaster of Primitive Man was murdered. :laugh: I'm sure you'll do great things with it.
    I love this band and managed to pick up the original releases on CD, so I'm set.
    Excuse my ignorance, but how did an Australian band find its way to your desk for mastering? Are those CDs being being reissued by a German label?
  3. jeffmo789

    jeffmo789 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I like this band and would love to get some decent masters - let us know when your work is done and being commercially released.
  4. anduandi

    anduandi Well-Known Member

    Count me in :righton:
  5. Echo

    Echo Forum Resident

    When do you expect your fine remaster will be finished for the market, and for which label?
  6. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    Repertoire Records is re-releasing some stuff from Icehouse. "Primitive Man" comes as REP UK 1171 this summer. This one is completely remastered by me as well as REP UK 1170 and 1178, which are each double-CDs containing a lot of the 12"mixes from their songs. NOT remastered will be the reissues "Best Of" REP UK 1169 and the 3-CD set "White Heat". They just come as plain 1:1 copies from previous CDs (Repertoire's decision) and will still sound harsh.

    - Eroc
  7. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    For me, the first album (AKA Flowers) is the best...Would love a definitive good master with a definitive set of bonus tracks...
    Rural Rat likes this.
  8. ganma

    ganma Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    This sounds interesting. Kind of like the Thompson Twin double CD remasters from a while back.
  9. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    Yes, you're right. But I didn't work for those. Repertoire seems to be on an Australian trip these days. Next scheduled for me: some more albums by "Flash & The Pan", another great band from Down Under... :D


    - Eroc
  10. Echo

    Echo Forum Resident

    Eroc, do you always get he liberty to remaster albums the way you would like to do? In that case I will check the reissues of
    Repertoire more often! :)
  11. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    No one ever has told me how to do it except my own heart, soul and experience. For "Primitive Man" first it was scheduled to re-release it 1:1 from the 2012 "remastered" DIVA album. But when I heard this crap I made an A/B and sent it over to the Repertoire staff, telling them my complaints. Ten minutes later I had a GO FOR IT. But: last but not least the quality of my work always depends on the sources I get.

    If you're interested in what I've remastered so far check out www.eroc.de - there click on "Mastering Ranch" and then on "productions" on the radio-scale below. There you have them all... :righton:


    - Eroc
  12. ganma

    ganma Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    I love what you did with Mountain — Twin Peaks. All the other versions were awful.
  13. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    THX - ;)

    I only did Twin Peaks and Nantucked Sleighride. Didn't get a chance to do more for Mountain... :shake:


    - Eroc
  14. morgan1098

    morgan1098 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info! So let me get this straight. When it comes to the Icehouse material you're remastering, here is what is going to be released in Germany this summer:

    1. Primitive Man--a 2CD edition with 12" mixes on Disc 2. Can you provide a Disc 2 track list?
    2. Icehouse 12" mix compilation [REP UK 1170]. Can you provide a track list?
    3. Icehouse 12" mix compilation 2 [REP UK 1178]. Can you provide a track list?

    Thank you! Glad to see at least some Icehouse material is getting remastered with care.
  15. Echo

    Echo Forum Resident

    Using 'the best mastering worlwide' as slogan of your firm shows courage. I have always asked myself why there is no European Audio Fidelity or MFSL, I'm, however, allready very pleased to hear from an European master engineer, eager to show balls at the front of the Loudness War.

    Your site is a fine read. Hope you get even much more mastering jobs. Keep us always informed! :)
  16. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member


    Since this is Repertoire's biz I'm not allowed to show "their" listings until release date. But so far I can say "Primitive Man" will be the original album in the original running order of the 10 tracks plus 6 bonus-tracks.


    - Eroc
  17. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    Thanks a lot. Sorry to say, but I was the one who "invented" the loudness-war in 1987 / 88 when I produced a band called "Phillip Boa & The Voodoo Club". Their CD's were the loudest on the world-market by far back then. But I have learned my lessons, also thanks to some great discussions years ago here at SH's. I'm still doing brickwall for Punk and Metal acts if they demand it. Just have today e.g. a band from Austria called "Chaos Beyond" which have to be really LOUD. But this evening I'm into restoring some old tracks from The Juju's (U.S. garage band from 1963). Here the sources are acetate recordings - and here I have to be careful like carrying unboiled eggs... :D


    - Eroc
  18. Aggie87

    Aggie87 Gig 'Em!

    Very interested in all three of the sets you are working on, please let us know the track listings when you can.

    Primitive Man may be my favorite Icehouse album, followed by the first and third album.
  19. jeffmo789

    jeffmo789 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I'm interested in these releases as well. Had forgotten about Icehouse actually until I randomnly heard "Electric Blue" somewhere (grocery store?), went to Amazon, saw that they had remastered import cds for like $50 (out of my budget) and on itunes for about half of that. In addition, the Amazon reviews discussed the loudness war in regards to the White Heat: 30 Hits comp you discussed so there was no way I was going to spend that kind of money on those loud cds. My compromise at the time was to use an itunes gift card to get AAC version of that hits comp, and while I've enjoyed it, would prefer to have some properly mastered cds and vinyl for the original albums. Good luck on this project and keep up the standards for SQ.
  20. Echo

    Echo Forum Resident

    Wow, you have a difficult position standing between the fronts of the Loudness War...Do you remember why you 'learned your lessons' and changed once from position?

    And a question I've always wanted to ask (and I hope you don't mind): which percentage of the (by bands and labels) offered jobs is existing out of brickwall jobs? Would it be in your position possible to say NO to these kind of requests? (just what people like our host or Barry Diament is doing)
  21. :righton: I'm looking forward to this Rep release. I saw Icehouse live two or three times back in the day. Great band. :)
  22. Endymion

    Endymion Active Member

    Location:
    Germany
    Eroc, no offense but I'm a bit surprised to hear you of all people rant about loud and over-compressed remasters.
    Because frankly your own Grobschnitt remasters sound terribly loud and compressed to me. I bought your "Rockpommel's Land" remaster and it truly hurts my ears when I turn up the volume just a little bit.

    A few years ago you wrote in this forum:
    "If I stop jacking up the signal and work like Steve, I would loose my job at Repertoire. And I would loose all the five-star-reviews for my remasterings in the German audio magazines which are quite a lot so far. And I would loose the love of my 14 year old daughter, who plays Grobschnitt and Slipknot with the same settings on her equipment, like all other kids, who wanna feel the music coming out of their speakers."

    So have you really changed your mind on compressing old analog recordings and can I expect the upcoming "final" Grobschnitt remasters and your Icehouse remasters to have nice dynamics?

    BTW in one of your interviews on your website you mention the Woodhouse studio in Dortmund. Ahhhh... childhood memories...I was there when the studio was built and even helped a bit...carrying around boxes and stuff like that...LOL. I'm not sure what year it was exaxtly, I must have been 13 or 14 years old back then.
  23. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member

    Of course I can tell you (and many of my friends in other threads here know it already): when I started to work for Repertoire in 1998 they forced me to make their records sound as loud as possible. Some of their staff thought that loud sells best, which obviously is not quite wrong for the common market. I myself grew up in the studios of the 60's when we used e.g. Fairchild compressors to be louder than others. But for my own music I always strived for highest transparency and clearness, resulting in "reference tracks", which some HiFi magazines praised and re-released from my solo-albums back in the 80's. So I kept this difficult position between LOUD and PLEASANT SOUNDING, because I needed the jobs when I started concentration on mastering after my long career on the stages and in the studios. But when a friend introduced me to SH's back in 2005 I started reading many opinions from other audiophiles here, especially about brickwall and loudness. I always knew that brickwall itself is an "art" which needs a lot of experience in designing soundscapes and that it's really necessary for some kinds of music (e.g. Metal or Punk), but not for every kind of music and of course NOT as a sales-argument at all.

    When I get jobs from labels or bands I always try to work together with them. I'm not demanding being the perfect sound-designer. If a Metal band shows up here and wants to sound louder like e.g. Slipknot, I analyze some of Slipknot's tracks and compare them to the mixes this band delivers. And then I can tell if it's possible to get this sound or even sound better. If not I give advices how to change the mix to get a better result in the end. When they want it LOUD they have to mix it perfect. The best mastering worldwide requires the best mix worldwide. And that's how things will get together. If the band's mixer is not able to optimize his work, I suggest STEM-mastering. Normally this end up in better results. I never say "no" to any band or artist, because no band or artist in this whole wide world starts off making a worse production. They all give their best. And when that's not enough it's possible to help them on with experience and passion. With companies it's different. Normally their staff doesn't have a clue about sound and studio work. When they come up with contemporary acts I'll get into contact with the bands and their mixers (as said before) to get the best results with a close cooperation. When a company delivers back-catalogue material it's simply up to me. And then I'll act like I said above in my first thread about Icehouse "Primitive Man"...


    - Eroc
  24. Eroc

    Eroc Active Member


    You obviously are talking about the Grobschnitt reissues by Repertoire in 1998. Yes, these were rather loud. And yes, this company forced me to be loud back then. And yes, Phillip Boa's productions were lying behind me and he was totally LOUD at all. And yes, I really stood behind my (loud) work in those days. And yes: I have changed my mind on compressing old records, at least there wasn't so much to be changed because I always was known for producing audiophile stuff. The upcoming re-releases from all 15 Grobschnitt albums will prove that and of course they will sound different compared to the Repertoire releases in 1998, you can bet.

    The Woodhouse Studios in Dortmund I founded with my friend Siggi Bemm in 1982/83 when I left Grobschnitt. We ran the facility until 1991 and then moved to Hagen city to a much bigger location. I left Woodhouse in 1999 and Siggi closed it down ten years later in 2009...


    - Eroc
  25. Echo

    Echo Forum Resident

    Thanks for your long and honest replies. I disagree, however, that metal and punk would need brickwalling. As (former?) punk rocker I can tell you i hate e.g. the last remastering of the Stooges and am still pleased you can find mostly easily important punk cds mastered in the eighties, so mostly free of brickwalling. And talking about metal, the last remasters of AC/DC was even the reason I found my way to SHTV. Did you listen to the albums of AC/DC, Dokken or Guns' 'n Roses, mastered by Barry Diament? Are you really missing here the compressing and brickwalling?

    I'm pleased, however, that other kinds of music will be mostly given the right mastering job. I will definitely purchase your reissues of Icehouse!

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