The designer’s soul sighs in anguish when a media production leader once again says: “Ah, let’s do it in the post…”. – because then they know that hours of fiddly digital work await them again, which hardly anyone particularly thanks them for, and in which they are supposed to weed out all the mistakes and sloppiness from the production in the post-production. But in recent music developments, this process is different. Some mastering engineers have developed such a mastery of post-production that they are asked specifically for their signature mastering because their post-production edits can elevate the whole production to a special level of quality.

For a few years now, especially in bass-heavy music styles such as (dirty) grime, (post) dubstep, trap, juke, blip-hop, future bass and drum & bass, but also in sound art, there has been an attempt to give music a new physicality via sound, via pitching, bass and sub-bass on the one hand, and via new sound spaces on the other. Those who provide this increase in sonic presence alongside the musicians are increasingly appearing not only in the credits, but also in the advertising of the records: “mastered and cut by…” is the formula here, which suggests a new musical consciousness, in which the (in terms of time) last, post-productive steps are suddenly very far in front (in terms of relevance).

Whoever thought that everything had already been formulated sonically in the medium of vinyl could come to the conclusion, with releases by Overlook, Mumdance, Logos, Klein, Beatrice Dillon, Raime/Yally, for example, or those of the labels Silent Season, Hemlock, Dom & Roland Productions and Well Rounded Dubs, that this is not the case, but rather that paths have been taken towards new, quasi-haptic sonic sculptures or sound-designed, kinetic soundscapes, in which, parallel to the considerable upgrading of post-production in film, a very clear upgrading of post-production in music has taken place.

Here it is now necessary to determine anew where the music comes from and in what proportions: from the musicians, the music technology (production) or the mastering and vinyl cut (post-production)? And what is it about the aesthetics of “fucked up”, as mastering engineer Matt Colton calls it, an aesthetics that he summarizes as follows: “maybe it sounding wrong is better than it sounding right”.


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