Tag Archives: Remix

George Martin’s Ray Cathode Recordings Reissued, Remixed, Rediscovered On Vinyl, Tidal & Spotify

Many of you know that George Martin was the producer of The Beatles. Some of you know that he produced some other bands and artists such as Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Cilla Black and later The Mahavishnu Orchestra, America and even Ultravox.  

I suspect a lot of you know that he was also a composer and arranger, crafting incidental musics for several of The Beatles’ films (A Hard Day’s Night, Yellow Submarine) and that he even played on some Beatle tracks (he plays the fantastic solo on “In My Life” from Rubber Soul)

Heck, I’ll bet there are a bunch of you who knew that he produced some recordings for the legendary Goons of The Goon Show — professional birthplace of Peter Sellars — a British comedy troupe and precursor to no less than Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

But did you know that he put out a proto-electronica single in 1962 under the pseudonym: Ray Cathode?

Don’t worry. I didn’t know about it either until recently when I learned that the Ray Cathode music has been reissued in a fascinating and fun hybrid reissue/remix project designed to benefit a community radio non-profit called dublab

From the official press release we learn:

“Bridging six decades of electronica, George Martin Music has partnered with dublab to release a limited run of 100 numbered 12-inch vinyl EPs pairing the two songs, newly remastered by Craig Leon, with contemporary remix reinterpretations by Sparkle Division and Drum & Lace. Cut at Finyl Tweek and pressed at The Vinyl Factory, the collectible EP will be released on May 1 and sold exclusively by dublab, with all proceeds benefiting dublab’s nonprofit community radio programming and mission.”

So the back story on this release is that in early 1962 Martin collaborated with BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Maddalena Fagandini on two electronic instrumental tracks, “Time Beat” and “Waltz in Orbit.”  Released under the pseudonym Ray Cathode on the Parlophone Records label, the single came out  just weeks before Martin met and recorded The Beatles for the first time.

The two original tracks are great fun. On the surface they remind me of some of the works by electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott — music you may have heard but not know from its use in cartoons ranging from Bugs Bunny to Ren & Stimpy — but they have their own vibe with elements of Nino Rota and Dave Brubeck by way of exotica / space age bachelor pad music flavors ala Les Baxter and Martin Denny. 

The 12-inch 45-RPM single seems like it is pressed on standard weight, well centered, quiet black vinyl. It comes housed in a heavy cardboard sleeve, so it is more like a classic remix project than trying to recreate the vibe of the original Parlophone Records label release — the new label design somewhat mimics it, but says Ray Cathode instead.

The remixes by Sparkle Division and Drum & Lace are fun too, bringing in just enough modern DJ aesthetics without derailing the original feel of the music.

All in all Ray Cathode is a super fun reissue, bringing to light a fascinating track by one of the greatest producers in music history. In that regard it is an essential release. 

So where can you get Ray Cathode?  Well, there in lies the rub, Dear Readers. Only 100 copies of this instantly rare 12-incher sold out super-quickly so you will have to check places like Discogs, Popsike and eBay to try to get a copy. However, if you have access to streaming services, the Ray Cathode EP went live there late last month, including on Tidal (click here) and Spotify (click here).

To learn more about dublab, visit dublab.com. And do check out their promo video from their membership drive this year (below).

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Remixes & Remasters Vs. Originals: No Easy Answers (Part 1)

Recently somebody suggested an idea to me which I thought was pretty cool: do a little “analysis” — in the loosest sense — of whether certain re-mixes and re-masters are better or worse than the original mixes. As I dove into writing this I seem to have opened a bit of a Pandora’s Box of thinking, while not having a conclusive answer to the question.  But it is still worth discussing since the topic is obviously on some of your minds as well, Dear Readers. 

This is a touchy subject which I’ve seen divide scores of collectors and even friends… Really, this is surprisingly a quite personal topic which objectively has no “correct” answer, at least as far as the listener is concerned. My tastes and desires are unique from yours, both equally valid.  

That said, I swing both ways when it comes to the argument of originals vs. remasters and even remixed versions of favorite recordings. There are so many variables to consider — from how the remaster or remix was created to simply relative availability of an original copy. 

As I pointed out in my review of the recent Blue Note Tone Poet reissue of Kenny Burrell’s 1956 debut (click here to read that) finding an original in any condition is very difficult and the new version actually presents more of the music that was originally captured on tape.  That isn’t to say I wouldn’t want to own an original pressing for some of these albums — I’m holding onto my Kenny Burrell album even though it is beat up! — but having the new edition is a great close second, this side of finding a pristine original. 

Many people who are fans of a particular beloved recording feel it should remain untouched. Others get very upset somehow thinking that when an album gets remixed it immediately means that the original is no longer in existence (I’m not kidding folks, I’ve encountered this perspective from people many times over the years!). Some people get upset when they learn that what they’ve been listening to actually is a remix and not the original.

I’ve even gone to some extremes on social media (if you will) talking some people down from the ledge to calm them down, particularly when The Beatles’ albums were being remastered.  Forget about talking to some of those folks about the remixes, but do remember that you can always still play your original vinyl pressings of those albums, of which there are millions of copies around the world to choose from. No one is taking them away from you. 

The impetus for this article believe it or not came about as a result of a Facebook post I made about The Grateful Dead’s third studio album, Aoxomoxoa.  Discussions arose about the remix of that record which the band made in the early 1970s  (as well as to Anthem of the Sun) as to whether one was better or worse than the other? And of course, the answer to that is, inconclusively: it depends on your perspective

If you are a purist and want to hear the specific vibe the band crafted in the 60s, then the original mixes are the way to go. If you are looking to just hear the music in as clean a presentation as possible, the remixes might well be better for you.  The remix definitely sounds more like a 1970s mix than even one from a just a couple of years earlier.

In some instances a remix can be justified. For example, on the digital Stereo remix of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, you can now hear much more detail as the many tracks of music that went into making that album are now mixed in first generation quality. The resulting drums and bass in particular sound fuller and more dynamic than before. Interestingly, the overall vibe is closer to that of the original Mono mix — the mix the Beatles themselves put their energies behind at the time.  But… to get that one pays the price of listening to music from a digital source which ruffles the feathers of many an analog purist.  You can click here to read my review of that mix if you are interested.

Those Grateful Dead albums which Phil Lesh remixed in the early 1970s are generally fine but most serious fans of the band seem to prefer the original mix.  You can read about them on the Wiki (click the titles following):  Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa

When it comes to Aoxomoxoa — one of my favorite Dead albums — I lean toward the original, if only to hear the choir on “Mountains Of The Moon” (which neatly pre-echos the end of side one of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells!). I haven’t spent enough time with the Anthem of the Sun remix to make a definitive choice. And you know what? There is no reason to. If you like a particular album a lot you will probably want both versions!

There is also the question of whether remasters are “better” or worse than the originals? Many people are justifiably gun shy these days having endured a seemingly endless barrage of remasters of favorite albums over the years across a multitude of formats and music delivery platforms — from LP to cassette to CD, SACD, DVD-A, Blu-ray, HD Downloads, Streaming. If you are a regular purchaser of music, you have no doubt seen the buzz words whizz by you on hype stickers applied to the packaging and promotional materials for albums over the years: analog, digital, DMM, Half-Speed, Ultradisc One Step, DSD, PCM, Quiex, etc. It is confusing at times as these are diverse processes and technologies, some unique to the vinyl production process and others used in preparing the actual original final recordings for release. Some are used separately or simultaneously. Some are great. Some have delivered mixed results.

So, take a deep breath…. As I said earlier, there are no easy answers to this question…

Having done a fair amount of recording myself I understand the value of both re-mastering of older recordings and new mastering of new projects. There have been significant progressions in technology over the years with certain capabilities that can actually improve the final sound of a recording if handled properly.  Recent remasters of albums by Frank Zappa, XTC and others have been at times revelatory. 

Tune in tomorrow when we’ll explore more of that in Part 2 of this series…

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

AudioSourceRE Launches DeMix Pro 2, DeMix Essentials

Software developer AudioSourceRE has updated DeMix Pro (seen here) and DeMix Essentials.
Software developer AudioSourceRE has updated DeMix Pro (seen here) and DeMix Essentials.

Ireland (June 10, 2020)—Software developer AudioSourceRE has updated its DeMix line with new V2 editions of both DeMix Pro and DeMix Essentials—software that is used to extract or remove individual elements and stems from a mixed source. The update is free to current users.

Intended for use by audio and mastering engineers, remixers, producers, DJs, and musicians, the new Version 2 of DeMix Pro uses new AI isolation algorithms with spectral editing to isolate, extract and fine-tune a variety of possible stems—vocals, lead vocal, drums, bass, and other instruments—from an existing mix.

Available by subscription as well as perpetual license purchase, the update takes new approaches to lead vocal and all-vocal removal; bass separation; and drum separation. It also reportedly provides faster separation times.

Real-World Review: AudioSourceRE’s DeMIX Pro V1

Meanwhile, DeMix Essentials Version 2 is aimed more at users who want don’t want or need to have such in-depth control. Intended for use by DJs, music producers, remix artists, musicians, and educators, the software can auto-remove stems from existing audio, separating vocals, drums, bass, and other instruments for sampling or creating a-cappella and backing tracks for quick remixes.

Version 2.0 provides Vocal, Bass, and Drum separators; allows users to separate, mix and merge up to 4 stems; provides a multi-channel mixer for remixing; and allows non-destructive separations.

DeMix Pro and DeMix Essentials run on both Mac (OS 10.9 and higher) and Windows (7 or higher), with minimum RAM of 4 GB. Using the company’s cloud-based service, the software requires a high-speed internet, and accordingly, upload and download speeds are connection dependent.

DeMix Pro costs $24.99 per month, but is also offered as a $249 pre-paid annual subscription or with a $549 perpetual license purchase. DeMix Essentials costs $129 as a perpetual license purchase.

AudioSourceRE • www.AudioSourceRE.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com