Skip to content

Plague Diagram – The Facts

A few requests for interviews and random questions have been asked and in an attempt to provide some insight on the process and release of Plague Diagram, this page will serve as a information to, hopefully, clear everything up. If you have questions please leave them in the comments.

Plague Diagram will be released on both digital formats and vinyl in early-mid December. The downloads will be a choice between a free mp3 version or a $3 hi-definition upgrade that includes source audio as well as other hi-fi options. The vinyl will be presented on transparent , high quality 180 gram disc. Thick enough to decapitate the closest thing next to you. It’ll cost $17, comes with beautiful full-sized artwork by Bridget Driessen, a sticker, personal thank you notes and hopefully, posters.

After mixing the album I took advice from friends and decided to outsource the mastering for the digital release. I thought about my choices and decided to use someone that works with high quality products on a daily basis, James Cigler. James explains his mastering process:

I used the UAD Manley Massive Passive plug-in to bring out some of the high end detail of the electronic sounds on the tracks; they sounded really great, but at times could be overpowered by the guitars. I also used it on some tracks to dip down some of the low-mid region as well as add some rumble to the drums.  Each track ended up calling for slightly different EQ frequencies, boost/cut and Q amounts, but the general approach for each was essentially the same.  Additionally, I used a yet-to-be-released plug-in to add a lot of “analog” character and natural sounding compression and saturation to each track – this worked incredibly well at adding a lot of punch and heavy sounding attack to the drums while gluing together the upper end of the frequency spectrum a lot better.  Lastly, I used the UAD Precision Limiter plug-in, adjusting for optimal release times for each track, in order to prevent digital overs as well as keep the dynamics in check without sounding overly compressed or unnatural.

The mastering for the vinyl was slightly different. Immediately after I decided to release on vinyl, my hunt started for a mastering engineer as I have not a clue how to master for vinyl. I remember reading an article on Sound on Sound here. It said:

Despite what you may have heard, mastering for vinyl is the easiest type of mastering you can do, as it involves only two steps: 1. Find a mastering engineer who has mastered a ton of recordings for release on vinyl. 2. Present your final mixes to that person and say “Here, you do it.”

I started to ask friends from all spectrums of the audio world and found Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities. He has mastered several of my friends records and also releases great music I used to listen to obsessively under the name Twerk. Being familiar with the mastering work he’s performed I knew he was the guy for the job. His rates are ridiculous for the amount of quality you end up with. Shawn had this to say about the mastering process for Plague Diagram:

The signal chain was fairly straight forward though having the Massive Passive allows for some interesting EQ. I used a shelf to add air, but gave that shelf a strong Q which gives it a dip of a couple dB at the chosen frequency. This allowed me to pull up some clarity in the drums but slightly suppress some of the piercing guitar all at once with a single EQ band. From there it went into the Manley Vari-Mu in compression mode, and just barely “kissed” the audio with less than 1dB of compression but used the input and output gain to add a little mojo as it hit the HEDD convertor with a touch (both at 2) of Pentode and Tape harmonics to add a layer of subtle but effective harmonics and saturation in the bottom.

As you can see, both of these mastering engineers used some similar components in their signal chain and came out with incredible results. The end product definitely take full advantage of the medium they’re presented on. The digital version is huge and strangely warm. It brings out the aggression and extensive range of sounds on found on all the layers. It’s not the loudest album but it breathes and brutalizes just as heavy as any other album. The vinyl release has a large dynamic range and the simplest way I can describe it is that it feels like an assault. All the analog components that Shawn used make the drums, at times, feel like a weapon and the synths sound like shimmering knives cutting through bone. Because of the snappy transients that Shawn dialed in – it sounds as deadly as it was intended to.

The manufacturing process of the vinyl has been (and currently still is!) incredibly stressful as I’m trying my best to keep the audio quality as high as possible. I contacted multiple vinyl pressing plants where they insisted I send in an audio cd where they would make record off of. I made them repeat this back to me just to be sure I was hearing correctly. I wish I could have recorded those conversations because you would have heard my brain melt through my nose with disgust and awe. Essentially they were compromising the quality of the album by making it 16 bit 44,100 kHz and restricting the quality to CD. What would be the point of that?! I finally settled on United Record Pressing where they spent the time to answer my dumb questions, clear up my insecurities on the process and most importantly retain the quality that Shawn Hatfield sent me with 24 bit, 48 kHz. They talked me out of some ideas I had because it would’ve affected the quality of the audio and I’ve decided on clear vinyl (which has a beautiful hypnotizing pattern) on high quality 180 gram discs. I’ve received test pressings that I’m not 100% satisfied with and it seems like they’re trying to accommodate my wishes for the highest quality possible. I’ll keep you posted on the process.

The artwork was created by Bridget Driessen whom I worked with before with Decrepit, Designed Deficiency and Programmed Cell Death. Like before I was always blown away by her attention to detail, evolution as an artist and ability to say something out of abstracts. I’ve never felt it was my place to tell where the artist to go but they needed to know where Plague Diagram is coming from. She asked what color template I wanted and told her a preference but left it up to her to follow it or not. The artwork can be seen in it’s intended medium when purchasing a vinyl copy of Plague Diagram. It’ll feature lyrics and credits on a 22 inch foldout. The digital files will feature only the cover and miss out on some extra goodies I’ll be throwing into all physical shipments like stickers and handwritten notes.

I’ll talk about my creative process in the next article. There are two songs now available for download above or here:

Plague Diagram

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *