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In Rotation: Audio engineer Tim Iseler on "Darth Vader's Cock and Balls"

Plus: The Reader's Miles Raymer on Townes Van Zandt’s outtakes and audio engineer Jeremy Lemos on the Dirty Projectors at the Sydney Opera House

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Townes Van Zandt, Sunshine Boy
  • Townes Van Zandt, Sunshine Boy

Miles Raymer, Reader music writer, is obsessed with . . .

Townes Van Zandt, Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972 For a bunch of demos and outtakes from aborted sessions, Sunshine Boy is surprisingly revelatory, as well as infinitely more listenable than such things usually are. A mix of "Pancho and Lefty" scrubs away the popular version's unfortunate kitsch simply by muting its strings and mariachi horns, while the previously unreleased "Sunshine Boy" offers an alternate-universe vision of the Texas troubadour as a fuzzbox-addled psych rocker. And the demos where it's just Townes and his guitar are gut-wrenchingly intimate, human, and direct.

Future Presents F.B.G.: The Movie Future isn't exactly a singer and isn't exactly a rapper, but he's also not not either of those things. Just when gratuitous Auto-Tune was about to hit its expiration date, the Atlanta whatever-you-want-to-call-him figured out how to use it to make the human voice into an almost entirely new instrument. Since releasing the ballistic "Tony Montana" in 2011 he's been making better and better material, and F.B.G.: The Movie (credited to Future's Freeband Gang crew, though it's his show) represents an exceedingly strange and moody new peak. He's now so far out on his own level that it's ridiculous.

Four Tet, Fabriclive 59 I like Kieran Hebden as a producer but I love him as a DJ. His 2011 installment in the illustrious Fabriclive DJ mix series is a smart blend of organic minimalist techno, clean-lined UK two-step, and field recordings of the crowds at his club gigs. A few months ago I put it back on my iPod, and the synergistic effects of listening to it on headphones during late-night walks around the city have secured it a comfortable spot, safe from the usual turnover.

Raymer is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Tim Iseler, studio and touring audio engineer

Rotating Clock Divider and Shuffling Clock Multiplier from 4ms Pedals
  • Rotating Clock Divider and Shuffling Clock Multiplier from 4ms Pedals

Rotating Clock Divider and Shuffling Clock Multiplier from 4ms Pedals I've been very excited about these timing modules. Both take a clock input (could be an audio click if the level is appropriate) and either sub­divide or multiply the signal with a controllable amount of variation—adding "swing" to a mechanical beat, for instance, or completely mutating it into something unrecognizable. I'm especially interested in the prospect of integrating this with a live drummer or for album production. Many 4ms modules are available as kits for people who are handy with a soldering iron.

Justin Walter I met Justin Walter touring with Iron & Wine in 2011. As well as playing trumpet with Nomo and Iron & Wine, Justin plays the very rare Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI), a trumpetlike synthesizer with a breath- and mouth-controlled interface. Played somewhat like a trumpet, it has earned the nicknames "Tron Flute" and "Darth Vader's Cock and Balls." His album Dark Matter shows off some excellent tones, and he has another due on Kranky this year.

Levon Helm, This Wheel's on Fire Most of my reading is done on airplanes, and I blew through this book while flying around Australia with Dirty Projectors. Written in a conversational and intimate style, it made for a great addition to my knowledge of the Band. Like most first-person retrospectives, it pays too much attention to the period after the music I like—the first two Band records—but I'd recommend it to any fan of Levon or the Band.

Iseler is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Jeremy Lemos, studio and touring audio engineer

Dirty Projectors - JASON FRANK ROTHENBERG
  • Jason Frank Rothenberg
  • Dirty Projectors

Make Noise synths Remember Tony Rolando of We Ragazzi from the Fireside Bowl days? Well, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and now builds synthesizers under the name Make Noise. They're the coolest things out there—totally sideways, killer, inventive, freakish modules. The Echophon is especially fun, and he has new ones coming out all the time.

Public Info This UK record label has only existed for a year, but it's been putting out the best new and reissued electronic music anywhere. Everything Public Info has released is great, but check out San Francisco's Austin Cesear and the reissue of F.C. Judd's Electronics Without Tears. My new project with Brian Case, Acteurs, just happens to be the newest band on the roster.

Dirty Projectors at the Sydney Opera House I had the opportunity to mix the Dirty Projectors last month in the only venue my grandmother would ever recognize. I've mixed at the Sydney Opera House before, and it's actually really tough to do amplified music there and have it come off well. This time the DPs had an additional eight string players along with their regular (loud) band, and I was afraid it would become a big mess—but it totally worked! I finally nailed the mix in that hall, and it felt like Stop Making Sense.

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