This is Mastercraft Recordings, a distinctly original take on a record label. Ours are authentic music recordings created by committed artists for committed listeners.
What does that mean?
Mastercraft’s entire catalog is meticulously tracked through pure analog signal paths by an expert studio producer/engineer, recording elite musicians in action. These songs represent a return to truly excellent performance and sound, exactingly captured to audiophile standards.
This music is fun and exciting. Each track shimmers with a live energy infusion. The imaginative turns come from an authentic love for genius songwriting and joyous performance, making them ideal for anyone who demands the real deal.
All of our initial recordings are covers. What is so original about a recording label doing covers? It’s the ethos behind them: A true craftsman’s commitment to creating 21st Century recordings of uncompromising quality. And, the use of great cover songs means you, the listener, will enjoy an immediate affinity for the music.
The recordings are authenticity defined: Nothing is computer generated or processed. Everything is real including the performances. Details of this are in the next section below entitled, “How”.
At Mastercraft Recordings we are throwing our weight on the side of liberation and re-humanization in our playing and in our productions.
We hope that you will experience the same fun and excitement listening to these recordings that we experienced making them.”
If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of how we make our recordings, we will explain that here. But, first, let’s understand the philosophy that drives the process.
Production-wise, we have turned the clock back to the very late 70’s / very early 80’s mindset when each track in a music production had to be a performance by a gifted player. This was before things like computers and sequencers became the norm in music production.
Likewise, everythingyou hear is real. There are no “simulated” sound instruments in the studio so, there are no simulations or synthesization in our recordings. Real people play real performances on real analog instruments in real time. Most tracks are limited to one or two takes to keep them alive and spontaneous.
No endless disjointed punch-ins. No soulless sequencers. No stifling click track. No dehumanizing quantization. No AutoTuning. No swapping out of real sounds for sampled ones. You get the idea.
This is music made by humans for humans. Neither are these recordings meant for computer speakers or ear buds. They have been created by committed people for a committed listener. If you love classic rock, blues, funk, etc. and want to hear it in high fidelity, you have arrived in the right place.
A kind of elegant simplicity is applied to the work environment where the recordings are made. The room is attractive and comfortable. The pace is relaxed and the human interaction is kept warm and joyous. All of us love what we are doing here and, as serious as we are about our performances, we are still committed to keeping the fun and excitement in the process. This translates into passionate music that is full of life.
This same down-to-earth approach applies to the technology used. We spent a solid year building the facility. Everything about the room acoustics was thoroughly optimized first. It’s a great sounding room and monitoring has proven to be highly reliable.
Much of our equipment is customized and while we are recognized for using first-class old school style analog equipment through and through, we have not gotten carried away with the typical obsession that walls full of vintage equipment makes great recordings. Compared to typical recording studios, we are minimalists and what we use works splendidly to achieve what should be the true goal: to capture great performances in crisp, clear, euphonic high resolution.
Quote from an industry insider:
“ . . . the fidelity of these recordings is extremely high. In fact, it demonstrated to me the vastly reduced expectations my ears have developed for recording quality in modern music. “
Here is how we produce our recordings:
Great morale among great musicians translates into great performances. Before we started any music production, we spent countless hours optimizing the instruments and the room. We can assemble the musicians and begin playing quickly and easily without a long tedious energy-sapping setup.
All instruments are in exceptional condition. They are played by fine musicians and recorded through microphones we have hand-selected and, in many cases, customized and tuned them for their purpose. They feed our fully analog Trident console, a real vintage EMT gold stereo plate reverb and a minimalist rack of mastering-quality outboard equipment. The sound you hear is gotten almost exclusively during recording.
Production for Digital Release
The tracks are captured through our wonderful Mytek converters to a computer workstation, which ever-so-simply functions essentially as if it were a multitrack tape machine. Here, the tracks are carefully balanced to form the final mix. That’s all! Use of digital signal processing (DSP) is avoided since the few corrections that are needed are accomplished in the analog domain.
Production for analog release:
Our operation was designed from the ground up to be able to deliver first-generation masters on reel-to-reel tape to our customers. Please [contact us] for information on obtaining a release on your preferred tape format. Current tape formats include 1/4 and 1/2” half-track at 15 or 30 ips.
Mastercraft Recordings is overseen by Steve Puntolillo. You can find Steve’s bio here. A music producer, musician, recording, mixing and mastering engineer, Steve made waves in the audio world when he used his decades of analog tape and digital audio production expertise to launch Sonicraft A2DX Lab.
Renowned in the professional audio industry as the “ultimate analog to digital transfer facility”, Sonicraft became essential to the lucrative world of musical reissues, winning over dozens of labels who entrusted analog tape recordings of some of the world’s most beloved artists to him. These include: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, REM, and hundreds more.
Now, Steve has brought his proven track record for analog recording expertise and quality sonic and musical craftsmanship to Mastercraft Recordings. When asked about the mission of Mastercraft, here is what Steve had to say:
“This work is greatly about my love of exciting, living, breathing performance vs. over-perfectionism in music production. My belief is that, from the beginning, there was entirely too much emphasis on so-called perfection and this produced lots of recordings where restraint was held up as the holy grail of ‘professionalism.’
To some extent, restraint is appropriate. But, in my mind, over the years, more and more, we have progressively restrained music literally ‘to death.’ And in doing so, with notable exceptions, we have sterilized it and surgically removed its soul. In reality, this is *not* perfection and never was.
So, Mastercraft Recordings is our way of saying “enough is enough” and let there be music! What we actually want is greatness in performance and wholeness in sound rather than clinical “perfection”.
That’s why these recordings are all about performance. Every rhythm track, every vocal, every overdub is a real performance where life and spontaneity is the goal. We choose magic rather than over-perfection. You can do that if you have the right performers. This philosophy and approach caused us to arrive at a place where the listener should feel very little doubt that if we did it again, it would be different. And it would be.
Today’s “recording clinicians” might not appreciate what can sometimes be slightly loose, un-doctored live-ish recordings. The point of music is expression — “the way feelings sound”. We did not make this music to impress clinicians. We made it to bring joy to listeners too long deprived of exciting, authentic music recordings. Hopefully, we will find our audience.
There is certainly a place for music that reflects our current times, where reliance on our computers and devices is the hallmark of the art of this period. Art always reflects the period we are in.
But, there is also a quiet movement, a gentle tide turning the other way out there. It may never overturn this relentless conversion of the analog world into the digital world, and maybe it shouldn’t. But I personally feel that there should be balance.”
Analog Warrior is the name for our ensemble of in-house studio musicians. Here they are in alphabetical order:
Jonathan Ashe – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars*
Joel Bennett – electric, fretless and upright acoustic bass
Brendan Brophy – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Rob Elinson – sax
Jim Ferrante – vocals, electric guitar*
Bruce Stephen Foster – vocals, piano, Hammond, electric and acoustic guitars
Emily Grove – vocals
Jeff Guenther – electric and acoustic guitars
Greig Haas – vocals*, electric guitar, acoustic guitars*, violin*, keyboards*, lap and pedal steel guitar*, banjo*, harmonica*, and more*!
Tommy Labella – flute, sax
Igor Lipin – classical guitar
Jerry Mokar – vocals, sax*
Steve Puntolillo – drums, congas, timbales, percussion
Alexandra Stevens – vocals
Lisa Rispoli – vocals
Jo Wymer – vocals
* These capabilities have not yet been recorded for release. We are excited about revealing them in the future.