Mike Mettler of The Sound Bard has recently conducted an interview with Steven Wilson, covering mostly his work on Yes’ classic Close to the Edge. Few excerpts from the interview can be read below:
Mike Mettler: So how does one go about making an admittedly “beautifully recorded and beautifully mixed” progressive masterpiece sound even better?
Steven Wilson: My goal is always the same: Be as faithful as you possibly can to the original mix, and don’t try to modernize it or improve it in any way — but allow for the fact that you’re going back to an earlier generation of tape. Remember that every kind of mix, every vinyl master, and every copy master is a further reduction in sound quality. But by using the original tape, I inherently knew I was going to get more tone out of the music and more out of the recording itself than anyone had been able to before.
Mettler: Talk about what you had to do with Rick Wakeman’s organ sequence in the “I Get Up I Get Down” section of the title track.
Wilson: You mean the church organ? I didn’t know this when I was initially mixing it, but apparently they went and did that without having the context of the track. That is, they went to a church [St. Giles-without-Cripplegate in London], recorded the church organ in isolation, and then came back and spun it back into the multitrack. I didn’t know that at first, but it’s such a glorious, kind of overpowering sound. And you know what? That’s pretty much the way it is on the tape. All of the reverberation is the natural reverberation from the church where it was recorded, so, in actual fact, that was one of the simpler things to program back in.
Mettler: Do you consider this one of your best 5.1 mixes to date?
Wilson: There are a lot of magical moments on there, yes. At the same time, I was absolutely terrified to do this mix. It’s almost like rewriting The Bible, isn’t it?
Mettler: Close to the Edge is one of those benchmark records that I always come back to for a full-album listening experience.
Wilson: It’s a bona-fide A-level masterpiece. I think “masterpiece” is an overused word, but there are some records that deserve being called that, and this is one of them.
Read the full interview at The Sound Bard.
Photo credits: Lasse Hoile