Friday, February 27, 2009

Master Slash Slave "Scandal" = West Coast Performer Magazine's Vinyl of the Month (



by Master Slash Slave

Format: 140gram, 12-inch

Label: Free News Project

Artwork: Mikayla Butchart

Manufacturer: GZ Media (Czecch Republic), By Way of Pirate's Press (San Francisco)

Recorded by Ephriam Nagler at Soundwave Studios
Mixed by Ephriam Nagler | Mastered by Fritz Seig

It’s believed that there are only four operational DMM (direct-to-metal mastering) lathes in the world – two are owned by the Scientologists, one by Optimal Media in Germany and one by GZ Media in the Czech Republic. Though the grooves cut by a Neumann VMS-82 (only DMM lathe ever made) are not as deep as those on lacquers, the benefits of DMM mastering are longer playing times, increased sound clarity, lower surface noise and wider frequency range. From the opening bleeps of “Cold Calls” to the dirty revving guitars and live drums that follow, this is readily apparent on SCANDAL. One of the first things you’ll notice when listening to Master Slash Slave’s full-length debut is the clarity of its tones. Synths sound absolutely phenomenal and are almost tactile. Using only 100% virgin vinyl, any material inconsistencies that could have negatively affected the sound quality were further prevented.

A black and white record label decorates each six-song side of the vinyl, which the band has manufactured in Bloody Mary Maroon, Olive Green and Classic Black. It would be remiss to discuss this LP without reveling in its packaging. Mikayla Butchart truly did an incredible job on the record’s artwork. The setting is a Victorian-era street, easily a stretch of San Francisco’s own McAllister Street near Alamo Square Park. It depicts an affair in action as onlookers watch with SCANDAL written all over their faces (literally). The art wraps around the jacket beautifully, as a couple – possibly more cheaters – strolling in the late afternoon approaches the scandalous scene from the back. Printed on 350-gram reverseboard, the effect is that of an oil painting, as this uncoated, more porous side of the stock allows for higher ink saturation. This is the only way you’d want to see this art presented.

In contrast to the darker tones on the outside of the jacket, the inside is bright. Each contributing player has their own flora-framed portrait in the corner, however the star players, featured most prominently in the centerfold, are the Oberheim OB-8 and the Roland Juno 106, with the Roland MC-500 and MC-300 as side support. Even the liner notes below proudly state, “No keyboards were used in the making of this record that weren’t an Oberheim OB-8 or a Roland Juno 106. Rest in peace MC-300, you had a good run.”

The vinyl medium serves this band and this album well, giving the music added texture and making it all the more evocative, affective, sweaty and raw. It’s the details that count here and Master Slash Slave has taken them all into consideration, creating an imaginative package from the engaging artwork to the crafty music. Those who look closely will find secret words of wisdom engraved on the vinyl itself (Side A: Don’t Get Arrested; Side B: Don’t Get Her Pregnant). And for the final touch, each LP’s polybag is smartly stocked with a certificate for three free downloads of the full album so listeners can enjoy some good old-fashioned scandal at home with a needle or strolling down McAllister Street (with a brown-bagged beer).

-Katherine Hoffert

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