iMac running Pro Tools 2020, plugins from Slate Digital, Melodyne, IK Multimedia and Arturia, Apogee Element 88 interface, Slate VMS ML-1 virtual mic system, Martex washcloth (mic cover), FXpansion BFD3 drums controlled by TrapKAT pads, M-Audio Key Station, Gibson and Fender guitars, Mackie Big Knob controller, JBL LSR 4328P monitors, Sony MDR 7506 headphones.
“Mastermind” is a female vocal rock track. Penny and Ken Kacere wrote the song, Penny sang the vocal and played drums and keyboards, and Ken handled the guitar and bass. The pair shared the recording, mixing and mastering duties.
Reviewed By Marty Peters
This high energy track is undoubtedly one of the quirkier submissions we’ve received in recent memory! Let’s break it down. The track is listed as indie rock, and it rings with a punky Siouxsie and the Banshees vibe. Presented bone dry and practically in mono due to the minimal sound sources’ centered placement, the recording has a vocal forward, in your face presence. We absolutely love the sound of Ken’s electric guitar here—the classic low-mid humbucker distortion drives the recording like a locomotive. We also dig Penny’s edgy, disaffected vocal performance. While we’re unsure what emulation was used with the Slate VMS ML-1 mic system, it certainly delivers a full, artifact-free sound that suits the track to a T. We can’t help but be enamored by Penny’s unorthodox drum playing—this is not your typical rock performance. The syncopated kick and snare are marching to their own drummer, and the tones of the track follow suit. We particularly enjoy the added tom fills in the song’s bridge section—very creative indeed. Ken’s active bass part is rather far back in the mix though, and in spots falls victim to frequency masking from the dominant electric guitar. Finally, we need to address the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room, that being the completely abrupt ending of the song at the end of the bridge section. Just when we were settling into this cool part, the recording simply stops. No delay, no reverb tail, nada, done, over. While we’ve experienced this type of thing many times over the years, this one feels exceedingly awkward, leaving us perplexed and wanting more.
A few small repairs could be beneficial. We’d love to hear the bass guitar louder in the mix, but not at the expense of the killer electric rhythm guitar. We urge Ken to create a second rhythm guitar (physically, or cloned in Pro Tools) and pan them slightly out from the center, allowing the bass to come out from behind the low-frequency mask. As for the ending, the artists’ vision wins out, but that said, we sure would like to hear where the duo could take things post-bridge.
Very cool track, great band name
Penny Kacere, firstname.lastname@example.org