Central Brooklyn Studio Tour – Part 1: Gowanus / Park Slope

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CENTRAL BROOKLYN, NY: For this installment in SonicScoop’s tour of Brooklyn studios, we took a trip along the border of Park Slope and Gowanus to bring you into four singular spaces that have each carved out their own distinct niche.

Room Rate: $825/day with Bryce Goggin; $725/day with house engineer

To profile Trout Recording, we spoke with studio owner Bryce Goggin, who is himself one of the best reasons to track a record in his neighborhood.

In a career that has spanned more than two decades, he and his studio have built up an impressive client list that includes names like Pavement, Herbie Hancock, Swans, Apples in Stereo, Phish,  Sebadoh, Spacehog, King Missle, Elliott Sharp, Marc Ribot,  Antony and the Johnsons, Lemonheads, Akron/Family, The Molecules, and Lisa Loeb.

Bryce Goggin at the Neve 8028 inside Trout Recording, an open-plan studio.

Built around a Neve 8028 console, Trout’s open-studio design overflows with vintage rack gear, natural plate reverbs, and a half-dozen tape machines that Goggin and the crew routinely use for everyday tracking sessions and genuine tape-slap.

Bookings here also include access to a Pro Tools HD system, ample mic locker, and an assortment of useful vintage amps and keyboards.

According to Goggin, the purpose of having all this gear is forgetting that it’s even there: “Working at a studio like Trout allows the artist to focus on the project at hand,” he says. “You can walk in here with picks and sticks and walk out with a finished record.”

When asked about specialties, Goggin tells us that Trout is a place uniquely suited for capturing live music. “The studio allows real collaboration between real people,” Goggin says. “That’s something you still can’t do at home.”

Special Promotional Rate for Spring 2011: $65/hour (includes engineer)

The next studio on our list also features an distinctive semi-open design, this one focused around owner/operator Nathan Rosenberg‘s “immaculately restored” 1926 Mason & Hamlin grand piano.

Rosenberg, an accomplished jazz pianist and producer himself, says he had trouble finding a drum kit to match the tone and balance of his prize piano, so he commissioned master tambourier Frank Ascenza to build him one from scratch.

The result is a kit Rosenberg describes as “versatile and dynamic.” It’s an “exceptional jazz instrument with enough punch and growl to excel in more aggressive musical styles,” he says.

The Doghouse NYC

Similarly, the three adjacent live rooms were each designed toward a distinct sonic goal, but made to blend together enough to feel like a single space. These rooms open into one another in succession, providing seamless sight-lines and a musical balance between sonic isolation and natural spill.

Rosenberg tells us his chief aim was to build a studio that would serve as a “musician’s oasis.”

To that end, he forgoes computer screens and glass windows in the studio, instead opting to open up the feel of the space by projecting his DAW’s display on to a wall that can be seen throughout all three conjoined live rooms. “No screens separate the composer, the musician, or the client,” says Rosenberg.

It’s an unconventional approach, he admits, but since Rosenberg is just as likely to be playing piano or producing for his clients, he maintains that the setup’s functionality is paramount as well: “Musicians should look and listen to each other,” he says. “Not screens and consoles.”

Room Rate: $450 per day with house engineer; $300 for room only

Let ‘Em In offers a surprisingly large live room for the money, that offers “a big warm sound and comfortable, homey vibe,” that have earned owner/engineer Nadim Issa praise since opening day.

Let ‘Em In Music, through the glass…

It’s one of the few commercial studios in the neighborhood, and Issa says the price makes it an ideal space for artists in need of a suite to hole up in while they work on long stretches of writing and pre-production.

With that in mind, Let ‘Em In runs several DAWs: Logic, Pro Tools, Live, Reason, Max/MSP and Cubase, making it a logical choice for producers and artists who’d rather have the studio adapt to them than work the other way around.

Issa is also a producer and engineer in his own right, and provides promising audio samples on his site.

He’s made smart choices on the gear front as well, with a list that features front-end gear from Great River, API, Universal Audio and ADL, all feeding a 24-channel Apogee Symphony system.

Rates: $550 for 12 hours or $275 for 6 hours. (Includes engineer)

Seizures Palace is an inimitable and cavernous space that sits along the eastern edge of the Gowanus Canal. A step into the control room reveals dueling consoles, where Jason LaFarge normally works on his preferred Otari 18R.

The other console that sits here is mostly a vestige of the space’s other life as the Brooklyn mainstay “BC Studios,” where Martin Bisi worked on seminal records with Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambaataa, Brian Eno, Lydia Lunch, John Zorn, Bill Laswell and Bootsy Collins, before lightening the load to pursue his career as a solo musician in earnest.

Mighty High recording at Seizures Palace. Photo by Theo Wargo.

Today, the space is kept busy by owner LaFarge and other engineers who embrace this studio’s distinctive and flexible sound.

In his time at this former automotive factory, La Farge has attracted his own reputable client list, including Akron/Family, Chicha Libre, Angels of Light, Hopewell, Swans, Devendra Banhart, and Mighty High.

When asked about the lasting appeal of this singular space, LaFarge says: “I think what makes Seizures Palace special is a combination of vibe and acoustics. It’s located in an old factory building on the Gowanus Canal and has beautiful stone walls and high ceilings in both tracking rooms that give it an amazing sound.

“It’s an amazing place and I think it reflects on the sessions. I’m often told by clients how comfortable they feel here and how easy it is to work. I take pride in that.”

Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based audio engineer and music producer who’s worked with Hotels, DeLeon, Soundpool, Team Genius and Monocle, as well as clients such as Nintendo, JDub, Blue Note Records, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visit him at http://www.justincolletti.com.

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