Close Up: Black Matter Mastering

Black Matter Mastering


Birth of a Thriving Mastering Facility: Throughout the 2000s, Nashville-based veteran musician and producer Dan Emery was co-owner of the popular collective McAlpine House Studios. Based in the rooms of a large home, the full-service recording facility had been hosting sessions for artists for six years when the Tennessee floods hit in 2010. Emery and his staff were able to salvage most of their equipment—including a vintage Soundcraft 500 console—but the location was no longer viable, prompting Emery to shift gears and fulfill his longtime goal to work more independently. His desire to work solitarily on his own schedule, combined with his fascination with the “dark arts of mastering,” led him to regroup and launch Black Matter Mastering. Driven by the essential goal of providing top quality mastering work at a reasonable price, the still active punk rocker’s recent clients have included the Lost Dog Street Band and Thetan feat. Lil B. 

Vinyl Etching: Passionate about the visual arts, Emery has become the “go-to” guy for his expertise in vinyl etching, which is an image pressed into an unplayable side of an album, with a frosted appearance. The etched side normally doesn’t contain any grooves of music, but for clients who want it, Emery is able to etch onto playable sides, as well. Emery takes the blank lacquer and uses chemicals to etch visual images onto them. The process adds a touch of visual style and is a way to enhance the artistic aesthetic of the album. Since he started etching (originally by hand!) in 2015, he has done approximately 350 projects. His current works include Hot Sass for Liz Cooper, an animated etching that moves if viewed through a phone camera; Layla (Revisted) by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Metallica’s Don’t Tread on Else Matters, Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You and a recording by Nine Inch Nails and Health. The Cooper and Tedeschi Trucks etchings have an audio cut in the inner part of the side around the center label. 

Anti-Corp: In 2001, Emery launched an indie label for local metal and punk bands. Over the years, even as he developed his other services, the label’s roster has grown to include hip-hop (including Kool Keith) and, these past years, Americana, folk and bluegrass alongside the metal and punk. The label now has a thriving series of stripped-down acoustic albums by a wide range of renowned contemporary folk artists (and a few jazz performers) called The Magnolia Sessions because they are recorded in the summer under a large magnolia tree outside Nashville. Participating artists have included Lost Dog Street Band, Matt Heckler and Cooper McBean from Devil Makes Three. In addition to mic’ing every instrument, Emery built a binaural mic for these sessions to pick up the details of every ambient sound, which creates an almost 3-D audio effect.   

Contact Black Matter Mastering, 615-424-6509