Ancient Future History: 2003 to 2008

Ancient Future Studio Period

While Internet downloads were having a deep impact on record industry, the computer based home recording revolution was producing a flood of independent releases. Concert presenters and reviewers found themselves buried in an avalanche of new releases. Social networking sites like myspace were popping up everywhere. This meant that artists could now reach fans directly without a huge marketing budget, but doing so proved time consuming. It seemed a great time to produce records, but maybe not such a great time to market them.

With that in mind, several projects were started. A concert featuring four versions of the band Ancient Future was recorded to multi-track digital and multi-camera video on June 6, 2003 with the idea of releasing a live concert DVD. The video editing and DVD creation process is taking quite a bit of time, but some videos from the concert have been released on YouTube.

In October 2005 rehearsals began for Mariah Parker's Indo-Latin jazz project, Sangria Ancient Future Studio was upgraded with a new G5 Pro Tools and Cubase recording system. But in order to be able to concentrate on the music rather than the recording process, live sessions were booked at Banquet Studios, where Ancient Future's Asian Fusion release was recorded. The first live tracks were recorded on December 12 and December 29, 2005 with Mariah Parker, Mindia Devi Klein, Kash Killion, Duru Demetrius, Debopriyo Sarkar, and Matthew Montfort. A few percussion overdubs by Brian Rice were added at Ancient Future Studios. The basic tracks were completed September 22, 2006 at Banquet Studios with a live recording session with Mariah Parker, Anurhada Pal, Kash Killion, and Matthew Montfort. Paul McCandless dropped by Ancient Future Studios for work on two tracks, and the record was edited mixed by Matthew Montfort at Ancient Future Studio. Mastering for HDCD was completed by Paul Stubblebine on September 21, 2007.

Soon thereafter, Matthew Montfort began work in Ancient Future Studios mastering a series of improvisational solo recordings he had done between 2000 and 2005. This was a large project, because the recordings were done on a now obsolete G3 Mac system, and some of the work that would normally be done in the mix stage happened in mastering instead. Matthew Montfort also developed mastering techniques that seemed to be required by the music. For example, all of the mastering adjustments were done keeping in mind the exact mathematically calculated just intonation harmonic series of each piece. He decided to call his new mastering style 64-Bit Tuned Harmonic Mastering. The mastering was completed in May of 2008. The result is Montfort's debut solo recording, Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.

After developing these new mastering techniques, in November 2008 Montfort revisited Ancient Future's seventh recording, Planet Passion, which was due for another pressing. The original recording was done on Power Mac, and the mix was limited by that system. Planet Passion is a very large project with 19 musicians contributing, and one could either hear each track separately with all effects, or all the tracks with no effects as the system did not have the power to play back the full mix in real time. To get around this limitation, the effects were set up listening to each track separately, then the mix was set up without effects. After that, the mix was exported and then re-imported to listen. Notes were made on changes to make and the process was started again. Most of the individual tracks were recorded at 20 bits, with a few at 24 bits due to a late project audio interface upgrade. The mixes were exported in both 24 bit and 16 bit formats. At mastering, one important component of the mastering system had trouble reading the 24 bit files. The considered opinion of the mastering engineer was that the Power Mac system was not likely able to get much out of the extra bits anyway and that the 16 bit format could be used for mastering. Montfort reluctantly agreed, but in the back of his mind always wondered if that was the right decision. So, when Montfort went to get the master ready for a new pressing, he thought to check the 24 bit mixes against the mastered version on his upgraded G5 system. He was shocked to find the mixes were in a box in his garage that was in mortal danger because rats had used it for nesting (!!!). He was relieved to find that after cleaning the discs off, they loaded fine and the difference in quality was stunning. So to get that quality back in the final master, he spent four weeks using the 64-Bit Tuned Harmonic process he had developed to bring out the music he knew was in the original recordings but that just didn't quite reveal itself in the original mastering process. The master was completed on December 12, 2008, and sent off to press via UPS next day shipment in order to meet the pressing plant deadline, just barely making the UPS deadline by a few minutes.

Work began on a global gypsy jazz CD featuring Ancient Future violinist Patti Weiss. The basic tracks for the first song were completed and an overdub session with a famous gypsy singer occured on December 29, 2008.