The Triffids | DNO104
Treeless Plain was recorded in a series of midnight to dawn sessions, the el cheapo graveyard shift in recording studios, in 1983.
Engineer/producer Nick Mainsbridge was very inexperienced but so was everyone else. The production notes of 21-year-old David McComb belie his tender years and lack of studio flying hours. He covers the lot - instruments needed, how specific songs should be layered, the order of recording, records everyone should listen to with specific tracks that had pertinence to some of his songs, which effects should be bravely committed to tape and not left to the mixing stage as he was sure they were right. Speaking of mixing - this was the one process that everyone seemed to have underestimated, at least in terms of how long it might take to mix a whole album. Legend has it that the entire thing was mixed in two and a half hours. This may be a slight exaggeration but it was certainly done in a rush.
Fortunately the original 24 track tapes of the album were in the band's possession and Nick Mainsbridge, still a producer/engineer, was quick to take up the offer of another, more leisurely go at those knobs. This proved to be as much of a philosophical process as a technical one.
Using current mixing technology Treeless Plain could have emerged sounding like a million bucks and a totally different album but this is not what anyone wanted. So, armed with his memories, a crappy cassette later supplanted by a decent slab of vinyl of the original and Dave's copious notes from the time, Nick immersed himself in the past and has come out the other side bearing a wonderful update of Treeless Plain.
It sounds like... erm...Treeless Plain, just sweeter, darker, more detailed and altogether more befitting of the aural sketches Dave painstakingly pieced together in his mind and those notebooks.