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Thread: David Hentschel's production style reevaluated (?)

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    David Hentschel's production style reevaluated (?)

    Hello PE'ers..

    I have been thinking about this subject some, and wondered what people out there think. I always loved his production style and was very influenced by it. Some of the magic Prog albums would not be what they are without him.

    Here's the point. His productions are very "dense" sounding. I would describe it as like Phil Spector's wall-of-sound.. but with more compression, and generally with more sophisticated music to work with. Kind of the opposite of going for "space" in a recording. It seems to me in terms of popularity, leaving a lot of space has kind of won out over the decades.

    I was reading a review of Renaissance's "Azure Dór" where someone took a swipe at Hentschel and specifically mentioned And Then There Were Three and mumbled something about the "thick" 'overly heavy' production.

    I don't think I will ever stop being a fan of his (and continue to be influenced by him). But I think his aesthetic didn't last out there in the collective consciousness..

    ...what say ye ?
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    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Didn't he do Trick? Nothing you describe applies to Trick.
    I like the part where Icarus hijacks the Little Red Hen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProgMusician View Post
    and generally with more sophisticated music to work with.
    I'm sorry, but you lost me here and I just can't seem to get over the above quote.

    I guess that's my baggage

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    Member Marco's Avatar
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    There's not a single album produced by David Hentschel which sounds amazing—and I mean soundwise, as in well-produced music; not performance or composition, which is another thing entirely—to my ears.
    bass player and singer in an occult heavy prog band called Papangu. debut album in spring 2021

  5. #5
    If he was trying to emulate a "wall of sound" then it was an unfortunate choice. To my ear, the wall of sound was terrible.
    No matter what anyone says, you are the decider of how you will listen to music.

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    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Mike Oldfield's QE2 which Oldfield produced together with David Hentschel sounds quite good.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

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    I think Genesis "Duke" sounds incredible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProgMusician View Post
    Hello PE'ers..

    I have been thinking about this subject some, and wondered what people out there think. I always loved his production style and was very influenced by it. Some of the magic Prog albums would not be what they are without him.

    Here's the point. His productions are very "dense" sounding. I would describe it as like Phil Spector's wall-of-sound.. but with more compression, and generally with more sophisticated music to work with. Kind of the opposite of going for "space" in a recording. It seems to me in terms of popularity, leaving a lot of space has kind of won out over the decades.

    I was reading a review of Renaissance's "Azure Dór" where someone took a swipe at Hentschel and specifically mentioned And Then There Were Three and mumbled something about the "thick" 'overly heavy' production.

    I don't think I will ever stop being a fan of his (and continue to be influenced by him). But I think his aesthetic didn't last out there in the collective consciousness..

    ...what say ye ?

    I agree with you that David Henschel had a 'dense style' to his productions (best heard Genesis' Wind & Wuthering, And Then There Were Three & Duke which he co-produced with the band). I do recall reading that when Genesis released Abacab, they went for a different style of production with more 'space' between the instruments.

  9. #9
    I've always enjoyed the four Genesis albums he produced. I also like his mixes much more than the Nick Davis ones. I didn't like the album he did with Andy Summers very much.

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    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Nere heard the Andy Summers album, but I agree about the Genesis albums 100%.

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    I agree with both the winter tree and Koreabruce. Really love his Genesis produced albums, and never thought of them as sounding dense or too compressed.
    When I was searching online about the best master of Then There Were Three on the Hoffman forum, there was much discussion about how they had to do some fiddling with the sound in order to squeeze all the songs on to the album.(sorry, can't explain it very well, it's been awhile).

    Not as big a fan with Nick Davis, at least the cd versions. Since I upgraded my turntable and speakers the Nick Davis vinyl remixes sound a lot better to me, but the cds make my cat run from the room. lol
    Which is funny, because I like Nick's work with Marillion.
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    Something I realized after the post.. I remember hearing him say his musical foundation was coming from the standpoint of orchestration, as opposed to a pop group, rock etc. He said so in an interview I heard (I just didn't sort out what that meant until now). So, in emulating that approach - it's likely going to be a "dense" sonic experience by it's nature. Orchestra instruments are layered many times over in an orchestral setting and aren't traditionally individually mic'd.. you just get out front what the mix of instruments and the room sounds like.

    I remember going to see the Boston symphony about 20 years ago, and it was a bit of a let down for me. I thought.. wow, I actually like the sound of my Korg X3 better than this (to be fair, the symphony hall sounded kind of "boomy" sound-wise). And as I continue to think about it (and by contrast),.. I've seen Jon Anderson perform things like The Gates of Delerium with an orchestra - and I believe those instruments had mics all over the place,.. and were eq'd to enhance detail. And I was blown away by the production on that.

    Maybe that's the answer.. because of pop and rock sound production (and then hip-hop etc), maybe our ears got spoiled for sonic detail. I know from recording over the years that you lose a lot of vocal detail the more there are other layers going on - that's why a sort of loud singing style works for rock and prog - and why someone like Elvis wouldn't have translated that well. I personally love Renaissance "A Song For All Seasons" (one of my top 3 albums) - I think he did a great job making all of that sound work together. But, I think generally people are turned off by that kind of density now. And possibly it wears out the ear more quickly to take all of that in. That said,.. could you have Prog without it? The mellotron takes up a great deal of the sonic landscape in a mix. Food for thought.

    Ps: Wind and Wuthering,.. probably my favorite Geneisis album (and very dense)
    Last edited by ProgMusician; 2 Weeks Ago at 11:01 AM.
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  13. #13
    A friend at the old Gnarly Geezer-forum (for Allan Holdsworth-fans) once sent me the link to Hentschel's website, which still excists: http://www.thekeyboard.co.uk/
    He also produced the first solo-album by It Bites-frontman Francis Dunnery (Welcome To The Wild Country) and Brand X - sort of comeback - album Manifest Destiny.
    Complete list: http://www.thekeyboard.co.uk/profile_discog.html
    Well I love Wind And Wuthering partly because of the warm sound. When I heard Simple Minds' New Gold Dream I thought that had the same warm sound as Hentschel's productions.

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    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by interbellum View Post
    Well I love Wind And Wuthering partly because of the warm sound.
    Warm sound? I have always found that album horribly cold sounding.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    Warm sound? I have always found that album horribly cold sounding.
    Indeed. Wind & Wuthering may be my favorite Genesis record but it sounds tinny. The high end is absolutely awful.
    bass player and singer in an occult heavy prog band called Papangu. debut album in spring 2021

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    Warm sound? I have always found that album horribly cold sounding.
    Nice to see how people react on the same music differently.
    "Warm" is a subjective word - I realize that - what I especially like is the layering of keyboards and guitars, especially when the guitar-sound melt together with the keyboard-sound.
    I also like how the Mellotron-sound was produced; it's different from the glorious Foxtrot-sound, which I think was a good thing - developing new sounds.

    But "cold"? No, I never heard that in Genesis during those years.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    Didn't he do Trick? Nothing you describe applies to Trick.
    If anything, Moe, it's surely not just another argument of keeping discussion on the trace of things Genesis/Yes/KCrimso/Sympho-related. All roads relate back to In teh Court of the Court.
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    "Originally Posted by moecurlythanu": Didn't he do Trick? Nothing you describe applies to Trick.

    I meant to respond to this also Scrotum Scissor.. I think this is right to some degree - on the quieter songs anyway. A little bit of an exception that one

    To my ears,.. the album that really didn't come off because of all of this is Azure Dór (Renaissance). Great album, but really suffers in high end detail
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    Quote Originally Posted by interbellum View Post
    Nice to see how people react on the same music differently.
    "Warm" is a subjective word - I realize that - what I especially like is the layering of keyboards and guitars, especially when the guitar-sound melt together with the keyboard-sound.
    I also like how the Mellotron-sound was produced; it's different from the glorious Foxtrot-sound, which I think was a good thing - developing new sounds.

    But "cold"? No, I never heard that in Genesis during those years.
    Yeah, Hentschel's production for Genesis are anything but perfect (there is some really tough changes in Foxtrot tracks - Friday, for ex - and other early albums), though I suppose that was also J Anthony's fault as well, but cold is not a word that comes to mind when listening to Genesis.

    TBH, if there is one Genesis producer I hate, it is Paghdam ... Much more than Phil, he ruined Genesis and not IMHO
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProgMusician View Post
    To my ears,.. the album that really didn't come off because of all of this is Azure Dór (Renaissance). Great album, but really suffers in high end detail
    I remember buying Azure as a teen not long after it came out and thinking that it was so great, and yet there was no chance it would dent the charts thanks to the clumsy production. At the age of 14 I didn't think much if ever about production of albums but the record was just so "off" in terms of a sound that might appeal to mainstream record buyers.

    Personally, I still enjoy Azure quite a lot. It scratches an itch that the earlier Renaissance does not.

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    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    I always thought ATTW3 sounded great, but when I 'upgraded' to CD I was disappointed with the sound. (and I'm not even a Vinyl True Believer) I was never all that thrilled with how Duke sounded even though I liked the material on it.

  22. #22
    From Hentschel and Genesis I think Trick of the Tail is the best one sonically. Duke sounds good too except it's a bit hypey on the highs and heavily compressed... yet it still sounds good to my ears. Generally speaking his style was dense, over compressed and hyped on the highs. Sometimes it sounded thin or harsh (Francis's album he did sounded harsh and Francis re-recorded that album later and it sounds a lot better).

    I still consider him an influence as a producer/engineer though. He had his moments. But, I agree there are some things about his approach that were kind of hit and miss. Yet, some of those albums sound amazing in surround! Dense albums have another chance to breathe and spread out in 5.1 format. I thought Nick Davis did a nice job of giving some of the dense albums or thin mixes some weight and depth. Although I mainly only listen to the surround remixes. I do prefer most original stereo mixes... except ATTWT, W&W and Seconds Out were arguably better remixed. I say arguably also because I'm not 100% sure myself but that was the impression I got.
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    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squids View Post
    From Hentschel and Genesis I think Trick of the Tail is the best one sonically.
    A Trick Of The Tail is the best sounding album Genesis ever did.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    A Trick Of The Tail is the best sounding album Genesis ever did.
    Bingooooo.
    I like the part where Icarus hijacks the Little Red Hen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    A Trick Of The Tail is the best sounding album Genesis ever did.
    Agree with that. The one album that I like which I wasn't thrilled with the production is ATTW3. I bought three copies of the album back when it was released thinking I got a bad disk, then realized that's probably the way its supposed to sound.

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