JAMES EDWARD ARMSTRONG
Mastering. Performance. Education.
James Edward Armstrong is a mastering engineer, multi-instrumentalist and academic living and working in the South East of England.
James’ main passion within music is the mastering process. He began informally mastering the music of bands he had produced and recorded ahead of releases in 2013. In 2015, James started to take mastering more seriously, not only working on his own releases under the Slow Clinic project but applying the finishing touches to music for a number of independent labels across the contemporary ambience scene. Over the past few years, James provided the objective role of a mastering engineer on over 150 releases, including labels such as Whitelabrecs, Elm Records, Eilean Rec., Hibernate, Expert Sleepers, Complex Holiday, Dub Cthonic and Slow Music Movement.
Recently, James was involved with a majority of the Home Diaries series on Harry Towell’s Whitelabrecs; the project invited musicians across the world to create albums and EPs as a way of documenting their experiences during the widespread lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 situation. The Home Diaries series involved mastering close to 30 releases over a four-week period and serves as a record of resilience and creativity in the uncertain times of a global pandemic.
For many independent musicians and labels, high-end mastering studios are out of reach. James is dedicated to providing a professional mastering service for musicians and record labels operating at a grassroots and independent level – helping your music to sound as good as possible and to give it the care and attention it truly deserves.
Each artist and project are unique, and rates will vary depending on the work required of each mastering job.
Standard rates are from £10 per track, with EP and album deals starting at £30. Additional processing for vinyl is £5 extra per track. Fees are paid upon completion of the project and include revisions if something is not quite right.
Listen to selected examples below.
'odd memory' from the album 'that's what it will be like', released in Whitelabrecs in September 2020.
'Fragment 7' from the album 'Scattered Fragments of Separation', released on Whitelabrecs as part of the Home Diaries series in June 2020.
A Home For Ghosts
'Graviloquence' from the album '... Of A Star, Never Setting', released in Eilean Rec. in November 2018.
'This Island Of Blue' from the album 'Drawings From Imagined Cities', released on Elm Recordingss in July 2021.
'Diaries 07' from the album 'Diaries', released on Expert Sleepers in November 2020.
'Water on Earth' from the album 'Love in the time of the Anthropocene', self-released in October 2020.
I’ve been trusting James’ ears for years now, with him overseeing many of our releases on Whitelabrecs. His communication is excellent, explaining the nuances of often technical processes in a way that’s easy to understand. The results are always spot on and he’s a pleasure to work with.
(Spheruleus, Magnophon, Whitelabrecs)
It’s been an absolute pleasure working with James over the past three years, he is a highly professional and motivated individual who has an exceptional ear for sound. Having worked on both my solo project and projects for my record label he always manages to elevate my music, drawing out the finer details and polish each track with his signature shine. It’s amazing to be able to find someone you can trust 100% with your creative output. James always seems to get where I am heading and helps guide me in that direction. I would recommend James' work to anyone, quick turnaround and quality work, what else can you ask for?
In truth, I was always had a "fuck mastering/who cares" type of mindset. But the same lovely human who mastered my 'Emotioncodes' album for Whitelabrecs also worked on my latest release. Big thanks and much love to James for all the attention to detail, patience and love that he puts into his work. It truly makes all the difference.
Steven de Taeye
(Hymns57, Aural Tethers)
James has mastered several of my releases over the years. He has vast knowledge in the ambient world, so I always know I’m in safe hands... or ears? Friendly, quick turnover and incredibly good rates. Can’t recommend him highly enough.
(Good Weather For An Airstrike, Hawk Moon Records)
In addition to mastering, James records and performs under a number of different projects.
Slow Clinic is the solo performance and recording project of James Edward Armstrong, exploring ambient and drone styles through extended guitar playing techniques, sound manipulation, and field recordings. The project began following a sleepless night gathering field recordings around Cardiff Bay area, drawing influence from the soundscape of a sleeping city. Under the name of Slow Clinic, James has released music on a variety of labels, including: Whitelabrecs, Audio Gourmet, Cruel Nature Recordings, 1834, Hawk Moon Records, Champion Version, Assembly Field, Unexplained Sounds Group, ARCHIVES Music and Tesselate Recordings. A number of albums, EPs, and singles have been self-released via James’ own Slow Clinic page. Since starting the project, James has performed in the North East of England, London, Bristol, Birmingham, Surrey and Hampshire.
A HOME FOR GHOSTS
Long-time friends Neil Carter and James Edward Armstrong began collaborating from a distance to create long-form ambient pieces, combining James’ improvised drones and guitar loops with Neil modular synth explorations. The duo met for the first time in Bristol hours before performing together as AHFG (at the time called Ghost Station) at the Bristol Hum 2017 festival. The duo has since gone on to release music on Eilean Rec., Audio Gourmet, and Rusted Tone Recordings in addition to self-released album and live recording. Their unreleased debut album will be put out via Rusted Tone Recordings in Summer 2020 with 100% of sales going towards supporting Café Kino in Bristol.
Working alongside Manchester-based Alexander Roberts (Kepier Widow, Joseph Curwen), the duo recently released their first album together under the name of Phase Outline. The project explores generative composition, audio manipulation, and themes of Hauntology.
As Slow Clinic:
‘Rushlight’ (2021, Champion Version, forthcoming)
‘Over & Over, Until We Forget Where We Were’ (2020, Courier Sound)
‘Campfire OST’ (2020, self-release)
‘Become Nothing’ (2020, self-rlease)
‘Green Echo’ with Jazzdefector (2019, Whitelabrecs)
‘Still Haunts’ (2018, self-release)
‘Discarded Things Once Loved’ (2018, Whitelabrecs)
‘Ruinous’ (2018, Cruel Nature Recordings)
‘Accidentals’ (2014, self-release)
As A Home For Ghosts:
‘Hireath’ (2020, Rusted Tone Recordings)
‘… Of A Star, Never Setting’ (2019, Eilean Rec.)
‘In This Absence’ (2018, Rusted Tone Recordings)
‘Lull’ (2018, Audio Gourmet)
‘Fragility, and the Transience of Existence’ (2017, self-release)
As Phase Outline:
'Phase Outline Two' (2020, self-release)
'Phase Outline One' (2020, self-release)
Scroll left or right to see some of the physical editions released
RUSTED TONE RECORDINGS
An independent tape label specialising in ambient, drone and experimental music
In January 2018, James launched the independent label Rusted Tone Recordings. RTR specialises in ambient, drone and experimental music released on cassette and digitally. The label has grown steadily since launching, releasing music from artists in the UK, Europe, US, Canada, Vietnam, and Japan to a global audience. The first RTR live event took place in London’s IKLECTIK Art Lab in October 2019 with a series of future events planned for 2020 before the disruption of the Covid-19 situation.
In Summer 2019 the first RTR zine was released, ‘Experiments in Practice #1’, featuring artist accounts on their practice as a musician in which experimentation is a key element. The zine offers a platform for artists to discuss their work in a way that is not often available.
More information on RTR, including interview features with associated artists can be found here.
Rusted Tone Recordings relies on Bandcamp to release and distribute music. The full RTR discography can be found here.
RTR releases in order of appearance:
Various Artists – RTR Sampler Vol.1
Spheruleus – ‘Glimmers’ (RTR001)
Kepier Widow – ‘Absolution’ (RTR002)
A Home For Ghosts – ‘In This Absence’ (RTR003)
James Osland – ‘Manitoba Gardens’ (RTR004)
Loeco – ‘Uncharted Mercies’ (RTR005)
Building Castes Out Of Matchsticks – ‘Driveway Stars’ (RTR006)
Kevin Buckland – ‘A Sound, A Place, A Time’ (RTR007)
SALTINGS – ‘Columbarium’ (RTR008)
Sound Awakener & Tyson Swindell – ‘Two Haunted Pianos’ (RTR009)
The Green Kingdom – ‘Ephemera’ (RTR010)
Net – ‘Weta & Weta’ (RTR011)
Gallery Six & Oblivia – ‘These Cyan Fantasies’ (RTR012)
Various Artists – RTR Sampler Vol.2
Michiru Aoyama – ‘Screen Shot’ (RTR013)
Lofied – ‘Slow Cycles’ (RTR014)
silentwave – ‘The Scenery That Was Forgotten’ (RTR015)
Wil Bolton – ‘April Spiral’ (RTR016)
Jim Wylde/sp3ct3rs – ‘All That You Wanted’ (RTR017)
Andrew Sherwell – ‘Approaching’ (RTR018)
DR – ‘Melancholie’ (RTR019)
andarctica – ‘buried with the bells’ (RTR020)
Andrew Heath & Anne Chris Bakker – ‘a gift for the Ephemerist’ (RTR021)
Matt Atkins – ‘A Garden of Solitude’ (RTR022)
Tyresta – ‘No Mind’ (RTR023)
Eumig – ‘Analog Spaces’ (RTR024)
Various Artists – RTR Sampler Vol.3
A Home For Ghosts – ‘Hireath’ (charity digital release)
Jeff Brown – ‘Forgive the Trespass’ (RTR025)
Zake & Jordan Christoff – ‘Apotheosis’ (RTR026)
Carnivorous Plants – ‘Storm Ruler’ (RTR027)
Bowditch – ‘Songs for Wyatting’ (RTR028)
Hymns57 - 'Slö Tungg' (RTR029)
Mi Cosa de Resistance - 'Blank Polaroids' (RTR030)
SELVEDGE - 'BLOOM IN RUST' (RTR031)
Matt Atkins & Slow Clinic - 'Enfolding' (RTR032)
Winterwood - 'Neverending Tide' (RTR033)
Andrew Lang - 'Momentary Senses' (RTR034)
Various Artists - RTR Sampler Vol. 4
James Osland - 'Almond Drive' (RTR035)
Richard Whaling - 'Entropy' (RTR036)
Akira Sileas - 'Ito' (RTR037)
Harry Whalley - 'Slower Still' (RTR038)
Oleksandr Demianenko - 'Indian memories and captured radio waves' (RTR039)
Pool Of Light - 'Modern Caveman' (RTR040)
Konstruct - 'Three (squared)' (RTR041)
(Ph)authers - 'Paintings of a Yesteryear' (RTR042)
SILENCES - 'Atheist Socialist Noisewall' (RTR043)
Francisco Sonur - 'Kind of Happiness' (RTR044)
Scroll left or right to see tapes released on Rusted Tone Recordings
Film, Theatre & Dance
Over the years, James has composed original music for independent film, theatre, and dance performances. James can compose music across a wide variety of styles, with recent soundtrack projects exploring genres such as hip hop, club music, traditional string and piano arrangements, and even an upbeat synth soundtrack for an award-winning children’s short film. In addition to creating the music for these independent projects, James is able to bring his skills in recording, mixing and mastering to ensure that soundtracks are sounding as good as they can.
In 2016 and 2018, James collaborated with theatre and performance designer Yaron Shyldkrot on the shows ‘Campfire’ and ‘Certain Ways’ respectively. Yaron’s productions explore theatre in the dark, a style of performance that relies heavily on sound and music to tell stories. The ‘Campfire OST’ was released directly by James via his Slow Clinic project in early 2020.
In 2017, James composed two long-form pieces of music for a public dance production at the University of Northampton, designed and choreographed by Vania Gala. The music made for the dance production appeared in 2018 as ‘Discarded Things Once Loved’ on Whitelabrecs and as ‘Meanderings’ in 2017 via Slow Clinic as a self-released EP.
In 2020, an adaptation of Yaron Shyldkrot's 'Certain Ways' performance was created for binaural listening as part of the Festival, University of Sheffield.
'Being Human' (2020, Yaron Shyldkrot, binaural theatre)
‘Scales’ (2019, Distortion Productions, soundtrack)
‘The Love Letter’ (2019, soundtrack)
‘But She Is My Student’ (2018, soundtrack)
‘Certain Ways’ (2018, Yaron Sjyldkrot, soundtrack)
‘Yuri’ (2018, At Breath’s End Ltd., soundtrack)
‘What Goes Up’ (2017, Jeannette Savage, soundtrack)
‘Campfire’ (2016, Yaron Shyldkrot, soundtrack)
‘The Fine Print’ (2014, No Time Productions, soundtrack)
EDUCATION AND ACADEMIA
James currently holds the position of lecturer and year leader in Music Composition & Technology at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. As a lecturer, James specialises in recording, mixing and mastering, leading classes within a purpose-built recording studio facility at the UCA; students explore the history and techniques of music production across a wide range of styles to a professional standard. As a year leader, James co-ordinates the second year of study on the course, including module design and assessment.
In addition to teaching at the UCA, James will be taking on the role of research assistant in support of the Audio Research Cluster and New Media Manifesto. The Audio Research Cluster and New Media Manifesto form a research group to host a series of seminars, concerts, guest talks, publications and to support new projects.
Prior to teaching at the UCA, James worked as part of the Research Development Programme at the University of Surrey, supporting researcher career progression, co-ordinating Institute of Directors student memberships and designing online learning resources for postgraduate research students.
James was recently awarded his doctorate in Music at the University of Surrey after conducting an interdisciplinary research project combining environmental psychology with music performance studies. It is through this unique pairing of disciplines that James explored the person-environment relationship between a musician and their surroundings in the context of a musical performance. This included musicianship, acoustics, behaviour-settings, socio-cultural significance and personal meaning as environmental factors that influence a musician’s experience while performing.
Throughout his studies, James has presented his research internationally, including leading conferences in the subject of music. James’ composition work has also featured in a number of academic settings during premiering dance and theatre performances across the UK.
Armstrong, J.E. (2020) Beyond an acoustical understanding of the impact of environment on musical performance (Doctoral dissertation, University of Surrey)
Armstrong, J. (2018) ‘Person-Environment Relationships: influences beyond acoustics in musical performance’ in Geography, Music, Space. Musicology Research. (Spring, 2018. Vol. 4).
Armstrong, J. (2017) 'Experience, expectation, and personal meaning: understanding the person-environment relationship in the context of a musical performance'. Post-ip: Revista do Fórum Internacional de Estudos em Música e Dança, 4(4), pp.116-125.
Armstrong, J.E. (2015) 'Towards the influence of space & environment on a musical performance'. Post-ip: Revista do Fórum Internacional de Estudos em Música e Dança, 3, pp.142-151.
Needing your new music mastered? Wanting to learn more about James' music and performance? Looking for original music for your film, advertisements, or production?