The Other Kind of Studio Tour
Congratulations are in order for Andrew Click, co-owner of Santa Fe's Stepbridge Studios. Click was recently honored at the New Mexico Music Awards as Best Engineer for his work on "No Easy Way" by Hillary Smith of Albuquerque. The album is a soulful throwback to the likes of Gladys Knight or Aretha Franklin, yet has a truly new-school twist to it. Smith's voice is gorgeous, and her studio band is top-notch. The production is never muddled, each instrument clear.

I stopped by Stepbridge to see what was going on in the world of Click and partner Edgard Rivera. The duo bought the studio from its original owner a few years back and have completely revamped everything.

Professionalism is key to their ongoing success, but don't think they're all work and no play. Tucked away on Jose Street behind culinary mecca Blake's Lotaburger, Stepbridge is a serene and relaxing place, complete with gardens and patios.

The two studios settled in the old adobe house are perfect for any recording style. Studio A, as Click calls it, is filled with everything from vintage and highly sought-after analog equipment to the newest and most high-tech electronics. It is a beautiful and comfortable room perfect for live sessions. Studio B is a little smaller, but no less impressive. Just right for solo acts or overdubbing, I found myself stroking my beard and wondering when I could get in there and start work on my own masterpiece.

Stepbridge is a world-class facility. I strongly urge any musicians who want to put out an album of the highest caliber to think locally and call these guys. Click played me several tracks, from different acts, engineered in-house, and they were excellent. These guys know what they're doing, and do not disappoint. Three cheers. And 10 beers.

I Love Meeses to Pieces
Amaani and Wyatt James are Silvermouse; a husband and wife duo who play a strange blend of electronic/world music. The merging of Amaani's beats and Wyatt's instrumentalism is a marriage of musical styles unto itself. Born in the UK, Amaani came up in the rave and dance scenes, enamored of the beats and music. Though she was involved mainly as a partier, she found herself producing her own beats a few years back. The beats are clever and well put together, certainly more than just techno-style thud, thud, repeat.

Wyatt, who plays everything from flute to guitar, is from the East Coast and has traveled to places like West Africa, where he lived with the locals and studied their music and learned to play their instruments. Definite Balkan and klezmer aspects saturate his instrumentals and, upon meeting the electronic rhythms, they fuse to become haunting experimental tunes worthy of what I will call a futuristic Gypsy caravan.

Silvermouse's self-titled debut is the perfect showcase of the couple's very different styles. With Amaani on electronics duty and Wyatt playing all sorts of non-electronic instruments, an album that could have just as easily been a big mess comes together beautifully. Recording the album in only 12 hours, the pair kept production to a minimum, opting to keep the songs truer to their organic nature. This does not mean sloppy; it means that what you hear is what they play. Track highlights include flute-driven "Skyjumping" and head bumper "Win Some Lose Some."

With plans to tour the UK in an honest-to-goodness Gypsy caravan, Silvermouse is much more than a run-of-the-mill electronic group. The instrumentals take it to a new height of creativity and fun. A+.