With only two or three more songs to go, I took the first 75% of the album for a walk today — and I mean that literally. Mixing is an arduous task; not only do you want the music to sound good in your studio monitors, it preferrably has to cope with being carried around and played in various circumstances on less than stellar equipment.
On top of that, playing the tracks in the intended album order will cause them to interact with each other and your brain in ways you never realise while mixing them one by one. Psychoacoustics and music psychology are fascinating subjects, but not so much sciences as a dark arts...
This afternoon, The Music left the studio to be seriously listened to elsewhere for the first time: Low budget MP3 player, Koss Porta-Pro headphones, and out into the city noise we went — The Music, Harry the Dog and I. I've just returned to make some minor corrections.
"Field" ended too abruptly, so some more noises were added to the end of that one.
"Iron Artery" felt too slow when squeezed in between "Field" and "The Old Church", and is now 100 BPM instead of 98. (BPM = Beats Per Minute, for those who'd like to know and doesn't.)
The timpani on "The Old Church" were panned too far to the right in the stereo image when listened to in headphones, and have now been placed in the middle of the stereo field.
The lead guitar on "The Passing of Clouds" lacked authority when you listened to the piece in a noisy environment, coupled with headphones with a weak upper midrange. Now it's 2 dB louder. (And I sped this one up a couple of BPMs, too.)
Just some examples of what may easily become an endless tweaking process; the true art is knowing when to stop!