The Smashing Pumpkins have released the first clip of unreleased material from the MACHINA sessions as Billy Corgan is hard at work on the reissue for the band’s 2000 albums. The first clip released is an alternate instrumental version of “Wound”. You can listen below.
Corgan wrote on Instagram about the reissue, “The good news is that the archive on Machina is easily the most documented of the first 5 SP LP’s, the bad news is there is simply so much to go through that it’s hard to keep track. Given the high interest, I will endeavor to parse out the process. The media (digital tapes, home demos, 24 track reels, 2 track masters, and whatever safety backups exist of each) have to be gone through systemically; with a painstaking eye towards things easily missed; like a massive library stacked with books and their copies. Thus far, I’ve gone through about 80 pct of the DAT’s (digital audio cassettes, which were transferred to hard drives years ago). Sold as an economical form of storage in the 90’s, DAT’s have proven to be unreliable, as they degrade with age; and there are certainly instances here where good media has been ruined pre-transfer. And by ruined I mean you’ll be listening to a perfectly good take when there is a glitch or digital spike (essentially a computer-like ‘error’), for which there is no repair. So thankfully I went out of my way, and at great expense, to transfer these tapes 10 years or so ago.
So back to the hunt, hard drive after hard drive of sessions, rough mixes, home demos made on the fly, live rehearsals, home sketches, picking anything with relevance and placing them into a pile so that I can compare and contrast what is the best ‘source’. For example, a rough mix of say ‘Try, Try, Try’ may have 5 iterations; with a mix made when all the guitars were finished with a quick vocal thrown on that is not the final vocal. Perhaps the lyrics are different, etc? And even if you have something listenable, there may be a backup that is the ‘same’ (IE an exact duplicate) that for whatever reason sounds better/clearer. So all round 2 music would need to be compared and contrasted for optimal audio. Then (and this is yet to come) you’d look to see if you had the original tapes, tapes that could be mixed anew; which if you chosen to go that route would need to be transferred digitally (figure 24-48 individual parts: vocals, guitars, bass, drums, keys). For often times something done in the moment can have more vibe but not as much fidelity.
So, once all the DAT’s are gone through (the next, as yet untouched, DAT pile being live board tapes from 99-00) that leaves me with sourcing final 2-track masters; which is what you’d recognize as the familiar versions on Machina 1 and 2. But note, as yet we have little documentation what exact mix was used for any given song, so in some cases we might have to make an educated guess. For many songs might have 15-20 separate mixes (vocal up, vocal down, guitar up but with vocal down, etc). As well, I’d like to remix many songs for the final, resequenced and definitive Machina album. So after sourcing what 24 track masters we do have in storage, we are attempting to access the EMI database, with most of those tapes stored out of state. For Universal owns Machina 1 while we own Machina 2. But that does not mean a/ we have all of Machina 2 or b/ they have all of Machina 1. As well, some reels were stolen a few years ago (long story) from a local, Chicago studio. Assuming all can be ‘found’, for there are safety copies of all reels and even the stolen ones may have stored backups, all those would need to be transferred after being baked in a special oven (as the tapes tend to stick together over time, so care must be taken). Upon which I’d hire a mixer and dive in to recreate and mix fresh some 30-40 songs. This I spell out for those asking every day ‘when is this box set coming out?’ As of now, there is no easy answer.”
— Smashing Pumpkins (@SmashingPumpkin) October 29, 2018