Legendary mastering engineer Nilesh Patel dies

Master masterer "Niz" Patel worked at The Exchange in London, where he made everyone from Air and The Chemicals to The xx and Four Tet sound as perfect.

24.12.11

Words by: Charlie Jones

Sad news today for London’s music community, as the mastering engineer Nilesh Patel has passed away.

Often, records he mastered carried the legend “NILZTHE EXCHANGE”. Patel worked at central London mastering house The Exchange since 1989, building up a credits list that reads like a who’s-who of modern electronic music. This list includes Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery, Air’s ‘Moon Safari’ and Bjork’s ‘Homogenic’, The xx’s ‘xx’, as well as most of Four Tet, PUlp and The Pet Shop Boys’ work. Mastering is a the crucial final step of the recording process, involving countless minute but essential adjustments to the track in order to get it just right, and the talents of someone as knowledge and instinctive as Nilesh are invaluable for the wider music community.

The tributes have rolled in on Twitter, with Four Tet Tweeting “brilliant cutting engineer…who cut loads of my records”, The Chemical Brothers saying “Very sad to hear about Nilesh Patel.He played an important part in many a great record.thoughts with the whole exchange gang” and Young Turks writing “this is devastating. the best and nicest mastering engineer i ever encountered. did a wonderful job on the xx album. so sad”. Erol Alkan said: “In my eyes and ears, he was the best mastering engineer on Earth. Spent so many afternoons together talking like nerds.”

The Exchange offered the following tribute:

One of the great legacies he leaves behind is all the wonderful music he has left his mark on. If it was a great record, he mastered it. Nil leaves behind a loving wife and two beautiful children. We thank you for all your support and kind words, he will be missed by everyone and will always be a massive part of us, someone we will never forget and will be forever in our hearts.

Our thoughts are with Nilesh’s family and many friends during this time.