It’s an odd time in recorded music with technology at its cleanest ever and mixing ideals set for flawless timing, tuning, and a bent towards all things bright and loud. I’m not convinced that these trends in sound fidelity are necessarily all that positive. Regardless, it seems a lot of studios on the lower end of the scale (like mine and most local studios in any given town) are caught in an odd place… they don’t really have the equipment needed to capture that slick sound so they can either try anyway (often falling very short) or try to honor some of the desirable aspects of that sound while also capitalizing on the limitations of a small studio to try to supercharge the process within those limitations. I think this decision applies as much to a singer/songwriter as it does to a free improv group.
For some artists there is deep value in returning to a cassette 4 track for a drum part, or recording an acoustic guitar in the woods, and then dropping that into the computer later in the process. It makes the process less formal, can reduce technology preoccupation, brings a little wilderness in. My goal in the recording studio is to widen the lens during the recording process, to try different things to keep it exciting and inspiring. I think this is really important in the context of the prevailing flawless norms of our ProTools age. Somehow it keeps recording a little more human, flaws & all.