This is probably more of a production thought than a thought about mastering, but I think it’s relevant in the interest of making the best possible music.
A friend of mine once told me,
“If you want song to feel more ______, then make it less ______ right before that…”
I probably muttered off a quick, “Cool – thanks,” because I, of course, knew everything already, but that really stuck with me. It made me start to think about what I could eliminate in places, rather than what I could add. Modern recording has given the opportunity for too many tracks, and I was honest enough with myself to know that I had taken the bait on that. When I started thinking about taking things out and creating space in sections of songs, I felt like the payoffs were almost built-in. Then I took that quote and started putting other words in the blank: bright, warm, loud, wide, clean, spacious, low end, impact/punch…
You get the point – contrast.
Adding more and more tracks to a song often just makes it feel more crowded and small, so try muting stuff, or, if you’re in the planning stages of a song - don’t put all of your cards on the table until it’s the right time.
Random lecture, but I wish I had really grasped this earlier.