How the Pias fire affects labels, artists and record stores

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2011/aug/11/how-pias-fire-affects-labels

 

Behind the music: How the Pias fire affects labels, artists and record stores

The stock may be insured, but what about labels with cashflow problems or record stores awaiting stock? We talk to them …

Adele

The Beggars Group, which includes Adele’s label XL, is among the many companies that lost substantial amounts of stock in the Sony DADC warehouse fire

A few days after the Sony DADC warehouse was set on fire during the riots in London, destroying a catastrophic amount of records, the independent music industry is counting the cost. The warehouse held stock to be delivered by independent distributor Pias, and for some labels, artists and retailers the future looks unsure.

 

Dance label Ninja Tune lost 120,000 records in the fire, including vinyl. “We’re hoping our stock was insured, but we don’t know at the moment,” says the label’s CEO, Pete Quick.

 

But even if a label’s stock is covered, getting the insurance money may take a long time, which is a big problem for labels operating on a shoestring budget and therefore obliged to contend with cashflow issues. “The bigger labels and DVD companies will be taken care of first,” says the director of Full Time Hobby, Wez (he goes by one name only). He sounds completely devastated when I speak to him. “We’re probably number 250 in line … not only did we lose all our stock, we’ve also lost our entire distribution network, which means we can suffer the effects of the fire for eight to nine months,” he sighs. The label lost 100,000 units in the fire, including vinyl and special editions, worth £500,000 in retail value.

 

Full Time Hobby is largely reliant on physical retail. This, of course, is the case for almost all labels, but most indies have a majority of acts who are more album-oriented. They also tend to have more fans who are vinyl junkies than the majors. The cost of producing vinyl records can be as much as seven times what a CD costs to produce. Moreover, they are usually limited editions of 500-1,000 copies, which adds to the expense even more. The fact that pressing 5,000 copies of a CD costs more per unit than pressing 50,000 also means that smaller labels are worse hit than bigger ones. If the insurance companies decide to pay per-unit compensation, instead of considering the difference in the cost of production, these labels will be in real trouble.

 

“Our artists have been incredibly supportive,” says Wez. “The Leisure Society, Erland and the Carnival, We Are the Ocean, Turbowolf and The Blitz Kids have put posts on Facebook and Twitter asking fans to buy downloads to keep the cash flow going for the label.” This initiative is echoed by the Association of Independent Music, and the campaignLabelLove.

 

The chairman of Beggars Group (which includes Adele’s label, XL), Martin Mills, says they’ve lost around 750,000 units in the fire, but points out that the label group has warehouses around Europe and will be able to cope. He says Sony and Pias have been amazing, and have rapidly put contingency plans in place. However, he worries for the smaller labels and says discussions are in progress about creating an emergency fund to help them through these difficult times.

 

But the fire doesn’t only affect the labels. Wez also predicts that printers and manufacturing staff will lose their jobs. And there will be other knock-on effects.

 

The Piccadilly record shop in Manchester did not get looted, yet that doesn’t mean the shop hasn’t been hit. “Vinyl must’ve not been that interesting to the looters,” laughs Darryl Mottershead, who runs the shop. “They probably already nicked the music online years ago.” But in a week, he says, the shop will be without back catalogue – and it’s likely that most of the smaller indies won’t re-press those records due to the cost.

 

The Rise record shop in Bristol operates on a “long tail” basis, stocking thousands of records by smaller indies (including DVDs by the BFI and Artificial Eye, whose stock was also stored at the Sony warehouse), and now they won’t be able to source any of that stock for at least two weeks. Owner Lawrence Montgomery understands the importance of encouraging fans to download music while stock gets replenished, but worries that such people won’t bother buying physical records once stock is replaced. “It’s important for us that the majority of labels come out fighting,” he says. “Working in retail is hard at the moment, working in music retail even harder – and now this!”

 

Some indie labels may wonder if distribution of their output is cursed. Less than three years ago, Pinnacle Entertainment – responsible for the distribution of more than 400 labels – went bust, leaving many of its clients unable to recover their stock. The labels that managed to survive switched to Pias for distribution. “We may be the only small label to survive the Pinnacle crash and this fire,” says Michael Morley, co-owner of Imagem Music, who lost around £40,000 due to the Pinnacle crash. But their survival may also be due to a bit of luck: had the artwork for their upcoming Caged Animals release not been delayed, all the albums would’ve been in the Sony/Pias warehouse.

 

Ninja Tunes artist Toddla T, on the other hand, has had quite a bit of bad luck with his upcoming album, Watch Me Dance (one of the label’s biggest releases this year). Two months ago it was leaked online by a German journalist. But that was just the start. “When I saw this burning building on TV I didn’t put two and two together,” says Toddla. “I called my manager, asking if he’d seen it [the footage].” His manager realised the magnitude of what was going on and got on the phone to the label right away. They confirmed that all the stock was in that warehouse.

 

The album release has now been pushed back a week. “It’s a pain – but watching what else is going on, I think it’s minor,” says Toddla. “For me, there’s a way around it. I feel for those people who don’t have the back-up I have. That’s when it becomes really sad. I was more pissed off about the leak by the journalist. It was a bit more contrived, and felt more personal. These people didn’t go: ‘Let’s burn down that building that’s got Toddla T’s albums in it’.”

 

Montgomery is less empathetic. “I don’t understand it,” he despairs. “How does it help? We’re all businesses who strive to survive, employ people and give them opportunities.”

Chocolate Records

http://newslite.tv/2011/06/30/band-release-edible-and-playab.html

Band release edible and playable chocolate record

275x250.jpg A Scottish band have released what’s thought to be the world’s first edible and playable chocolate record. And it’s said to taste as good as it sounds.

Edinburgh-based three-piece ‘Found’ worked with a local baker to produce the chocolate disk version of their single ‘Anti Climb Paint’ which can be played in any record player.

After several weeks of trial and error, baker Ben Milne was able to make the working chocolate record by using the same negative metal templates used to produce vinyl versions.

While you will only get around ten ‘recognisable’ plays out of the record before it wears down, you can always munch it. And even the sleeve and label are edible having been made from rice paper and icing sugar respectively.

275x250.jpg
Ben, of the Fisher & Donaldson bakery, reckons people will get around 10 plays from the record before it wears down. Of course once it has worn out you can always eat it.

Ben added: “I heard that vinyl is on the increase and that CDs are on their way out, so chocolate records could be part of a resurgence and people getting their record players out of their attics.”

Unfortunately only fifty of the chocolate 7″ singles are being produced.

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Vinyl @ Art Basel

http://www.mutualart.com/OpenArticle/On-the–Artists–Record–The-Versatility/C908A32B0033B0C6

On the (Artists) Record: The Versatility of Vinyl at Art Basel
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Artists Records;

Hailed as a platform for cutting-edge works by contemporary artists, the special exhibitions sector of Art Basel welcomes back Artists Records for its 4th year. Since 2007, the Artists Records program has been a unique highlight of the fair, featuring a multitude of artists records that are both innovative displays of art history and visual treats in themselves. The Artists Records project emphasizes the growing range of media implemented by artists in contemporary art, while also highlighting the rich history implicit of past eras.

The vinyl record is the centerpiece of Artists Records, which has become an archetype of the 20th century, due to its multiple uses and implications in the world of art and music. For years, artists have enjoyed the versatility of the vinyl record, as a cutting-edge canvas or unique medium in creating contemporary works. The added benefits of cheap production costs, ease of distribution, and the many ways to exploit the uses of the record – from pressing, printing, and recording – make this object an ideal tool for artistic expression.

Art historian and contemporary art editor Lionel Bovier was chosen to curate this innovative sector of the fair. In association with John Armleder and Ecart/Villa Magica Records (Geneva), Bovier, in conjunction with Stéphane Kropf and Benjamin Valenza, gathered the creations of numerous artists and set up a literal “record shop” chock-full of items from the collections of artists and editors. Recently, MutualArt.com spoke with Bovier in an exclusive interview, and the curator detailed what’s in store for this year’s Artists Records.

This is Art Records fourth year at Art Basel. How has this project evolved since its inception?

In 2005, Art Basel began devoting part of its exhibition space (in the context of Art Unlimited) to a very special kind of object: the artist’s book. Recognizing that the media and formats used by artists are constantly developing, Samuel Keller, then Director of Art Basel, asked me to stage a survey of this unusual field of work. After an initial panorama of the artist’s book in the 21st century (2005) and an exhibition showcasing the “small press scene” of the 1960s and ‘70s (in 2006), the 2007 project focused on Artist Records. The new management, Annette Schönholzer and Marc Spiegler, liked this project and proposed to run it simultaneously and additionally to the Artists’ Books one in 2008. I’ve initiated the first project with John Armleder and Ecart/Villa Magica Records (Geneva), and since then continued to do so, but the real person in charge is the artist Stéphane Kropf, who, in collaboration with Benjamin Valenza, deals with the shop on a yearly basis.

What has been the public’s response? Can you describe the goal of the project?

For the past two years, we’ve associated the two projects, Artists’ Books and Artists’ Records, in a booth that migrated a bit within Art Unlimited. The public’s reactions are great and we now have our regulars. The project assembles works by numerous artists and also consists in maintaining a “shop” with stocks supplied by record publishers, galleries, and the artists themselves. This provides visitors with access to an emblematic art form while at the same time encouraging the renewed dissemination – in the special, temporally limited framework of the show – of projects emerging from it.

Artists Records;

What was the inspiration for the idea behind Art Records?

As a 20th century artifact, the vinyl record is heavy with symbolism, and various of its features have prompted a host of artists to employ it as an artistic medium: its comparatively inexpensive production costs, ease of distribution, and undeniable conceptual qualities. In the first show, the decision to present works by only a very few artists was aimed at generating a more systematic interpretation of these various themes and illustrating that artists exploit every single aspect of the vinyl disc – from recording possibilities to covers, from pressing to printing, from audio to visual.

Can you give some specific examples of how artists have used the vinyl record in different genres of art?

A case in point was, for instance, the series of nine 45 rpm records created by Jack Goldstein in 1976 on the basis of sound effects used by Hollywood film studios: the wind dying away (“Dying Wind”), the crash of falling trees (“Three Felled Trees”), and the roar of a tornado (“The Tornado”) are early attempts at Appropriation art. Christian Marclay explores the various qualities of the platter-shaped object in his famous “Record without a Cover” (a sleeveless record that develops individually as it is subjected to wear), one-sided records, records with spiral grooves, or with the help of pick-ups repositioned on the turntable. Rodney Graham’s dual focus on music and films since the 1970s has had a very productive effect on his record productions: the pieces he composes and plays slot into the narrative world of his visual work. For Jutta Koether, as for Steven Parrino, with whom she has frequently collaborated in concert and on record, rock music is likewise inseparably connected with the painting, film, and installation work – different techniques whose mutual enrichment is the linchpin in a relationship to the world. Genesis P-Orridge embodies the musical side of this relationship: amid the radical cultural movements of 1960s and ‘70s Britain, he founded a performance group, Coum Transmissions, subsequently enjoying a successful career in the punk-rock scene with Throbbing Gristle and later with Psychic TV. In the 1990s, many artists turned to electronic music as a supplementary, parallel, or principal form of artistic production: for example, Carsten Nicolai, whose Raster-Noton label is a very active arena for electronic minimalism, uses processed digital sounds to compose works that are equally effective as sculptures and installations in questioning the creative potential of the codes that surround us.

What types of works are in this year’s Artists Records exhibit?

After this initial exhibition we continued to develop relationships with contemporary producers, collectors, and sellers, and built this unique resource as a “pop-up” shop that only exists for a week in the Basel art fair. So now we have hundreds and hundreds of artist’s records, tapes, CDs, etc. It goes from Yves Klein’s recording of the void to New Humans’ latest releases, passing through Marclay’s, Yoko Ono’s, or Cage’s famous records, but as well Tobias Bernstrup’s, the whole program of Christmas music by Villa Magica Records, and so many other things… Come visit!

 

Written by MutualArt.com Staff

Vinyl in the man cave

Confessions From My Man Cave

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BY BILL JANOVITZ POSTED ON 6/15/2011

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Since today is June 15, 2011, known in Boston as Stanley Cup Game 7, I have a confession to make: watching hockey makes my eyes glaze over. I know this is ridiculous coming from a baseball fan who can spend four hours watching (and with intense interest) a meaningless Sox-Angels game in April. I try, but after a few minutes of watching bearded Canadian dudes skating back and forth and bumping each other into the walls while slapping around a little black speck (I thought HDTV was going to vastly improve this aspect of viewing), I am soon paying more attention to the music at the Garden or the Rogers Arena.

At the home ice, the Boston stereotypical classic rock comes out — a bit of the Cars, Boston (the band), and, of course, Aerosmith. For some updated flavor, they might throw in “Shipping Up to Boston” from the beloved modern classics, the Dropkick Murphys. All of this is an improvement over present-day Fenway. One would be forgiven for thinking that the “lyrical little bandbox”has been transported to suburban Nashville for all the lamestream modern country-pop music played there this season. And I guess we can be grateful that at least hockey players and the fans of the sport share a reputation for the sort of toughness that would not allow for the unfortunate tradition of “Sweet Caroline” (made worse as a post-Fever Pitch phenomenon) played between periods. (Or is it? I am never at live hockey games, but I can’t imagine that would fly.)

Either way, during the series, I’ve found myself turning down the volume (though I really enjoy the excellent play-by-play of Doc Emrick) and reaching for my records — yes, my old, dusty records. They reside in my basement man cave, which just was improved by the addition of a knock-off of the classic Eames Lounge. Mine is a Plycraft recliner variation and, damn, if it isn’t one of the most comfortable listening/viewing spots. Coupled with some recent turntable tweaks, I have been back to enjoying the vinyl experience again on a regular basis.

Now, I am not one of those old record-collecting SOBs who will bore you with tales of what has been lost with the age of digital music. For me, it has been less of a revolution (excuse the pun) and more of an evolution, embracing the new without forsaking the old. However, I actually had the old records in the attic for a while after we moved house. They were up there for a couple of years during which I did not play records at all. It wasn’t until trying to describe to my daughter the experience of acquiring Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour LPs that I decided to get all the records out again and actually show her.

Another confession: I did not miss the old things for a long time. For all that we’ve lost with the passing of the LP, we’ve gained even more in the digital era. I don’t just mean mere convenience. And don’t let some self-styled audiophile tell you as a rule that records sound better than digital files. It all depends on what you’re testing. I have some great sounding digital files and some horrible sounding records. Sure, if you have flawless 180 gram vinyl playing on a $40,000 turntable running through a Manley tube amplifier, it is going to sound better than an MP3 through cheesy ear-buds. But these are not the only choices.

If you had told me as a kid that I could buy an album or a song with the click of a button, I would have signed up immediately. Now, I can look up session details and interviews. Now, I can see old videos of artists I loved or was curious about, an experience I was only able to have by collecting VHS tapes and visits to the Museum of Television and Radio in New York.

Sure, I miss the hunt. I miss walking into independent record stores and book stores. I miss the independent proprietor as a curator. We used to have five record stores in the town I grew up in on Long Island. Each one had a bit of a niche. And we could stop at the bookstore, the guitar shop, and then grab a slice a pizza on the way home, dripping the grease on the old square brown paper bags that held our finds. I miss sitting on my bed and spinning the new wax. Most of all I miss the artwork, the seemingly perfect medium of the album cover (and if you’re also an album art junkie, check out the ICA’s new exhibit, The Record: Contemporary Art and the LP).

See how good they look? (And this is in a dim basement photo shot with an iPhone.)

Even though I miss the art and the hunt, I gained a new hunt. The eccentric record store owner has perhaps been supplanted by obsessive bloggers who unearth chestnuts as a labor of love. I have discovered more new and old music much faster online. The evangelic record store clerks and proprietors who shared their joy in turning folks on to new sounds, or the secret-handshake jazzbos, soul freaks, or garage-rock heads over at places like Stereo Jack’s, Skippy White’s, and Nuggets are more easily approached online. What might have once been intimidating presumptive orations on discographies of, say, Archie Shepp, are now launching points for musical self-education. It is all out there if you want to dig.

All of this is great for a kid living anywhere, never mind some place out in the boondocks who had no access to record stores or even decent radio. But it is also excellent for middle-aged dads with limited time. Part of my nostalgia for those many hours on Saturdays I used to spend combing record and bookstores is a yearning for the day of having “hours” of “free time” on a “Saturday.” Now, though, I can sit back with great headphones and listen to nicely mastered mixes of old vinyl soul 45s at Funky16Corners or at Red Kelly’s B-Side. Fanatics put these selections together with passionate essays about the artists. This is like a personal invitation, a guided tour through a record collector’s top choices. They are gifts to mankind which should make their founders considerations for the Nobel Prize.

And the artwork — well, yeah, the 12-inch cover has sort of come back as a niche product, but has mostly faded. But now we have rich and often deep websites with animation, photos, videos, and so on. But when I am watching the third period of the game, perhaps with a beer, I will put on the vinyl London Calling, the newly remastered Exile on Main St., and Miles Davis’‘Round About Midnight, and nothing sounds better. Call it nostalgia. My reply would be:  And … ? It’s impossible to separate the nostalgia from any music that has lasted for more than a few years. Music and nostalgia go hand in hand. Embrace it. Wallow in it. But I have never felt more open minded about searching for and discovering new music than I do now.

* * *

In addition to those blogs/sites mentioned above, here are a few I recommend. Let me know your favorites via the Comments section below.

Bradley’s Almanac: An excellent Boston-based blog from Brad Searles, focusing on new music, from established and up-and-coming indie rock bands. Brad retains a Boston bias and still hits the clubs on a very regular basis.

Ryan’s Smashing Life: Boston-based Ryan Spaulding covers similar ground to Brad with maybe less Boston-centricity. And clearly has his own views and choices.

Boston Band Crush: As you can probably tell from the name, this one is far more Boston-centered. Don’t confuse with bostonbandcruch.COM, though, as I did. In fact, the current post at the latter is a tribute to the Boston band named Boston, featuring a picture of the Boston band Boston’s first LP, Boston.

As for great national/international indie rock blogs, there are such tastemakers as Pitchfork,Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, and Largehearted Boy, all of which often feature premiers of advance tracks and videos. Few of them are limited to music, taking in literature, film, and pop culture in general. And, as with those funk, soul, and R&B blogs mentioned above, they each usually provide sets of links that will lead you down a wormhole of discovery. Pour yourself a drink, strap on the headphones, open your mind, ’cause it’s about to be blown. You can thank me later.

 

http://blogs.bostonmagazine.com/boston_daily/2011/06/15/confessions-from-my-man-cave/

 

Pro-Ject RPM 10.1 turntable review

http://www.techradar.com/reviews/audio-visual/hi-fi-and-audio/turntables/pro-ject-rpm-10-1-963615/review

 

Pro-Ject RPM 10.1 turntable review

There are two types of turntable: suspended subchassis and high-mass; Pro-Ject has combined the two!

Our Score4

Last reviewed: 2011-06-1111 hours ago

pro-ject-rpm-10-1-turntable

A good combination of high mass and effective suspension

 

Pro-Ject’s founder Heinz Lichtenegger is no longer satisfied with just cornering the budget market, he’s now set his sites on the turntable high end and his latest weapon, the RPM10.1, is a substantial and shiny beast.

Heinz is a classical music lover and this turntable directly addresses one of the key issues with such music on vinyl: trackability. The RPM10.1 comes with not one, but four alternative counterweights, which are supplied so that the arm/cartridge resonance can be kept totally under control in order that the system can track anything you throw at it.

Pro-Ject has also produced a test disc and by combining the two you can establish which counterweight gives the best tracking and thus the least distortion.

0 to 90

The canon in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture requires the highest stylus acceleration on record at 90μm – a rate with which most moving coils struggle to cope, yet Pro-Ject’s engineers have managed to get an MC to track its test disc at 100μm.

Pro-Ject rpm 10.1

Lichtenegger is quick to point out, though, that there is more to a great turntable and arm combination than theoretical tracking ability. He appreciates that setting up turntables well requires more than a test disc, but is clearly aiming to bring a little bit of science into the process.

The RPM10.1 is a revision of the RPM10, but quite a significant one. There are two key differences: one in the base, or Ground It Deluxe 3 (which is the rectangular slab that supports everything) and the other in the tonearm.

The Ground It incorporates magnetic decoupling through its four adjustable feet and provides a literal physical ground on account of its 13.4 kilogram mass. The 10cc version of the Evolution arm has had a lot of attention applied to controlling resonance and Pro-Ject has used more carbon fibre in a tighter weave than the previous incarnation. It has also incorporated Sorbothane damping in the four counterweights, each of which covers a range of cartridge weights ie: 4-6g, 5-8g etc, but there is some overlap between them.

In other respects this 10-inch arm is made of a single piece of carbon fibre with a conical shape, in order to combat standing waves. The bearing is an inverted type that uses ABEC7 ball races in a substantial ring-shaped housing for maximum rigidity.

Pro-Ject rpm 10.1

You can adjust armbase height in order to vary VTA and the armtube can be rotated so that azimuth can be changed. As with most Pro-Ject tonearms, the arm wiring is terminated in a pair of RCA phono sockets, so that alternative cables can be used to connect with the amplifier.

The rest of the RPM10.1 is hardly less substantial than the Ground It, the plinth is made of 63mm-thick MDF, with the same dark-grey gloss finish as the base. It sits on three sorbothane-damped aluminium cones and incorporates the armbase and a magnetically supporting inverted bearing for the platter.

This part is 60mm-thick and made of acrylic, but is described as ‘a sandwich construction’ which seems odd as it’s clearly one-piece, albeit one five-kilo-plus piece that’s topped off by a brass record puck.

The motor is effectively freestanding and sits atop a piece of metal of the same diameter and finish. Pro-Ject supplies a spacer device so that it can be placed the correct distance from the platter and connected by a thin square-section rubber belt.

On/off switching is atop the motor and speed-change a case of switching pulleys.

Every picture…

The pictures do not lie: this is a superbly finished turntable with plenty of attention to detail and the tonearm is particularly inspiring, thanks to the chunky bearing housing, although the thread and weight anti-skate system seems a shade old-school these days.

Pro-Ject rpm 10.1

There’s no doubt that Pro-Ject offers excellent value for money in its turntables and this is just as apparent here, as it is with its budget models. Next to the Well Tempered Simplex, it looks twice the price, but as we know great record players are about more than scale and finish.

Our current favourite in this price range is the Michell Gyro SE, which is equally impressive for the level of sheer engineering it delivers. But high-mass designs are always more expensive than conventional ones.

This price sector is becoming one of the most hotly contested, with a number of established designs being available with and without a tonearm. From the Gyro SE (£1,450) including a TecnoArm to the Townshend Rock 7 sans arm and Well Tempered’s relative newcomer the £1,495 Simplex with its damped golf-ball arm bearing. The latter two have a technological advantage, while the Gyro SE is a well executed suspended design at a great price.



Read more: http://www.techradar.com/reviews/audio-visual/hi-fi-and-audio/turntables/pro-ject-rpm-10-1-963615/review?#ixzz1P0F9zq00

The Vinyl Countdown

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/blogs/blog-on-the-tracks/5082979/The-Vinyl-Countdown-an-overview

 

The Vinyl Countdown: an overview

Last updated 13:47 01/06/2011

Okay, there’s something I need to tell you lot. I have another blog. Don’t worry – or, depending on how you look at it and why you come here, do worry because Blog on the Tracks isn’t going away. So if you check in each day waiting for that particular rapture all I can say is keep checking in…

Over at Off the Tracks (see what I’ve done there?) I am working my way through my own record collection. I call it The Vinyl Countdown; I’m counting down from 2000 (I don’t actually know how many LPs I have but I figured 2000 was a good number to start from). So we’re counting down from there.

This new blog has just started – in fact I’ve counted down from 2000 to 1982 so far.

The idea is to look, randomly, at my own record collection, why I have these LPs; what they mean to me in the scheme of things.

Now, I sometimes do that here too – I sometimes just write about an album I like a lot, or didn’t like at all. I sometimes use a new album as a reason to focus on an artist’s career. Well the posts that make up The Vinyl Countdown are much shorter. They’re there to read quickly, a quirky snapshot of my life. As the countdown continues I imagine I’ll be admitting all sorts of things from my past – and remembering weird and wonderful moments I haven’t thought about in some time.

It’s like that scene in High Fidelity where he sits with records around him and says he’s re-sorting his vinyl – this time “autobiographically”.

I’m just pulling out records to listen to (that’s the bit I referred to before as random). I get the feeling the posts will mean more, as a whole, when we get to some really oddball, embarrassing choices. And of course part of the point of the exercise is that you, the reader, might already think we’ve got to some of the really oddball, embarrassing choices.

These might just be précis-reviews. But I see them as something outside of the review format because I’m trying to contextualise what they mean in my collection and how they came to me (why I bought them, where I first heard them) rather than giving a contextualisation of the artist’s career. These are standalone pieces – snapshots of why an album means what it means to me. Guilty pleasures, favourites, albums I’ve thrashed, things I’m listening to for the first time, all genres, second-hand, brand spanking new – that’s how The Vinyl Countdown works.

I thought I could take you through the posts so far. You’re music fans – so you might like this idea. Then again, you might not. I’m keen for your feedback. And I am hoping you’ll engage with me here and tell me a few things about your record collection (we’ll use the term record collection to cover vinyl, CD, tapes, Mp3, whatever format you use, listen to, collect).

So I started The Vinyl Countdown at number 2000, obviously…

James Blood Ulmer’s Are You Glad To Be in America? It seemed right to start with a record I had never heard before – but I have listened to a fair bit of James “Blood” Ulmer. So it wasn’t a totally new experience.

From there it was to The Neville Brothers’ Fiyo on the Bayou which references Yellow Moon as my introduction to the Nevilles – from there it’s to The Meters, the solo career of Aaron and all points between. I probably wrote this post because of Aaron Neville’s cameo appearance at the Mavis Staples/Blind Boys of Alabama gig. He needn’t have bothered. And I was obviously in search of some decent Neville music as an antidote.

Then it’s to Lyle Lovett’s Pontiac – and we start to get into the random memories that I associate with the albums. I bought Pontiac because I used to go to Motel and drink whiskeys and smoke cigars and wait for my dole money to come through to pay for the drinks and smoking material. Lame. But I got to hear some cool albums while I was there working out whoever it was I thought I was. And one of them was this record. And I was very happy to have found it. He might have just remained that funny-looking guy that briefly married Julia Roberts otherwise.

Listening to Ry Cooder’s second album, Boomer’s Story brought with it the memory of Silvio’s – a second-hand record store where I purchased an instant record collection (their closing-down sale). And here I am mentioning that just as Real Groovy has gone from Wellington’s musical landscape.

Flying in a Blue Dream by Joe Satriani dragged over the memories of lawn-mowing with a Walkman. And my first (and no doubt last) reference to Beverly Hills 90210. I also explored the fact that in many ways this is an album I shouldn’t like – but I can’t help but get caught up in the nostalgia (which as we know is a big part of what music listening is – or at least a big part of what it becomes). I can’t be embarrassed listening to Flying in a Blue Dream now; it’s like when you tidy an old box of miscellaneous tapes or books or, well, anything from your past. You get caught up in the memory of who you were.

I didn’t think much of Bert Jansch’s Nicola beyond it being a whole load of hey nonny nonsense. But I have other Jansch recordings I love – so the trip back to this LP did at least remind me of the albums to focus on.

Talking Heads’ Remain in Light is, for a lot of people, the band’s best album. Checking it out for the purposes of the Off the Tracks blog made me realise that Remain in Light is one of the very few time-capsule records that I should be preparing. It’s seminal; it’s fantastic. And it somehow manages to live up to everything David Byrne andBrian Eno did together and alone – and then goes on to be its own thing as well. Extraordinary.

The Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits 1974-78 probably came into my possession because I love the work of drummer Gary Mallaber. I’m glad it did. So many great songs.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland is the second album by Elvis Perkins. I really like his songs. We even play a cover ofthis one in one of the bands I’m in. It was great fun to learn – love that line “black is the colour of a strangled rainbow”.

Next was Joan Armatrading’s Me Myself I, which is definitely one of those “childhood albums” people speak of. I like the fact that all of her hit singles feel as though they should be songs by completely different artists. That’s pretty cool.

Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic went back on the turntable because I have been reading an advance copy of Steven Tyler’s autobiography. More on that nearer the time of its NZ release. I don’t really like Aerosmith but it’s hard to deny their very best work. And this album has their two best rock songs as groove songs.

Medium Rare by Foo Fighters is the covers record the band released for Record Store Day. I made a point of listening to this after slagging them off here at Blog on the Tracks. I had bought the album (on Record Store Day) and hadn’t gotten around to listening to it. I really liked a lot of it – even though I was (apparently) mean to Dave Grohl and his cronies. So, there you go. For what it’s worth.

Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down has also made the countdown already. But that won’t surprise any regular readers.

Paul McCartney’s McCartney II was looked at here track-by-track. I hailed it Paul’s solo masterpiece. So when I played it again and decided to include it as part of The Vinyl Countdown I had to look at the fact that calling yourself a McCartney fan these days is basically to become a McCartney apologist. John Lennon’s death may have been very sad but it really was a sound career move, right? Funny how in my track-by-track I never even went there but fans – from opposing sides – found that particular argument anyway. And people try to say The Beatles aren’t important anymore. Pah. Of course they are.

Mick Jagger’s solo album, Primitive Cool has been one of my favourite rediscoveries since starting The Vinyl Countdown. It’s a bit like the Satriani album perhaps – in that even if I wanted to not like it, for production reasons or whatever, I just can’t not like this album – I loved this record as an 11-year-old just introduced to The Rolling Stones. And I’ll tell you this for free – it’s also one of Jeff Beck’s best albums. Fact.

Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth For Christ SINGS!, Like a Ship… (Without a Sail) is my favourite new record. It’s not new as such – recorded and released in the early 1970s – but it’s new to me. Check the title track here. And go and buy a copy of this album if you don’t have it already. It’s so good. And one listen to that track will tell you whether you need it or not. But I’m going to say right now that you probably do need it.

Prince’s Batman soundtrack provided some funny memories for me. I also think it’s one of Prince’s underrated albums from that golden period. It probably gets written off as being the start of when the rot set in. But it’s one of my favourite albums of his – it’s not too long, it showcases most sides of what he was capable of (at the time). And it’s the album that now – forever – makes me think of bungy-jumping at its classiest in lovely Hawke’s Bay.

Sinead O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got is an album that still blows me away whenever I play it. I don’t play it all that often these days – but I carry those songs with me; I’ve listened to them a lot. There are other albums of hers that I maybe prefer but this was the door-opener (for me).

Randy Newman’s Sail Away was the album I played when I sat down to think about how it’s really rather ridiculous that he’s written off these days as being the subject of a Family Guy parody sequence and the guy that writes the Toy Story songs. Sail Away is a good introduction to the real Randy Newman.

That’s where The Vinyl Countdown is at, for now. It’s just started. If you click on any of the album titles in this post it will take you to the original blog-posts at Off the Tracks. And there’s always the chance that by the time you check it out there’ll be another post (and another – and another) added. So tell me what you think. Click on the links, visit the site.

*

And now I’d like you to share one random story about an album that you have rediscovered recently in your own collection. The story does not at all need to be about the music – or the context of the artist. The story is better if it is about you and your life and linked to the music through thoughts and actions from the time you discovered that particular music.

So what is it? What’s the album? And what’s your story linked to it?

A librarian’s many, many records

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/29/librarians-many-many-records/

 

A librarian’s many, many records

Brian Schottlaender’s life of a million cuts

SUNDAY, MAY 29, 2011 AT 9:30 P.M.

Brian Schottlaedner

EARNIE GRAFTON

Brian Schottlaedner

In his own words

You can see and hear Brian Schottlaender discussing his “vinyl obsession” here.

Brian Schottlaender’s Lonely Arts Club Band: Six Tracks on A Fading Theme

1. Yesterday

At 58, Brian Schottlaender is the very model of a modern major league librarian. He has an impressive title, “Audrey Geisel University Librarian,” and a massive task, overseeing all libraries on the UCSD campus. Last year, he won the American Library Association’s most prestigious prize, the Melvil Dewey Medal.

But he suffers from an incurable fever, one that compels him to chase albums by obscure industrial rock bands like Current 93 (“Christ and the Pale Queens Mighty in Sorrow”). This is an illness, one that may have begun with his childhood exposure to one of the most popular groups in history.

“My mother is British,” he explained, “so the Beatles were a big deal in our family.”

Today, in the Mission Hills house the librarian shares with his wife, book editor Sherri Schottlaender, the Fab Four are still a big deal. But so is tropical kitsch-Meister Martin Denny; an Anglo-Dutch experimental band, the Legendary Pink Spots; and industrial rockers Nurse With Wound. Floor to ceiling metal shelves line one wall of the Schottlaenders’ living room, bursting with 3,000 LPs. The librarian has many interests — globes, the writings of William S. Burroughs, comic books — but he is hooked on vinyl.

“For a true collector,” he said, “the collection is never finished.”

2. Here, There and Everywhere

In most homes, CDs and digital music have displaced pressed vinyl. Schottlaender, though, argues that these discs are making a comeback.

“The ‘young people,’” he said, wrapping the phrase in air quotes, “like vinyl. It’s kind of a retro thing.”

He may have a point. Around the world, devotees make pilgrimages to shops that fuel their passion. (In San Diego, stores include Lou’s and M-Theory.) Billboard reports that vinyl record sales climbed 14 percent between 2009 and 2010.

Yet, vinyl accounts for only 1 percent of all recorded music sales.

“We are dinosaurs,” said Eric Cyrus, secretary of the Vinyl Record Collectors Association, which had scheduled its 14th annual convention in Jamaica over Memorial Day weekend. More than 300 graying fans were expected to share music and, sadly, memories.

“Quite a few of us have died,” Cyrus said. “So we make it a memorial.”

3. In My Life

At 15, Schottlaender bought his first album: “Are You Experienced.” The Jimi Hendrix LP was a mature, savvy pick, but Brian was not your average teen. Born in Munich, where his father was an American working for Washington, Brian didn’t live in the States until he was 12. After a few years in Atlanta, the family moved to Dallas.

The boy loved classic rock. Increasingly, though, his taste ran toward more esoteric stuff: Captain Beefheart; the early Pink Floyd; Throbbing Gristle, a British group with a Dadaist edge; the Irish Gothic rock of the Virgin Prunes; the roughneck folk of John Fahey (“Blind Joe Death”).

As Schottlaender pursued his university studies from Germany, to the University of Texas, and on to Indiana University, he bought records at a four-album-a-week clip.

Whenever he relocated for a degree or a job, box after box was filled with treasures.

“The last time we moved,” he said, “somebody asked if I was a DJ.”

4. Tell Me Why

Vinyl-collecting librarians are not uncommon — one of Schottlaender’s colleagues at UCLA has 90,000 albums. This vocation and avocation are in sync.

Consider that, as university librarian, Schottlaender is responsible for 4.6 million printed books, 2.5 million digital volumes and nearly 100,000 recorded works. That last number includes 32,000 vinyl LPs, which reflect their time and place as surely as does the printed word.

“Albums do represent a form of technology that was prevalent for more than 50 years,” Schottlaender said during a videotaped interview posted by the American Library Association in April, during Preservation Week. “I think it is important that collections of examples of this technology be maintained for the historical record, the cultural record.”

When Schottlaender talks about vinyl, his eyes spark. You can glimpse the giddy teen within the scholarly man.

5. Getting Better

Fans insist that vinyl sounds better, fuller, richer than digital music or CDs.

“Warmer,” Schottlaender said.

“With a CD,” said Bram Dijkstra, professor emeritus of English at UCSD, “the sonority, the sound qualities, are often flat. Everything seems to be on the same level. With a well-recorded LP, you can close your eyes and you can literally point out that the trumpet player is in front, say, the drummer in back, that sort of thing.”

Vinyl, though, is easily chipped and scratched. Even new LPs sometimes have a background hiss or the occasional popping sound. And that’s why Schottlaender’s classical collection, all 2,000 works, are on CD.

“If there’s a little surface noise on Jimi Hendrix ‘Are You Experienced’ that’s OK. If there’s a little surface noise on Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony, that’s not OK.”

6. A Hard Day’s Night

After a day in the stacks, Schottlaender enters his living room and selects two albums — the other night, he went from A (psychedelic British guitarist Kevin Ayers) to Z (Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention). A methodical sort, he intends to spend a few years listening to the entire collection, checking their condition.

His wife listens, too. She loves music but is leery about handling the albums.

“There’s a bit of ritual,” she noted.

Schottlaender slowly extracts the album from its mylar cover, then plucks the LP from the album.

Using an antistatic carbon fiber brush. he sweeps dust particles from the disc’s grooves.

The LP cradled between his hands, he places it on the turntable.

He lowers the stylus’ diamond tip onto the dark vinyl.

There’s a hiss. Then, the soundtrack of his life.

Best Starter Turntables

Best Starter Turntables

 

Interested in vinyl? Thinking of buying your first or maybe a new basic turntable? Here are some of teh cheaper turntables that we would recommend. We here at Vinylfanatics.com believe you should stay away from the funky but non-hifi tables like USB ones from Numark or retro style like Crosley. The following turntables may seem basic but concentrate their money and effort on where it matters, the sound! Of course you will probably get a bargain 2nd hand but if you don’t want to take the chance on that all the following tables should be available new.

 

REGA P1

Classic British turntable with excellent sound. Comes with a great starter cartridge in the Ortofon OM5e and the homegrown RB100 tonearm.

The Rega P1

Ever proud of it’s reputation as a defender of high quality sounds at great prices, Rega is delighted to announce it’s new progeny, the P1 turntable.

The first new addition to the Planar range of turntables for some time, we hope you’ll agree it’s worth the wait.

Featuring a completely new tonearm the RB100, this entry-level model comes ready-fitted with a cartridge, proving once more that you don’t need loads of dosh to afford a cracking record player.

For over 30 years, Rega has been the first name on everyone’s lips when it comes to turntables. With the new P1, Rega quality is now available at the lowest price ever.

The completely British-made P1 features:

· brand new Rega RB100 tonearm; 

· high quality main bearing, sub-platter assembly and stabilised MDF platter for excellent speed stability;

· Ortofon OM5e moving magnet cartridge;

· Rega sound quality at an unrivalled price.

To find your local stockist please click here… please note that the P1 is not available in some markets.

Coloured turntable mats
It is now possible to customise the look of your Rega turntable using a variety of new coloured mats, click here… for information

 

Project Debut

Great value deck built in the Czech republic but designed in Britain.

Debut: click to enlarge
Debut: click to enlarge Debut: click to enlarge Debut: click to enlarge Debut: click to enlarge Debut: click to enlarge Debut: click to enlarge

open page Specifications PDF Productinfo [pdf, 73 KB] PDF User Manual [pdf, 172 KB]

No other analogue hi-fi product was more often honoured to be a real “Best Buy” than the Pro-Ject Debut III. A real bargain with outstanding sound quality!

 

 

 

Manual turntable with 8,6″ tone-arm

 

Turntable

• Plinth out of MDF in matt black or with glossy black, glossy white, silver, red, blue and green surface

• 1,3 kg balanced steel platter with felt mat

• Bearing Block 3: Low-tolerance chrome-plated stainless-steel axle runs on a polished ball bearing in a brass bearing housing

• Motor decoupled to reduce vibration

• Special, resonance damping feets

 

Tonearm 8.6 D

• 8.6″ tone-arm with aluminum headshell made aout of one piece

• Inverted tonearm bearing comprises inverted hardened stainlesssteel points and sapphire thrust-pads

• Single-screw fi xing of armtube allows rotation for easy adjustment of needle azimuth despite fi xed headshell

• Silicon damped tone-armlift

 

Cartridge

• Ortofon OM5e

 

Technics 1200

This may seem like a strange choice. This deck has been around for donkeys’ years and has served as the mainstay of all fashionable DJs. Millions have been sold and its built like a tank. Many hi-fi enthusiasts swear by this deck but normally change the arm for a proper tonearm and cartridge first. You may get a bargain 2nd hand. Unlike the previous belt-driven decks this deck is driven directly from the motor like the classic Garrards. This offers better stability at the expense of possible rumble from the motor.

analog turntables
SL-1200MK2
SL-1200MK2PK
SL-1210M5G
SL-1200MK5
SL-1210MK5
compare
digital turntable
mixers
headphones
accessories
SL-1200MK2/SL-1200MK2PK
SL-1200MK2/SL-1200MK2PK introduction features specs
introduction

Vibration Resistant Construction
Ultra-Low-Speed Motor /Super-High Torque
Quartz Locked Pitch Adjustment
Total Direct-Drive Accuracy

Vibration Resistant Construction
A die-cast aluminum body, heavy rubber base, and a lack of unnecessary components or empty space allow the 1200MK2 to absorb unwanted vibrations that could otherwise interfere with the sound.

Ultra-Low-Speed Motor / Super-High Torque
The 1200MK2’s ultra-low-speed motor and high torque (1.5kg/cm) allow for super quick start-ups (0.7 sec) and stops.

Quartz Locked Pitch Adjustment
Allows for accurate quartz-locked pitch adjustments throughout its 16 percent (+/-8) range.

Total Direct-Drive Accuracy
Instead of just spinning the platter, the classic Technics Direct-Drive system actually incorporates it into the motor, reducing the number of parts that can malfunction and making consistent, accurate speeds possible. It’s a system that has been providing fast start-up times and unequalled responsiveness for over thirty years. Wow & flutter 0.01% WRMS,, rumble -78dB.

 

 

 

Denon DP300F

A decent basic turntable from a classic Hi-Fi Brand

SEE DIFFERENT VIEWS >

Fully Automatic Analog Turntable

MSRP $329.00

The DP-300F has been designed with heavier base construction for reduced vibration and performance.  The all new tonearm has a removable headshell making cartridge replacement simple.  The standard mount headshell allows for any standard mount cartridge between 5 ~ 10 grams to be mounted and balanced.  The automatic startup feature allows the turntable to begin play with the touch of a button, and once play has been completed, the tonearm will be returned to the armrest gently so that the stylus and record are not damaged or scratched.  The turntable is made of rigid diecast aluminum to produce uniform rotation for smooth flutter free operation.  There is also a manual lifter mechanism that allows you to place the needle on the record wherever you want, so you can skip to a different song in the middle of a side.

The DP-300F includes a built-in phono equalizer to connect the player to an integrated amp or receiver that does not have its own phono input. This turntable is powered by a DC servo motor and belt drive system and has rotation speeds of 33 1/3 or 45 rpm.  It comes with a MM cartridge so that you can begin to enjoy your analog record collection as soon as you connect the DP-300F to your home hi-fi system.

 

Here are some links that might be worth exploring…

 

http://audiojunkies.com/forum/blog/4483-turntable-basics-beginners-guide-turntables-vinyl-records.html

 

http://www.rega.co.uk/html/p1.htm

 

http://www.project-audio.com/main.php?prod=debut

 

http://www.panasonic.com/consumer_electronics/technics_dj/prod_intro_sl1200mk2.asp

 

http://usa.denon.com/US/Product/Pages/Product-Detail.aspx?Catid=0033e08f-3edd-435b-946f-82784b5bc621&SubId=0&ProductId=dbac85e2-8935-4e5f-8b61-c921f1c7b120

 

Peter Saville & Factory – Joy Division New Order

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/gallery/2011/may/29/joydivision-neworder?mobile-redirect=false#/?picture=375040539&index=0

Peter Saville on his album cover artwork

Next month sees the release of Total, the first compilation to combine the back catalogues of Joy Division and New Order – who shared band members, a record label and a sleeve designer. Peter Saville was a co-founder of Factory Records and credits the label’s unique culture for providing him with a creative freedom on a par with its bands. “I had the opportunity to make the kind of objects I wanted to see in my life,” says Saville, who went on to design the England football strip, art direct adverts for Dior and was creative director of the city of Manchester. Here, he talks us through his favourite designs for Joy Division and New Order sleeves

Vinyl Sales Rise. What Does it All Mean?

http://createdigitalmusic.com/2011/05/vinyl-poised-to-make-further-gains-time-to-ask-what-does-it-all-mean/

 

MAY 202011

Kids today, with their new-fangled desire to listen to music cut into grooves on big circular platters… Photo (CC-BYMatthias Rhomberg.

At first, it seemed like it might be just a blip: amidst generally declining sales of physical music, down sharply from their 1990s boom, vinyl sales were trending up. The reversal started with a slight uptick in 2007 – already noticeable as the CD had begun its collapse. That slight uptick has turned into a small boom. From a tiny 300,000 units in US sales in 1993, the vinyl record is projected to do some 3.6 million units in sales. Source:

Vinyl Projected to Grow More Than 25 Percent In 2011…

Let’s put some of this in perspective. Even with explosive growth, vinyl remains at the margins, representing 1.6% of physical sales in the US. In fact, part of the fetish around vinyl is evidenced by the fact that people would make this headline news – fans of the vinyl record are understandably eager to hear their format of choice is doing well. As a point of comparison, in the last 30 days, just one independent band website, Bandcamp, has done US$640,513 in profit for its members. That’s profit, not revenue, and it’s often going directly to artists.

You can also, via Digital Music News, compare to vinyl’s years as the dominant format, which makes this all look very niche:
The Vinyl Comeback, In Historical Perspective…. (Thanks, JP in comments.) That graph doesn’t show per-unit cost, and anecdotally, artists seem closer to the record release process than they once were.

That said, vinyl’s significance in the new world order is arguably more about its cultural meaning than its numbers. (Getting away from numbers – cough, digital – is the point.) Cutting a vinyl record today is about making a physical artefact of a release. It carries with it prestige. Its scarcity is part of its value, with exclusive 12″ releases again returning to the days when DJs were judged by the obscure gems in their collection, not the disposable digital hits.

And I can see any number of benefits to vinyl’s reemergence:

  • Bringing tactile back. Records as objects are a pleasure; I’m the last person to argue there. There’s a ritual to putting on a record that changes how you feel about the music, versus the seemingly-infinite, ephemeral digital jukebox.
  • Keeping vinyl DJing alive. At this point, it seems more about preserving the record and mixing rather than scratching, but vinyl remains essential for people DJing with turntables. Notably, unlike faking it with digital control vinyl, using actual records is also more reliable – a slight flaw or vibration won’t bring the whole mix to a standstill. (Analog most definitely fails more gracefully than digital.) That makes the presence of vinyl releases doubly important to getting to hear traditional DJ technique.
  • Keeping the cutters, and players, in business. The demand for vinyl records, whatever may motivate it, means everything from turntable repair to disk lathe shops remain healthy.
  • The sound is unique. I’m leaving perhaps the most significant point for last. The sound of vinyl does remain unique, precisely because of some of its limitations, and I don’t think any amount of fetishization would please some of its consumers if it didn’t sound good.

When I spoke to Anika earlier this year, she brought up the economic point, too – that vinyl keeps things physical, and supports artists. Now, financially, it may be a tenuous point – look at those Bandcamp numbers – but “support” for artists is more than financials alone. And viewed in a larger effort to express the value of music in tangible form, vinyl makes sense.

Vinyl, incidentally, doesn’t have a monopoly on tangible music. Even digital has made various plays on the concept – one of the most unique being Ghostly International’s effort last year to produce“totems” for Matthew Dear, physical objects that represented the spirit of the intangible music.

 

Sound, above all, is cited as the primary rationalization for vinyl’s resurgence, but that’s where I feel a bit more conflicted:

  • Mastering digital for vinyl isn’t the same as a “direct-to-analog” process. Here’s where things get weird. Remember in the early days of CDs, seeing the letters “DDD” and hearing about fully digital signal flow? Now, we have an oddly inverted situation. People are making music almost entirely inside computers, with software like Ableton Live, doing a digital master, and then printing the whole thing to … vinyl. There’s nothing to say that can’t work, but it seems to me a potential mismatch of source material and recording medium. (More on that in a moment.)
  • Psuedo-science, go! Let’s face it: there’s plenty of voodoo around “digital,” and plenty of voodoo around “analog.” In the digital domain, the faux science tends to manifest itself as unsupported claims about the value of absurdly-high bit rates and sample rates, or, if you’re really unlucky, gold-plated digital interconnects. In analog, you’ll routinely hear people claim that analog captures “more” sound, because digital leaves “gaps” between samples, missing that both are constrained first and foremost by the transducers. Analog or digital, these are based on misunderstandings about fundamental characteristics of how sound is reproduced and heard from recording media. I think it’d be unfortunate if the genuine value of vinyl and the unique characteristics of its sound were obscured by claims about recording that simply aren’t true.

Vinyl itself is surely not to blame here; it should just raise some questions. Presumably, not all digitally-produced music really fits vinyl as a medium. And the right way to make that fit work is to really listen and apply some scientific understanding of the process.

Vinyl is that it is a unique medium, one with imperfect recording characteristics. That means whatever the source, you do need to mix differently, which makes a recent piece in Electronic Musician very admirable, indeed. (Disclosure: I have never mixed and mastered for vinyl, so I canonly look upon this as an enthusiastic listener and interested observer. I welcome feedback from those out there who are more qualified to investigate the questions I’m asking.)

Learn Mixing | Tips for Mixing for Vinyl [Electronic Musician]

Gino Robair, one of my favorite EM writers over the years, goes through some detail about preparing mixes for vinyl as the delivery medium. Part of what you’ll find is a reminder of why engineers were excited about digital in the first place: there’s a greater ability in digital recordings to capture certain details of the high and low end that would distort in an analog recording. So long as you go into the reality of these limitations with your eyes (or make that ears) open, it can be a good experience as a producer, and for your listeners.

This raises still more scientific and perceptual questions, though. I’m not entirely convinced – I haven’t seen evidence in either direction – that it’s in any way necessary to use a 24-bit, 96kHz master for a vinyl release. (Gino points to the example of Arcade Fire using that as the master.) It certainly can’t hurt, especially in the era of cheap storage. But as in direct-digital delivery, the question is whether you really gain from the higher-resolution file. The only way to know for sure would be to do lab-style experimentation and find out, and as readers have lamented on this site before, there’s not a whole lot of that going on.

Yeah, we still love you. Photo (CC-BYKaren Horton.

Vinyl’s good; vinyl’s unique. (So, too, are cassette tapes and other media with which music producers have been re-discovering of late.) It just means that any claims about vinyl’s resurgence should be scaled against the growth of other distribution outlets, and that we should ask honest questions about sound, not just accept either digital or analog claims of “quality” without evaluation.

So, I purposely raise the points above more as a question than a statement. I’m curious to hear from people who are producing and consuming vinyl records, in terms of what they’ve found satisfying and what they’ve found disappointing. (I mean that, in particular, in regards to certain releases – I’m sure some are better than others.)

And I also wonder whether it’s possible to begin to appreciate digital recording with foresight as much as it is vinyl with hindsight. How can we make the most of the format we have today? How can we understand it, in virtual form, as physical object?

At the end of the day, “analog” is not real. (Hence the name.) A recording is an artificial and imperfect snapshot of an event that occurred in the past, frozen in time in an impossible way. It’s what is beautiful about recording, and what terrified, or at least confused, some of those who first heard it. It is a technology conceived as a precursor to email, as a kind of business memo. It has become to many what music is, rather than the reflection of musical performance. It has had a devastating impact on many forms of live performance, emptying bandstands and causing live players their livelihood before anyone became concerned about whether the record industry that was left would lose its financial well-being.

The “record,” whether it’s a cassette tape or a FLAC download, is strange and unnatural, with the ability to bring to life dead musicians and performances that never existed in one place.

And yes, we do really love it.