parodies by nacrowe
there is something REFRESHING about the manner in which RECORDING ENGINEER STEVE ALBINI goes about his business. too often people, me included, lionize PRODUCERS as if they are MOSES navigating clueless bands through the RECORDING PROCESS and to the promised land. at best, some producers have HUMILITY and perceive themselves as COLLABORATORS or vehicles for artists to utilize in realizing their vision. with ALBINI he strips all of that pomp and circumstance to the core, instead viewing himself as a COMMON engineer attempting to capture the live sound of the band with no input or outside manipulation. being a musician himself as a founding member of the SEMINAL CHICAGO noise rock band BIG BLACK and later projects such as SHELLAC and RAPEMAN, ALBINI wholeheartedly believes in enabling the artist. as a RECORDING ENGINEER (he scoffs at the title and never refers to himself as a "PRODUCER"), ALBINI believes in a STRICT division of LABOR whereby creative decisions are the sphere of influence of the artist and the tracking of which is his.
he is known for recording quickly with MINIMAL if no overdubs altogether, which leads to music that has an IMMEDIATE, UNVARNISHED quality such as CELEBRATED albums like PJ HARVEY's RID OF ME (ISLAND, 1993), PIXIES' SURFER ROSA (4AD, 1988), HELMET's MEANTIME (INTERSCOPE, 1992), NEUROSIS' TIMES OF GRACE (RELAPSE, 1999), THE BREEDERS' POD (4AD, 1990) and arguably most famously NIRVANA's IN UTERO (DGC, 1994). he also charges a SET RATE with NO FUTURE POINTS on the album. in this way he sees his work as a form of LABOR akin to a plumber or electrician. he comes in, completes his SERVICE, and lets the artist keep the results with no strings attached.
what is AMAZING is that there is almost FANATICAL PURITY to that WORKINGMAN ETHOS as ALBINI has refused time and again to leverage his position to create FINANCIAL WINDFALLS for himself and his family. again, as an artist himself, such GAINS would be perceived at the EXPENSE of his clients and result in a COMPROMISED DEBASEMENT of the RECORDING PROCESS. in his perspective, such would be a blaring CONFLICT OF INTEREST. for him, his experiences and IMMENSE abilities are a resource for use by the creative community with NO ELITISM or expectation attached. the more i think about it the more REMARKABLE his BUSINESS ETHICS are.
ive made no qualms about hiding the fact that i am currently enrolled in business school pursuing an MBA. everything there is seemingly done with the end objective of extracting as much ECONOMIC VALUE from any product or service as mathematically and ETHICALLY possible, with an emphasis on the former. it is not that ALBINI's method is an anomaly in the music industry, it feels like an outlier in general. i cant even begin to imagine how much MONEY he left on the table with IN UTERO alone. but thats kind of the point.
FINANCIAL CONCERNS will come and go, but art lives on forever. best to maintain and ensure the PURITY of that PROCESS and let the other matters come to its own equilibrium and conclusion. ALBINI is someone i am continually FASCINATED by both musically and ETHICALLY and i find myself coming to terms with his since of BUSINESS ETHOS all the time.
embedded below is the second DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC, which originally aired a little over three years ago. the playlist includes music from throughout STEVE ALBINI's 'PRODUCTION' catalogue. enjoy!
photo manipulation by nacrowe
FROM THE BASEMENT was a live performance series produced by NIGEL GODRICH (RADIOHEAD, ROGER WATERS, R.E.M., BECK) that lasted two seasons and aired intermittently on SKY TV from 2006 to 2009. shot and recorded without an audience, the bare studio room was an open canvas for the artists and directors, including SOPHIE MULLER, to present their music in manner they more or less had control over.
notable performances include those by PJ HARVEY, THE FALL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THUNDERCAT, THE KILLS, RADIOHEAD, WARPAINT, CSS, SONIC YOUTH, FLEET FOXES, SPARKS, THE WHITE STRIPES and JARVIS COCKER.
definitely worth checking out, especially for the quality of the live mixes, which honestly is a bit of a forgotten and under-appreciated art. enjoy.