April 6, 2011

In Rotation: The Vinyl + Edition

I'm back to almost exclusively purchasing my music on vinyl these days.  I do it mainly because I like the objects involved: CDs were almost always inferior to vinyl records as objects, and the initial hype about the "superior sound quality" of digital media was quickly shown to be a lie.  I don't have the high end audio equipment necessary to tell a first-rate vinyl pressing from a well mastered CD*, but vinyl is so much cooler as a package that I will easily spend the extra bucks for it.

However, I tend to forget there are still advantages to CDs . . . remember how excited we were with all Coltrane reissues because songs no longer had to be sliced up to fit on LP sides?  Case in point: Tim Hecker's latest, Ravedeath, 1972.  Composed to be one continuous piece divided into "songs", the Kranky double LP annoyingly has to chop everything up.  The vinyl sounds great, but I'll be purchasing a download on this one.

In Rotation On Vinyl:

Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972
Softcheque: Misericord
Flipper: Public Flipper Ltd.
Verdi: Requiem Mass (Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Alain Lombard, conductor)
Earth: A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction
Sun City Girls: Funeral Mariachi
Valley of Ashes: Cavehill Hunter's Attrition
Sapat: Mortise and Tenon
The Phantom Family Halo: Monoliths and These Flowers Never Die
The Phantom Family Halo: Music From Italian TV
Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band
John Cage: Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Lukas Foss, conductor)
Crime: San Francisco's STILL Doomed
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band: It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper
John Cage: Cheap Imitation
Marion Brown: Afternoon of a Georgia Faun
Wipers: Over the Edge
Mark Stewart and the Mafia: s/t
Albert Ayler et.al.: New York Eye and Ear Control
Ennio Morricone: Film Music Volume 1
My Dad Is Dead: The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get
Calexico: The Black Light
The Mothers of Invention: Burnt Weenie Sandwhich

and, in new-timey digital formats:
Wipers: Youth of America
Royal Trux: Cats and Dogs
Sick City Four: Complete MFT Recordings
Tim Hecker: Harmony in Ultraviolet
DJ Spooky: Creation Rebel
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy
Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring for my Halo
Boris: Dronevil
Wire: Pink Flag
Tyvek: Nothing Fits
Earth: Earth 2
John Fahey: The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick

as well as custom playlists by:
Jimi Hendrix
Giant Sand 
David Bowie
Lou Reed

Next time, maybe I do another one of my mp3 players.  I thought that was kinda a good idea.  Kinda.
*  Besides, most everything recorded today is recorded digitally, and even though everyone talks about the warmth of analog recording, most recording engineers won't prioritize analog recorders in the process . . . or at least substitute tube technology (or "valve" tech, for all you Brits) for solid state in the signal chain to try to liven up the proceedings.  Digital media will reproduce digital recordings perfectly - that much we know.  For that reason, I think the idea of vinyl as a "warmer" medium is beside the point, especially since no one would dare exploit the analog character of vinyl in the mastering process.


Aaron Poehler said...

Actually, for what it's worth the recent Arcade Fire (not that I'm a big fan) album was mastered to 12" vinyl at 45RPM first and then reconverted to create the digital master. And a lot of engineers do use tube and other analog equipment in the signal chain to create warmer recordings these days.

But yeah, no matter what vinyl always produced an indisputably superior artifact/object. (I just got sick of buying vinyl only to later find out ohohoho, there were more songs on the CD!) A CD was always just a container, rather than an artifact.

Bill Zink said...

Thanks Aaron - I'm not really up to date on state-of-the-art tech, but I knew for a long time in the 80s, 90s, and early aughts everyone was trumpeting all digital. Apparently people are coming to their senses. Mastering to 45 rpm vinyl sounds like a good idea . . . does it work better than old-school magnetic tape? I saw some insanely priced piece of studio equipment that took a signal, dumped onto 1" (I think) tape, then sent the signal back to the board and erased the tape, sort of like a space-age echoplex.

Me, I'm still using cassette 4 track. Tape hiss forever!