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Steve Albini

From Academic Kids

Steve Albini (born July 22, 1962, Missoula, Montana) is an influential guitarist, audio engineer and music journalist, former member of the bands Big Black and Rapeman, and current member of Shellac. He is founder and owner of the company Electrical Audio, which operates two recording studios in Chicago.

He is currently most active as what is mostly known in the music industry as a record producer, but he dislikes the term and prefers recording engineer, saying that putting producers in charge destroys records, while the role of the recording engineer is to solve problems in capturing the sound of the musicians, not to threaten the artists' control over their product. In 2004, Albini sumarized his opinions regarding record producers: "It always offended me when I was in the studio and the engineer or the assumed producer for the session would start bossing the band around. That always seemed like a horrible insult to me. The band was paying money for the privilege of being in a recording studio, and normally when you pay for something, you get to say how it's done. So, I made up my mind when I started engineering professionally that I wasn't going to behave like that."[1] (http://inmyroom.omnihosts.net/albini.html)

His guitar playing has been just as influential on the sound of rock music as his sound engineering. With Shellac, Albini showcases his abrasive vocabulary of clanging, scraping metallic sounds. As a lyricist, Albini demonstrates an interest in the seamier side of life, writing lyrics describing inter-personal injustice, dehumanization and personal crises, often written from the perspective of a central character.

Additionally, he is famous (or notorious) in the indie world as a pundit on the music industry and trends in indie music, starting from his earliest writing for 'zines such as Matter and Forced Exposure, to his commentary on the poor ethics of big record labels, and how their practices filter through to the independent labels. He has been a strong supporter of labels who have tried to break the mold, especially Touch and Go Records, with whom all of his bands have released recordings.

His playing style in the 1980's was often compared to that of Henry Rollins and Black Flag.

Contents

Engineering anecdotes

The albums Albini records often bear his distinctive sonic signature. In Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azzerad describes Albini's work on The Pixies' Surfer Rosa, but the description applies to many of Albini's efforts: "The recordings were both very basic and very exacting: Albini used few special effects; got an aggressive, often violent guitar sound; and made sure the rhythm section slammed as one." (Azzerrad, 344)

On Nirvana's In Utero--as on most of the albums Albini records--rather than recording each instrument to a separate track in the conventional manner, Albini used many microphones of different sensitivities positioned around the room as the band played together. He has an extraordinary knowledge of the great variety of microphones available for recording.

To this end, Albini deplores overdubbing, and generally keeps vocals "low in the mix", or much less prominent than is usual in rock music.

Engineered project list (incomplete)

External links

  • Albini laments age of over-production (http://inmyroom.omnihosts.net/albini.html), an article of a lecture Albini gave to the Audio Engineering Society at MTSU, outlining his approach to being a recording engineer.
  • Three Pandering Sluts (http://www.chireader.com/hitsville/pander.html) the transcript of a stormy exchange from 1993 he provoked in the letters page of the Chicago Reader, where he accuses Bill Wyman (music critic) of being a recording industry stooge.
  • The Problem with Music (http://www.arancidamoeba.com/mrr/problemwithmusic.html) a.k.a Some of your friends are probably already this fucked
  • Onion AV Club Interview (http://www.theavclub.com/feature/index.php?issue=3622&f=1)
  • An interview (http://www.vacant.org.uk/interviews/albini.html) in which Albini outlines his criteria for accepting offers to record musicians.
  • Electrical Audio (http://www.electrical.com) Steve Albini's recording studio.

Sources

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