Anyway. Dit is wat David Thomas er over te zeggen heeft:
bron schreef:Notes on vinyl pressings
Pere Ubu doesn't care about sounding good.
Stop. Wait. Read that again. Let it sink in.
Music is a language - it has a vocabulary, a syntax, and a grammar. Musical activity provides the grammar and syntax of the language - melody, rhythm, harmony, etc. The sound of musical activity, however, supplies the vocabulary - and that is where meaning resides. I can jumble vocabulary willy-nilly and meaning will survive. These words ordered in any syntax, in any tense, according to any grammar, will still have meaning: "Dog," "Street," "Walk," "I," "To," "Go." You can, conversely, repeat "Noun," "Verb," "Subject" all day long and not be able to communicate a thing.
What is the value of finely crafted musical syntax if the meaning encoded by the sound is bankrupt? Which is not to say that every song, every book, must be serious. Simple thoughts expressed well can also be a joy. But the first obligation of sound is to convey meaning, to pursue truth and to be honorable - not to serve as a consumerist narcotic.
Pere Ubu is a product of the window allowed to stereo sound. Between the mid-60s and the mid-70s, stereo flourished briefly before being choked out by the monophonism demanded by FM radio and tv. Stereo and its stillborn brother, quadraphonics, emphasized that sound is a voicing of space distinguishable from the musical activity encoded by it, and that the scale of the sound of the musical activity can be manipulated, enhanced or fractured, with powerful poetic consequences. It is our misfortune to be an irredeemable product of those times, and it is our misfortune that we were schooled in the art of sound by Ken Hamann, an engineer who stressed, above all other qualities, performance, passion and vision - a sufi teacher who believed that the making of music should be a pursuit of truth.
Stereo was a technology crippled fatally by the vinyl medium. We, therefore, resented vinyl. We had two ratings for the quality of vinyl pressings:
Okay, I suppose, but why bother?
Discreet use of phasing enhances the spatial image of a recording. Phasing is transparent with digital technology. Not so with vinyl. Phasing is a definite Bad Thing on vinyl pressings.
On a vinyl pressing there can never be more than a 36db spread between left and right channels. The stereo image or breadth of a vinyl pressing will always be narrower than what can be achieved with a digital medium. Bass guitar and the bass drum must always be placed close to center pan, to do otherwise is to risk bouncing the needle out of the groove... which is fun but a Bad Thing commercially.
With digital technology silence becomes a powerful tool. The dynamic range is extended not only in terms of technical spec but also in dramatic possibilities.
With digital technology you can hear a sound fade nearer to zero. On vinyl it disappears in a murk of surface noise. The detailing lost is significant. Compare the 1994 digital transfer & eq to any vinyl pressing. There is significant synthesizer detailing that the vinyl simply wiped away.
The one thing apologists for vinyl hang onto with bleeding fingernails is its putative "warmth." There is actually a technical audio term for it - "distortion." What a vinyl-phile describes as "warmth" is nothing more mystical than distortion in low frequencies caused by the limitations of the vinyl medium and lathe technology. Now, there's nothing wrong with distortion - Pere Ubu depends on its expressive qualities - but unwanted / undesirable distortion is not a Good Thing.
DJs love vinyl like vampire bats love mammals.
Vinyl as a medium is flawed. The digital cd as a medium is also flawed but has strengths that, on balance, make it a better choice. Much of the nostalgia for vinyl has more to do with the fragile nature of the medium. Because it can be so easily damaged, both the vinyl and the cardboard sleeve, it must be cared for more intensely. The medium must be treasured therefore that which is encoded in the medium comes to have more value.
So, what of the recent Get Back vinyl release of The Modern Dance? Rhodri, musician and Ubu Projex admin assistant, thinks it sounds good. Rhodri has, therefore, been placed in charge of okaying any future pressings on the basis that I hate them and can't be bothered to replace the stylus on my turntable. Why did we okay the pressings? We didn't. Cooking Vinyl didn't tell us they were doing it. We thought it was a bootleg. Lawyers and a phalanx of international copyright agencies were already on alert before we found out.