What we talk about when we talk about recording.
A bit of introduction to this piece. It came about because some friends of mine, Jesse and Paul, just launched a new website to advertise their recording business. My first thought when seeing the site (check it here) was that I wanted an introduction to it that functioned the way that liner notes did on old records - someone writing about the content while being removed from its actual creation and offering a mission statement where one didn't previously exist. So I did that, and here it is. I decided to put it here on Re-Critic because it represents a break from my typical fare and waxes more metaphorical and poetic. I'd like to lean more into that as time goes on, so this is a bit experimental in that regard. Hope you enjoy.
The sounds, the rhythms, the sonics of it all - these are by-products. The words are merely vehicles for explaining worlds – universes of meaning colliding with one another in the vast expanse of seemingly endless chaos, joy, wonder, kinship, and heartache. The vibrations etched into the tape are only documents of fusion between emotion and artistry, the reproduced sounds just echoes of something deep inside each of us that begs for contact.
What we’re talking about when we talk about recording has less to do with sound than it does with vision. Artists create ways to calculate the peaks and valleys of existence with new forms of math every single day – the solutions to the equations are the feelings they inspire in listeners, the sounds they make are how they show their work.
What we’re talking about is the smell of vinyl dust, and the anticipatory crinkle of shrinkwrap savagely pulled off new CDs. We’re talking about the autonomous sensory meridian response that happens at the end of a mid-song comedown, the jittery knees that come from a swing-heavy drum break. We’re talking about the wellspring of a vital community and our automatic membership in that community, the only prerequisite being a love of music. We’re talking about funneling the most profound of epiphanies into the minds and lives of others, not with the clinical precision of surgery but with the brute force of jackhammers and the unimaginable lightness of gossamer. We’re talking about the whole of human experience boiled down into harmonic transients and cascading down the interior walls of the skull, leaving stains and residue.
And the only way any of this works is by translating the vision of the artist into a language that can be fathomed and spelunked by others, measured and explored; it’s no small feat to transport the thoughts of one person into the mind of someone else. To do so requires the ability to comprehend the unspoken, to know the what behind the when, the how behind the who, and the why behind it all. Once understood, it then takes the ability to reframe those insights through musical sensations that contain touches of familiarity, a familiarity so diffuse as to be nearly indiscernible, like the way someone’s eyes can be strangely recognizable even though you’ve never met them.
What we talk about when we talk about recording is the knowledge that everything is temporal, glancing, fading. The noises we make are howls into voids, and the voids don’t scream back – they only lie in wait. Music that we love can fill them up or it can keep them at arm's length. Music allows us to feel things we could have never felt otherwise, and it allows us to feel things we thought we’d never feel again. Songs build bridges that last for generations, shifting with culture’s tectonic plates into new and uncharted futures, and audio engineers construct those bridges never knowing how the terrain may change. What we are really talking about is connection. What we are really talking about is salvation. What we are really talking about is...humanity.
Art. Music. Feeling.
*** If you are in the Southern California area and need recording done, check out Monolith Recording Studios - they do great work and they're swell dudes. ***