Amoeblog

What We're Doing With What They've Done: Amoeba's "Vinyl Vaults"

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 28, 2013 07:15pm | Post a Comment

If you don't already know, we here at Amoeba are very much underway with our monumental archiving project for our website Amoeba.com, simply called the "Vinyl Vaults". It's a really spectacular beginning to what is and will be a huge undertaking in offering to the public digital transfers of the most remarkable older, oblique and hard to find works of creative peoples around the globe throughout the history of recording. I myself, am curating a large part of this, and have been very excitedly pulling out many, many unique pieces of vinyl out of the used LP buys that we take in at Amoeba's buying counters, and sending them into the ether (ie,our great team) to be archived and considered for sale on Amoeba.com. Our sound team takes these copies of the LPs, 7" singles and 78 rpm discs and digitizes them via ProTools, into 24-bit files, and then make mp3, mp4 and 16 bit .wav files (CD quality) from the 24-bit master and split up the sides into tracks for folks to download. We sometimes offer of the highest resolution 24-bit file as well for a certain title. And in many cases the original LP or 78 or 45 we used to digitize the sides is available right there next to the download. 


How do I decide what we save to digitize and offer to the public as I go through all these LPs? The records almost speak to me as I sift over the aquisitions we've purchased in the collections we buy. If I don't  know the record, I'll see the look of the cover, the paper texture, and the era of manufacture as the first things revealed. Even the weight and smell of the "thing". Exotic LPs have a feel to them, a way they communicate to the holder that they are something interesting, distinctly special, and a thing to be investigated further. If you've held a phonograph record in your hands  you know what I mean. Often the packaging will tell me what's inside, but how many records say "vocals" or "guitar" or "piano", and yet how different can all these records be? The actual sound on the disc is an exciting mystery of immense promise before I hear it. So then, to play a little bit, I "needle-drop" (sample bits of) so many records in a day. And it just so happens that Amoeba offers 1 1/2 minutes of free sample listening for all the records' songs, so this is comparable to how I listen to potential pieces for the Vaults. Once chosen, a disc will undergo a discerning ear's analysis and judgement for condition, and a little research to see if folks already know about this record. Ultimately, the bliss of finding a transcendent musical performance by a deceased or obscure artist or on a long-defunct label is intoxicating. And to think that others can later enjoy these provocative sounds via the "Vinyl Vaults"  is exhilarating.

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The 90s...the best albums of 1991...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 15, 2012 03:33pm | Post a Comment

Things had not changed much from 1990 to 1991. I was still obsessed with all things British. Still listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Still very much living in the '80s. I had only just been introduced to Morrissey the year before. I listened to Viva Hate and Bona Drag all the time. I was a fan of Morrissey first since The Smiths had broken up before I even knew who they were. So it was fun to go back and discover The Smiths' albums for the first time. I started with Louder Than Bombs which was a fantastic way to introduce myself to the band. I then went back and discovered their studio albums one by one. Queen Is Dead, Meat Is Murder, Strangeways Here We Come and then The Smiths. I was hooked on Morrissey and The Smiths and there was no going back. I became a vegetarian in 1991. I started reading magazines more obsessively and trying to find out as much as I could about my favorite bands.

Both Morrissey and Erasure had new albums in 1991. These albums would both be a big part of my life that year. I can't really think about 1991 without thinking about Kill Uncle and Chorus. Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991. This album would change everything. Not everything exactly, but it did change a lot! I still remember my dad having the conversation with me about grunge. He asked me if I was "grunge." I probably answered "sort of." It was like me coming out of the closet. I also listened to so much Erasure in high school that I should have never really had to come out to my mom! I was still very much obsessed with my British bands. I was still into the goth, shoegaze, grebo and indie bands of the UK. But I also became a huge fan of Nirvana. I really had no choice. I didn't really notice Nirvana until Nevermind came out. But I listened to this album probably more than anything in 1991. Although I was probably still a bigger fan of my UK favorites then all the bands coming out of Seattle. Brit pop was just around the corner and would completely take over my life in the years that followed. But it was nice to actually be into a band from the US for a bit. Nirvana are actually one of three bands on my top ten of 1991 from the US. But the other two I actually always thought were British! They may have come from the US but they fit more into the British sound of the era. Nirvana sort of don't really fit in. But this album was too big to ignore and not put on this list. I couldn't deny its place on this list. I was quite obsessed with it. A lot of us were.

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This Moment's Glory With ECM Records

Posted by Rick Frystak, March 4, 2012 05:56pm | Post a Comment
ECM Records has always been one of my favorite labels, peerlessly rich in variety and deeply honest with it's mission and intent of quality. I remember my first ECM LP was an unplayed white-label promo copy of Terje Rypdal's What Comes After, which really set me up to fall in love and get on board with the vision of Manfred Eicher, the label's owner and director. The sound on that record, with it's reverberant, creamy echo and crystal clear, dissonant music and the impression it made on me shall never be forgotten (and I can revisit it at will). Was this Jazz music? Rock? Classical? I didn't care at all to label it, only to consume as much as possible of this new sound, and start down the path to discovery of each title I could find in my town and towns around Los Angeles.

Of course, I didn't love everything that the label released, but I always listened with very open ears. Just the cover art direction alone still fascinates me and is the subject of multiple design books. Manfred has also become the preeminant Classical music producer since I've been a listener, not an easy coup, resulting in a perfect fit with his sound and the composer's vision. It still applies that ECM is a creative energy second to none with no cliches, no boundries, and no borders as to what can be done within it's domain, Year after year, which totals over 40 now, the ECM label has been there for me, re-igniting my passion for music, and with a quality like no other.

Here, fellow travellers, are some of my favorties of this moment's newest CD releases form this wonderful treasure. Click on the titles to see if they are available for purchase at Amoeba.com.

And what's your favorite ECM release?

Visit www.ecmrecords.com

Boris Yoffe 
Boris Yoffe
Song of Songs
ECM 2174

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The Choice Bin's Choice-y-er Buy Counter Scores of 2011

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 18, 2011 07:08pm | Post a Comment
As the year 2011 flies to a close, I've gathered some of my favorite scores from the past year together to reflect upon how much great stuff gets traded in at our used buying counter. All this art came in over Amoeba's trade-in counter but didn't make it past my "gotta check this out" sensors-in-overdrive...lots of stuff maybe not have been released in 2011 but plucked from the ocean of "keepers" and brought ashore, as the relevance and quality make it so, and the joy of reconnecting with a reissue or another format.  Our "Insurance Return" policy keeps the good stuff coming in as well.  And I've forgotten more titles than I've remembered...

Vinyl
LPs


John Adams

Harmonium

ECM 1984

I've owned this on a compact disc for ages, and then I see the magnificent film, "I Am Love" with the great Tilda Swinton and I see a vinyl copy of it and my head goes, "BUY THIS"!  This record was cut up and used as the score in such a wonderful, effective way, swooning, tilting and fanfare-ing the scenes making the picture so much more intense and sentimental. Bravissimo. The wax sounds amazing, too, as is the ECM tradition.



Havergal Brian

Complete Piano Music
Cameo Classics 1981

Amazing moods and very sound writing for piano. Think Debussy, Copeland, Ravel, Mozart, Haydn, Bryars and Gershwin and all this rolled into one fellow born in the U.K. in 1876. The great sound on this disc makes it so enjoyable, and being a wonderfully produced U.K. pressing with a brilliant performance by Peter Hill seals the deal.

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New Video by Strange Talk First to Feature Interactive Rewards

Posted by Amoebite, August 19, 2011 01:15pm | Post a Comment
Strange Talk EPAustralian electro-pop band Strange Talk only just released their debut self-titled EP (on Neon Gold Records) in May, but they're making a name for themselves with their innovative, interactive, and product-tied music video for the single, "Climbing Walls."

Cheer detergent sponsored the Strange Talk video as part of their "We Dig Color" campaign, creating a “Dig It, Get It” interactive music video that lets you click out of YouTube and into Facebook in order to win various prizes. This is the first time someone has created a video using Google Annotations technology to create embedded "clickable hotspots" in a YouTube video.

So what does that mean exactly? Click on something colorful in the video (Get the connection? Cheer keeps your clothes colorful) and you are taken to the Cheer Facebook page where you can register to win prizes ranging from flip flops to guitars to iPods. The prizes are apparently going fast (as of this posting they were gone for the day already). 

Facebook - Cheer Page


I first heard Strange Talk when we got their Free Download for "Climbing Walls" back in June. It's dancey, poppy, electro summer fun, satisfying my Cut Copy (another Aussie electro-pop band) meets Friendly Fires meets Phoenix cravings. (If you knew me, you'd know those cravings were pretty strong.)

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