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Lenses Alien (On Sale)Lenses Alien, the result of collaborative explorations, is a stunning example of a band growing into itself, learning to collaborate, becoming more confident. Why There Are Mountains, Cymbals self-released debut, was a record that Joseph DAgostino made largely on his own, with help from Matt Miller and some other friends and acquaintances that came and went.
Lenses Alien is a record that Joseph DAgostino, Brian Hamilton, Matt Miller, and Matthew Whipple made together, as a band. At its core, Lenses Alien is a marriage of classic pop forms and ambient haze that makes for a stark, dusky psychedelia.1. Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)
2. Shore Points
3. Keep Me Waiting
5. Definite Darkness
6. Another Tunguska
7. The Current
9. Secret Family
10. Gary Condit$15.99 $12.63 Save $3.36 (21%)Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Tea For The Tillerman (200g)Ranked 206/500 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
When word got out that we were beginning a pressing plant, customers began to call with questions. And the most common and full-of-anticipation question was inevitably: What will be the first title that you press? Well, we couldn't possibly imagine hitting a bigger home run than to open Quality Record Pressings (QRP) with one of the all-time most classic audiophile records, Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman from 1970.
There are so many things perfect about this release. First and foremost, it's a masterpiece of a record. It's that rare record that couples breathtaking sound with hit after hit after hit. In fact, to list the hits would be to list the entire song list. We couldn't pick a better vehicle for which to show off what we're so confident will be the highest quality records ever pressed.
But here's something else that's cool: We scored the absolute original analog masters, and the tapes were in impeccable condition. It took an unbelievable amount of digging and research - and luck - to get this project done to the standards of Analogue Productions. But, wow, was it ever worth it! The tapes were last used in December 1999 when Ted Jensen at Sterling, along with producer Paul Samwell-Smith, remastered the Cat Stevens catalog for CD.
In 1970, Lee Hulko at Sterling Sound cut Tea For The Tillerman for A&M Records in the U.S. and Island Records in the UK using a Telefunken M10 tape machine and a Neumann VMS 66 lathe with a Neumann SX68 cutterhead. Hulko started Sterling in 1968 and was its original mastering engineer. He's considered among the first engineers to advance mastering from just transferring music from tape to lacquer to an art where attention is paid to all the details that result in better sound. We actually found Hulko's original mastering notes from more than 40 years ago. It's incredible, but Sterling still has all of their notes filed away.
So, it was originally cut at Sterling - as were all of the early original Cat Stevens albums - and the tapes were last used at Sterling. How appropriate then that we should go back to Sterling for this monumental reissue. Using the original tapes, George Marino handled the mastering this time. He used an Ampex ATR-102 tape machine, another significant point of interest. While Ampex has long been revered for their sound, they had never made a preview version so that a mastering engineer could cut a lacquer from an Ampex machine. Mike Spitz at ATR Services made a unique preview modification for Sterling so that they could cut this record using an Ampex. Marino then used a Neumann VMS 80 lathe with a Neumann SX 74 cutterhead.
I think we've gotten something quite a bit better than what was originally issued, Marino says. I think this version is much more representative of what was on the tape. And that's not a criticism of what was originally done.
Marino points out that since the original issue, there have been advancements in cutting lathe technology that make the improvements of this reissue possible.
You didn't have the same number of options that you have in the new Neumann electronics, Marino says. With the new one, they give you more variations to work with. Let's say there's a nice kind of present sounding acoustic guitar on the left channel and then all of the sudden there's a drum peak with cymbal crashes and stuff and that stuff happens to be on the left channel. Being the vocal is down the center, you can drive the high frequency limiter from the right channel. So you can set a threshold on the right channel and grab the vocal without wiping out some of the musical peaks on the left channel. This is what I talk about when I say that we have technical advantages that they didn't have.
Marino also chose to use a wide-track stereo head for this project, which he said allows for better signal-to-noise than the normal stereo head.
And he also decided against using tube electronics, as would have been used originally, because he says that while the tubes allowed for more warmth, they also made the sound duller.
You wind up wanting to put a little top-end EQ or something to get a little something back (when using tubes), Marino explains of his decision.
Marino says that he is very pleased with the results.
A great record. A classic, he says. And those tapes were in excellent, excellent condition. Musically, I think we've got something that sounds richer and more natural. It sounds more correct. I had to do very, very little to the tape regarding EQ processing or anything.
To package this reissue, we've decided to do a facsimile of the original British Island gatefold jacket rather than the non-gatefold U.S. version. This British jacket also has a textured paper stock on the inside and is glossy on the outside. Additionally, we're using the original pink Island label.
So there you have it. Quality Record Pressings is off and pressing in a big, big way! Finally, we're ready to unveil the innovations in record pressing that we've been working on for more than a year. Among those innovations are the installations of microprocessors on the presses so that all of the presses functions are performed with absolute precision. For example, we've developed a dye with an imbedded temperature sensor that we can use to cycle the presses. Rather than having the presses close and open based on time - as it's been to date - these presses will close and open based on temperature, the far more accurate indicator of when the record is ready. We also have a plating department in Quality Record Pressings, run by the best plating man in the business, Gary Salstrom.
Still to come from Analogue Productions pressed at Quality Record Pressings will be the Cat Stevens classics Teaser and the Firecat and Catch Bull at Four.
Tea For The Tillerman is one of Cat Stevens' finest albums and a gem in the crown of early 1970s singer/songwriterdom. Stevens manages to have his cake and eat it too, simultaneously achieving pop accessibility and artistic relevance. The feel is decidedly gentle and spare. Apart from the occasional string section, Stevens is accompanied only by a three-piece band as he sings his introspective lyrics with appreciable favor.1. Where Do The Children Play?
2. Hard Headed Woman
3. Wild World
4. Sad Lisa
5. Miles From Nowhere
6. But I Might Die Tonight
7. Longer Boats
8. Into White
9. On The Road To Find Out
10. Father And Son
11. Tea For The Tillerman$49.99200 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Why There Are MountainsBarsuk Records is pleased to reissue Cymbals Eat Guitars' stunning debut Why There Are Mountains on vinyl. Originally self released in 2009, Why There Are Mountains seemed to appear out of nowhere to massive critical acclaim (partially thanks to Pitchfork bestowing the album with the much coveted Best New Music designation) and took the indie-rock world by storm. The band spent the following year and a half touring the world and sharing the stage with Los Campesinos!, The Thermals, The Flaming Lips, The Hold Steady and more before releasing their Barsuk debut Lenses Alien in 2011.1. ...And the Hazy Sea
2. Some Trees (Merritt Moon)
4. Cold Spring
6. What Dogs See
7. Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)
8. The Living North
9. Like Blood Does$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
"Musically, the band has clearly found inspiration from the likes of Joy
Division, Disappears, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, with an emphasis
on heavy waves of drone and lots of visceral fuzz to create a slate-gray
soundscape that's as frightening as it is aggressive."
- Consequence of Sound
"Something tells me Stagnant Pools are going to end up much more
than Bloomington big." - Chicago Reader
"The band sounds ready to escape something here, as a bucking rhythm
and Strokes-like melody peeks through a hovering coal-dust cloud of
distorted guitar sustain and reverb" - Pitchfork
Following the release of their debut full-length Temporary Room,
Stagnant Pools embarked on several high profile tours supporting
the likes of David Bazan, Maximo Park, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and
All this time spent on the road gave the Indianapolis-based duo
a fresh perspective on their strengths and weaknesses as a band,
feedback that brothers Bryan and Douglass Enas took to heart
while spending last year working on new material.
As a result, Stagnant Pools' sophomore release Geist (which was
recorded and mixed directly to tape with Hum singer/guitarist
Matt Talbott) finds the pair refining and expanding on a shoegaze-meets-noise pop sound that has drawn comparisons to Joy
Division, Sonic Youth, and The Strokes.1. You Whir
2. To Begin
5. Filed Down
6. Ever So
7. His Head Was Warm
8. Dots and Lines
10. Brute$18.99Colored Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
LOSE"LOSE is a very apropos title because it refers not only to losing Ben, but also it's about a sort of nostalgia, a longing for a time when music meant everything to you and your friends, and it seemed like one great rock record could change everyone's life the way it changed yours," says D'Agostino. "It's about being in mourning for your long-held belief that music could literally change the world. That's the contradiction at the heart of LOSE... You're disillusioned, but somehow you can do nothing else but rail against that feeling mightily and try, once again, to make a record that makes you and everyone else 'wake up wanting to listen to records'."And indeed, the band, rounded out by bassist Matthew Whipple, keyboardist Brian Hamilton, and drummer Andrew Dole, alongside producer John Agnello, do little wallowing. This is a raucous affair, an Irish Wake, ultimately rooted in nothing less than a celebration of just being alive."I think this one is obviously more accessible than Why There Are Mountains or Lenses Alien," says D'Agostino, referring to the band's first two LPs, their debut having been awarded Pitchfork's coveted Best New Music. "The first two had a lot more stop and start," he continues. "This one has a ton of momentum. It's got fluidity and grace. I think I gave the lyrics more room to breathe, so you can kind of follow what's going on."1. Jackson
4. Place Names
5. Child Bride
9. 2 Hip Soul$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now