Vinyl records spin again
Talking to Alex Bennett about music recording is like stepping into a time machine that has been wound back about 50 years.
The Herne Bay resident is establishing a record label dedicated to producing an entirely analogue product - in a world increasingly dominated by digital music.
"At some point along the line I realised that my favourite sounding records were from the 60s, basically because of the technology they were recorded on," he says.
Mr Bennett, who is studying towards a PhD in Music, will be marking the launch of the Sound Recordings label this Friday with the release of a special compilation.
None of the music on Sound Recordings Vol 1 has ever been processed through a computer, which is a rarity in today's music industry.
The eight bands that feature on the album have been recorded by Mr Bennett using thse university's massive 8-track tape machines.
"I didn't know I was going to be making this compilation, I was just doing it for fun because I had access to these tape machines," he says.
"So the compilation is built up of people I have been interacting with over the last two years, that's the only connection between the bands.
"They are all fairly different musically."
Mr Bennett spent many a weekend piling musicians and their instruments into a university studio - getting them to play live to tape.
"Back in the old days it was more about ensemble, it was about capturing a performance, and I think for me that is where the magic lies in a good recording," Mr Bennett says.
When he had enough music to fill up a LP, he sent his only master tape all the way to United Pressings in Nashville, Tennessee.
The American company is one of few pressing plants still able to cut records from an analogue master source.
Mr Bennett says the label is intended to be "a not-for-profit that is dedicated to the documenting of local culture via analogue means".
Sound Recordings Vol 1 showcases bands that play in Auckland's live scene, including X-Ray Fiends, Proton Beast, The Raw Nerves and High Society.
Guy Innes, drummer for post-punk band High Society, says the group recorded with Mr Bennett about a year ago.
"We wanted to release the whole EP on vinyl ourselves but we didn't have any money," he says.
The three-piece band has two tracks on the compilation, SDKFZ and Smisthy, which is a nod to British rock band The Smiths.
"We have a similar ethos to Alex about analogue and vinyl," Mr Innes says. "We are big vinyl collectors - CDs and digital music are so throwaway."
There will only be 100 copies of this record available, however there are more albums in the works.
Mr Bennett has acquired two vintage Ampex tape machines from from Capitol Records in New York.
"I recently sold my teenage dream car in Australia, which is like a 70s classic muscle car," he says.
"So I got a fair wad of cash from that, and I decided to blow it on tape machines."
He says he intends to sell albums for exactly the amount they cost to produce.
The Sound Recordings label launch and record release party is at Lucha Lounge, Newmarket, on Friday from 10pm. Go to facebook.com/SoundRecordings for more information.
Auckland City Harbour News