Monday, April 18, 2011

NYTimes: In Age of Digital Music, Vinyl Gets Second Life in a Brooklyn Factory

Here's an article about a guy who's pressing vinyl in Brooklyn that was in today's NYTimes. Link to article is here.

April 17, 2011
In Age of Digital Music, Vinyl Gets Second Life in a Brooklyn Factory

In an industrial and uninviting stretch of Brooklyn, near several strip clubs and a factory that makes electrical tubing, Thomas Bernich’s small plant recycles vinyl and preserves a fading piece of history.

In fact, Mr. Bernich’s workplace in Sunset Park is one of the few of its kind in New York City and in the country.

Inside the one-story, red-brick factory on 42nd Street, boxes of discarded albums from used-record stores are piled high on wooden pallets, awaiting their end and a new beginning.

The records are tossed into a large shredder to start the process of putting music on them again. The used vinyl is eventually fed into a press that creates new albums. “Taking rotten milk and breathing new life into it is not an easy thing,” Mr. Bernich said.

Mr. Bernich and the five employees at his company, Brooklynphono, have preserved the craft of applying music to vinyl.

Mr. Bernich stumbled into the record business after he realized that his talent for sculpture, which he studied at the Pratt Institute, could probably not support a career. But while at Pratt, Mr. Bernich, 40, started collecting records, inspired by a friend’s passion for vinyl.

“You have these moments when you are playing a record when you get caught in a location and time,” said Mr. Bernich, who lives in Brooklyn Heights. “There is a magic with vinyl and the memories that are connected to it.”

When he finally had the chance to buy two used vinyl-pressing machines from a plant that was closing, Mr. Bernich pounced, turning his hobby into a job and opening a small business. While vinyl records are clearly a relic, Mr. Bernich has found a niche. When it first opened in 2003, Brooklynphono was making about 2,000 records a month. Now, Brooklynphono has five pressing machines, making more than 10,000 records a month. It caters mostly to indie-rock record labels based in Brooklyn, but also to several European dance record labels.

One skill that has proved useful is the comfort with tools and machines Mr. Bernich gained while studying sculpture.

“I’m really not very musical, and the best thing I can play is the stereo,” Mr. Bernich said. “This fits because I have mechanical experience.”

He has tinkered with all his pressing machines, attaching them to a customized network of vacuum tubes and other pieces which automate the loading of vinyl plastic and the recycling of excess material and also maximize the power of the presses.

“Essentially, I’ve taken a regular machine and hot-rodded it,” Mr. Bernich said.

When the machines start up, the smell of warm plastic fills the factory. The vacuum tubes suck granules of vinyl from the industrial plastic shredder. The small plastic bits are then pumped into a hot extruder, which melts the plastic. Black vinyl flows out like toothpaste and is then formed into a misshapen puck. At that point, a label is glued on each side of the puck.

The pressing machine hisses as it opens and heats, the puck is slid onto the press, and 120 tons of pressure stamp sound waves into grooves on the vinyl. Once it cools, the flattened plastic is pushed out onto a trimmer, where any excess vinyl is cut, and the black disc is dropped onto a spindle. A record is born.

“I love how you can play a record, look at the cover art, and read the liner notes,” said Heath Bodine, 40, who does quality control at Brooklynphono. “You don’t get that with an MP3 file.”

While new vinyl plastic is still available, the material is expensive and hard to find. Mr. Bernich prefers recycled vinyl because it is suited to his retrofitted machines. “It’s like being a short-order cook,” Mr. Bernich said. “The music is only as good as the ingredients you get.”

A major responsibility for Mr. Bernich and his workers is tending to the pressing machines, which demand constant adjustment. During production, the movement of the machines causes parts to shift, and the slightest misalignment can cause a malfunction and stop production for an entire day. A disc can become jammed inside one of the machines, or the brace that holds the part that stamps grooves onto the vinyl can come loose.

Another worker, Sarah Himmelfarb, 26, wears latex gloves to test the machines and examine records. Every so often, she will stop the machines and use a small mallet to reposition the metal plates that keep the vinyl stamper in place.

Ms. Himmelfarb, who has applied to several medical schools and is waiting to hear back, compares the process of maintaining the presses to diagnosing problems in the human body. “There are symptoms, and they can be caused by a variety of things,” she said.

Zach Cale, a 32-year-old musician and a founder of All Hands Electric, an indie rock and folk music record label in Brooklyn, is one of Brooklynphono’s clients. Aside from the convenience of having records made by a local plant — his label saves on shipping costs by picking up orders — Mr. Cale prefers having his music on vinyl because, he said, fans like the tangibility of a 12-inch album. “We’ve always been really into the physicality of vinyl,” said Mr. Cale, who paid $1,300 for 500 records. “People really respond to it because it’s visual and it feels like you have a piece of the band.”

While vinyl records have largely been consigned to the dustbin of the music industry, Mr. Bernich said he still found magic in turning musicians’ ideas into physical objects to share with the world.

“Once a musician makes a record it lasts a very long time,” he said.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sasha - Lupus (Jimmy Van M & Cass & Slide Mix)

An oldie but goodie, that will surely get stuck inside your head if you listen to it. Would be nice if I could pitch down the track while lisetening to it off of youtube...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crown Heights Affair - Cha (GW Edit) doubt you're gonna love and groove to this one. If you come across a copy of this on vinyl, holler please...

Sound 5 - The Hacienda Must Be Re Built (Tarentella & Redanka Remix)

This was truly one of those massive tracks you always heard out at the big clubs back in the first part of the first decade of 2000...

"It's just a feeling...I'll take you higher..."

This track was brought to my attention again after stumbling upon a site I had bookmarked awhile back but just recently checked out again. It's a rather detailed write-up of Twilo's 4 year anniversary party, which you can check out here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greg Wilson - Manchester Moments (Interview)

Ahead of his Reels of Steel debut at Band on the Wall, electrofunk pioneer & nudisco DJ - Greg Wilson talks to Stretch Disco about his career defining Manchester nights at Legends, The Haçienda, Music is Better and Electric Chair.

Monday, April 4, 2011

PSA: Saturday, April 9 - Basic NYC 7 Year Anniversary w/Lee Burridge @ District 36

From Basic NYC:

We're celebrating seven amazing years of Basic NYC with a very special guest - the one and only LEE BURRIDGE! Lee is all about the party - and incredible music - and he's a long-time favorite of ours. He's the perfect guest to help us ring in our anniversary and we're honored to be welcoming him back to New York for his Basic NYC debut. Lee will be rocking an EXTENDED set on District 36's thundering Gary Stewart Audio system - the first time he'll be playing there solo. Joining Lee in the booth will be New York's Michelangelo, who will also be rocking our party for the first-time. In the MIRF Room some of our favorite Basic NYC friends will be holding it down all night.

To help celebrate our anniversary, we're giving away FREE ENTRY before 12am to everyone who RSVPS - so email and spread the word!

This is gonna be a rocking great time. Don't miss it!

Will Ferrell in "The Office"

Goodbye Michael Snot...hello Ron Burgundy!

The Chemical Brothers - Hanna Sountrack

The Chemical Brothers were responsible for putting together the score for the upcoming movie 'Hanna' which will hit theaters on Friday, April 8. Here are a couple of tracks from the soundtrack:

And here's the trailer for the film;

Finally, I didn't know until just now that the Chem Bros had a track featured in the film 'Black Swan':

LCD Soundsystem's Last Show @ MSG in NYC

The whole show! LCD Soundsystem's very last show at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY - 2011-04-02.

Set 1:
2:10 Dance Yrself Clean (with "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc intro)
12:40 Drunk Girls
17:09 I Can Change
23:45 Time To Get Away
28:16 Get Innocuous!
35:18 Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
41:45 Too Much Love
46:53 All My Friends
55:30 Tired (with "Heart of the Sunrise" by Yes snippet)

Set 2:
45:33 Part One
45:33 Part Two (w/ Reggie Watts)
Sound of Silver
45:33 Part Four
45:33 Part Five (w/ Shit Robot)
45:33 Part Six
Freak Out/Starry Eyes

Set 3:
1:54:39 Us v Them
2:04:00 North American Scum (with Arcade Fire)
2:11:45 Bye Bye Bayou (Alan Vega cover)
2:16:30 You Wanted A Hit
2:24:07 Tribulations
2:29:15 Movement
2:33:48 Yeah (Crass Version)

Set 4:
2:45:30 Someone Great
2:53:06 Losing My Edge (With "Da Funk" by Daft Punk snippet)
3:03:36 Home

Set 5:
3:15:53 All I Want
3:22:18 Jump Into the Fire (Harry Nilsson Cover)
3:30:30 New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down (with "Twin Peaks Theme" by Angelo Badalamenti intro)