Sunday Music: Remembering Steve Albini

one of the greatest producers in rock history

Sunday Music: Remembering Steve Albini

Nate Rogers wrote the best Steve Albini memorial I think I’ve read for The Ringer. It’s called “Steve Albini Was a Hater to His Core. And We’re All Better for It.” He captures what others are struggling with, that the lack of through line is the through line when you’re describing his work (my emphasis added):

But according to him, his decisions as a producer were purely a reflection of what he thought was best from a musical standpoint—a reflection of that journalistic impulse to document with impartiality, catering only to what he saw and heard in front of him.

“It’s like if you see a beautiful woman,” Albini told Maron, “and she’s wearing a pink frock and has lipstick on. And then you see a grizzly bear and you think, ‘Well, maybe I should put lipstick and a dress on the bear.’ All you’re gonna do is piss off that bear.”

This approach explains why there is no obvious Albini Sound. In the records that Albini has produced—or, as he’d prefer to say, engineered—you have to look for a through line of truthfulness, a lack of gimmicks, a clarity of vision, even if that vision ends up manifesting itself as something distorted and gnarled.

Often, when you look at an Albini production within an act’s discography, it’s the record that could have been self-titled—the record that serves as an encapsulation of who the artist really is, without necessarily tapping into the commercial potential that they could, theoretically, tap into: the Breeders’ Pod, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me, Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, Songs: Ohia’s The Magnolia Electric Co. Like a good journalist at work, he sought accuracy, but still found a way to inject his own personality in the margins. He was searching for how the story of the music should best be told, for the truth.

I can’t say it better than that.

Artistic accuracy. That’s a truth worth digging for. Even if it angers a few bears along the way.

Dig through the discography. It’s remarkable. And spend some time with him as a character.

No music here except in reference I guess.

We lost one of the greats.