I Wanna Be Literated #161

I Wanna Be Literated #161

Tuesday, 01 August 2017

The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World
by Damon Krukowski

I think it’s believed that music nerds often prefer vinyl or analog sound over digital. Like we’re purists somehow who hate change or anything new. And while that’s true to some extent, and those music nerds who swear by vinyl and analog exist by the thousands, I’ve always sides with the format or delivery system that is most accessible to people, the format that goes from the musician to the listener in the most convenient way. In that sense I have completely embraced the digital age and its mp3s or streaming services. But then again, I also think music should be available for free to listeners, because money is just another obstacle between the music and the music lover.

Damon Krukowski’s New Analog is an interesting book for many reasons. From its shape (the book is the size of a 45 record) to its content. Before I get into the grand conclusion Krukowski draws from this book, I should say that the topics he chooses to write about are interesting, relevant to music listeners and music lovers, and written in an easy-to follow language. The New Analog spends most of its time discussing the shift of music from analog to digital, the gadgets it’s brought us, and how the music listening experience has changed now that we’re dealing with digital albums and not hardcopies. It also spends a fair amount of time discussing how music is recorded and the process is presented in a more-or-less very interesting way as Krukowski knows not to get too technical in explaining details. Though it’s short, the New Analog can be enjoyed at the surface for the way Krukowski talks about the different topics and there’s honestly a lot to learn here. The man just knows his stuff and it’s nice to get the opinion of someone who did the research.

The main issue with the New Analog is Krukowski’s idea that analog noise is important for music enjoyment and its survival. He feels that the noise, meaning the surface noise on the vinyl, that the recording gear picked up in the studio, that encapsulates the music (the album cover and liner notes) and that literally separates you from the music (the journey to the record store) are all important for the enjoyment of music. And of course, although they all make for a different experience, one can also treat the recording of the music and its packaging as more noise and argue that music must only be experienced live. And no one wants to sound like John Philip Sousa. Isn’t the money required to buy a record also noise? Krukowski ignores that much of what made analog music what it was had to do with limitations and that a lot of that noise we hear, the artists would rather us not hear and are not part of their vision for the music they made. They’re simply limitations. And if the convenience of listening to music on my iPod or streaming it on my phone leads to my listening to more music than I would otherwise, maybe this is a step in the right direction.

The New Analog is a good book and it means well, but it’s better enjoyed in its separate parts.

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