Resonant Thoughts: Greg Milner’s “Perfecting Sound Forever” (2010)

“Presence died a million deaths in the seventies. In its place was the Edisonian dream: record the music, not the room. There was a cultural and geographic component to the dry-as-a-bone sound. It was especially prevalent in West Coast studios, and especially audible on the California-centric rock bands of the seventies—put on an Eagles record and you’ll hear it. Or better yet, listen to the early Steely Dan records, technological masterpieces made with the engineer Roger Nichols. But really, it was everywhere—rock, disco, funk—the sound of the age. It wasn’t necessarily bad from a listener’s perspective. Minimalist seventies classic-rock records—ZZ Top, Bad Company, AC/DC—do sound ‘live’ in an Edison-biting-into-wood sense. The music is intimate, unencumbered, right in front of you. But if you stop and think, they really don’t sound the way bands do when you hear them live, when ‘presence’ is blown up to mammoth proportions. Kick drums and snare drums, for example, end up sounding similar.”

Greg Milner, Perfecting Sound Forever, p. 162

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