Skúli Sverrisson & Bill Frisell

As the press release says, it seems astounding these two have never played together before. Now, they have recorded a full LP (only) of Sverrisson tunes written for Frisell, and, as you can tell from this video, it is a match made in heaven. That’s the good news.

The other news is that you can’t just buy this record. The label, Newvelle, only offers subscriptions of six, limited edition, 180 gram vinyl records a year, two released each month, to comprise a box set costing $400 (yes, that’s roughly $67 per record). This season also includes Lionel Loueke  releasing his first ever album of standards, and a Steve Cardenas release dedicated to Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

The poorer among us can only hope that the sympatico Sverrisson and Frisell discovered while doing this project will spur some more affordable single releases by this promising duo.

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9 thoughts on “Skúli Sverrisson & Bill Frisell

  1. I understand the need to make money on the release, I’ve pressed vinyl and it is expensive. However, this puts the release out of reach for most people. I’m so bummed about that. It also spurs a market for resellers that doesn’t bode well either.

  2. i was a young sound engineer when the marvel of an entire studio signal path was the starting of my day, any day, in its whole, pure analogue glory.

    analogue audio gear in a recording studio needs alignment, each and every day, you can’t just fire it up and find out it delivers a totally different frequency response or dynamic behaviour than the day before, so you have to align anything again, and again, and repeat the process, every day.

    at first i needed 4 hours to align tape recorders and noise reduction systems, during which the inevitable console channel gone rotten the day before had to be replaced, too (lucky), or repaired (not-so-lucky), depending on how many spares had been blown in the previous days.

    by the time digital audio stormed the house, i had become the speedy gonzales of studio maintenance, and could get the whole rig ruler-straight and scale-true in less than 3 hours… it was too good to last, so it simply ended.

    don’t get me wrong, i wish i had kept whatever analog gear was being thrown away by the greedy studio owners who were just waiting for a reason to beef up their bills by 40 or 50%, in return of smaller and cooler devices that promised the moon (and not always delivered as much as even a hitch to the nearby beach).

    but the day when analogue (recording) died, everyone in the industry had a merry party, because whatever the changes to our sonic landscape, digital meant a lot more possibilities and opportunities to the world: more commercial junk could be thrown at supermarkets and sat tv network for smaller bucks, while the more experimental acts could finally afford to rent the studio for the weekend, just as more daring artists could finally release their avantgarde music on bolder labels who could finally afford to print and distribute it… it was nothing else than win-win for every fish, pond or ocean.

    all the while, at the lower ranks of the food chain, anyone with his or her hands dirty with studio shifts had finally more time at hand, either to start seeing some family again, going to the pub now and then, or start playing again whatever instrument had been left under the studio bunk to serve someone else’s music ’round the clock, maintenance hours included – as maintainance often was the turning point for being hired on a payroll, rather than having to chase the payment cheque for weeks, as any freelancer did.

    what gets on my nerves with these smart marketing-wise geniuses is, there’s nothing new in their business recipe.

    there’s been a truckload of audiophile labels out there for the best of 30 years, and they’re all still there, often owned or operated by home audiophile equipment manufacturers, to produce records that can show how good their gear is.

    and they’ve been busy (and busier, and busiest) pressing LPs out of virgin vinyl blobs, wrapped in album sleeves of 600g/[s]m potato-pulp-enriched paper printed with soy ink, inasmuch as there are wealthy golden-ear record collectors spinning their precious turntables to feed silk loudspeakers via USAF-surplus-powered vacuum-tube amplifiers…

    all the while, the whole editing and mastering blocks in the diagram (if not the entire mixing, too) keep being done on a Windows PC running Avid ProTools, like it’s been done for the past 30 years, for the sake of pure analogue sonic beauty (my aff).

    it goes to Newvelle Records credit that, for a change, they seem to be contracting artists with plenty stories to tell (instead of simply great-sounding artists and productions).

    when Rudy Van Gelder finished remastering the whole chest of Blue Note Records records he had himself recorded in the ’50s and ’60s, he was almost 90, and did it all on his own, on an entirely digital workstation, claiming how he could finally listen again what he had been listening in his studio when he recorded them.

    lemme quote him, please, from his wiki page, verbatim:

    “The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I’ve made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I’m glad to see the LP go. As far as I’m concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don’t like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That’s why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I’m not denying that they do, but don’t blame the medium.”

    there. it’s the music that counts, not the hardware shop. and the easiest it is to let the musical ideas spread around, the more variety we’ll enjoy, with (quality) streaming platforms finally delivering music content that could have never reached you in your corner, if it only had had to be delivered in a physical form of whatever kind.

    i like your closing in the article. there wisdom in it, aplenty. let’s hope this clever duo releases their music through Tidal and Qobuz services, too, so that it will be enjoyed [in uncompressed glory] anywhere it can be listened to.

    • Thanks for your story. I love vinyl, but think much of the current vinyl craze (including my own interest) is fueled by nostalgia and fetishism. Having been in bands that were prevented from offering their music to the world in the days of $200 an hour recording costs and $200 reels of tape, I have no nostalgia for that. But I understand the lure of the object that vinyl offers. Still. I have to laugh at hipsters buying vinyl to play on compact, almost toy, record players.

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