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March 26, 2005

Steve Albini, Websites, and Kielbasa

One evening, while relaxing at The Risky Deck—Triskaidekaphobia’s ship-themed bar/gambling parlor in the back of floor 10—an otherwise civil discussion about tie knots turned into a mash of ugly accusations. In the midst of this, a voice from behind a bourbon-flung finger slurred at the Web Personnel on hand “For chrissakes, yuh shdidn’t evun mention Steve Albini”.

Though drunken, those words held more truth than was comfortable to admit. In the interrelated items recently posted, even while talking of Big Black and Touch and Go Records, there was no mention of Steve Albini, famous recording engineer, acerbic wit, guitarist, and billiards enthusiast. But the connection is there. If you don’t mind…

Though a notorious enemy of digital sound media and recording methods (.MOV, 139MB), Electrical Audio, the studio founded by Steve Albini, has a web site. Behold, Electrical Audio.

Some, that evening at The Risky Deck (before the bourbon), held that this was a surprise. Who would think that Steve Albini, of all people, would have a Web site? But it’s not Mr. Albini who has a website. It’s his business, Electrical Audio, that has a website.

While the idea of Steve Albini online may surprise some, given his anti-digital proclivities, the man is hardly a luddite. He works with machines, he drives a car, he flies in airplanes to play rock and roll with electric-powered instruments. His anti-digital stance is about being able to use the tool that he considers most effective for his job.

Electrical Audio, being a business, therefore has a website that contains all the information necessary for its potential clients to make a decision whether to record there or not. The right tool for the job. Detailed equipment lists, pictures of the studios and living areas, 360° panoramas, a session estimate calculator, and a message board provide more than enough information for a client to make a decision.

The message board is, perhaps, the most brilliant piece of this puzzle. By providing a community of like-minded individuals, Electrical Audio creates a reason for people to come back to their site. They also make it possible for people to ask questions of the staff, as well as others interested in the world of music recorded with gigantic drums sounds. But, perhaps best/most surprising of all, is that you can find Steve Albini answering questions about possible Nirvana-related master tapes, his guitar setup for Shellac, billiard tables or, best of all, clarifying his recording philosophies. Great stuff.

This praise isn’t because he’s Steve Albini, mind you. While the Triskaidekaphobia Sound Libratoriumary contains a large cache of albums released by Touch and Go/Quarterstick Records (many recorded by Albini), their new site, while very good (and which we do not hate), has a list of goofy features that do not make us love it. Short list: tiny bands photos, weird scroll boxes that don’t work with scroll wheels, confusing navigation that takes you out of the band sections to the news and sound sections when you don’t mean to leave, to name a few.

The love for Electrical Audio’s site is because you have a situation where a famously busy engineer, who is also in a band (Shellac), finds time to answer questions himself. This small fact, when added to all the reasons listed above, makes the site a true success. The human (and absolutely useful and practical) touch that can make the web great.

Anyway, this is where the drunks at the bar cut the Web Personnel to the quick. Touch and Go, but no Albini. Kielbasa, and again: no Albini.


Yes, it all comes back to kielbasa. What does Steve Albini have to say when asked about “the differences (physical and spiritual) between kielbasa and Italian sausage?” The same thing any other acerbic wit would: “Spice (Paprika vs. Oregano) and collective guilt about the holocaust. Unless you’re speaking metaphorically about my dick” (via gourmandizer).

posted at 11:04 PM | find it forever

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