An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Re-releasing the re-releases please

So after waiting a long and patient month for any objections, I took it upon myself to change the data on Discogs for the Bauhaus releases of Dark Entries.

There were five versions on Discogs, I also had five different versions, but only two matched.

Well, I managed to slightly amend two of them on Discogs and I had two that were the same.

The Matrix numbers on a vinyl record are the little scratches of numbers on the run out groove of the record.  These are generally scratched onto the masters by a chap that works magic getting the masters formed, so that the best sound is produced from them.  Some of these ‘mages of the vinyl process’ take great pride in their work, and add little extras onto the run out groove along with the matrix numbers and catalogue number.  Sometimes a little message, sometimes one word.  You get the feeling some of these are IN jokes.  Some even scratch little pictures on.

The matrix numbers themselves are records of the process of creating these masters. An ‘A1’ on one side and ‘B1’ on the second side is generally a sign that the mage has done really well and got good quality from the first attempt to create the master. Equally this could also show that the record company are not too fussed what it sounds like as long as it’s done and the records can be sold.  If the master is not good enough, another attempt might be made and the first side on the new master may be ‘A2’.  Sometimes the studio producer or someone from the record company may reject this attempt and another attempt will have to be made.  I have read of some releases not being put into full production until the sixth or seventh versions.

It also appears that masters are destroyed after a production run is done.  So, if a re-release is required or just more copies are needed because a release has sold out, a new master has to be created and the process starts again.

This is the general way vinyl is mastered and cut, concerning the matrices.  But with the Dark Entries single, the form book seems to have been thrown out the window.  In a few of the re-release cases, the master seems to be the original one perhaps, as the original AXIS 3 or AD3 matrices are on the record, but they have been scratched out and other catalogue numbers added.  It all seems quite a mess on some releases, with some of the new matrices being that light, they can hardly be picked out.

Regarding some of these lighter etched matrices editions; I think some of the contributors on Discogs have probably easily missed them.  So, the two releases I changed on Discogs, I feel shouldn’t be a major upset.  But the one release I had left over in my collection didn’t match the one release left on Discogs.  This had a different label on the record to any of the copies I had.  The only conclusion I had was that there are six different releases in total.  So I updated Discogs with my extra version.

Maybe, each release could tell a story of release and re-release by what matrices are on the record and which have been added and which have been scratched out.  Until I get this final one I can’t make a comparison to see if the matrices can tell a story or not.

Watch this space

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