Punk Rock Legend And Producer STEVE ALBINI Dead At 61

May 8, 2024

Steve Albini, the legendary record producer, has died of a heart attack. He was 61 years old.

In addition to fronting underground rock acts SHELLAC and BIG BLACK, Albini produced albums by NIRVANA, PIXIES, PJ Harvey and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. He was an aggressive critic of musicians and others who he felt were in it for the money or popularity rather than the music and he famously refused to take royalties from the recordings he produced for other artists.

In 2004, Albini estimated that he had engineered the recording of around 1,500 albums. According to Mix With The Masters, he continued to work almost entirely in the analog domain, being known for recording "live in the studio" as much as possible. He also placed particular emphasis on the selection and use of microphones in achieving a desired sound, and to best capture the ambience.

"A lot of people making records don't have a grasp of the process," he once told Billboard. "They do it thinking that it's some abstract art form that doesn't need to be comprehended on a technical procedural level. [In those cases] you'll end up with a record that isn't formally completed, but that's finished when the bell rings."

In a separate interview with Musician, Albini lamented what he called the industry's assembly-line mentality. "The sound of contemporary rock records, especially those made with big budgets, is so homogeneous," he said. "You hear exactly the same mix balance, the same dynamic, the same production techniques brought to bear on every single band."

Albini also pointed out that the quality of his own records had improved, largely because he had resisted the "fiddling impulse" with the music.

"In quest of a distinctive sound, people endlessly process things," he told Billboard back in 1995. "But because so many people use that method, those sounds have become quite commonplace. In the last few years, I've learned to leave things alone. Now when I set up a microphone and like the way it sounds, I consider the job done."

Albini was also the founder, owner and principal engineer at Electrical Audio, a recording studio complex in Chicago.

SHELLAC's first album in a decade, "To All Trains", is scheduled for release next week.

Photo credit: Team Coco

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