Steve AlbiniSteve Albini

Steve Albini, also known as Steven Frank Albini, was an American musician, singer, guitar player, producer, sound engineer, and music critic.

He is the founder of Electrical Audio, which operates two recording studios in Chicago and has established itself as one of the most important realities of independent rock. Electrical Audio, which has two studios located in Chicago, was founded by him.

The American alternative music scene considers him to be one of its “master”.

Born in California, he grew up as a Montanan. His parents were immigrants from Turin. He moved to Chicago at the age of 18 to pursue a journalism degree at Northwestern University.

He joined Naked Raygun in 1981 as an outside member. In the following year, he formed Big Black, which was a pioneering group in genres like post-hardcore, noise, and industrial. He formed Rapeman in the 80s and then Shellac.

Steve Albini has always combined the activities of being a musician and a producer. He prefers not to use this title, but he is often referred to by it.  Albini, contrary to the norm, does not get royalties from his recordings.  Albini estimates that he has worked as a sound engineering on more than 1500 albums.

He believes that letting the producers into recording sessions can often ruin the work of the band, since he is only responsible for “capturing” and solving problems, rather than checking on the musicians’ work. The distinctive “touch” of Steve Albini includes mixing unusually mixed vocals with a low volume, dominant bass guitar sound, recording ambient drums, and using vintage mics to capture natural reverberations that almost function like a trademark. Albini also is a fervent critic of digital recordings, which he believes to be inferior in quality. He even wrote “The future belongs the analog loyalists.” Fuck digital”, is written on the album cover of Songs About Fucking by Big Black. He works exclusively and only with analog procedures and support.

Different styles of rock music inspired him as he revealed his musical grammar in Big Black, featuring abrasive noises, metallic sounds, and industrial percussion. Steve Albini sings his lyrics with a shouted, often distorted voice, describing his life and using it to represent that of young people living in Western society, talking about injustices and dehumanization.

The homonymous song, is the first track on this 45-rpm record. The cover features Mussolini and the tricolor behind him. The song is a mockery, according to the author (who in fact reiterated the anti-fascist and progressive positions he held) but it’s not a serious criticism of Mussolini.

In 2013, the boxset of the reissued album of Nirvana’s In Utero included the letter Steve Albini had written to the group before they began recording. This letter is a declaration of intent by the manufacturer.

Albini has become infamous for his harsh criticism of the music industry, which he highlighted in his 1993 controversial essay, The Problem With Music. He also criticized “alternative festivals” (such as Lollapalooza) and his outspoken judgements of many of his colleagues, from Sonic Youth, whom he accused of “selling out”, to Pixies, whom referred to as “a bland college-rock band at best”, to Nirvana, which regarded as “REM with a fuzz box Albini also said that he would never record pop music, as he considered it “music for idiots and children”.

He has expressed his support for free music downloads in recent years. On the paid streaming idea, he stated: “They seem like a COVID solution” which may lead to an expansion of the concept after the pandemic. To be honest, it does not seem like a good solution for replacing concerts. Steve Albini passed away on 7 May 2024 after a heart attack.

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