World Wide Listening Station Tour
Discos Paradiso in Barcelona
words: Carles Novellas
The arrival of the Analogue Foundation in Barcelona has introduced the international project to the city with three different events, all of them meaningful and achieving excellent results.
Two of the events took place on 24 March in the splendid Artte teahouse and cocktail bar in the heart of the city. It was also one of the rainiest days we could remember in many years.
However, the adverse weather was no obstacle to drawing a large and diverse crowd for the talk that started the evening. The crowd was very involved in the talk, and wanted to know more about analogue supporters and the analogue environment and scene. Four experts on the subject took to the stage, each with a distinct profile and different experiences than the others: Roger Rodés, a sound engineer and producer responsible for one of the largest recording studios in the country; Breixo Martínez, a widely respected DJ and renowned lover of vinyl who is well-known on the Spanish scene; Pedro Vian, a producer and the head of the label Modern Obscure Music, one of the electronic music platforms created in Spain with the most international success; and Marcos Juandó, who has devoted 20 years of his life to selling records and recently gave it all up to work for Doctors Without Borders.
Moderated by myself, the conversation started with introductions and a few perfunctory opening questions. For example, Rodés explained the differences between a sound engineer, a producer, a mixer and a master engineer, while Breixo (better known to all by his stage name, Abu Sou) dared not to describe himself as a collector, though he did say that he is passionate about vinyl. After a few minutes of introduction, the discussion began right away with Marcos Juandó vehemently calling to tear down some stereotypes. This was especially helped along by the audience, who seemed comfortable enough to ask for the microphone, posing interesting questions and comments from the start.
The two hours from 7 to 9 of that evening really flew by in a vibrant and open conversation among all present. The difference between analog and digital was made crystal clear (Roger Rodés’ metaphor of the wall and the blind man was very graphic: the blind man taps on a wall with his cane to get an idea of what it is like; the more he taps it, the closer he gets to reality).
Pedro explained why his label continues to publish on vinyl and how they also work in analogue on the artwork for their releases. Breixo reminded us all that these are exclusively Western concerns and that in many parts of the world people record or produce with whatever they have on hand without fretting over sound quality. Finally, Marcos questioned the need to listen to music with vinyl and good equipment, though he did admit to a love for old 78 RPM records, which require a special gramophone to play. The audience put out many ideas, such as the purely artistic value of recording a personal album on a medium in order to leave a mark in time of what has been done; the strength of analogue among the youngest generations; and the music industry’s interest in selling us different releases and formats so we can put more euros (or dollars) in their coffers.
After the talk (which could have gone on for two more hours) came the break and dinner, while the rain continued to fall outside with unusual intensity. The set and party began shortly thereafter, bringing together two of the most important DJs in the city behind the turntables and mixer: Marc Piñol and Zero. Summoned for such a special occasion (in the hall it was mentioned that it was the first time that they spun together), they started with a long stretch in which drones and ambient sounds (and even sacred music) dominated. When it was almost midnight, Zero opened a box of different rhythms, which followed each other in a memorable techno, electro and twisted dance session that reached the moments of excellence expected from two masters like them.
The Listening Station
At the top of this text, we mentioned two of the Analogue Foundation’s three experiences in Barcelona. The third is happening as I write these lines, with the installation of the Analogue Foundation’s listening station at the emblematic shop Discos Paradiso, in the Raval neighbourhood.
This is a unique opportunity to listen to the shop’s records (or other records that anybody can bring) on one of the best pieces of analog equipment on the market. We promise you that the experience is revealing and quite wonderful for anyone who would like to spend a week living in the shop. With its wooden headphones, fine needles and bass tones that make your blood pump in a different way; details that you might have overlooked before, but which now resonate in the eardrums, this is a luxury that you cannot afford to pass up if you ever get the chance to enjoy it.